Using Water As A Weapon Of War

Herschel Smith · 03 Aug 2014 · 7 Comments

Next City: In a war, anything can be a weapon. In a particularly ruthless war, such as the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than three years, those weapons are often turned against civilians, making any semblance of normal life impossible. Such is the case, experts say, with the way the nation’s water supply is being manipulated to inflict suffering on the population. According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water…… [read more]

SWAT-capades

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

Recommended that SWAT units around the country stand down and relax just a bit, I have.  Regarding the ATF SWAT failure in Greeley, Colorado:

… apprehension can be done safely and without ugly incidents such as this one.  According to my friend, Captain Dickson Skipper of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, most apprehensions can be done physically, or with the really belligerent ones, using pepper spray.  But military tactics have replaced basic police work in America, with the behavior of tacti-cool “operators” justified by judges looking the other way, as if all of this is necessary to maintain order and peace.

And regarding D.C. Police bullying:

That night it would have been perfectly reasonable to send over a couple of uniformed officers (common uniforms, shirts and ties), knock on the door, and then communicate their concerns: “Sir, we received a phone call concerning a potential problem or disturbance in this area, and we would like to sit and chat with you for a few minutes.  May we come in, or perhaps you would like to come down to the precinct to chat with us?”

But with the increasing militarization of police activities in America, this is rarely good enough any more.  But the police aren’t the military, and even if they were, such tactics are inherently dangerous.  PoorEurie Stamps perished in a mistaken SWAT raid due to an officer, who had no trigger discipline, stumbling with a round chambered in his rifle and shooting Mr. Stamps (due to sympathetic muscle reflexes) who was prone on the floor.  Mr. Jose Guerena was shot to death in his home in a SWAT raid that looked like it was conducted by the keystone cops.  Such tactics are also dangerous for the police officers conducting the raids.

But a recent raid in Evansville, Indiana, proved just how reflexive it has become to conduct military-style raids on unsuspecting victims – and how unnecessary and dangerous it has all become.

The long-standingheavily documented militarization of even small-town American police forces was always going to create problems when it met anonymous Internet threats. And so it has, again—this time in Evansville, Indiana, where officers acted on some Topix postings threatening violence against local police. They then sent an entire SWAT unit to execute a search warrant on a local house, one in which the front door was open and an 18-year old woman sat inside watching TV.

The cops brought along TV cameras, inviting a local reporter to film the glorious operation. In the resulting video, you can watch the SWAT team, decked out in black bulletproof vests and helmets and carrying window and door smashers, creep slowly up to the house. At some point, they apparently “knock” and announce their presence—though not with the goal of getting anyone to come to the door. As the local police chief admitted later to the Evansville Courier & Press, the process is really just “designed to distract.” (SWAT does not need to wait for a response.)

Officers break the screen door and a window, tossing a flashbang into the house—which you can see explode in the video. A second flashbang gets tossed in for good measure a moment later. SWAT enters the house.

On the news that night, the reporter ends his piece by talking about how this is “an investigation that hits home for many of these brave officers.”

But the family in the home was released without any charges as police realized their mistake. Turns out the home had an open WiFi router, and the threats had been made by someone outside the house. Whoops.

So the cops did some more investigation and decided that the threats had come from a house on the same street. This time, apparently recognizing they had gone a little nuts on the first raid, the police department didn’t send a SWAT team at all. Despite believing that they now had the right location and that a threat-making bomber lurked within, they just sent officers up to the door.

“We did surveillance on the house, we knew that there were little kids there, so we decided we weren’t going to use the SWAT team,” the police chief told the paper after the second raid. “We did have one officer with a ram to hit the door in case they refused to open the door. That didn’t happen, so we didn’t need to use it.”

Their target appears to be a teenager who admits to the paper that he has a “smart mouth,” dislikes the cops, and owns a smartphone—but who denies using it to make the threats.

De-escalation is the order of the day.  There is no reason to reflexively assume that a SWAT raid is in order, and every reason to take more care and concern for the unintended consequences of the use of such military tactics on American citizens.  Note to police departments around the nation: relax, call a uniform, and let him tell you what needs to be done, if anything.

Prior:

DEA SWAT Raid And Ninth Circuit Ruling

ATF SWAT Failure

D.C. Police Bullies

One Police Officer Dead and Five Wounded From No-Knock Raid

Judges Siding With SWAT Tactics

The Moral Case Against SWAT Raids

Department Of Education SWAT Raid On Kenneth Wright

The Jose Guerena Raid: A Demonstration Of Tactical Incompetence

Trey Gowdy On Contempt For Holder

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

So Eric Holder has been held in contempt of Congress.  Good.  And the Congress should continue the quest for the truth in its examination of the depths of lawlessness in Fast and Furious – and its coverup.

Representative Trey Gowdy tells us why this is necessary.  Honestly, I’m jealous.  The South Carolina upstate area, Greenville-Spartanburg, has some great people.  Representative Gowdy is one of them, and we need more like him.  If the entire Congress consisted of men like this we wouldn’t be in such a mess on so many levels.  This is worth the time – please ignore the glitch at about 3:28 into the video.

