Dog Day Afternoon: The Militarization Of American Police

I took great exception to President Obama’s conduct in the Henry Louis Gates false arrest case in Cambridge Massachusetts. See here and here. The reason I objected so strenuously is that there is a long growing problem in this country with the militarization of, and militancy by, police officers and the way Obama interjected himself into the matter prevented a valuable chance to publicly address the issue.

Courtesy of a chilling opinion piece slated for Sunday’s Washington Post authored by Cheye M. Calvo, mayor of Berwyn Heights Maryland, we have another poignant reminder:

I remember thinking, as I kneeled at gunpoint with my hands bound on my living room floor, that there had been a terrible, terrible mistake.

An errant Prince George’s County SWAT team had just forced its way into our home, shot dead our two black Labradors, Payton and Chase, and started ransacking our belongings as part of what would become a four-hour ordeal.

The police found nothing, of course, to connect my family and me to a box of drugs that they had been tracking and had delivered to our front door. The community — of which I am mayor — rallied to our side. A FedEx driver and accomplice were arrested in a drug trafficking scheme. Ultimately, we were cleared of any wrongdoing, but not before the incident drew international outrage.

You may remember this incident from the summer of 2008. It was, and is, a brutal reminder of the awesome power the police exercise, and the casual belligerence and impunity with which they all too often abuse it. Mayor Calvo hits the problem on the head:

Yet, I remain captured by the broader implications of the incident. Namely, that my initial take was wrong: It was no accident but rather business as usual that brought the police to — and through — our front door.

In the words of Prince George’s County Sheriff Michael Jackson, whose deputies carried out the assault, "the guys did what they were supposed to do" — acknowledging, almost as an afterthought, that terrorizing innocent citizens in Prince George’s is standard fare. The only difference this time seems to be that the victim was a clean-cut white mayor with community support, resources and a story to tell the media.

What confounds me is the unmitigated refusal of county leaders to challenge law enforcement and to demand better — as if civil rights are somehow rendered secondary by the war on drugs.

Calvo goes on to explain how not only did the police abuse their authority, they attempted to falsify their story to cover up their misconduct and disregard of the Constitution and state laws. Then he describes the formation of what in criminal justice circles is known as "the blue line":

Yet, the wagons have circled in Upper Marlboro. The response is textbook: Law enforcement stands its ground and concedes no wrongdoing — and elected officials burrow their heads in the sand.

It is textbook indeed.

Abuse of the citizenry through over-projection of police power is becoming endemic to the United States, and the problem has only grown worse and been given cover through the fear and militarism resulting from the 9/11 attacks. The solution rests in the hands of each of us as citizens, the police work for us. But it is time for the discussion to be had and the problem addressed. Don’t think the horror cannot happen to you, it can and the odds are increasing every day.

122 replies
  1. freepatriot says:

    welcome aboard dude

    I’ve known about this since I was 18

    and the cops around here LIKE me

    I can’t imagine what life would be like if they didn’t

  2. Stephen says:

    I believe there is a very violent and unbalanced recruit being accepted as a cop. Untold numbers of veterans back from our two unjustified wars have PTSD and are entering police units. Many of these poor souls are ruined for life. I notice as well the Obama Administration still gives contracts out to Blackwater. I chalk that down to another big mistake by Barrack.

    • Suzanne says:

      many officers also are reservists or national guard. they come back from patrolling the streets in a war zone to return to their regular job of patrolling the streets in their jurisdiction.


  3. SmileySam says:

    I was hoping for more when I read the title,
    “Dog Day Afternoon: The Militarization Of American Police”
    I read just the other day that the 70 plus Fusion Centers, now in every State and Major US City, has decide to disseminate Military Information. Why in the hell does every potbellie, podunk county Sheriff need this access to such intel ?

    I don’t know about anyone else but to me the Fusion Centers are one of the best kept secrets hidden in plain view right behind the mirrors and they scare me.

  4. JohnJ says:

    Note that the one set of laws that seems to be the main enabler of this behavior is the DRUG LAWS!

    It is a favorite game the cops play; turning virtually every situation into a opportunity to search for drugs.

    I remember a little noted comment from (Up-to-the-Z-in-Alzheimer’s) Ronny Ray-Gun on the end of the cold war that the war industry had nothing to worry about because we had another war to fight; the war on American People Drugs.

    The “war on drugs” is a farce that only the dealers and the for-profit court/enforcement industry profit from.

    What excuse would the police have to bust in and ransack if it weren’t for suspected illegal drugs?

    I tell a lot of people that, yes, pot is dangerous….the police will kill you over it.

    At what point do we admit that the enforcement of drug law harms far more people than the drugs themselves?

    (yeah, I’ve brought this up here before):
    The late great Peter Jennings did a hour long piece (that was strangely never repeated as most specials are) on pot in U.S.. He finished with a reminder that for every dollar we give the police to enforce drug laws, 95cents is spent on busting pot. I bring this up to show how serious they aren’t about “protecting us” from dangerous drugs.

    Interestingly I predicted that after 9/11 the anti-drug industry would have to link drugs to terrorism to maintain their power and funding. Seems that I was wrong since “drug enforcement” never lost much ground.

    Granted, “terrorism” raids hit the news more often now, but the vast majority of this vicious behavior by the cops is excused as trying to “stop drugs”.

    • Boston1775 says:

      All that a police officer had to say was, “I can smell marijuana in the vehicle,” and they had access to the car.

      Massachusetts voted to decriminalize marijuana after our kids were abused by police officers. Abused and then harassed. Because once they found the slightest amount in a high school kid’s car, they had just cause to tail each kid as they drove.

      If the kid got scared and sped up, it became a police chase, and more charges were added on.

      If the kids threw the pot out the window and it hit the police car chasing them, it was some other crazy charge having to do with assaulting a police officer.

      Once caught, if the kids stiffened up, it was called resisting arrest.

      One kid had the nerve to have a seizure at a friend’s house. The kids called 911 for help.

      Because one of the friends had been caught for pot before, this became a possible drug offense for the police officers. They threw the kid with the former pot offense in the back of the cruiser when he told them to hurry up to get to the kid with the seizure.

      They strapped down the kid having the seizure – all four limbs.
      I guess he could have been a danger to them.
      The kid has a heart condition, and his heart stopped on the way to the hospital.

      He was taken to a local hospital and his parents had him moved to his cardiac doctor’s hospital in town.

      After all the tests were taken, no drugs whatsoever were involved.
      But you see, it didn’t matter, because they had stopped this kid at a well known speed trap where the speed drops to 25 from a 40 and found a roach in his car, once. After thousands of dollars in legal costs, the case was settled and the kid did not lose his financial aid.

      Cuz it’s all about the financial aid.
      Cops threaten kids every day that they’ll lose their financial aid if they don’t do what the cops want.

      And because of this miniscule amount of marijuana, and the case was settled, he was fair game. Strap him down during a seizure – the worst thing you can do. His heart stopped? Well, they can’t be too careful.

      The parents went to the Chief of Police and complained.
      Then they put their house on the market and moved out of state.

