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Federal Agencies with Guns: Weather Service, Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | June 10, 2014

Thousands of federal government employees are armed with handguns and even semiautomatic and automatic weapons as part of their jobs for agencies that are not traditional law enforcement operations.

These gun-toting civil servants include those performing missions that involve Social Security, delivering the mail, predicting the weather, and overseeing railroad pensions. Others authorized to carry firearms conduct audits for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Social Security Administration has sought to purchase 174,000 rounds of hollow-point bullets, while at least nine agencies have their own SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams, including the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Labor, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

With the increase of federal regulatory criminal laws being passed, the number of law-enforcement personnel attached to agencies has gone up as well.  But the traditional law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Marshals Service have been unable to handle all of the demand to execute potentially dangerous investigations, searches and arrests, leading officials at these other departments to develop their own police forces, according to an analysis by Candice Bernd of Truthout.

These forces can take their jobs too seriously. In 2003, Department of Fish and Wildlife agents stormed into the home of George and Kathy Norris of Houston. George Norris imported and sold orchids. He was subsequently accused of smuggling a certain variety of the plant into the United States. Although it was later found that he had only made a few paperwork errors, he ended up pleading guilty to seven counts of violating the Endangered Species Act and served 17 months in prison.

Some lawmakers are starting to think it might be time to scale back on federal criminal codes. Last year, the Over-Criminalization Task Force (part of the House Judiciary Committee) convened for the first time to consider ways to shrink the number of laws and provisions on the books.

To Learn More:

USDA and Submachine Guns: Latest Example of Mission Creep as Federal Policing Expands (by Candice Bernd, Truthout)

Orchid Kingpin? Mistake Lands Elderly Gardener in Prison (by John Jessup, CBN News)

June 10, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paramilitary SWAT raid: 2 dogs killed (Columbia, MO)

COLUMBIA, MO — During a routine midnight raid on a residence over forbidden plants, police violently broke down the door, threw concussion grenades, pointed rifles in everyone’s faces, and shot 2 dogs.

During the raid, 5 concussion grenades were exploded in and around the home. One of the grenades exploded near the feet of the young lady visitor seen in the video who at the time was seated on the couch. […]

Both dogs were shot in the back while retreating. One of the dogs is shot as an officer tops the stairs, passes a suspect on the floor and steps into a bedroom. You can see a glimpse of the dead dog as the officer stands in the doorway. The dog is obviously facing away from the officer. Soon after you can see another injured dog struggling in the hall.

It is important to note that this raid took place before Chief Ken Burton accepted his position with the CPD. Due to the overwhelming public outcry stemming from a more recent yet similar raid under his command, Chief Burton has reigned in the use of his SWAT team to serve search warrants for non-violent crimes and criminals. While the prevalence of violent, paramilitary raids has waned in Columbia, this type of raid is happening somewhere in the United States right now. Please speak out against this government sanctioned domestic terrorism.

This video was recorded on March 7, 2008 at the residence of Jonathan March. He had no prior felonies. A small amount of the forbidden marijuana plant was recovered from the raid.

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Oakland activist allegedly fired after police tracked him at protest, alerted his employer

RT | October 29, 2013

An Oakland, CA activist says local police officers sent surveillance footage of him participating in a protest last week to his employer, resulting in his firing Monday.

The activist, who goes by @Anon4Justice on Twitter, tweeted the details Monday morning in what appears to be police use of surveillance footage in combination with private and public records that identified @Anon4Justice and led to his employer.

The activist had called in sick to work Friday to take part in a protest of Urban Shield, an expo for SWAT teams, military contractors and police officers from all over the world.

Urban Shield, coordinated by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, exists under the guise of fighting terrorism and “disaster preparedness” in heavily-populated areas. The event is partly a trade show for a myriad of militarized tactical gear and weapons, but there are also training exercises and war-game competitions that teams from California to Guam to Qatar took part in over the weekend. The exercises include protest suppression techniques and SWAT-team-raid simulations.

As the activist protested the militarized police event, paid for by the Department of Homeland Security, Oakland police produced surveillance footage of his participation in the demonstration and photos of his truck, which they sent to the his employer. The police called the employer, as well, to tell them though he said he was out sick, he was really taking part in a protest, which led to his firing.

The instance of @Anon4Justice’s tracking and firing, comes amid news that Oakland received $7 million, again from the Department of Homeland Security, for port security. Yet in addition to the use for ports, Oakland plans to spend the money on a vast surveillance “Domain Awareness Center,” as the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Privacy SOS blog pointed out Monday.

“From a central location, it will electronically gather data around the clock from a variety of sensors and databases, analyze that data and display some of the information on a bank of giant monitors,” the New York Times reported two weeks ago.

The city maintains the center will help reduce crime in a city that sees more than its share. Yet critics told the Times the program “will create a central repository of surveillance information” and “gather data about the everyday movements and habits of law-abiding residents,” calling into question the legality and ethics of such an operation.

As one Oakland City Council member told the Times, the center would have the capabilities to “paint a pretty detailed picture of someone’s personal life, someone who may be innocent.”