Report: Gun-Walking Not Part Of The Plan

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

From Politico:

A new report on the botched Fast and Furious operation that has landed Attorney General Eric Holder on the hot seat alleges that contrary to popular belief, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives never meant to allow guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

The lengthy story, published Wednesday by Fortune after a six-month investigation, claims that according to law-enforcement agents directly involved in the operation, ATF did not intentionally let arms cross the U.S.-Mexico border so they could end up in the hands of criminals on the other side.

“They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn,” the report says.

Featured prominently in the story is Dave Voth, a former Fast and Furious supervisor for the ATF who came under fire in 2011 when an agent publicly accused supervisors of ordering subordinates to purposefully refrain from seizing weapons in the hopes that the guns could lead them to criminals. One such gun has been linked to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

The story charges that “the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies,” and accuses some lawmakers, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), of seizing on and amplifying the initial allegations to “score points” against the Obama administration.

You don’t say?  So the very player who was responsible for implementing the corrupt strategy at the ground level, and who certainly doesn’t want to be the first to go down if this all unravels, is claiming that it was all botched rather than intentional.  Take careful note how this is all couched, i.e., in language of frustration over the lack of tools to do the job.  In this case, tools = laws and regulations.

That’s right.  They are still going after laws and regulations, as if Voth began the approach, go just so far into the thick of it, and then to his great surprise, suddenly figured out that there was no set of regulations that allowed him to do this, or abetted his efforts, or gave him the latitude to pull all of this off.  The disingenuous part of all of this is that there is no possible world in which any set of U.S. regulations assists the ATF in tracking weapons when they get into the hands of criminals and war lords South of our border.  In order for any U.S. regulation to apply, they would have had to do that which Voth specifically forbade, that is, interdict the weapons before they crossed the border.

Voth’s approach is the same as the one used by Dianne Feinstein: blame it all on lack of regulations and laws.  And for an administration that claims Fast and Furious had nothing to do with a push for increased regulation, they sure seem to want more regulation out of all of this mess.  Of course, this is all reason enough to continue the mission towards complete openness, beginning with a vote of contempt concerning Eric Holder.

As a side bar, I haven’t followed Fortune very closely, but for Politico to parrot the talking points only sullies their own reputation.  Every time I read Politico I have even less respect for them than I did the time before.  They are quickly becoming an un-serious group of folks.

Last Ditch Meetings To Avoid A Contempt Vote On Eric Holder

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

From John Parkinson and Jake Tapper:

Days before the House of Representatives is scheduled to take an unprecedented vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, Obama administration officials and House Republican aides met today at the White House in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the standoff over documents related to the Fast and Furious gunwalking operation.

Those participating in the meeting included White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Justice Department associate deputy attorney general Steven Reich and staff representing House Speaker John Boehner and Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, although neither lawmaker was there.

At the meeting, GOP staffers from the speaker’s office and the Oversight and Government Reform committee were permitted to briefly look at about 30 pages of documents, but both sides were unable to strike an agreement to avoid the contempt vote Thursday.

The hour-long meeting was described by a senior Obama administration official and GOP congressional sources as “picking-up on the offer DOJ made last Tuesday to the Committee” and was a product of a previous conversation between the speaker’s office and the White House.

“At the time [last week], Republicans rejected the offer because they claimed to be uncomfortable making a deal without seeing the documents,” the administration official told ABC. “In response, today we reached out and showed them a representative sample of the documents so they could see first-hand the types of communications in contention. This offer would result in the committee getting unprecedented access to documents showing how the Department responded to the Committee’s inquiry and would dispel any notion of an intent to mislead Congress.”

A congressional GOP aide who asked not to be identified also told ABC the offer was essentially the same as what Holder had presented Issa at the Capitol a week ago: A promise to make a compilation of documents available if the committee ends its investigation and takes contempt off the table. That offer was flatly rejected again today.

Republicans also asked the White House today whether it was willing to make a log available of the documents that the president would continue invoking executive privilege over, but the officials made clear that was “off the table,” according to a congressional source.

Fox News calls this a last ditch effort to resolve the contempt issue with Eric Holder.  This is one branch of our government holding another branch accountable.  At least back when I attended grammar and middle school, Americans were being taught that the branches of government have means to do this, and the practice of it is called balance of power.

There is no reason to attempt to avoid the vote.  The fast and furious scandal is the most significant and obscene lawlessness in any administration in recent history, and maybe ever in American history.  Congress has a duty to act.  As Glen Tschirgi observed:

Congress has an absolute duty to exercise its Constitutional power to oversee and reign in (when necessary) the excesses of the Executive Branch.   While there have been calls for the appointment of independent counsel (formerly known as a “special prosecutor”), those calls have been directed at the Obama Administration to make that appointment, presumably under Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution known as, “The Appointment Power.”   But this power is not the exclusive prerogative of the Executive Branch.  According to the case of Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988), Congress has the power to indirectly appoint “inferior officers” such as Independent Counsel by directing the Judiciary to make such an appointment with its approval.   This power arises for the very reason that the Executive Branch cannot always be expected to cooperate in appointing an Independent Counsel when Executive wrongdoing is involved.