      This was my son’s best friend.
      Captain of the best Golf Team since the 60’s.
      Latin scholar.
      Wants to be a doctor.

      Another family terrorized.

      • JohnJ says:

        I think we’ve been intentionally desensitized.

        All they have to do is yell “DRUGS” and they seem justified in any violent or abusive thing they do.

        If drugs were removed as a justification, their tactics would get a lot more attention.

        • Boston1775 says:

          This has to stop.

          The intentional terrorizing of teenagers and their families is abuse of Americans of an enormous proportion.

          Once financial aid could be stopped if a drug offense occurred, the police began using kids to do their own dirty work.

          The kids were so afraid that they would lose their aid to go to college, as were their parents, that the police manipulated kids into doing their own investigative work.

          Or, parents went to court, paid thousands of dollars for some kind of settlement, and their kids became perpetual targets of police anger and harassment.

          Great choice.

          It is a sickening abuse of police power.

      • SanderO says:

        They are not. Many are using them to escape the pain of living in despair – that applies to alcohol and drugs.

        It also is used to bait and trap and then send people to rot in prisons. It’s a tool of oppression or the oppressor.

  5. cinnamonape says:

    When did this begin? I suspect it was when every police Department developed SWAT teams and Federal Laws allowed Police to confiscate properties that could be “argued” (rarely established in courts) to be obtained from the profits of drug trades or other criminal activities. Thus cities and counties began to use drug raids to generate income…this income was usually funneled back into the law enforcement agencies. More powerful weapons and a desire for more drug raids (rather than more limited street arrests).

    Given the profit motive one wonders if many of the raids were based on false claims with evidence planted.

    • bmaz says:

      I think there is some merit to that thought, and the onset of that was at about the same time as the down the slippery slope tumble we have taken with respect to adherence to the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment and application of the exclusionary rule. The courts started excusing and protecting ever more abhorrent behavior from the police which, in turn, gave the police ever more impunity. And then 9/11….

      • timbo says:

        The whole Bill of Rights is pretty much under assault. The stupid SCOTUS morons have decided that they shall interpret the Bill of Rights to not really have much function. If it weren’t for the long history of judicial liberalism and the Clinton and Reagan and Bush “libertarian” appointments to the federal bench, we’d have waved bye-bye to all of it by now. And that’s stretching it as some of those appointments were bat-nuts when it comes to actually supporting the Bill of Rights. Operation Unreasonable Search and Seizure will be in operation for the foreseeable future…without any good Constitutional justification for it at all. It’s probably going to take impeaching a few members of the Supreme Court to give them a clue that they should actually enforce the Bill of Rights again.

    • JohnJ says:

      That was sold originally as a way to keep drug “kingpins” from out Lawyer-ing the Government’s prosecution team. The idea was to keep the “kingpins” from using the proceeds from the commission of a crime to defend themselves.

      The story, as I remember it was that the Federal Government really didn’t have the facilities to deal with all the stuff that was being confiscated, so they at one point just said that whatever agency had collected it should keep it.

      Literally, the amount of seizures from local police departments went up ten fold the next day nationwide.

      The problem was that the confiscation was done in civil court which could be done before and regardless of the criminal case. I’m sure bmaz would be glad to tell us the problems with that. *g*

      The easiest accusation to use to get someones stuff is obviously drugs. (That was the point I never got around to making previously, BTW).

      I can’t remember the details, but I think Congress finally made the confiscation dependent on the criminal outcome. But they still get to keep just about anything they want if they convict you. They’ve been using this for years to take houses, cars, and anything they can claim was used or obtained in the commission of a “crime”.

      Like freep I’ve been watching this shit for years.

    • Palli says:

      When did this begin?

      Our law enforcement people and their quasi surrogates have always been doing it this. Our society is segregated (economically and racially) but in the past the media was segregated from or none existent in communities that received these brutal actions. Now that these practices are visible to all citizens there has been the push to institutionalize them. Government control of the Civil rights struggle, the anti-war movement and the Drug “War” were the excuse to protect the “general, unthinking public” with military tactics and products.

      • Pade says:

        When I was in college in the early 60’s I had a class in abnormal Psych. We studied fringe groups – the police were among the groups included. Interestingly my prof was a German man – probably in his forties or so. I think this is not a new issue.

        • Palli says:

          Yes, amazing how the awareness of American injustice and the strides toward progress have been underplayed, overlooked and ridiculed over the years.
          Our paramilitary/militia/mercenaries are bringing their arms home- if they get jobs it will be the penal system, police and private security- and won’t we be safe!
          Let’s change the words to the song: “How you going to keep them down on the farm after they have seen Parree?”
          I’m no lyricist…How you going to keep them legal after they have see________?

      • cinnamonape says:

        I agree that the minority and low-income areas of this country were always subject to this crap…Vice Units and “Jim Crow” raids to round up forced labor for chain gangs and which were contracted out to plantations (slavery continued- simply using blacks arrested for such “crimes” like vagrancy, loitering, violating segregation laws, nd smoking weed).

        Now they are after money. Just read about some East Texas town that pulls over cars driven by minorities and “hippies” passing over from the casinos in Shreveport, Louisiana…claims the people are drugs dealers, confiscates their money and cars.

    • fatster says:

      Licit and Illicit Drugs is a classic, and you can find it right here. In particular, go to Chapter 56. My copy finally got so dog-eared after all the years, that it either disintegrated around here or someone discarded it because it was so unsightly. Very valuable book if you’re interested in this subject.

      • DWBartoo says:

        Thank you, fatster.

        Anslinger, a native of Altoona, Pennsylvania, is said to have been very concerned about Marijuana use, especially in black communities, within which it was perceived (as was undoubtedly “true”) that most such “use” took place.

        Clearly the “social concerns” of Anslinger and his cohorts (who needed to justify the existence of their jobs and the monies given them and “anticipated” in future) had more to do with “control”, socially and morally and with assured political power than compassion.

        The “War on Drugs” is a war on reason, on tolerance, and on understanding, it was, deliberately, the trial-run to see what the public would stand (or lie down) for. It also launched a thousand political careers. And rebuilt the prison “industry”.

        It still “sells”.

        Scapegoating almost always does.

        Especially if “good” people “believe” it “justified”.

        We myth so much.


  6. Boston1775 says:

    And the sad thing is, this kid isn’t doing well.
    He’s struggling.

    And I know that the terrorizing and the moving away from his friends are a big part of it.

  7. Boston1775 says:

    Another interesting fact about marijuana is its effect on those who are under mind control.

    I have written about MKULTRA and all the other programs originated by the CIA. There is a growing wealth of information about what these programs did to American citizens. Mind control was/is the central theme.

    Those who were terrorized and tortured into dissociative states (formerly called multiple personality disorder) and then used for the CIA’s purposes were allowed to use drugs if they were in situations that included drug use. (Videotaped entrapment)

    Except for one drug: marijuana.

    Why? Because it allowed the separate parts of their minds to access one another and the torture-induced, protective, mental walls were broken down. Thus, they had access to their own minds.

    Marijuana is an inconvenient herb for those seeking to control others.