The Oakland City Council voted unanimously on July 31 to adopt the plan to build the surveillance center, which officials have said will be staffed 24 hours a day. Lawmakers voted at the same meeting to ban hammers and spray paint cans at local protests in fear that the items will be used as weapons. Waiting outside, protesters admonished council members with chants of “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

The Times reported that this project is not the first time Oakland has sought to develop such technology. A city audit viewed by the paper revealed that lawmakers spent nearly $2 million in 2012 on police tools that did not work or could not be used for a variety of reasons.

The center will be operational by July 2014, and will eventually cost $10.9 million in federal grants, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Oakland has been the site of contentious, at times violent, confrontations between police and protesters in recent years, and beyond.

The City of Oakland and Alameda County agreed in June to settle a class action lawsuit by paying out $1.025 million to 152 people arrested in 2010 while protesting the leniency of sentence for a white transit officer who shot dead an unarmed black man, Oscar Grant.

Occupy Oakland and police clashed many times, most notably in late October, 2011 as Oakland police attempted to clear its encampment and disperse hundreds of protesters, later leading to Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen suffering a skull fracture caused by a non-lethal projectile shot by police.

Tear gas was also used on protesters during May Day 2012.

On top of the centralized surveillance operation, as Privacy SOS wrote, the allegations that surveillance data was used to undermine the exercise of free speech by @Anon4Justice could have a chilling effect among other activists.

“This kind of government action sends a chilling message to all Oakland residents: If you protest the police, they will use the powerful surveillance tools at their disposal to come after you and interfere with your life — regardless of whether or not you’ve done anything wrong.

“Was the compilation of photographs of @Anon4Justice part of the Urban Shield exercise the activist was protesting? Is it OPD policy to use photographs of people exercising their First Amendment rights to get them in trouble with their employers? Is this kind of McCarthyite political repression how Oakland residents — or the rest of the country — want their tax dollars spent?”

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are Police in America Now a Military, Occupying Force?

By John W. Whitehead | Rutherford Institute | August 5, 2013

Despite the steady hue and cry by government agencies about the need for more police, more sophisticated weaponry, and the difficulties of preserving the peace and maintaining security in our modern age, the reality is far different. Indeed, violent crime in America has been on a steady decline, and if current trends continue, Americans will finish the year 2013 experiencing the lowest murder rate in over a century.

Despite this clear referendum on the fact that communities would be better served by smaller, demilitarized police forces, police agencies throughout the country are dramatically increasing in size and scope. Some of the nation’s larger cities boast police forces the size of small armies. (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg actually likes to brag that the NYPD is his personal army.) For example, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has reached a total of 10,000 officers. It takes its place alongside other cities boasting increasingly large police forces, including New York (36,000 officers) and Chicago (13,400 officers). When considered in terms of cops per square mile, Los Angeles assigns a whopping 469 officers per square mile, followed by New York with 303 officers per square mile, and Chicago with 227 cops per square mile.

Of course, such heavy police presence comes at a price. Los Angeles spends over $2 billion per year on the police force, a 36% increase within the last eight years. The LAPD currently consumes over 55% of Los Angeles’ discretionary budget, a 9% increase over the past nine years. Meanwhile, street repair and maintenance spending has declined by 36%, and in 2011, one-fifth of the city’s fire stations lost units, increasing response times for 911 medical emergencies.

For those who want to credit hefty police forces for declining crime rates, the data just doesn’t show a direct correlation. In fact, many cities across the country actually saw decreases in crime rates during the 1990s in the wake of increasing prison sentences and the waning crack-cocaine epidemic. Cities such as Seattle and Dallas actually cut their police forces during this time and still saw crime rates drop.

As I point out in my new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, there was a time in our nation’s history when Americans would have revolted against the prospect of city police forces the size of small armies, or rampaging SWAT teams tearing through doors and terrorizing families. Today, the SWAT team is largely sold to the American public by way of the media, through reality TV shows such as Cops, Armed and Famous, and Police Women of Broward County, and by politicians well-versed in promising greater security in exchange for the government being given greater freedom to operate as it sees fit outside the framework of the Constitution.

Having watered down the Fourth Amendment’s strong prohibitions intended to keep police in check and functioning as peacekeepers, we now find ourselves in the unenviable position of having militarized standing armies enforcing the law. Likewise, whereas the police once operated as public servants (i.e., in service to the public), today that master-servant relationship has been turned on its head to such an extent that if we fail to obey anyone who wears a badge, we risk dire consequences.

Consider that in 1980, there were roughly 3,000 SWAT team-style raids in the US. By 2001, that number had grown to 45,000 and has since swelled to more than 80,000 SWAT team raids per year. On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams. In fact, there are few communities without a SWAT team on their police force today. In 1984, 25.6 percent of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team. That number rose to 80 percent by 2005.

The problem, of course, is that as SWAT teams and SWAT-style tactics are used more frequently to carry out routine law enforcement activities, Americans find themselves in increasingly dangerous and absurd situations. For example, in late July 2013, a no-kill animal shelter in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was raided by nine Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agents and four deputy sheriffs. The raid was prompted by tips that the shelter was home to a baby deer that had been separated from its mother. The shelter officials had planned to send the deer to a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Illinois, but the agents, who stormed the property unannounced, demanded that the deer be handed over because citizens are not allowed to possess wildlife. When the 13 LEOs entered the property “armed to the teeth,” they corralled the employees around a picnic table while they searched for the deer. When they returned, one agent had the deer slung over his shoulder in a body bag, ready to be euthanized.