And recall what I have mentioned before concerning the walking of guns into Mexico for use by criminals and war lords.  “The trafficking of weapons in violation of the National Firearms Act and Export Control Act isn’t a “mistake.”  It’s an illegality.”  As one astute and knowledgeable individual described to David Codrea:

While the ATF, and by extension the USGOV, did not formally sell (or provide) weapons to straw purchases and physically deliver these weapons across the border to into a foreign sovereign nation, the ATF and the USGOV was/were the intellectual author(s) of a comprehensive plan to facilitate the sale and illegal export of weapons to a foreign country. As such, the ATF and the USGOV are the intellectual authors of a conspiracy (I am not an attorney, but use the word “conspiracy” in a broad sense) to illegally export weapons to a foreign country.

Those exports were a clear violation of US weapons export laws, and the USGOV knowingly conspired and allowed those weapons to leave the United States without, (1) A valid US Department of State Export License, (2) a valid End Use statement signed by an appropriate Mexican GOV authority attesting as to the use and end destination of the weapons, and (3) a valid Import License issued by the GOV of Mexico documenting approval for the weapons to enter Mexican sovereign territory. It would not be a stretch to suggest that one could successfully argue that the ATF’s actions, and by extension the USGOV, by facilitating these exports are: (a) complicit in illegal arms trafficking in violation of US weapons export law as codified by ITAR (DOS export regulations), and (b) complicit in a violation of Mexican law by knowingly allowing the weapons to transit into Mexican sovereign territory. Whether the USGOV could be found complicit or guilty of arms trafficking under international law (apart from ITAR and Mexican law) is not something I could speak to. I would, however, offer the following: (1) If any individual or any private group of any national origin had coordinated such an operation, the full legal powers of the Mexican government, the USGOV, and Interpol (not legal powers strictly speaking) would have been brought to bear on that individual or group (witness international arms trafficking prosecutions over the last 20 years), each of those government/other entities would have competed to get the arrest and prosecution headline in their national newspapers, that individual or group would have been immediately detained and incarcerated pending charges, charges would most likely be not in the dozens but in the thousands (as each weapon trafficked can be made to count for several if not dozens of individual violations), and all assets (financial and other, whether or not gained from trafficking) would be seized, and (2) if this were conducted by any number of sovereign countries – in particular any Latin American or African country – perhaps Ecuador facilitating transit/delivery of weapons to the FARC in Colombia, or South Africa providing weapons to a sub-Saharan civil war (create any scenario you wish) – that country facilitating the weapons transit would likely suffer several consequences: (1) The low-level individuals involved, if found by international authorities would be incarcerated (but likely they would never be found), (2) an international court (and perhaps the USGOV under previous administrations) would call for all top level GOV officials (Minister of Defense, Minister of Justice, and perhaps the President – as they are all in the chain of corruption) to be held accountable and tried – and perhaps extradited and (3) the country in question would be labeled as an international pariah, perhaps sanctioned, and certainly black-listed from purchasing and selling weapons and “bellic materiel” from the “civilized nations”.

Thus – the “who knew what when” and the “who told you not to release material that my office requested” etc. is nice to know but gets away from the real issue. The real issue is that the USGOV, through the ATF, was the intellectual author of an illegal arms trafficking operation that violated both US law and Mexican law – and perhaps international law. That is institutional and governmental corruption of the worst kind, above and beyond a few AKs crossing a border.

Far from something to be avoided, holding Eric Holder and the DoJ accountable is a year late.  But it’s better late than never.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the link.  Also, I concur with his expectation that the NRA flex its significant muscle concerning this scandal.  David remarks:

The NRA must be involved. Now is not the time to avoid confirmation, now is the time to show the leadership it claims, and that its membership expects of it.

Turning to their politically potent candidate rating process, they can and should make it clear that a contempt vote will be scored, as will members of the GOP leadership thinking about going squishy. If they will not play this card, and before it’s too late, gun owners deserve to know why.

UPDATE: NRA promises to score the vote.

Juan Williams On Brian Terry’s Death: “Hey, People Die”

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

Glenn Reynolds calls Juan Williams a crank.  Michelle Malkin is called “just a blogger” by Juan Williams.  Glenn is just being nice.  And Michelle is the one with the class compared to the toad Juan Williams.  Here is Juan Williams on The Five.

H/T Family Security Matters.

Lessons To Draw From Afghanistan (Or, How Obama Really Lost The Campaign)

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, writing for The Washington Post, excerpts his book, beginning his article with the following indictment.

The day after he arrived in Kabul in June 2009, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, then the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, gathered his senior officers to discuss the state of the war. They barraged him with PowerPoint slides — the frequency of Taliban attacks and their impact; the number of local security forces; and an evaluation of the Afghan government’s effectiveness in each province. The metrics were grim, the conclusion obvious: The Americans and their NATO allies were losing.