      • oldtree says:

        I’m not sure what he is saying either? That the drug is not controllable by the people that wanted control? That it’s affect on the persons using it was breaking their ability to use the other drugs? That they liked it and walked away from their job because they felt it wrong? Well that makes sense, but I am extrapolating.
        Or is it the opposite? Maybe they will send some links to the issue.

  8. JamesJoyce says:

    From a certain German perspective one can understand the behavior of rough law enforcement. The proper term to describe the propensity for abuse of power by law enforcement officers of a certain ilk is the “Brownshirt Syndrome.” ” To Protect and Serve?” I recall a discussion with my cousin a V-Vet and also deep undercover narcotics. For the “good cop,” to survive he must often turn his head away from the less desirable actions of other officers for fear of retaliation. RIP D.

    BTW, Black men who smoke marijuana do not rape white woman, a common lie propagated to justify a herb’s prohibition! However one fact is certain…..many a drunkard white men came home after a night of alcohol abuse only to diddle and molest daughters in a drunken stupor, after beating mom to a pulp! Double standards stacked on bullshit, just like a double cheeseburger..

    • Boston1775 says:

      BTW, Black men who smoke marijuana do not rape white woman, a common lie propagated to justify a herb’s prohibition! However one fact is certain…..many a drunkard white men came home after a night of alcohol abuse only to diddle and molest daughters in a drunken stupor, after beating mom to a pulp! Double standards stacked on bullshit, just like a double cheeseburger..


      And towns full of Jewish kids, Arab kids (the town has a mosque), Russian kids, Indian kids, Pakistani kids, Black kids from town and brought to town on the METCO bus, Israeli kids and all the other assorted kids do NOT merit heightened police tactics by a police force that IN NO WAY mirrors the diversity of that town.

      Our town has been victimized by these bogus Wars on Terror and Drugs.

      I am asking an honest news organization to investigate the War on Terror and the heightened tactics used in cities and towns that have a mosque and as many temples as churches.

  9. klynn says:


    You must get a book full of such incidents down your way with all that happens on the border in your state. Thanks for the post.

  10. wavpeac says:

    Obama’s response to civil rights violations feels like pathology instead of a healthy response to admitted violations of law.

    It feels like denial…

    I am not suggesting that revenge should be a motive for enforcing law…instead that the law should be the motive…above ego…principles before personalities.

    Obama’s approach to these issues is beginning to make me feel very uncomfortable for all of us. It feels very co-dependent, people pleasing, ego centered. Having a leader on that end of the continuum could be very challenging. If it is this “dis-ease” then he will be actively fighting against reality, his denial will be physiological in nature…just as polar as bush was in the right wing. It’s not that Obama is “too nice” but that all of his “niceness” serves his own purposes…his own agenda. This is what makes us all vulnerable.

    The parallel process is that each of us can counter this by following the path of truth above leadership. We can apply our constitution with or without a leader to show the way. We can live what we know is true and even though it won’t move mountains…it will maintain it. It will validate it. (our constitution). Our constitution then serves as a “higher power” or “higher authority”. It is in this “action” that all compulsions are rendered powerless. Follow the higher authority if we cannot follow the President….

    could be a bumpy ride.

  11. NMvoiceofreason says:

    Prohibitionists argued that Prohibition would be more effective if enforcement were increased. However, increased efforts to enforce Prohibition simply resulted in the government spending more money, rather than less. Journalist H.L. Mencken observed in 1925 that respect for law diminished rather than increased during Prohibition, and drunkenness, crime, insanity, and resentment towards the federal government had all increased.

    Repeal of Prohibition from Wikipedia.

    Respect for law has so diminished that we don’t even try war criminals anymore. Heck, we don’t even investigate ‘em.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff. When they come to the door, take you away, torture you, rape your wife and kids, then kill you all, remember THAT’S OK with our government. So it should be OK by you.

  12. DWBartoo says:

    Great post, bmaz!

    Thank you, for having the courage (as well as the knowledge and capacity) to address this centrally critical issue.

    This will be a difficult issue for many to understand, as it looks squarely at another of this nation’s sacred cows. The police.

    It would appear that our corporate “person” betters will require a complacent consumer class, there being no need, in their world, of “citizens”.

    THE question then shall become: With whom will the constabulary identify ITS “interests’”, that group quaintly known as, “the people” or the (apparently all powerful, above-the-law) elite?

    If the “Law” is to continue as the primary bludgeon of social “decorum”, to be used selectively, targeting only specific groups or persons for obvious political AND economic purposes, then its “front-line” must be the BLUE line (unless brown-shirt perspective comes back into fashion).

    Where will “loyalties” lie?

    (”How?” is another topic, entirely).

    Thank you, again, bmaz.


  13. knowbuddhau says:

    That’s just exactly what I’m on about. How surprising should imperious behavior be, in Prince George’s? What’s so shocking about running roughshod over people in a county (itself a feudal construct) named for a foreign Prince, right at the heart of America? We can’t keep the “life as holy war” model and expect it to deliver peace.

    Cops kicking down doors, getting jacked into a war of aggression–what’s the difference, except scale?

    “The only difference this time seems to be that the victim was a clean-cut white mayor with community support, resources and a story to tell the media.

    Oh, right. Imagine if the Mafia were Muslim: would we invade Sicily?

    Why doesn’t White America take police violence more seriously? Why is torture SOP in our prisons? Why is war always our metaphor of choice for everything under the sun?

    It’s the mythology!

    On the Right, the powerful image of a cosmic tyrant is abused to put the “fear of god” into subjects, the better to divide and rule; on the Left, we don’t think the tyrant exists in that form anymore, but we’ve kept its Great Cosmic Pain Machine, substituting military science and its priests for the older order. Notice how we treat generals and admirals: as if they’re talking about the weather!

    And listen to the way even Liberals talk about change: using Newtonian mechanism as a model, we say we want “to leverage” this and “force” that and “battle” this and “war” against that.

    Now isn’t that odd! Both the Right and the Left believe in the same outdated myth: that the cosmos is a mechanism governed by kinetic activity, which is what I believe people to mean by that noxious little word, realpolitik. Newsflash: we are fields, not points; we are organic beings who think themselves to be machines. Crazy!

    So I return to my larger point, a question I thought settled by the Constitutional Convention: what are we? Self-sovereign citizens, wheels rolling out of our own centers, endowed with the miraculous power to do this right here: shape our world from within? Or mere subjects of a divinity-optional cosmic tyrant, forced into order from the outside and bound together by force and fiat?

    For example, what’s the model for ultimate punishment in the the three religions of the Levant? Lock ‘em up and throw away the key, aka “preventive detention.”

    Isn’t it obvious? Our myths shape the world in which we then go out and act. People who believe life to be a holy war shouldn’t be expected to be peaceful. And that means Liberals, too.

    Did you see Maddow last night? Frank Schaeffer was on. He cited a poll that said 30some percent of New Jersey conservatives think our President might be the Anti-Christ; 18% of those are sure of it. Ignoring the power of myth is a dangerous thing to do.

    Here’s the mythos in a nutshell: You can do no wrong as long as you’re following the orders of The Big Man Upstairs. Just ask Dick Cheney.