When asked why they didn’t simply ask shelter personnel to hand the deer over instead of conducting an unannounced raid, DNR Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer compared their actions to drug raids, saying “If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up.”

If these raids are becoming increasingly common and widespread, you can chalk it up to the “make-work” philosophy, in which you assign at-times unnecessary jobs to individuals to keep them busy or employed. In this case, however, the make-work principle is being used to justify the use of sophisticated military equipment and, in the process, qualify for federal funding.

It all started back in the 1980s, when Congress launched the 1033 Program to allow the Department of Defense to transfer surplus military goods to state and local police agencies. The 1033 program has grown dramatically, with some 13,000 police agencies in all 50 states and four US territories currently participating. In 2012, the federal government transferred $546 million worth of property to state and local police agencies. This 1033 program allows small towns like Rising Star, Texas, with a population of 835 and only one full-time police officer, to acquire $3.2 million worth of goods and military gear from the federal government over the course of fourteen months.

Military equipment sent to small towns has included high-powered weapons, assault vehicles and tactical gear. However, after it was discovered that local police agencies were failing to keep inventories of their acquired firearms and in some cases, selling the equipment for a profit, the transfer of firearms was temporarily suspended until October 2013. In the meantime, police agencies can still receive a variety of other toys and gizmos, including “aircraft, boats, Humvees, body armor, weapon scopes, infrared imaging systems and night-vision goggles,” not to mention more general items such as “bookcases, hedge trimmers, telescopes, brassieres, golf carts, coffee makers and television sets.”

In addition to equipping police with militarized weapons and equipment, the government has also instituted an incentive program of sorts, the Byrne Formula Grant Program, which awards federal grants based upon “the number of overall arrests, the number of warrants served or the number of drug seizures.” A sizable chunk of taxpayer money has kept the program in full swing over the years. Through the Clinton administration, the program was funded with about $500 million. By 2008, the Bush administration had reduced the budget to about $170 million, less out of concern for the militarization of police forces and more to reduce federal influence on law enforcement matters. However, Barack Obama boosted the program again at the beginning of his term, using the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to inject $2 billion into the program.

When it comes to SWAT-style tactics being used in routine policing, the federal government is one of the largest offenders, with multiple agencies touting their own SWAT teams, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Consumer Product Safety Commission, NASA, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the US National Park Service, and the FDA.

Clearly, the government has all but asphyxiated the Fourth Amendment, but what about the Third Amendment, which has been interpreted to not only prohibit the quartering of soldiers in one’s home and martial law but standing armies? While most Americans—and the courts—largely overlook this amendment, which at a minimum bars the government from stationing soldiers in civilian homes during times of peace, it is far from irrelevant to our age. Indeed, with some police units equivalent in size, weaponry and tactics to military forces, a case could well be made that the Third Amendment is routinely being violated every time a SWAT team crashes through a door.

A vivid example of this took place on July 10, 2011, in Henderson, Nevada, when local police informed homeowner Anthony Mitchell that they wanted to occupy his home in order to gain a “tactical advantage” in dealing with a domestic abuse case in an adjacent home. Mitchell refused the request, but this didn’t deter the police, who broke down Mitchell’s front door using a battering ram. Five officers pointed weapons at him, ordering him to the ground, where they shot him with pepper-ball projectiles.

The point is this: America today is not much different from the America of the early colonists, who had to contend with British soldiers who were allowed to “enter private homes, confiscate what they found, and often keep the bounty for themselves.” This practice is echoed today through SWAT team raids and the execution of so-called asset forfeiture laws, “which allow police to seize and keep for their departments cash, cars, luxury goods and even homes, often under only the thinnest allegation of criminality.”

It is this intersection of law enforcement and military capability which so worried the founding fathers and which should worry us today. What Americans must decide is what they’re going to do about this occupation of our cities and towns by standing armies operating under the guise of keeping the peace.

August 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Detroit cop goes on trial for killing 7-year-old girl

RT | May 29, 2013

A Detroit police officer charged with fatally shooting a 7-year-old girl while she was asleep on her couch will stand trial in June. The fatal gunshot was recorded by a reality TV crew, which was filming an episode of “The First 48.”

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a 7-year-old girl from Detroit, was shot in the head while a SWAT team conducted a midnight raid of her two-story home, tossed a flash grenade through a window, fired the bullet that killed her, and burst through the front door on May 16, 2010.

Police officers were searching for a murder suspect accused of killing a 17-year-old boy and were accompanied by a camera crew recording the raid for a reality A&E TV show called “The First 48” – a show that closely resembles “Cops”. The TV show tracks murder investigations in the immediate aftermath of a slaying, and provides viewers with real-life police drama.

But that quest for drama overstepped its boundaries on that fatal night three years ago. Officer Joseph Weekley, a then-member of the Detroit Police Special Response Team, was carrying the gun that shot that little girl. Police claim that the weapon accidentally discharged after Weekley bumped into the girl’s grandmother. But if convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Weekley could face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The cop has been accused of acting with gross negligence by failing to prevent his gun from firing. The victim was one of four young children that were in the home at the time of the raid. Video footage gathered by the A&E camera crew will serve as evidence in the case, but videographer Allison Howard is also facing charges. The camerawoman was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges after she was accused of withholding crucial video footage from authorities, while sharing it with unspecified “third parties”.