The part of the country that concerned McChrystal most was the city of Kandahar and the eponymous province that encompasses it. Founded by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., Kandahar city has long been the symbolic homeland of ethnic Pashtuns. In the 1990s, just as every other band of conquerors had done for the past thousand years, the Taliban used it as a springboard from which they captured Kabul and much of the rest of the nation. If the Americans were going to retake Afghanistan, they needed to start with Kandahar.

But the Pentagon had not sent most of the new U.S. forces that had arrived in Afghanistan to Kandahar. The first wave — a Marine brigade comprising more than half of the 17,000 additional troops President Obama authorized in February 2009 — had been dispatched to neighboring Helmand province, which McChrystal and his top advisers considered of far lower strategic significance.

“Can someone tell me why the Marines were sent to Helmand?” the incredulous McChrystal asked his officers.

The answer — not fully known at the time to McChrystal and his officers — would reveal the dysfunction of the U.S. war effort: a reliance on understaffed NATO partners for crucial intelligence, a misjudgment of Helmand’s importance to Afghanistan’s security, and tribal politics within the Pentagon that led the Marines to insist on confining themselves to a far less important patch of desert.

The consequences were profound: By devoting so many troops to Helmand instead of Kandahar, the U.S. military squandered more than a year of the war. Had the initial contingent of Marines been sent to Kandahar, it could have obviated the need for a full 30,000-troop surge later that year, or it could have granted commanders the flexibility to combat insurgent havens in eastern Afghanistan much sooner, allowing them to meet Obama’s eventual withdrawal deadlines without objection.

Instead, U.S. forces will begin heading home this summer with much of the east in disarray and security improvements in Kandahar still tenuous. Helmand is faring considerably better, but the gains there are having only a modest impact on Afghanistan’s overall stability.

Without the diversion into Helmand, U.S. troops could have pushed into more critical areas of the country before a clear majority of Americans concluded that the war was no longer worth fighting.

Analysis & Commentary

This is horse shit.  Obama and McChrystal have culpability, and we’ll get to that in a moment.  But the tale being spun here makes it sound like a few more sprinkles of magic counterinsurgency pixie dust and the whole thing would have gone much easier.  Perhaps unknown to many who didn’t follow the warp and woof of the campaign, this issue about why the U.S. Marines went to the Helmand Province is not a new debate.  Neither is the story that McChrystal was presented with the decision to send most of the Marines to Helmand as a fait accompli.  Logistical and institutional inertia made it impossible to change things.  Or at least, that’s the story.

Rajiv is telling a tall tale, and the issue was much more complicated than he hints.  I discussed this almost three years ago, and the same thing is true today that was true when I penned the defense of Marines in the Helmand Province.  McChrystal and the Pentagon were under the influence, even control, of the advocates of population-centric counterinsurgency.

Bring stability operations to the population centers, and good governance, goods, services, participation in government on the local level, redress of grievances, and so on, and it will render the outlier Provinces and lower population centers irrelevant, with insurgents unable to topple the central government from those far flung places.

But recall, this is the same Stanley McChrystal that allowed David Rodriguez to micromanage the Marines on their way through Marjah.  “Less than six hours before Marines commenced a major helicopter-borne assault in the town of Marja, Rodriguez’s headquarters issued an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense.”

Killing the enemy wasn’t a priority.  Rajiv even says so later in the article, exclaiming “the military’s counterinsurgency strategy was supposed to place troops near civilian population centers to protect residents from insurgents, not chase bad guys in the desert or remote valleys.”  But arguing for doing just that, I observed that the insurgents who destabilized Kandahar and other areas of Afghanistan came from Helmand, Kunar, Nuristan and other far flung places where we needed to chase and kill them.

In fact, the larger scale Marine Corps operations in Helmand were predated by intensive fights by the 24th MEU in Garmsir where they killed some 400+ Taliban fighters.  The hue and cry of the people at that time had nothing to do with wells, schooling, governance or anything of the sort.  “We are grateful for the security.  We don’t need your help, just security.”  Similar words were spoken at a meeting in Ghazni with the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan: ““We don’t want food, we don’t want schools, we want security!” said one woman council member.”

Corporal William Ash, a squad leader from 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), along with a stray dog lead a patrol through a city in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. When the platoon moved into the area, they found two stray dogs, and each time the Marines head out on patrol the dogs are right at the Marines’ side.

In fact, I remarked at one point how ironic it was that McChrystal, who was so concerned about inadvertent casualties that his ROE wouldn’t even allow illumination rounds for night time combat, and who wanted separation of the insurgents from the population in order to engage, was so unpersuaded by the Taliban invitation to join them in a fair fight in Now Zad, where they had completely run off the population and were using the place as an R&R haven.

So did the Marines have enough men to engage Kandahar and Helmand at the same time in order to prevent having to play whack-a-mole counterinsurgency?  Recall that while I was the only blogger at the time covering and commenting on Now Zad that while the men there were losing legs, arms and their lives, living in hobbit holes two or three Marines to a hole, I could not recall any time in the last four years driving across Camp Lejeune when there were so many barracks being built, so many Marines in the states, and so many units living in multiple different locations on the base because there wasn’t enough housing for them in the same barracks.