    As the astute readers here will notice right away, that’s not just our mythos, it’s also the Nuremberg defense. So what’s it going to be, Americans? Beings, or machines? Citizens, or subjects?

    We need an organic political philosophy to replace the outdated Newtonian mechanism model. We need to quit talking in terms that assume life is a feudal holy war etc., quit acting like an industrial-strength, nuclear-powered Crusader state, from the cops to the president. Kinetic force alone cannot save us from ourselves.

    It’s only a trick of the mind, to think life a mechanism; likewise, essential reunion is only an insight away. Reclaiming our humanity is the first step to acting humanely.

  14. Kinmo says:

    The odds of any one of us being killed or injured in a car crash, as the result of a rouge police chase are greater these days too. More and more high-speed car chases, through red light intersections, stop signs, even on the highway traveling in the wrong direction seem to be happening more often. Many drivers, young and old, aren’t prepared for this action while just trying to make it from point A to point B. How do we check this behavior?

  15. GregB says:

    I think one thing that has been most interesting is how police abuse and overreach has been laid in the lap of the political left by the use of terms like nanny state and political correctness.

    Many of these police abuse problems stem from actions taken by the political right though. In their zeal for law and order, just say no, taking the handcuffs off of law enforcement support.

    How we talk matters and this issue is really the domain of the political right by and large.

    Confiscation of property by the state, intrusive stop and frisk and school frisking policies, technical snooping via video…..Largely endorsed by the “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have no reason to complain” crowd.


    • fatster says:

      “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have no reason to complain”: and thus the undermining of the Bill of Rights continues.

  16. fatster says:

    If you want to look at this from a more comprehensive point-of-view, go here. The author, BTW, suicided by shooting himself in the head–twice.

  17. fatster says:

    Yet another Kuwaiti at Guantanamo is ordered freed
    By Carol Rosenberg | Miami Herald

    “A federal judge late Thursday ordered the Obama administration to set free a 50-year-old Kuwaiti aeronautics engineer who had been held as a war crimes suspect at Guantanamo since 2002.

    “U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly filed the sealed decision to grant a writ of habeas corpus for Fouad al Rabia, 50, Thursday evening at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The public portion of her order instructed the U.S. government “to take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps” to arrange Rabia’s release “forthwith.”’


  18. fatster says:

    O/T, but it is curious, is it not, that while kids are being chased and busted for mj, the powerful few act with considerable impunity?

    Fed plans to approve banking salaries: report
    AFP Published: Friday September 18, 2009

    “The Federal Reserve would be required to approve salaries for tens of thousands of US bank workers, as part of a plan to curb risk-taking at financial institutions, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

    . . .

    “The proposal would see the Fed empowered to ban any compensation policies it believes encourage bank employees — from chief executives, to traders, to loan officers — to take too much risk

    . . .

    “And the report found that some banks bailed out by the US government paid executives bonuses that totaled more than entire company profits last year.

    “Executive bonuses have generated public outrage and are a flashpoint issue for the G20 leaders to address at a summit in Pittsburgh next week.”…..82009.html

  19. JohnnyTable70 says:

    The ‘War on drugs” is a misnomer. The accurate term should be the 40 year war on civil liberties. This so called war began during Nixon’s first term and had several unintended consequences:

    An eradication program in Mexico which included spraying the powerful weedkiller Paraquat on cannabis actually led to a massive increase in the domestic production of cannabis in the United States. Growers in California began developing extremely potent strains (I’ve been told) of cannabis. Said strains led to an increase in demand for this cash crop and the DEA began flying helicopters with thermal imaging devices which detected the presence of marijuana grow lamps. Growers began moving their operations from warehouses and homes in residential neighborhoods to public lands, especially state and national forrest property to avoid asset forfeiture.

    Let us examine the metrics of the success in the drug war. Every major drug has both increased demand and supply since the ‘war” began. If anything, the war does nothing more than increase the profits of the “drug lords” because the government is reducing the supply (but not the demand). Because there is less product, but no decline in users, the drug dealers can charge more. In essence the drug war is a self-fulfilling prophecy to making these drug lords more powerful.

    Moreover, because tactics have not changed much on the law enforcement side, the lunacy of doing the same thing over and over again is obvious except to those who profit from a drug war crackdown such as the prison industry, the drug testing industry, and law enforcement which uses asset forfeiture to boost budgets and to send cops on Aspen ski trips.

    IMO the only way to “win” the drug war is to make the dealer’s supply worthless by increasing the supply, thereby undercutting the price. The drug war is profitable to dealers because in essence the government is only restricting supply while ignoring demand.

    • DWBartoo says:

      The War on Drugs is profitable, too profitable to “end”, doubtless, for politicians, police, prisons, dealers, the military and mercenary “security” or “social-order” “contractors”, including, one imagines, physicians and psychologists … (attorneys, judges, and other “officers of the court” being at the forefront, to keep things on the “up and up” legally speaking, as well as benefit from any small outer “ripple” the “War” might bestow upon, whichever “side” they might “be” on whenever “trials” or other spectacles might arise).

      Actually, the “War” will end, but not until it has been milked for all it is worth on all those many planes and plates.

      It will be something to “look forward” to. Someday.

    • rapt says:

      One thing you left out Johnny Table is that DEA was created, and is controlled, by the CIA, as a means of controlling drug enforcement in ways that suit CIA’s needs. This was done to protect an essential revenue source for the spooks. (Read Hopsicker for some of the details.)

      Boston @16: “Marijuana is an inconvenient herb for those seeking to control others.”

      It has been apparent for a very long time now that mj is hated by the elite, not because it is dangerous to health but because it can allow the user some brilliant insight past old barriers. I’d say many a standard grunt cop also feels threatened by it; he’s safer keeping the old barriers in place.

  20. alank says:

    It is absurd to pin the PG Co. police behavior to post-9/11 opportunism. They go back decades, believe me. Let’s just say, they have a reputation.

  21. BevW says:

    Militarization is right – I attended a ceremony, the document signing, in the 1990s between DOJ and DOD. A technology exchange agreement, VP Al Gore was there, as was DOJ and DOD representatives. This is the equipment the police forces are using now, along with the tactics.

  22. jayt says:

    Calvo goes on to explain how not only did the police abuse their authority, they attempted to falsify their story to cover up their misconduct…

    Around here, there’s a well-known trio which shows up all too often.

    “Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct, and Battery on An Officer”.

    Which translates to “we beat the living shit out of this guy”.

  23. neill says:

    to paraphrase people like john mitchell (of nixonian days)
    and dick cheney (god damn his shit-filled soul to hell):

    you aint seen nothin’ yet!

  24. Jeff Kaye says:

    Excellent article and discussion, and thanks to Calvo and the Washington Post (who should get positive reinforcement, when due, along with our criticisms).

    The power of the state is an awesome thing. That is why our Enlightenment ancestors fought so hard against tyranny and the rule of law. That (if you’re reading this SkimpyPenguin) is why we need lawyers. But we need more. We need a vibrant and free press (and today that includes blogs). We need an educated populace. We need political parties who believe and fight for — as a major part of their existence — civil liberties.