The shooting, together with the presence of “The First 48” camera crew, shocked and outraged Detroit residents and prompted Mayor Dave Bing to ban reality TV crews from shadowing police in Detroit. He also prompted then-Police Chief Warren Evans’ resignation for failing to inform the mayor that he was allowing TV cameras to accompany police raids. Evans was allegedly also planning to partake in a different reality TV show, in which he would be the star, AP reports.

“Police work is not television, and television work is not police work,” Ron Scott, spokesman for Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, told AP. “The two combined to make it a horrific night.”

Scott also referred to the raid and the shooting as a “military assault on a private dwelling”.

On Friday, Weekley appeared at a Detroit courthouse to file a motion for dismissal of the case against him. About 30 protesters, led by the victim’s family, gathered at the courthouse, chanting “Justice for Aiyana” and “No Justice, No peace”. Weekley’s motion was dismissed, and a jury for the case will be selected May 29.

“It shouldn’t have taken three years for this to come to justice when a little girl died,” Scott told MLive.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Government at Its Absolute Worst’ in Texas

By CAMERON LANGFORD | Courthouse News | May 8, 2013

AUSTIN – Trigger-happy Texas lawmen shot up a man’s car and ran him off the road, coming “within inches” of killing him, then found that “they had the wrong person,” the man claims in court.

Miguel Montanez sued the city of San Marcos, Hays County, Hays County Sheriff’s deputies Joe Faulkner and David Campbell, and John Doe Hays County SWAT team members 1-7 in Federal Court.

San Marcos, the seat of Hays County, is in Central Texas, south of Austin.

“On July 12, 2012, plaintiff Montanez was driving to work in the early morning. Montanez was not committing any crimes or wanted for anything. In fact, Montanez is a fully law abiding and employed citizen,” the complaint states.

“Out of nowhere, the Hays County SWAT Team and San Marcos Police Department pulled up on Montanez’s car and literally opened fire on it. The SWAT team also slammed their SWAT truck into Montanez’s car. The defendants engaged in this insane behavior even though Montanez was posing no threat whatsoever.

“By the grace of God, Montanez dove down in the car and narrowly avoided the bullets flying into his car. The defendants subsequently arrested Montanez but later let him go and did not charge him with anything. It turns out they had the wrong person. The defendants’ actions caused Montanez to sustain a very serious back injury, which requires a surgery.

“The actions by the defendants constitute government at its absolute worst. The defendants literally were within inches of killing a completely innocent citizen and did in fact cause him serious bodily and mental injuries. To this day, they have not apologized to Montanez.”

Montanez seeks damages for civil rights violations and excessive force.

He is represented by Adam Loewy of Austin.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Government at Its Absolute Worst’ in Texas

Expanding Security State

By affinis – Corrente – 05/06/2013

A few days ago, I noticed this piece at FDL: “’Homeland Security’ Spending Overtakes New Deal
TomDispatch: this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on ‘homeland security’ since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.

Two indicators of the expanding security state that caught my attention in the last few days:

1. Glenn Greenwald: “Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?

2. A massive lockdown in the Madison WI area (where I live).

A fugitive, Paris Poe, whom the FBI wanted for parole violation and questioning in a murder investigation, was spotted at a hotel in a Madison, WI suburb. Poe had previously been imprisoned for armed robbery. A large area encompassing much of Vernona, Fitchburg, and part of Madison, WI was then essentially locked down and swarmed with SWAT teams in a day-long manhunt.

Reverse 911 calls were made to all landlines (about 30,000 homes) asking residents to lock their doors and remain inside. Police asked all the businesses in their area to close and lock their doors. All six schools in the area were placed on lockdown and surrounded by police. In Verona, no-one could enter or exit the schools. In some classrooms, children were told to crouch under their desks for hours. In some schools, children were herded into the gym. Children were prohibited from using the bathroom, since that would involve leaving their rooms, and were told to urinate in buckets. Parents could not pick up their children since entry or exit was prohibited. Once the lockdown was ended, parents were required to present ID to take their children home. During the escalating panic, it was stated that Poe was on the FBI’s most wanted list, but he was not.

Late in the day, Poe was arrested far outside the locked down area. He was apparently unarmed, faces no charges in WI, and will be transported back to IL. News stories here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Comments Off on Expanding Security State

Fifteen Benefits of the War on Drugs

By Kevin Carson | Center for a Stateless Society | March 10, 2013

With American drug use levels essentially the same as — and levels of drug-related violence either the same as or lower than — those in countries like the Netherlands with liberal drug laws, public support for the War on Drugs appears to be faltering. This was most recently evidenced in the victory of major drug decriminalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington. Some misguided commentators go so far as to say the Drug War is “a failure.” Here, to set the record straight, are fifteen ways in which it is a resounding success:

1. It has surrounded the Fourth Amendment’s “search and seizure” restrictions, and similar provisions in state constitutions, with so many “good faith,” “reasonable suspicion” and “reasonable expectation of privacy” loopholes as to turn them into toilet paper for all intents and purposes.

