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Law enforcement

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 15 years ago, in 2007, on the World Wide Web.

Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies, and they routinely hurt people who pose no serious threat to anyone. People who complain about this kind of rough handling are treated like trash, as if any level of intimidation and violence whatsoever were obviously legitimate, and the victims are to blame for provoking whatever they get. Cops in America are also professional liars. They lie to obtain confessions; they lie to obtain consent for searches; they lie to intimidate; they lie to lull people into a false sense of security. They also lie repeatedly and extensively to carry on investigations, which is constantly necessary in the effort to enforce drug laws: since the so-called crime of selling and using drugs involves only willing parties, there’s no victim to file a complaint, so narcs have to lie and pose and infiltrate in order to even discover where drugs are being sold and by whom.

In La Pine, Oregon, here is how the DEA and the local narcs recently worked together to seize evidence from two people for a federal drug case without identifying themselves as cops, affording any opportunity to consult a lawyer, or even going so far as to get a warrant or talk to a judge.

On December 18, 2004, Ascension Alverez-Tejeda and his girlfriend were stopped at a traffic light near La Pine Oregon, and when the light turned green, the car in front of them stalled. Alverez-Tejeda stopped in time but a pickup truck behind him rear-ended him. When he got out to look at his bumper, the police showed up and arrested the truck driver for drinking and driving. The cops then convinced Alverez-Tejeda and his girlfriend to go to a nearby parking lot, ordered them out of their car and into in the back of the cop car for processing. While they were in the cruiser, a person jumped in their car and took off. The cops ordered the pair out and set off in full pursuit up the road. A few minutes later, the stolen car comes flying back down the road with the police cruiser in pursuit. The pursuing officer returns alone with the woman’s purse, telling the duo that the carjacker thrown it out the car window and escaped. The woman is so upset she hurls and the police put the distraught couple up in a motel.

But it was all a set up worthy of David Mamet. DEA agents were tracking a drug gang and had bought drugs out of the car months earlier, though not when Alverez-Tejeda was there. Using wiretaps and surveillance, the DEA learned that Alverez-Tejeda was using the leader’s car to transport illicit drugs. The agents then decided to stage something, perhaps even a carjacking, in order to seize the drugs without tipping off the conspirators. They never consulted a judge, but every person in the story, other than Alverez-Tejeda and his girlfriend, was a cop of some sort.

Once they got the car, the agents got a search warrant without telling the judge about the caper and seized cocaine and methamphetamines, as well as property belonging to Alverez-Tejeda and his girlfriend.

— Ryan Singel, Wired Blogs (2007-06-08): Appeals Court Rules Cops Can Steal Cars and Lie to Victims To Conduct a Warrantless Search

And here’s what happened when they took this evidence to court:

The government indicted Alverez-Tejeda but the district court in Washington found that the caper violated the Fourth Amendment, thus making the drugs inadmissable in court. The government appealed.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision Friday, finding that this police escapade was legal since the cops had probable cause already to seize and search the car, thanks to the vehicle exception to the Fourth Amendment created by the courts during the War on Drugs. Therefore, the court found, the police are allowed much latitude in how they seize the car and arrest the driver. The tap was considered only a minimal use of force, and the fake chase wasn’t considered to have put any civilians lives in danger.

The government here certainly had important reasons for employing this unusual procedure in seizing the car. First, the agents wanted to stop the drugs before they reached their ultimate destination — a patently important goal. Second, they wanted to protect the anonymity of the ongoing investigation — another vital objective.

— Ryan Singel, Wired Blogs (2007-06-08): Appeals Court Rules Cops Can Steal Cars and Lie to Victims To Conduct a Warrantless Search

To recap, two people who did absolutely nothing to violate anyone else’s rights or hurt anyone against their will, had their car rammed and then stolen. The narcs knew about the deliberate ramming and the theft but they lied about them–because, after all, they ordered them. They used this lie to seize property and obtain evidence without giving their victims any chance to assert their rights (since they were lied to, they had no idea that a search or seizure was even taking place), and without obtaining a warrant or submitting to judicial oversight of any kind. The narcs feel that they need to be able to do this kind of thing in order to do their jobs effectively, since snitch anonymity, which actually has nothing to do with privacy and everything to do with systematically lying about who they are and what they do, is an essential tool in their efforts to lock harmless people in cages for the next several years of their lives. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, meanwhile, stands by and smilingly waves them on, once again under the excuse of necessity.

To prove, that these Sort of policed Societies are a Violation offered to Nature, and a Constraint upon the human Mind, it needs only to look upon the sanguinary Measures, and Instruments of Violence which are every where used to support them. Let us take a Review of the Dungeons, Whips, Chains, Racks, Gibbets, with which every Society is abundantly stored, by which hundreds of Victims are annually offered up to support a dozen or two in Pride and Madness, and Millions in an abject Servitude, and Dependence. There was a Time, when I looked with a reverential Awe on these Mysteries of Policy; but Age, Experience, and Philosophy have rent the Veil; and I view this Sanctum Sanctorum, at least, without any enthusiastick Admiration. I acknowledge indeed, the Necessity of such a Proceeding in such Institutions; but I must have a very mean Opinion of Institutions where such Proceedings are necessary.

— Edmund Burke (1757): A Vindication of Natural Society

So who are the real criminals here?

3 replies to Law enforcement Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Discussed at www.distributedrepublic.net

    The Distributed Republic:

    Support for the institution of thug regimes remains steady…

    We sometimes read about those people who were initially enthusiastic about the Nazi party when it appeared to support German self-assertion and unity, and who later realized that it was a gang of thugs hellbent on the dehumanization and murder of Germa…

  2. Dain


    Here’s a condemnation of “popular culture” I can get behind – how about the glorification of this kind of authoritarian dragnet on television? Of course on TV the victims are always disgusting and vile people, which feeds the imagination of the red state fascists and adds to the injustice of real-life police practices.

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Anticopyright. This was written in 2007 by Rad Geek. Feel free to reprint if you like it. This machine kills intellectual monopolists.