    As pointed out, the war on drugs is a war on civil liberties. The introduction of SWAT teams and the militarization of the police, and yes, the introduction of the new “fusion” centers, bears down like an iron weight upon our society, clamping down on its inequalities, insuring the rule of the powerful (along with their police and army servants).

    The main problem is political. Progressives do not have a singular, united voice to fight in the political arena against such police powers, against wiretapping, against illegal wars, and against the benumbing use of torture which introduces barbarity into the society at its highest levels, and renders us all subject to the gales of irrationality run amuck.

    Great job, bmaz, as per usual.

    • SanderO says:


      Waste of time. You can’t fight a system where the deck has been so terribly stacked against you. We need a completely different approach.

      Perhaps mass strikes where everything grinds to a halt would be an interesting test. What would the fascists do? How many would collaborate?

      Messing about with politics, noble as it is, is pissing in the wind. They own the process. They own the media, They own the military, the intel services, the telcoms, the energy, the money system, the courts.

      We are frogs in the boiling water and even incapable of jumping out.

      We need a revolution not a court decision or a new law.

      • DWBartoo says:

        Can’t have no successful revolution until the people are ready to understand.

        This one must be different, requiring an entirely different sense of what it means to be human.

        The life, the rights, the liberties, and the humanity of every human being on this planet is on the line, a question of the survival of the species. If our political and economic “systems”, both deeply into a region which can only be termed “insane” and unsustainable, don’t do us in, then our deliberate neglect and continuing abuse of the natural(?)environment, which makes possible and sustains human life, certainly shall.

        The all-powerful may have the view that they can kill off billions and still retain “control” when they can’t even control their own worst, and destructive impulses which are actually fear-driven. The self-styled elite are pathetically “small”, timid beings who, having savaged their own souls, present a very real and present danger to the rest of us.

        I am of the opinion that people, generally, are beginning to catch on …

        The danger will be the demagogic madness which Obama, through his ineptitude, hubris, or intent, appears to be “leading” (or delivering) the people of this nation towards.

        One notes the impact that the Bush era had on certain European nation’s “politics”, lest we come to think this crisis limited to America or America’s little “adventures” in Empire.

        I do not know that the species can survive much more of demagoguery, especially of the Fascistic sort.

        BTW, SanderO, I do not consider you “cynical”, as you suggested on another thread, but rather, deeply and intelligently concerned …

        Let us always bluntly speak the truth, as we understand it. Semantic evasions do not become us, though they may well come to define Congress and the Political Cla$$, in general, as they fail, utterly, to understand, and to act in the genuine interests of the people, the Constitution, and the rule of law. (That most members of Congress are attorneys is merely a cosmic jocularity pretending to be coincidence.)


        • SanderO says:

          Thank you. It is hard to see both the trees, their seedlings and roots and the forest.

          People are dumbed down or psychically numbed that they can’t wrap their mind about what the world we live in actually is. It as if we are hypnotised by consumerism, or too involved in the struggle to survive, or completely absent the tools to do anything.

          When we get it, we are despondent. Many will try to do something small believing that if enough people do those things – like voting – we can regain our democracy. I don’t believe in this approach any longer. I continue to vote, send email, letters and chat people up, attend demos, sign petitions, blog, because that is all we can do. None of it works. THAT IS THE REALITY.

        • timbo says:

          I’d like to caution everyone here about how “always speaking the truth” and always being “completely above board at all times” can not make things easier. There are times for being blunt and public and open and their are times for negotiating privately with one’s enemies. I hate to have to mention this again but most folks on the left seem to have forgotten what happened to Trotsky when he was negotiating the Russian capitulation to Germany in World War I. Basically, he just pissed the German government off so much, the Germans basically just dictated the terms of the agreement by marching their troops all over the Ukraine where ever they felt like.

          There are a lot of so-called civil libertarians and anarchists, etc who seem to think that one should always speak the truth openly and without fear. But the reality is that circumspection, politeness, and, frankly, keeping an open mind to all possibilities with regard to the opposition of the moment, their humanity if you will, their need for acceptance if you won’t, you ease conflict.

          Conflict may or may not be necessary. But always taking the most strident position, voicing it loudly and frequently, does not necessarily resolve conflict in a favorable fashion.

          • DWBartoo says:

            To the degree that we dare, Timbo, speaking truth is always a risk, and hopefully, most of us have the good sense and perspective to understand that.

            I do not consider that we witness stridency overmuch on these threads, notwithstanding the …um “single-mindedness” of some who share their concerns and worries, hopes and fears …

            In the main, I value subtlety and capacity, and trust that most do not often, here, wander too far from that meager “standard”.

            Yet, if we cannot, here, especially, give occasional voice to those who some of us may regard as, “un-subtle” or frequently strident, do we not run the risk of (sometimes) missing something important?

            I will not encourage self-censorship and I do not think that is what you suggest.

            I do encourage discretion,however, not because it is valorous, but rather because it is wise …

            Perhaps you are concerned that topics, here, and the words people wield around them may draw unwanted attention?

            Is it paranoia, if you are right?

            Caution, dear timbo, is not something to be lightly tossed to the wind, and yet, a decent boldness is required when the times and the needs of human beings demand it.

            I know of no tea-baggers here, timbo, trolls yes (may they all be soundly ignored?) and most comments seem the effort of reasonably independent, if not original thought and thinking.

            Given the ocean of deceit in which we are all adrift, some small eddies of comment, even vexed or vigorous ones, should be valued for the diversion they offer, if nothing else.

            We may keep our reactions quietly to ourselves, or, as you have done, question whether the comments have any merit whatsoever.

            Wouldn’t it be boring to NOT have that opportunity?


            • timbo says:

              Oh, I think this thread speaks for itself. That there are problems with legal enforcement in America is clear…and a general disregard to long-term consequences through a business as usual attitude that pervades America’s plutocrats. But to simply dismiss the lessons of political history is not going to lead to a pleasant conclusion.

              • DWBartoo says:

                I’m not quite certain, timbo, whom you believe is dismissing those “lessons of political history”, subjective as they (whatever they may actually “be”) are.

                One “lesson” put forth by the Straussian waltzers, for example, is that “might is always right”, another is that, “…there are no rights … except the right of the powerful to dominate the weak”.

                These are, likely, not the lessons to which you refer, being more the mythology of rationalization before complete “success” is attained.

                Then there are the lessons of the “pragmatists”, sometimes given to “incremental” notions, but almost always concerned with the status of the quo … before, during and after “success” is attained. We might view the currently popular Sunstein axiom as an example of this type of thinking, perhaps?

                Possibly, the wiser (though not totally wise, being human, after all) Founders of this nation considered some lessons which may yet have some merit, today?

                What might those lessons be?

                Or perhaps you refer to the lessons learned by those segments of the American population who are black or “native” American? Or people in other nations who find themselves in similar “positions”?

                The case, generally of the “average” American, today, is closer to “being sold down the river at the whim of the masters” than benefiting from some egalitarian nonsense which pretends a “level playing field”, in which all have the same opportunities, but some choose not to avail themselves of said opportunities, being “lazy” (or whatever else frightened, self-serving white bigots might wish us to “believe”).