2. In so doing, it has set precedents that can be applied to a wide range of other missions, like the War on Terror.

3. It has turned drug stores and banks into arms of the state that constantly inform on their customers.

4. Via programs like DARE, it has turned kids into drug informants who monitor their parents for the authorities.

5. As a result of the way DARE interacts with other things like Zero Tolerance policies and warrantless inspections by drug-sniffing dogs, the Drug War has conditioned children to believe “the policeman is their friend,” and to view snitching as admirable behavior, and to instinctively look for an authority figure to report to the second they see anything the least bit eccentric or anomalous.

6. Via civil forfeiture, it has enabled the state to create a lucrative racket in property stolen from citizens never charged, let alone convicted, of a crime. Best of all, even possessing large amounts of cash, while technically not a crime, can be treated as evidence of intent to commit a crime — saving the state the trouble of having to convert all that stolen tangible property into liquid form.

7. It has enabled local police forces to undergo military training, create paramilitary SWAT teams that operate just like the U.S. military in an occupied enemy country, get billions of dollars worth of surplus military weaponry, and wear really cool black uniforms just like the SS.

8. Between the wars on the urban drug trade and rural meth labs, it has brought under constant harassment and surveillance two of the demographic groups in our country — inner city blacks and rural poor whites — least socialized to accept orders from authority either in the workplace or political system, and vital components of any potential movement for freedom and social justice.

9.In addition, it brings those who actually fall into the clutches of the criminal justice system into a years-long cycle of direct control through imprisonment and parole.

10. By disenfranchising convicted felons, it restricts participation in the state’s “democratic” processes to only citizens who are predisposed to respect the state’s authority.

11. In conjunction with shows like Law and Order and COPS, it conditions the middle class citizenry to accept police authoritarianism and lawlessness as necessary to protect them against the terrifying threat of people voluntarily ingesting substances into their own bodies.

12. Through “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” rhetoric, it conditions the public to assume the surveillance state means well and that only evildoers object to ubiquitous surveillance.

13. In conjunction with endless military adventures overseas and “soldiers defend our freedoms” rhetoric, it conditions the public to worship authority figures in uniform, and predisposes them to cheerfully accept future augmentations of military and police authority without a peep of protest.

14. It creates enormously lucrative opportunities for the large banks — one of the most important real constituencies of the American government — to launder money from drug trafficking.

15. Thanks to major drug production centers like the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, the opium industry in Afghanistan, and the cocaine industry in South America, it enables the CIA — the world’s largest narcotrafficking gang — to obtain enormous revenues for funding black ops and death squads around the world. This network of clandestine intelligence agencies, narcotraffickers and death squads, by the way, is the other major real constituency of the American government.

The Drug War would indeed be a failure if its real function was to reduce drug consumption or drug-related violence. But the success or failure of state policies is rightly judged by the extent to which they promote the interests served by the state. The Drug War is a failure only if the state exists to serve you.

~

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation, and his own Mutualist Blog.

March 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Police militarization comes under nationwide investigation

RT | March 07, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union has launched a campaign to investigate the growing trend of placing militarized police units in cities and towns across the country.

Doors busted down and windows smashed in. It’s becoming more of a regular occurrence each day in America as heavily-armed SWAT teams are being sent to the homes of suspects, often nonviolent ones, with enough firepower to take down a small army. In November, a botched raid ended with an 18-year-old girl in the hospital. Other incidents haven’t been exactly isolated either: guns get drawn on both grannies and grandkids alike, and equipping law enforcement officers with the means to make these nightmares become reality is easier by the day.

Police units across the US are becoming more like militaries than the serve-and-protect do-gooders that every young schoolboy once aspired to be. Not only are officers being trained to act with intensity as the number of these home invasions increase, but more and more police departments are being awarded arsenals of heavy-duty weaponry that are then being turned not onto members of al-Qaeda, but innocent children and unsuspecting house guests.

ACLU affiliates across the United States filed Freedom of Information Act requests with law enforcement agencies on Wednesday in hope of obtaining as much material as possible relevant to the ongoing expansion of small town police squads to heavily armed squadrons of soldiers.

“Federal funding in the billions of dollars has allowed state and local police departments to gain access to weapons and tactics created for overseas combat theaters – and yet very little is known about exactly how many police departments have military weapons and training, how militarized the police have become, and how extensively federal money is incentivizing this trend,” reads a statement released by the ACLU. “It’s time to understand the true scope of the militarization of policing in America and the impact it is having in our neighborhoods.”

On Wednesday, the ACLU issued a statement saying branches and affiliates in 23 states around the country filed over 255 public records requests only hours after the investigation was formally launched. The agencies hope that, by analyzing documents, can learn more about the extent that “federal funding and support has fueled the militarization of state and local police departments.”

“Equipping state and local law enforcement with military weapons and vehicles, military tactical training, and actual military assistance to conduct traditional law enforcement erodes civil liberties and encourages increasingly aggressive policing, particularly in poor neighborhoods and communities of color,” explains Kara Dansky, senior counsel for the ACLU’s Center for Justice. “We’ve seen examples of this in several localities, but we don’t know the dimensions of the problem.”