Recall that I also said that there were Marines who had finished entire periods of enlistment who, while spending time on wasteful MEUs floating across the seas and stopping in every port to become drunk, had neither been to either Iraq nor Afghanistan in the entire four years.

Yes, there were enough Marines to have pulled this off.  A Regimental Combat Team or two could have locked down Kandahar like they did in Fallujah in 2007, conducted census operations, and found and killed the Taliban fighters.  Kandahar could have been essentially cleared with enough focus and effort.

But McChrystal’s strategy not only abandoned far flung Provinces to focus on population centers … leaving the roads to the insurgents just like the Russians did … it abandoned the Pech River Valley in Kunar and Nuristan, along with the entire Hindu Kush mountains.  Every military strategist now acknowledges that this was an error, and we are back into Nuristan.

But only for a while.  After all, we have given a date for withdrawal.  With obfuscation like Rajiv’s article, it’s easy to forget that the administration which began its tenure with a commitment to “the good war” saw that commitment evaporate in the face of hard questions.  What was an effective campaign slogan soon became a byline, and rather than meet the military needs for a full scale surge, we saw a half-ass surge that gave them only some of what had been requested.

At the same time, an end date was set, with the enemy now knowing just how long it would take to run out the clock.  Puerile national security advisers turned Afghanistan into the WTF? war, and men who gave so much in this awful region of the world now see no reason for the loss, and are simply happy to have brought their men home.

There were many mistakes in the campaign: a half-ass surge, a childish national security adviser, McChrystal having surrounded himself with juveniles, overbearing rules of engagement, under-resourcing, strategy that could have been created with a random number generator any given day, poor communication to the American people as to the reasons for the campaign, failure to hold Pakistan accountable for harboring the enemy, loving up on corrupt politicians like Hamid Karzai and his brother Wali Karzai, sending billions of dollars to enlarge and ensure the corruption, and on and on the list goes.

But pointing a finger at the hard work of the U.S. Marines in Now Zad, Musa Qala, Sangin, Garmsir and other places in Helmand isn’t just unfair.  It’s scurrilous and dishonest.   The administration bears the responsibility for the failure.  Campaign slogans aren’t just word games, they are promises to be kept by men in authority and power.  The Soldiers and Marines who have perished demand better of our leaders.

Continuing SWAT Raid Errors And Pranks

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

From CBS Atlanta:

South Fulton County resident, Tim McCullum experienced a wave of emotions after he received a phone call from Fulton County police on Feb. 9.

“I was shook up. I was like, ‘What do I do?’ I was nervous, I’m scared,” McCullum said. “The officer told me they were at my house and that I have a bomb threat. He told me I needed to get here quick as I can.”

But it was more than that just a bomb threat. The caller told the 911 operator he was not alone.

“He said he had two family members in the house with him and that he was going to kill them,” Fulton County police SWAT Captain Wade Yates said.

When that call came in, Yates and his SWAT team responded quickly.

“What scared me the most that night is that all my guys are running in emergency mode. They are running the blue lights and sirens, cutting through traffic to get to this call,” Yates said.

McCullum lives on Topaz Road in Riverdale, where Fulton County fire fighters, patrol officers and the SWAT team all responded to. They shut down Old National and evacuated several homes in McCullum’s neighborhood for four hours.

“We started doing a background investigation to determine who it might be, what their motivation might be and that’s when we discovered the homeowner lived there alone, no one should be in the house and realized it was a ‘SWAT-ing’ incident,” Yates said.

“It takes away the citizen services in South Fulton County. It puts everyone in danger. We had to shut down a major thoroughfare in South Fulton County that people couldn’t get home. It also cost a lot of overtime,” Yates said …

“It was probably like 50 to 60 cops out here. If something was really going on somewhere else, we’re losing out of potential resources because these people are here on a bogus call. If anyone gets caught they definitely need to be prosecuted,” McCullum said.

From WHEC-TV, via Reason:

“I thought it was a family member pulling a joke on me,” Dominicos told WHEC-TV. “And all of the sudden I looked up and they were in my dinning room pointing a loaded gun at me telling me they had a federal warrant to search my premises.”

Not only did they threaten Dominicos, but they come close to using deadly force on her son, who was upstairs when the agents entered his mother’s house:

“My son had heard me arguing with this man and it was not a voice he’d recognize. My son is a hunter, he put a bullet in the chamber of his gun. They heard that, they yelled down long gun, at that point there he told another ATF agent that was with me, handcuff her and take her out,” Dominicos said.

Thankfully Dominicos’ son recognized it was law enforcement and put the gun down right away. Dominicos says the handcuffs caused bruises and as she was going outside with an ATF agent she heard him say they had the wrong house. The ATF and Rochester police executed a number of search warrants Wednesday night. Police sent us a statement, saying they entered the home through an unlocked side door and quote:

“Upon encountering an elderly resident, the team realized that they were at the wrong location at that time and left the premises.”