                What is another “lesson”?

                That the powerful will never, ever, willing give up an inch of their “prerogatives”?

                That “one should not strike until the iron is hot”?

                That the dispossessed should “bide” their time and quiet any rumblings in their bellies, as it is annoying to their betters, and they must always know their “place”.

                You see, we are fast approaching cliche?

                But, I am certain, you refer to loftier understandings than I have mused upon and I hope you will not mind sharing the lessons and insights you to which you refer?

                No doubt, such lessons and insights as you allude to are familiar territory for some here, and it would be a great service to the rest of us to become acquainted with the “geography” of these lessons and insights.

                An understanding of the great cycles of civilization, of the profound progress that various forms of governance and wealth accumulation have showered upon the species through time or “history”, as well as the best and most effective means of “change”, would be most welcome, at least to me, and I should hope that some others, here, might agree.

                Though perhaps this is not the proper forum for such learning?

                And possibly, such learning should never be shared “publicly” but passed around behind closed doors and only by those who “understand”?

                I guess that is what true “leaders” do?

                You see, timbo, although as deep an understanding of history as is possible, should be our “guide”, from my perspective, after a mere sixty-two years of circling old Sol, it appears that each moment is unique, historically and humanly speaking, and that it is the striving for justice and equality which is the means by which truly worthwhile change may occur, that the deeply felt need of humans to live free of the “encumbrance” of hoary tradition, rapacious greed, or vicious destruction fueled by the whim of mere ambition, is the thread, the very slender thread, upon which such “progress” as we human beings may make, must hang.

    • jayt says:

      The main problem is political.

      Have you ever heard of a politician being elected on a platform of anything other than “gotta crack down harder on crime”? Advocate for more humane treatment – you then end up apologizing to your donors and volunteers for the race you just lost.

      The introduction of SWAT teams and the militarization of the police,…

      Let me add one more element of abject brutality (at least where I am)…. K-9 Units. Here, when one of those dogs is released from the police vehicle – there will be blood – that’s the animal’s reward. I’ve seen men (it, for some reason, seems to only happen to men) horribly torn up and disfigured.

      Just last week, I saw a guy in the Marion County Jail (not a client of mine) missing the biggest part of his right thigh. I talked to him – he said he’d tried to surrender – but when he saw the dog coming, he got under a car, with his hands protruding from under the car, while still yelling that he surrendered. The dog was sent in to get him and forcibly drag him out from under the car. This guy will never be the same.

      I had a case 2 months ago where my client stood motionless with his hands in the air, screaming “I give up” – and the dog tore into him (as was ordered by the K9 officer) – and my client was charged with “Striking a Law Enforcement Animal” when he tried to get the dog off him. They actually wanted to take that count to trial. I told them to fuck off, that I’d been waiting for a case like this one to try, and they dealt it away.

      I’m still trying to get the local rag IndyStar to do an expose on this problem.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, very good point. It really is an across the board problem. It is both growing militarization and militancy of the police, the citizens have become “the enemy”. But policing is not, and should not be, war.

  25. SanderO says:

    Welcome to the police state or the actual view of fascism in America. It’s been here quite a while since the suppressed labor riots in the 19th century with police siding with capital, the owners of the factories.

    The fact of the matter is police are there to protect “property owners”, isn’t that what crime is usually about?

    But over time, police have been arming up to control the people in multiple ways. Just look at the show of force at a PEACE rally in front of the UN at the run up to the Iraq war. Tens of thousands of police many in riot gear to…. intimidate and even pen in a peaceful demonstration which is a constitutional right. Mind you we even have to get permission from the POLICE to demonstrate in NYC and we have to meet their specifications.

    The GWOD the global war on drugs and the GWOT have only provided excuses for the fascists to hold more power, more intimidation of the population. People are AFRAID to demonstrate because provocateurs are sent in to cause the police to arrest. Look at the recent treatment of protestors at the D and R conventions.

    We live in a fascist state.

    You can be taken, no habeas corpus and disappeared.

    That is fascism. That is America.

    • alank says:

      Civil disobedience by definition has nothing to do with negotiating with lawr enforcement agents about anything they might demand of demonstrators.

      • SanderO says:

        We don’t want to negotiate with the police or the politicians. We need to have a revolution where we don’t ask for change or for our constitutional rights we make it happen.

        The other means this may come about is the complete collapse of the economy. That is coming and we are well on the way to that as employment explodes.

        When the economy has completely crashed, the powerful will then face a battle with the people and whomever wins gets to call the shots. It’s likely to be unabashed in your face fascism or the reverse outcome which is less likely. Ultimately nothing works without the cooperation, forced or not of the people.

        The people must resist the power on the necks.

  26. fitley says:

    As a longhaired hippy in the late 60’s my friends and I were constantly harrassed by the ignorant police force. Severely ignorant. Luckily they weren’t violent just stupid. Stopping us all the time for no reason, wasting our time. It was in the suburbs of Chicago so it’s not like they had a lot to do. They were just plain ignorant. Today it’s different with all the deaths from tasers. All the videos of cops using violence against passive citizens. It’s sickening.

  27. Loo Hoo. says:

    Check it out.

    36-year-old Darrick Collins, shot and killed Monday night, after a Los Angeles County deputy fired several rounds through a fence – two striking him in the back and one in the neck – may have had reason to fear the police that night.

    “‘Why would they kill him?’ said Kendra Dean, the mother of one of Collins’ children, a 16-month-old boy,” reported MyFoxLA. “‘They’re supposed to serve and protect. They ain’t doing that for me. They ain’t doing that for Derrick Collins Senior because they killed him, they shot him down.’”

  28. Mason says:

    People, including cops, also die in these raids. Remember the case in Atlanta a few years ago where the cops broke into a home with a search warrant and a 90-year-old woman grabbed a gun and shot two cops (who survived) before the other cops shot her to death. No drugs were found.

    Turned out that she lived alone and the cops acted on the basis of an informant’s bad information.

    Several weeks before the shooting, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the no-knock rule. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion.

    Another problem with these tactics is that innocent victims have no legal recourse against the cops, if the cops who conducted the raid had a good faith, but mistaken belief that they were acting with lawful authority. We have Scalia and the other right wingers to thank for that too as well as other decisions protecting intentional misconduct by prosecutors and judges by expanding expanding the immunity rule.

    • Hugh says:

      It would still seem that there were grounds for such a suit to force law enforcement that they had acted in good faith. I would think a civil suit would also be possible for destruction of property, pain, and suffering.

  29. Phoenix Woman says:

    Neil Haugerud, former sheriff of Fillmore County and former Minnesota state legislator, has been banging this drum for some time now (and getting crapped on by law enforcement because of it). He is particularly upset about what he sees as the negative effects of firearms training that turns cops into shoot-first robots.

    From…..16277.html –

    On July 20, Deputy Sheriff Todd Waldron of Le Sueur County fired four shots, killing 24 year-old Tyler Heilman, according to a report in the Star Tribune. Heilman was not armed. Witnesses say the officer did not identify himself until after a scuffle with Heilman.