The ACLU says they want to know as much as possible about the type of training given to local SWAT officers, as well as information about the types of technology used by agencies around the country. Through the FOIA requests, the ACLU hopes to learn what types of weapons have been used, who they’ve been used on and what the end result has been. They also want documentation pertaining to the growing use of GPS technology, surveillance drones and any agreements between local police departments and the National Guard. The ACLU is also interested in any relationships between small law enforcement units and the US Departs of Defense and Homeland Security.

“The American people deserve to know how much our local police are using military weapons and tactics for everyday policing,” adds Allie Bohm, an advocacy and policy strategist for ACLU. “The militarization of local police is a threat to Americans’ right to live without fear of military-style intervention in their daily lives, and we need to make sure these resources and tactics are deployed only with rigorous oversight and strong legal protections.”

In 2011, the Department of Defense gave half-a-billion dollars’ worth of military machinery that would have been left otherwise unused to law enforcement agencies coast-to-coast. Among the items offered up to officers at no cost at all that year were grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles and armored vehicles. Before 2012 came to a close, figures for that year were expected to end with more than a 400 percent increase.

Peter Kraska, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University, tells journalist Radley Balko that while the militarization of police squads is indeed accelerating, it isn’t likely the ACLU will get all the answers they want.

“My experience is that they’ll have a very difficult time getting comprehensive, forthright information,” Kraska says. “If the goal here is to impose some transparency, you have to understand, that’s not what the SWAT industry wants.”

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wanted: Dead, Not Alive: The LAPD is Afraid of What Renegade Cop Chris Dorner has to Say

By Dave Lindorff – This Can’t be Happening – 02/10/2013

Let’s not be too quick to dismiss the “ranting” of renegade LAPD officer Chris Dorner.

Dorner, a three-year police veteran and former Lieutenant in the US Navy who went rogue after being fired by the LAPD, has accused Los Angeles Police of systematically using excessive force, of corruption, of being racist, and of firing him for raising those issues through official channels.

By all media accounts, Dorner “snapped” after his firing, and has vowed to kill police in retaliation. He allegedly has already done so, with several people, including police officers and family members of police already shot dead.

Now there’s a “manhunt” involving police departments across California, focusing on the mountains around Big Bear, featuring cops dressed in full military gear and armed with semi-automatic weapons.

Nobody would argue that randomly killing police officers and their family members or friends is justified, but I think that there is good reason to suspect that the things that Dorner claims set him off, such as being fired for reporting police brutality, and then going through a rigged hearing, deserve serious consideration and investigation.

The LAPD has a long history of abuse of minorities (actually the majority in Los Angeles, where whites are now a minority). It has long been a kind of paramilitary force — one which pioneered the military-style Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) approach to “policing.”

If you wanted a good example to prove that nothing has changed over the years, just look at the outrageous incident involving LAPD cops tasked with capturing Dorner, who instead shot up two innocent women who were delivering newspapers in a residential area of Los Angeles. The women, Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71 (now in serious condition in the hospital), were not issued any warning. Police just opened fire from behind them, destroying their truck with heavy semi-automatic fire to the point that it will have to be scrapped and replaced. The two women are lucky to be alive (check out the pattern of bullet holes in the rear window behind the driver’s position in the accompanying photo). What they experienced was the tactics used by US troops on patrol in Iraq or Afghanistan, not the tactics that one expects of police. Their truck wasn’t even the right make or color, but LAPD’s “finest” decided it was better to be safe than sorry, so instead of acting like cops, they followed Pentagon “rules of engagement”: They attempted to waste the target.

LAPD officers fired on this car with clear intent to kill (check out the bullet holes behind the driver-seat position). Trouble was, it was the wrong make and wrong color, and instead of Dorner, it was two Latino women, one of whom is now in serious condition from her wounds. No warning was given before the barrage.

Local residents say that after that shooting, which involved seven LAPD officers and over 70 bullets expended, with nobody returning fire, the street and surrounding houses were pockmarked with bullet holes. The Los Angeles Times reports that in the area, there are “bullet holes in cars, trees, garage doors and roofs.”

In roofs?

What we had here was an example of a controversial tactic that the military employed in the Iraq War, and still employs in Afghanistan, called “spray and pray” — a tactic that led directly to the massive civilian casualties during that US war.

We shouldn’t be surprised that two brown-skinned women were almost mowed down by the LAPD–only that they somehow survived all that deadly firing directed at them with clear intent to kill.

The approach taken by those cop-hunting-cops of shooting first and asking questions later suggests that the LAPD in this “manhunt” for one of their own has no intention of capturing Dorner alive and letting him talk about what he knows about the evils rampant in the 10,000-member department. They want him dead.

When I lived in Los Angeles back in the 1970s, it was common for LAPD cops to bust into homes, gestapo-like, at 5 in the morning, guns out, to arrest people for minor things like outstanding court warrants for unpaid parking tickets, bald tires, or jaywalking.

Police helicopters also used to tail me — then an editor of an alternative news weekly — and my wife, a music graduate student, as we drove home at night. Sometimes, they would follow us from our car to front door with a brilliant spotlight, when we’d come home at night to our house in Echo Park. It was an act of deliberate intimidation. (They also infiltrated our newspaper with an undercover cop posing as a wannabe journalist. Her job, we later learned, was to learn who our sources were inside the LAPD — sources who had disclosed such things as that the LAPD had, and probably still has, a “shoot-to-kill” policy for police who fire their weapons.)