Charlotte is in the Finger Lakes area of New York, which means that this is the second time in the last four months an elderly person in that region has been a victim of a wrong-door raid. In March, police working under the Finger Lakes Drug Task Force raided the home of 76-year-old Fred Skinner.

Analysis & Commentary

The image above is copied from the video supplied for the Fulton County SWAT.  I didn’t want to link the video because it is so goofy.  Notice what they have done to the M-4 style AR.  They have attached an ammunition box to it, and in the video they are shown carrying drums (like a SAW operator, SAW being Squad Automatic Weapon).  My own son operated a SAW in the 2/6 Marines, with a combat tour in Fallujah in 2007.  He also trained the 2/6 Marines. Golf Company, SAW operators.  Fully automatic weapons like that, needing ammunition drums, are area suppression weapons, and even then, using an open bolt system (unlike the closed bolt design of the weapon in the photograph), it has to be operated judiciously to keep from melting the barrel.  There is no … reason … whatsoever … that a reaction team of any sort (in law enforcement in U.S. cities) needs area suppression fire.  None.

This is yet another indication of just how out of control this militarization of police tactics has become.  The young man who chambered a round in his weapon is very fortunate that he didn’t die.  One never knows, of course, since dressing up in tactical gear and announcing as law enforcement officers has become a tactic for criminals to use in home invasions.  He took his chances that the SWAT team wasn’t a gang of criminals, and this time he was right.  In the future, will the SWAT team be so restrained?  Will the young man guess right and stand down?

These are salient questions as we ponder the fate of poor Mr. Eurie Stamps, who perished when an incompetent SWAT officer stumbled across his prone body and fired his weapon because of sympathetic muscle reflexes (the officer had no trigger discipline and shot Mr. Stamps who was lying on the floor).  Muzzle flagging innocent people would get most ordinary citizens prison time.  And it should.  But the courts do not see law enforcement officers as ordinary citizens.

They should.  The weapon used by LEOs carries no more authority than does the one I carry on my own side.  The Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner allows LEOs to fire their weapon in self defense, and not to prosecute detentions or arrests.  In other words, they cannot shoot someone who refuses to be arrested.  These military tactics, dangerous because poor training, poor muzzle discipline and poor trigger discipline have caused and will continue to cause needless deaths and injuries, will stop when the public outcry is loud enough.  The courts could also stop it, but their self-proclaimed protections of citizens has proven to ring hollow.

There is an easier way.  Police departments could stop the tactics voluntarily.  As my son has observed, if someone wants to be an “operator,” they should join up, take the training, fly across the pond, and do it for real.  Otherwise, they are peace officers.  Departments can dispatch uniformed officers to disturbances to ascertain the need for any further escalation of force.  Then, in the words of my co-writer, Glen Tschirgi, himself an attorney, the solution is simple.

“STRICT. LIABILITY.

In plain speak, it means, essentially, that if you choose to operate, for instance, an explosives factory, you are going to be held strictly liable for any and every screw up or harm done that results from your activities. No ifs, ands or buts. No defense.

A more common example is the one in Maryland where the courts recently imposed strict liability on owners of pit bulls. If you choose to own one, you are liable for *anything* that dog does. It is basically a four-legged, panting, drooling lawsuit walking around.

Same thing for these SWAT-niks: if a city/county chooses to have a SWAT unit then it (and every member of that unit) will be strictly liable for any and every screw up, wrong raid, wounding, murder, emotional distress and other possible harm that might occur. Yes, massive amounts of money may not make the nightmares for those little girls go away, but it will make cities and counties think long and hard about whether to continue with a SWAT program and, if so, when and how to use it. All you have to do is look at how a few big money lawsuits have changed the face of playgrounds all over the U.S. No more swings, no more jungle gyms, etc.”

Whatever the catalyst, changes must be made.

Prior:

DEA SWAT Raid And Ninth Circuit Ruling

ATF SWAT Failure

D.C. Police Bullies

One Police Officer Dead and Five Wounded From No-Knock Raid

Judges Siding With SWAT Tactics

The Moral Case Against SWAT Raids

Department Of Education SWAT Raid On Kenneth Wright

The Jose Guerena Raid: A Demonstration Of Tactical Incompetence

Coverups Are Ugly: From The D.C. Police To Fast And Furious

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

We have previously discussed the illegal bullying tactics used by the D.C. police to go after second amendment rights.  Now from the most recent reporting by Emily Miller, there is a coverup underway over this incident.

Army 1st Sgt. Matthew Corrigan learned the hard way that the District of Columbia doesn’t believe it has to abide by the Constitution like the 50 states do. For nearly 40 years, the nation’s capital completely ignored the Second Amendment.

(This is the final part of a four-part series. Click here to read part one.)

On Feb. 3, 2010, the Metropolitan Police Department also didn’t give much thought to the Fourth Amendment right of Americans to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. The department’s SWAT team blew through due process and into the home of Sgt. Corrigan without a warrant because the reservist was suspected of having an unregistered personal gun in his home.