    Minnesota does not have a death penalty, and certainly not one for resisting arrest.

    I’m saddened, but not at all surprised. As the controversy over the arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. suggests, police overreactions are rapidly becoming common. Too often, they are much more serious than the Gates incident, leaving innocent victims dead and the police actions excused.

    So, what should be done about Officer Waldron? Perhaps nothing. Punishing him would have no positive effect. But certainly he should be deprogrammed from his current police training. This type of response by police is not an aberration; it is a national crisis of alarming frequency throughout the United States.

    See also:…..013-08.htm

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I would add that militarization of equipment and tactics – and militarizing a lack of restraint in using them – comes in many forms. One is in equipment, blithely sold as substitutes for deadly force when it in fact delivers deadly force. The Taser is the most obvious example. It kills several hundred people every year and is found on every beat officer’s utility belt.

    Surprise, Taser is now coming out with a multiple, independently targeted warhead version. It can not only target more than one law abiding citizen at a time, it can do it without wires and reach victims much farther away.

    Someone tell me please why knocking someone unconscious at sixty or seventy-five feet is required in routine law enforcement. Surely, mandating two or three nights a week in a martial arts studio would be better for the police. It would improve their fitness, their ability safely to restrain unruly victims, and increase their respect for restraint as well as the use of deadly force. It would also save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary equipment. I suppose it’s too much work and not sexy enough. Perhaps they could advertise kali lessons as if they were kama sutra lessons, just to get them in the door.

    Is what we are seeing the military-industrial-religious-Congressional complex looking for more “free” markets in which to sell their wares, at the expense of cannibalizing our society? Or is it something more complicated and dangerous?

    • Palli says:

      “Is what we are seeing the military-industrial-religious-Congressional complex looking for more “free” markets in which to sell their wares, at the expense of cannibalizing our society?”

      Yes, I think it is just that simple. But only because morality and justice have been written out of the capitalist playbook. And that is the conspiratorial perversion of our society.

      • SanderO says:

        It’s not simply another profit center. It’s the fact that the police are the jack booted thugs use to suppress the people. Whatever they can be armed with, they will. Sure someone will make money from this – gooliani as an example, and justify it as doing their thing for domestic tranquility.

        This is the brave new world we were warned about.

        It is here now.

  31. Crosstimbers says:

    The related incident is terrible, and I know that police violence and trampling of civil rights is a chronic threat. Additionally, Obama’s handling of the Professor Gates situation may have been imperfect. Still, the connection of those dots to imply that the Obama Administration is promoting a police state seems to me to be very wrong. Does anyone really think that President Obama would be inclined to see Professor Gates’ civil rights trampled but make every effort protect those of the gun-toting, government-overthowing, nihilists we’ve been watching in townhall meetings for six weeks? At least it would make more sense if the Administation had police drag off the right wing fanatics I’ve been watching.

    • SanderO says:

      Obama turned a potential lesson about the use of police power into a kumbaya beer fest, the effect of which was to leave the status quo untouched.

      Whether it is institutional racism and profiling OR the general abuse of power by the police, not a thing changed thanks to Obama’s dumb move.

      • Crosstimbers says:

        I know your view that a revolution is necessary, desirable, and historically inevitable. It was required reading in college. I still hold to the idea that much can be achieved through reform and don’t favor undermining the Administration on every front.

    • bmaz says:

      I very much think Obama is promoting a police state. His actions in condoning and legitimizing warrantless wiretapping, fusion centers and the shameful way he bucked up Officer Crowley in the Gates case, after a patently illegal arrest, fraudulent actions in lying in the DR to cover for the activity and then treating him like a fucking hero – yes you are damn right I think there is a problem with Obama.

      • Phoenix Woman says:

        Creating? We’ve had one for decades now. 9/11 was the final nail in the coffin, but the origins go back much further than that — further even than the infamous “Huston Plan” of the Nixon White House. And the Clintons didn’t do much to stop — hell, they helped it along, as they’d been put on the defensive from the get-go by the conservative-controlled media and their “law and order” GOP allies who were still fighting 1960s hippies in their heads.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Amen. I don’t imagine Martin Luther King, on whom the singularly neurotic J. Edgar Hoover had an enormous surveillance file, would be too happy at the course taken by our constitutional lawyer president.

        Calling Mr. Obama, Blue Dog ‘Bama, a description that would have elicited howls of indignation before the election, is becoming something of an understatement.

      • Crosstimbers says:

        Oh well, I’m, just sort of going by Dr. Gates’ ultimate take on the situation, by Obama’s initial reaction and later actions, and the opinions of columnists like Eugene Robinson, who didn’t see it as a hill worth dying on. I was trying to express polite disagreement, more with some of the revolutionary comments than you, but do actually favor doing the best we can with the cards dealt us, rather than bringing back the Republicans or going for a total overthrow. If that be trollery, make the most of it.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Ah, the drollery of trollery.

          Nicely “turned”, Crosstimbers.

          The question of a “stacked deck” cannot be dismissed, out of hand, when discussing “cards” and who’s been dealt “what”, however. That propensity to cheat, if it doesn’t fear that GENUINE consequence is inevitable, might just be at “work”, all to happily, for some of the “players”.

          Is it really a card game, or are most of us just shootin’ craps?

        • SanderO says:

          I don’t see too many truth teller on the tee vee or in any of the MSM except the occasional Sy Hersh.

          The pivotal events of our time occurred on September 11, 2001. We were lied to about what happened and who did it and therefore why it was done. It was blamed on radical Islam.

          Radical Islam is not a threat to the USA.

          What is the threat to the people of the USA and who is doing the threatening? Why?

        • bmaz says:

          It is most certainly not trollery, and I would not and did not for a second intimate that it was. Gates’ take on the situation was diametrically different before Obama interjected himself into the equation. Gates was on the warpath about the police conduct and had the case, the voice and the resources to really make a mark. That is my problem. I admire Gene robinson a lot, but he doesn’t know squat about false arrest law or section 1983 actions etc.; I spent the better part of a career doing exactly this kind of work, both in criminal defense and civil rights litigation, and I am here to tell you the Gates case was a perfect set up to have this discussion. I tend to agree with you about the extraneousness of the revolution commentary, I believe in the Constitutional system; the “revolution” can occur just fine through the legal system, but it takes people being aware and active and doing something. The police get away with this because the people sit on their asses and let them It starts with your neighbors, their neighbors, then the town council, then the county commissioners, then the state legislatures etc.

          • SanderO says:

            After 62 years of observations I have concluded that working with and in this system is a wasted effort. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It just will not work, has not worked and it’s been only getting worse and worse.

            I am not for random acts of disruption. I am for a full on take back revolution and nothing less.

          • DWBartoo says:

            The actual “ground” of the next important human “revolution”, will be in understanding and empathy. In the “hearts and minds” of “ordinary” human beings.

            How ridiculous that assertion must seem?

            It will not at the barricades.

            But it will confront prejudice and a propensity towards violence.

            And fear.