Friends in Los Angeles tell me nothing has changed, though of course the police weaponry has gotten heavier and their surveillance capabilities have gotten more sophisticated and invasive.

It is clear from the LAPD’s paramilitary response to the Occupy movement in Los Angeles, which included planting undercover cops among the occupiers, some of whom reportedly were agents provocateur who tried to encourage protesters to commit acts of violence, and which ended with police violence and gratuitous arrests, as in New York, that nothing has changed.

In other words, Dorner may be irrational, but he ain’t crazy.

A black military veteran, Dorner joined the police because he reportedly believed in service. Unable to go along with the militarist policing he saw on the job, he protested through channels and was apparently rewarded by being fired. Now, in his own violent way, he is trying to warn us all that something is rotten in the LAPD, and by extension, in the whole police system in the US. Police departments almost everywhere in the US, have morphed, particularly since 9/11/2001, from a role of providing public safety and law enforcement into agencies of brutal fascist control.

As Dorner says in his lengthy manifesto (actually quite explicit and literate, but described as “ranting” in corporate media accounts), in which he explains his actions and indicts the LAPD, “The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers.”

That could be said of many US police departments, I’m afraid.

Example: Last fall, I had the experience of trying to hitchhike in my little suburban town. A young cop drove up and informed me (incorrectly, it turns out) that it was illegal to hitchhike in Pennsylvania. When I expressed surprise at this and told him I was a journalist working on an article on hitchhiking, he then threatened me directly, saying that if I continued to try and thumb a ride, he would “take you in and lock you up.”

When I called a lawyer friend and said I was inclined to take the officer up on that threat, since I was within my rights under the law hitchhiking as long as I was standing off the road, he warned me against it, saying, “You don’t know what could happen to you if you got arrested.”

And of course he’s right. An arrest, even a wrongful arrest, in the US these days can lead to an added charge — much more serious — of resisting arrest, with a court basing its judgement on the word of the officer in the absence of any other witnesses. It can also lead to physical injury or worse, if the officer wants to lie and claim that the arrested person threatened him or her.

If I had been in Los Angeles, I would most likely have been locked up for an incident like that. Forget about any warning. You aren’t supposed to talk back to cops in L.A. And if you are black or Latino, the results of such an arrest could be much worse.

I remember once witnessing LAPD cops stopping a few Latino youths who had been joyriding in what might have been a stolen car. There was a helicopter overhead, and perhaps a dozen patrol cars that had converged on the scene, outside a shopping mall in Silverlake. I ran over to see what was happening and watched as the cops grabbed the kids, none of whom was armed, out of the vehicle and slammed them against the car brutally. It was looking pretty ugly, but by then neighbors from the surrounding homes, most of them Latino, who had poured out onto their lawns because of the commotion, began yelling at the cops. One man shouted, “We see what you’re doing. These boys are all healthy. If anything happens to any of them after you arrest them we will report you!”

The cops grudgingly backed off in their attack on the boys, and took them away in a squad car. I don’t know what happened to them after that, but they were most certainly saved, by quick community response, from an on-the-spot Rodney King-style beating that could have seriously injured them, or worse.

As things stand right now, with the LAPD gunning for Dorner, and wanting him dead and silenced, not captured, the public has to worry that it has more to fear from the LAPD than it has to fear from Dorner himself. At least Dorner, in his own twisted way, has specific targets in mind. The LAPD is in “spray and pray” mode.

Chris Dorner, in happier days, now a fugitive on the run from the LAPD "manhunters"

Chris Dorner, in happier days, now a fugitive on the run from the LAPD “manhunters”

Hopefully, Dorner will realize he can do more by figuring out a safe way to “come in from the cold” so he can try to testify about LAPD crimes, than by killing more cops. If he does manage to surrender, he’d better have a lot of support lined up to keep him safe while in custody.

It’s already clear that a lot of people in the LAPD want him dead.

February 11, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Montana SWAT raid leaves 12-year-old girl with second-degree burns

RT | October 13, 2012

The parents of a 12-year-old girl are asking for answers from the Billings, Montana SWAT team after a flash-bang grenade was tossed into their daughter’s bedroom, sending the preteen to a local emergency room with second-degree burns.

Armed police officers busted down the door of the Fasching family’s West End Billings home on Tuesday to execute a search warrant filed by the City-County Special Investigations Unit as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation. Before they could do as much, though, an agent with the SWAT team on the scene prematurely detonated a stun grenade that is reported to have caused not just substantial damage to the home but its occupants as well, including a 12-year-old girl only inches away from where the device was deployed.

“She has first- and second-degree burns down the left side of her body and on her arms,” mother Jackie Fasching tells The Missoulian newspaper. “She’s got severe pain. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.”

The girl, whose name is being withheld, was in her sister’s room when the SWAT team stormed the house early Tuesday. And while she has since been treated and released twice from a local hospital, pictures from the aftermath provided to the Missoulian by her parents show that the family didn’t suffer from just a minor mishap.

“I’m going to have to take them to counseling,” Mrs. Fasching says. “They’re never going to get over that.”

The early-morning raid occurred at around 6 a.m. when the entire family was home, and while the Billings Police Department says they took all precautions to minimize injury, they’re now apologizing for the injury their misconduct has caused.