When the incident was taken to court, the city realized its prosecution was jeopardized by the lack of a warrant. Officers came up with various cover stories of “exigent circumstances,” but the scheme unraveled before going to trial. Though all charges were dropped last month, the veteran who volunteered to serve a year in Iraq has suffered immensely. He is suing the city for a minimum of $500,000 in damages. The story of how the city’s case against Sgt. Corrigan fell apart says a lot about the contempt in which the District holds gun owners.

On the night of his arrest, SWAT team members woke Sgt. Corrigan at 4 a.m. and ordered him out of his home. They demanded the keys to his English basement apartment. When the soldier refused, the officers broke down his front door, ransacked his apartment, threw his dog Matrix in the pound, and seized his three personal guns and seven types of ammunition.

The cops zip-tied the first sergeant’s hands and put him into an armored command truck, where he was questioned before any guns were found. They didn’t check with a judge. “When I was secured, a warrant could have been obtained,” Sgt. Corrigan said. “When I offered not to give my consent to enter my place, a warrant could have been obtained. When the first weapon in plain view was allegedly seen, a warrant could have been obtained. … During each of these incidents what was the exigency that prevented a warrant from being obtained?”

Sgt. Corrigan’s attorney, Richard E. Gardiner, filed a motion to suppress the evidence in August 2010, saying the police violated his client’s rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. City officials claimed they had to act because Sgt. Corrigan was an expert in planting explosives and there was a smell of gas in the building. According to a November 2010 filing, police “gained intelligence about the defendant, including information that the defendant was an Iraqi war veteran with specialized training (believed to be training in connection with deploying ‘booby traps’).” These factors supposedly created an emergency situation requiring entry without a warrant.

Both exigent circumstances – the smell of natural gas and experience with booby traps – were fabricated.

Well there you have it.  Material false information presented as the truth.  I didn’t say anything in the last post because I wanted to see how all of this shook out, but I knew at that time that the D.C. police were either liars or pathetic idiots.  The smell of gas, as any half-educated person knows, means that one immediately calls the gas company who has people on call 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, for just such emergencies.  Bringing weapons – that were potentially to be discharged – into such an environment, could have been deadly, and at the very best was simply juvenile and stupid.  SWAT raids take a back seat to public health and safety in the case of gas leaks.

Perhaps by assuming that the D.C. police weren’t idiots I assumed too much.  Perhaps they need training in basic health and safety decision-making such as this.  But since they were apparently lying, it was all fabricated.  Being a liar is worse than being stupid.

Eric Holder is at the very minimum a liar, and was stupid to think that tactics such as Fast and Furious wouldn’t be found out.  Now that Mr. Obama has invoked executive privilege over the documents Congressman Issa has requested, his hands are all over this.  Perhaps his hands were all over this well before now.

Either way, for the U.S. Congress to back down now would be a travesty, and cowardly in the superlative.  Eric Holder is apparently a criminal and should spend time in prison.  Hopefully the light will shine into Mr. Obama’s main camp before this is all over.  We will find out if he is merely stupid or a liar and criminal like Mr. Holder.

Regarding truth-telling, it isn’t just what the American people expect.  It’s what God demands.

2012 as a Political Watershed? Black Support for Obama Plummets in NC

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 2 months ago

Sure, it’s only one state and it was a small, 200-person sample.

At least that’s what the Obama Campaign must be telling themselves at this point.

According to this article in Business Insider on June 12, 2012, support for Obama’s reelection among black voters in North Carolina is at an unprecedented low of 77% while support for Mitt Romney has climbed to 20%.   In a state that Obama won against John McCain in 2008 by only 12,000 votes these numbers are not a warning light, they are a death knell.

President Barack Obama is rapidly losing support among African-American voters in North Carolina, a new poll out today from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling shows.

The poll finds that Mitt Romney would get 20 percent of the African-American vote if the election were held today, compared with 76 percent for Obama. Overall, Romney has a 48 percent to 46 percent lead on Obama in the crucial swing state.

Obama received 95 percent of the support from African-Americans in North Carolina in the 2008 election, compared with just 5 percent for Republican nominee John McCain.

Besides the obvious headlines here, it is worth noting a couple things.

First, plunging support for Obama among the black community is extremely encouraging in terms of race relations for this country because it reflects the reality of Obama’s job performance. I do not care who the person occupying the White House may be– George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan– no one should be getting an unwavering 95% block of support from any racial group in this country.

In other words, if race is not a primary factor, it is difficult to fathom how black voters can monolithically line up to support President Obama in the face of the highest black unemployment ever; the defiant opposition of Obama to school choice for low income black families; support for gay marriage, and; policies that have driven up the price of every staple that disproportionately affects black families.   Maybe this is controversial.  I hope not.   Barack Obama has been a disaster for the black community and party identification alone simply cannot explain support in the 95% range.   So these numbers from North Carolina may indicate that black voters may be starting to dispense with racial identity politics and look at Obama’s policies.

