Sunday, April 6, 2008

knockin' the no-knock

tam snarked at me a bit here, but she had missed my point...

i didn't say the lady was selling dope...i said she fit the profile and didn't deserve to die for it...there was never further investigation because the whole thing was so stupid, botched, and corrupt, and porked, that it wouldn't matter if she had been selling or harboring dope, and in any case these actions and tactics could never be justified...there are several profiles that attract these nazi raids and we're all at risk...

now, in my best foxworthy (i hate his poser ass)..."if you're an old lady in a bad neighborhood where constant drug deals are made, you might fit a profile...if you're a decent lowtone guy like ryan frederick just livin' your lowtone life, you might fit a profile...or if you piss off an acquaintance who knows you own guns, and he decides to say you have an "arsenal" at you're home, then you more than might become an instant profile..."

again, the point is that the laws and methods used to enforce them...forfeiture, specific grants and subsidies for paramilitary squads and equipment, and the politics of "cracking down", virtually guarantee incidents like this, and anyone who might fit a profile is subject to having their home invaded based on just about any tenuous claim or thread of information, because it is necessary to justify the existence of the squads when there are very few justified uses for the squads.

but it is a mistake to damn the individuals who make up the police squads i said before, the problem is systemic, and though the system may be rigged to ensure that most cops, while probably good and well-intentioned, are chosen by evaluation to be non-analytical or contemplative, maybe have a few power issues...and most of all be willing to follow orders, and it is the orders and the genesis of them that are the problem.

the family of the lady was interviewed, and that is fine, but not the families of the cops, who are their husbands, sons, and brothers...if my three decades of contact with so many of these guys at every level from street cops and detectives to the brass, even state lea and fed atf guys is any guide, and my informal, unscientific lifetime study of human nature tells me it is, these were badly managed and misled guys who screwed up, panicked, and committed felonies to cover up what they should have never been doing in the first place.

the problem is systemic, all right, but not local...until there is enough understanding that the cancerous nature of laws and controlled behavior makes suspects of us all and is without any basis in the Constitution, we are doomed to more frequent and more broad-ranging intrusions, restrictions, and controls.

laws and policing focused on perpetrators of force or coercion on others, and not on the limiting of personal, private, behavior and responsibility, is the ideal and faraway the meantime, it's not fair to blame the messengers and characterize them as thugs any more than we should be called rightwing nracontrolled anarchist gun nuts because we appreciate the history, workmanship, function, control, and symbolism that our firearms represent.

my lower-case libertarian interpretation of the Constitution as a whole is that "an individual has the right and freedom to do and act as he sees fit so long as he harms or infringes the rights or freedoms of no other individual"...simplistic but all-emcompassing, though subject to interpretation as usual...that is why a Constitutionalist government and supreme court is so vital to us now, more than ever...and yes, Molon Labe, and all that that implies...jtc


Tam said...

Part of the problem with the Kathryn Johnson situation is that the cops involved in that particular instance were not good guys just doing their jobs as ordered. They were corrupt liars who knew good and well that they were busting into the wrong house, and further more, lied their butts off to cover their tracks, going so far as to plant dope to frame an old woman that they had shot to death in her house under the color of law.

I don't care if their moms and wives and kids think that they're the greatest guys since Santa Claus, there is no justice short of making a meat windchime out of the three of them.

Oh, and sorry you felt I was snarking at you... :o

the pawnbroker said...

that's okay, someone said it's fungible, and guys just wanna have funge....

but the first snarkbait in your original post was aimed at lowtones worried about lowlevel noknocks, and my link to xavier's post about just such a (not so funny) lowtone, resulted in your two links to two-year-old stories, one featuring a piece of shit serendipitously getting what his felonious ass deserved, and another wherein, if you accept the gospel of the ap, a group of career cops decided to target and kill an innocent old woman, apparently for the purpose of ending their own lives as well.

or it could have been a bunch of frustrated, half-trained, half-assed, half-witted, lazy, poorly informed cops got wrong information, or the wrong address, or came at the wrong time, and when all hell broke loose, their flawed selfprotect mechanism responded like it always has, do a throwdown and perjure your ass off until the higherups throw that ass to the wolves to save their own asses, and that seems a more likely scenario.

but of course my point that your readers are more likely to identify with the xavier story was and is to focus on the climate and conditions that make this crap so common, and less on the jackbooted thug characterization of the footsoldiers who are very much victims of profiling themselves...and making windchimes of them or throwing them to the lions might entertain the masses, but there's plenty more where they came from, and it could be my turn or your turn next.

this lady's death, whether she ever sold dope or allowed dope to be sold in her home, and the death and life-ending prosecution in the ryan frederick case, and any operation that goes awry in the attempted control and inept execution of warrants based on nonviolent infractions, is murder, but the culpability flows top to bottom and not bottom-up, and until that fact is realized and addressed, we'll see a lot more of these things going down, going wrong, and going crazy...jtc

the pawnbroker said...

my thanks to kevin, tam; in his comment on your original kathryn johnson article he referenced this gem of erudition and lucidity from eighteen frickin' years ago!which if taken to heart would do more to end this insanity than anything...

An Open Letter to Bill Bennett
by Milton Friedman, April 1990

In Oliver Cromwell's eloquent words, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken" about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.

Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

I append excerpts from a column that I wrote in 1972 on "Prohibition and Drugs." The major problem then was heroin from Marseilles; today, it is cocaine from Latin America. Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition.

Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, "crack" would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts. The lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent victims would have been saved, and not only in the U.S. The ghettos of our major cities would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man's lands. Fewer people would be in jails, and fewer jails would have been built.

Columbia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of narco-terror. Hell would not, in the words with which Billy Sunday welcomed Prohibition, "be forever for rent," but it would be a lot emptier.

Decriminalizing drugs is even more urgent now than in 1972, but we must recognize that the harm done in the interim cannot be wiped out, certainly not immediately. Postponing decriminalization will only make matters worse, and make the problem appear even more intractable.

Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs. Decriminalization would not prevent us from treating drugs as we now treat alcohol and tobacco: prohibiting sales of drugs to minors, outlawing the advertising of drugs and similar measures. Such measures could be enforced, while outright prohibition cannot be. Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic.

This plea comes from the bottom of my heart. Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence. A country in which shooting down unidentified planes "on suspicion" can be seriously considered as a drug-war tactic is not the kind of United States that either you or I want to hand on to future generations.

Unknown said...

I don't like these tactics either, and I worry about the direction we're heading as a country when we regard doorbusting and raids as legitimate forms of policing.

Have you ever heard of Sal Culosi? He was gunned down negligently by a SWAT cop. Slightly different circumstances but still along the same lines.

I presume you read Radly Balko's blog - - he covers this type of stuff frequently.

Great blog btw, I will visit often.

Unknown said...

I'm back and I wanted to say...