“It was totally unforeseen, totally unplanned and extremely regrettable,” Police Chief Rich St. John tells the paper. “We certainly did not want a juvenile, or anyone else for that matter, to get injured.”

According to the story the department has provided to the paper, a member of the SWAT team accidently dropped a standard “flash-bang” grenade from a metal pole placed up to a bedroom window of the house without realizing that the device operated off a slight delay. The weapons are regularly used to disorient people in the immediate vicinity with a bright flash, loud bang and concussive blast, the paper writes. When it detonated inside the Fasching home, though, it was on the floor next the child.

Jackie Fasching says all of this could have been avoided if the police would have just used their manners.

“A simple knock on the door and I would’ve let them in,” she tells the paper. “They said their intel told them there was a meth lab at our house. If they would’ve checked, they would’ve known there’s not.”

Chief St. John says that the amount and significance of intelligence made available to the department was enough to warrant a raid either way, and said that the department weighed their investigation carefully before determining that a surprise visit was the best way to search the house.

“Every bit of information and intelligence that we have comes together and we determine what kind of risk is there,” he tells the Missoulian. “The warrant was based on some hard evidence and everything we knew at the time.”

“If we’re wrong or made a mistake, then we’re going to take care of it,” he adds. “But if it determines we’re not, then we’ll go with that. When we do this, we want to ensure the safety of not only the officers, but the residents inside.”

Three days after the raid, the department has yet to file any charges against members of the Fasching household and no one in the family has been taken into custody.

~~~

See also image of the indention produced by the grenade on the bedroom wall.

October 13, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Comments Off on Montana SWAT raid leaves 12-year-old girl with second-degree burns

Insecure in the Security State

By HOWARD LISNOFF | April 6, 2012

In order to understand the roots of contemporary police repression in the United States, readers need to return to the Vietnam War era and the attempt of the government to squelch political activism through the use of a centralized system of monitoring and responding to domestic social action and peace movements.

The protest movement of the Vietnam era scared the hell out of the government. The decision of Lyndon Johnson not to seek a second term and the resignation of Richard Nixon (in addition to the specter of Watergate) were reactions to the peace movement and reflections of that fear. Images of Nixon holed up in the White House portraying himself disinterested in the protest movement are at odds with the paranoia that produced Watergate.

Nixon responded to the demonstrations on the streets of the US by putting into motion the apparatus to monitor peace activists around the nation. By the time Jimmy Carter took office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (now under the Department of Homeland Security), originally given the responsibility to respond to disasters, expanded into the area of civil affairs. It was no accident that FEMA set up shop in places like National Guard armories around the nation and in other locations.  The agency was given enormously expanded powers under the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, allowing it to coordinate state defense forces (Martin, Harry, V. “FEMA-The Secret Government,” Free America, 1995). Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the enormous powers that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have added to an imperial presidency! Barack Obama has also given himself the power that allows for the assassination of US citizens deemed a threat to the country. A parallel development in policing that took off as FEMA enlarged its powers was the development of special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams that resembled storm troopers, or alternately, the forces of darkness portrayed in movies like Star Wars.  So, now there existed a centralized apparatus to respond to and track protest movements, and also to respond to them in a way that elicited terror for those who took to the streets in opposition to government policies and actions. It became routine to view nightly news broadcasts showing masses of police storming an area where a suspected criminal was located. Soon, these same shock troops showed up with regularity at protests in increasingly intimidating gear and in larger and larger numbers. Fast-forward over three decades later and it became expected that peaceful Occupy movements across the nation would be subjected to repression by SWAT teams and assaulted. Indeed, The Department of Homeland Security and Patriot Act gave added life to these shows of brute force in the face of peaceful demonstrations.

Now the police role of local, state, and national governments will be heightened by the 2013 completion of the National Security Data Center in Utah, run by the National Security Agency. Every communication, every traceable word, every electronic connection will be monitored by this spy agency. The data center is an Orwellian scenario in its intent and scope.

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 gave added sustenance to the security state mindset that is now routinely practiced on the streets of this nation. Occasionally, the security state spills over into what is routine policing. Incidents of police violence are now part of evening news telecasts. Such was the case in the police response to a mistaken call for help placed to a medical alert company in November 2011 in White Plains, New York.

Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. accidentally activated the button on his medical alert device in the early hours of a November morning. When he cancelled the false alert, the police showed up at his apartment in force along with an officer dressed in SWAT riot gear. Police demanded entry into Chamberlain’s apartment. He opened his apartment door a crack and told the police to leave. They insisted on entering and removed the door by its hinges and shot the unarmed former Marine Corps veteran dead within minutes of their incursion into his home, but not before taunting him for responding with “Semper fi” in answer to police taunts (“Officers, Why Do You Have Your Guns Out?” The New York Times, March 5, 2012). Ironically, Kenneth Chamberlain had spent twenty years as a corrections’ officer. He suffered from a serious heart ailment. For Kenneth Chamberlain’s innocuous mistake of activating his medical alert device, he paid with his life. At least one officer from White Plains was also heard shouting racial epithets prior to the shooting.

So, whether protesting on the streets of the US or accidentally activating a medical alert device, we are no longer safe and secure within the US security state!

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He can be reached at howielisnoff@gmail.com.

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April 6, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment