With the "War in Iraq" losing the public's support daily, The Cato Institute a conservative and libertarian "think tank" has named the pre-midterm election "Security September."(See story here.
The thinking is, we will see the GOP while still in the majority in both houses, pass a series of bills in September (before the election) that again sacrifice our Liberty in the name of Security, gaining us none of the latter (and proving that if we return these people to Washington D.C. we deserve none of the former) but hopefully convincing the voter that they are the party that will assure the voter's safety. They figure this is their best chance at a fall victory and holding their majority in both the House and the Senate.
Noting that the chances of being killed or maimed in a terrorist attack is less than the chance of dying in a bathtub this year, Cato destroys the need for more "nanny state" legislation that will not keep us from getting killed, but is killing our democracy and our traditions of freedom.
A second article entitled "Wrong Door" describes in great detail the abuse of SWAT teams since 9-11-01. In 1981 SWAT teams made 3000 http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/noknock.htm entries into homes. That number jumped to over 40,000 per year by 2001. The number today is astronomical.
No Knock warrants allow SWAT teams to enter a home without knocking first often scaring the hell out of the inhabitants. Now I can hear most of you saying "who cares, criminals deserve what they get." The fact is however, that these SWAT teams are wrong about where they are going a good percentage of the time. When they are wrong the results can be devastating.
Cato points out that in NYC alone, there were over 15 mistaken No Knock raids. These raids have given people Heart failure and disturbed children. People are not safe from the government within their own homes.
These raids are commando style raids, battering rams, tear gas, automatic weapons, multi-force tactics are the style. In one raid in NY, after it was obvious that the police went to the wrong apartment, they continued to search the one they were in anyway. (Never give up the opportunity to intimidate the neighborhood I guess.)
Cato's thinkers went on to note that despite the warning in the SCOTUS decision in Hudson v. Michigan, (which allowed no knocks [in a 5-4 decision] but where the deciding vote, cast by Justice Kennedy, [and his written Opinion} and the Opinion by Justice Scalia, opined that the remnant for an abuse of the No Knock rule was a civil rights suit) few if ever is anyone disciplined for the mistakes. Homes and apartments are wreaked by the raids and everyone is intimidated.
What is really wrong is not just the 15-20 mistaken raids but even the use of the No Knock warrant in cases seeking to arrest none violent criminals.
Cato's writers cite the attempt to apprehend one Salvatore Culosi in Virginia. He was accused of wagering on sports with friends small wagers 50-100 dollars. A cop found out about the wagers and started to up the ante with Culosi (in other words he was manufacturing a crime that would not take place but for the cops influence.) When he finally got Culosi to wager enough ($2000) to clear a felony in Virginia, the officer went with a SWAT team to Culosi's home. He rang the bell and when Culosi (who was a 37 year old optometrist for God's sake) answered the bell and came out of the house some trigger happy SWAT team member, accidentally(?)fired his semi automatic and killed Culosi. Now the state is dragging their feet in giving his family the information they need to proceed with their civil rights case against him.
Query how many Virginia SWAT team members does it take to arrest a gambling optometrist??? How should he be compensated??
I wish this was an isolated incident. The Cato article points out that it happens way too often. The calls to my office seeking help in mistaken raids tells me it happens all of the time. It is time someone act...but noone will, after all we have to convince Joe Voter to return us to Congress or Senate or the Statehouse. How many Salvatore Culosi's do there have to be.
I will let the Cato guys end this post the way they did their article:
"Most of the country is moving toward more militarization, more aggressive drug policing -- and less accountability when things go wrong."
Not on my watch...If you or a family member or friend has been the victim of Police overreaching, call my law office at 516-741-3400 or leave a message for me by clicking this link.