Imagine the real, racial healing that could occur if candidates could finally be evaluated without regard to their skin color and solely according to their policies and principles?  If the Democrats were forced to actually compete for the votes of blacks rather than simply own them outright, there would be a major shift to the right in Democrat candidates and, thus, far more consensus politically.   Even more tantalizing is the prospect that the Race Hustling Industry (run by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton) would no longer find an audience for their hate mongering.

The second major point I take away from this article is the possible consequences of even 20% of the black community voting for even a quasi-conservative Republican like Romney.

The Democrat Party knows that they have no shot at retaining or regaining power without the monolithic support of the black community.   If even 25-30% of the black vote goes to Republicans it is over for any Democrat candidate.  As a result, Democrats pull out all the stops when it comes to keeping the black voter in line.   That includes hurling racial epithets at any black, Republican candidate that dares run for office, shaming any person of color who votes Republican as an “Uncle Tom,” and continually fomenting racial hatred and fears as we have seen so clearly with the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

If, however, even 20% of black voters pull the lever for Romney, the spell may be broken.   Twenty percent is alot of voters.  Far too many for the Democrats to stigmatize as “traitors” or Uncle Toms as a whole.  Suddenly, the cultural norm of automatically voting Democrat is fatally weakened.  Once the stigma of voting Republican is tempered, it is game over.

One of the best kept secrets, repeatedly suppressed by Democrats, is that the black vote typically went to the Republican Party– the party of Lincoln, afterall– until the 1960′s.    How many people know, for example, that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a registered Republican?   How many black voters know that it was the Republicans in Congress that broke the Democrat opposition to the first Civil Rights Act?

It may be the greatest irony of the 21st Century that the first, black President may be the one who loses the black vote forever.

DEA SWAT Raid and Ninth Circuit Ruling

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

From Reason, via Instapundit:

At 7 a.m. on January 20, 2007, DEA agents battered down the door to Thomas and Rosalie Avina’s mobile home in Seeley, California, in search of suspected drug trafficker Louis Alvarez. Thomas Avina met the agents in his living room and told them they were making a mistake. Shouting “Don’t you fucking move,” the agents forced Thomas Avina to the floor at gunpoint, and handcuffed him and his wife, who had been lying on a couch in the living room. As the officers made their way to the back of the house, where the Avina’s 11-year-old and 14-year-old daughters were sleeping, Rosalie Avina screamed, “Don’t hurt my babies. Don’t hurt my babies.”

The agents entered the 14-year-old girl’s room first, shouting “Get down on the fucking ground.” The girl, who was lying on her bed, rolled onto the floor, where the agents handcuffed her. Next they went to the 11-year-old’s room. The girl was sleeping. Agents woke her up by shouting “Get down on the fucking ground.” The girl’s eyes shot open, but she was, according to her own testimony, “frozen in fear.” So the agents dragged her onto the floor. While one agent handcuffed her, another held a gun to her head.

Moments later the two daughters were carried into the living room and placed next to their parents on the floor while DEA agents ransacked their home. After 30 minutes, the agents removed the children’s handcuffs. After two hours, the agents realized they had the wrong house—the product of a sloppy license plate transcription—and left. 

In 2008, the Avinas—mom, dad, and both daughters—filed a federal suit against the DEA for excessive use of force, assault, and battery in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. That court ruled in favor of the DEA, and the Avinas appealed. Last week, the family got justice.

The Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the Avinas – at least, somewhat.  But the wording is troubling.  It indicates that the courts, after all of faulty, failed, mistaken and even deadly SWAT raids, still don’t get it.

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Avinas, a rational trier of fact could find that agents engaged in “extreme or outrageous” conduct when the agents: (1) pointed their guns at the head of eleven-year-old B.S.A. “like they were going to shoot [her]” while B.S.A. was lying on the floor in handcuffs; (2) forced eleven-year-old B.S.A. and fourteen-year-old B.F.A. to lie face down on the floor with their hands cuffed behind their backs; (3) left B.S.A. and B.F.A. in handcuffs for half an hour; and (4) yelled at eleven-year-old B.S.A. and fourteen-year-old B.F.A. to “[g]et down on the f[uck]ing ground.” See Tekle, 511 F.3d at 856 (holding that officers were not entitled to summary judgment on claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress …

There.  That’s all you need to read.  Emotional distress.  That’s it.  No mention or understanding that these officers brandished their weapons at someone, and engaged in muzzle flagging a little girl.  No understanding of the fact that, just as in the case of poor Mr. Eurie Stamps, sympathetic muscle reflexes can lead to inadvertent discharges and kill people.

More people will have to perish at the hands of hot-shot “tacti-cool” SWAT officers discharging their weapons before the public outcry is heard loudly enough to do anything about the militarization of police tactics in America.  The Ninth Circuit, while in the initial stages sympathy with the victims, doesn’t get it.  It’s about the danger of such tactics, not the emotional distress.  At least, one is a primary concern, while the other should be secondary.

Prior: SWAT Raids category


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