            I too, bmaz, put such faith as I have, fully in the Constitutional system, as you term it, and can only imagine the grief and pain which you (and the other attorneys of true capacity AND humanity who meet and share here, at FDL), must feel knowing that it is your colleagues, professors, students, attorneys and judges, who have engineered what appears a very successful campaign to denigrate and diminish the Constitution AND what it means.

            Realistically, and I ask of you your best teaching moments(which are profoundly valuable to the rest of us who are not lawyers and truly appreciated)if you are inclined to reply; What are our chances,realistically, in your estimation, of seeing the full “restoration” (not “reworking”) of what you and I would both accept as a true Constitutional system? Within whatever time period you choose.

            The fate of Constitutional systems, is a moment to moment thing, admittedly, and the people have not “kept” the Republic, as Franklin admonished them to do, but, given what we face, as many here have discussed and described in great and amazing detail, what hopes or encouragements might you share with us?

            Great post, bmaz.

            (When might you consider taking on corporate “person-hood”, as you once suggested you might be willing to do? I know that many here are, as am I, most-interested in your thoughts regarding this, also centrally important, issue.)

            Thanks, bmaz.


        • Nell says:

          It wasn’t a hill worth dying on as an issue of racism, but it was as an example of the everyday brutality that has taken over policing. Obama only had a visceral reaction to it, though, because the target was a black Harvard professor, a friend and someone he identified with.

          Looking to him to support any real fight for justice on anything is a losing proposition. He’s made his deals, and he’s not going to spend any political capital to take on the military, the police, or finance capital.

  32. oldtree says:

    One wonders if drug abuse among police must be greater than the general population now. The abuse of steroids is becoming obvious. Go anywhere the police are gathering and note how very large all the 5′8″ police are. They weigh over 200, and are built like fullbacks. 5′8″ men rarely get to that kind of size without genetic accident or additions. Weights can’t do it without more time in a day than a working officer would have. The 6′2″ cops are 260 and look like the defensive line of the Peelers. It is not, as we would say, natural.
    Since we know that steroid abuse causes physical and mental breakdowns, why is there nothing being done to stop it?

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Fusion centers are an enormous problem, but slightly off topic. It’s not clear what they do, but they seem to make secret intelligence data and cross database profiles available to local law enforcement. A better tool for enabling local corruption I can’t imagine. It may also solve a few more crimes, but what’s the cost-benefit analysis, or have such things gone out the door as fast as pallet-loads of greenbacks to Iraq?

  34. MsAnnaNOLA says:

    A similar incident happened to my high school friend. She and her boyfriend were driving around, she had some sort of health emergency. The cops came, instead of getting her medical attention they held the boyfriend down and prevented him from continuing CPR.

    They accused my dying friend of doing drugs or being drunk. She had some kind of congenital heart condition and she needed an emergency room. She died that night while her boyfriend tried to get away fromt the cops to save her.

    Her mom called me and said they accused her daughter of being drunk or high, I said no way. She had the freedom to do whatever she wanted and she never abused substances because she didn’t like them. It was tragic, but her mom was a single mother, her child, my friend was a mixed race girl. The cops didn’t care what became of her. This was in the early 90’s.

    Between that incident and a member of NOPD literaly running into me on the street and not apologizing or even attempting to get out of the way, I am scared of the cops. I don’t want them anywhere near me or my loved ones.

    • SanderO says:

      This story is repeated every day in america. Guilty til proven innocent, justice delivered by police.

      No accountability.

      The police are the gestapo. Police are not your friends. Sure there are a few good apples, but they have no power. The ones with power are trained sadists who take pleasure in abusing other human beings and bizarre justifications.

  35. SanderO says:

    The police are not linked to all sorts of databases. You will soon have RFI chips in your ID docs and you might be arrested for X and taken in for not paying your bills!

  36. Styve says:

    Many police departments across the country are partaking of “training” programs offered by Blackwater. The cops in Portland love to ride around on their riot vehicles, all gussied up for battle in their ninja outfits…fu**ing weenies!!

  37. Mary says:

    Thanks bmaz & thanks to Cheye Calvo too. He could stay to the narrow ground of his personal harrowing experience but he’s chosen to give the broader context, which is what is missing far too much.

    Add in a President and DOJ who argue that “it’s not torture when state actors do it” and that there should be exemptions and amnesties for depravity because it is too much to expect that American members of the federal, state and local executive branches recognize torture and depravity and not engage in it and solicit it.

    Put together industries devoted to making torture mark free, and preferably out of sight and out of mind – whether via tazers or disappearing people into isolation, and you’ve got the new twists on a very old recipe.

  38. gannonguckert says:

    There was an extraordinary incident in Los Angeles a couple years back, wherein senior and mid-level LAPD, solely for interpersonal, intra-office revenge, arranged and executed a SWAT raid on another officer’s home, with four children in the house.

    Relevant LAPD folks said, Oops, just a mistake, but the civil jury found the officers who signed the required affadavit for the search warrant lied about the address targeted in the warrant…weird twist in jury deliberations rendered defendants not liable; case now on appeal (CA, not fed)…

  39. Hugh says:

    Fusion centers are dangerous for any number of reasons. There is a lot of information that goes into them that law enforcement simply has no business knowing short of getting a warrant. There are no controls on the accuracy of the information. I have seen reports of 800,000 law enforcement personnel having access to it and you have to wonder how many other clerical employees would have access with or without authorization. The recent inclusion of Pentagon data files raises the question of what kind of information it has been collecting on Americans and what kind of a violation of posse comitatus this represents.

  40. slouching says:

    I can’t bear the thought of them shooting the labs. It’s just horrible. They should go to prison for that alone.

  41. ghudson68 says:

    I think the priorities of the police are often not in order. There has recently been a crackdown in the university town I live in with underage drinking. Police in masse checking IDs in popular bars, hoping to find 20 year olds. I really don’t like the idea of how big the budget for this trivial effort is. Also, the police on bicycles, segways, AND horseback are not necessary. That money should be placed somewhere else.

  42. fatster says:

    Things must be heating up.

    Seven ex-CIA directors want Obama to drop torture probe
    Former CIA chiefs seek halt to interrogation probe
    7 former CIA chiefs ask Obama to stop investigation into harsh CIA interrogations

    AP News
    Sep 18, 2009 12:53 EST

    “Seven former CIA directors are asking President Barack Obama to quash Attorney General Eric Holder’s investigation into harsh CIA interrogations of terror suspects during the Bush administration.”


    [The seven are Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet, John Deutch, R. James Woolsey, William Webster and James R. Schlesinger. ]

    • Mary says:

      Wow – So the headline really was meant to be, “Four or Five Direct Targets of a Criminal Investigation Want Investigation Dropped: Some Other Guys They Might Implicate in Older Bad Stuff Want It Dropped Too

      Meanwhile – the DC Courts are being incredibly warm and fuzzy towards Bush admin lawyers under investigtion for obstruction and/or fibs to Congress – first Sampson gets his license despite the committee recommending declination, now Bloch gets his as an “accident”

      • bmaz says:

        Yes. Exactly. Three putative defendants in the underlying crimes to be investigated and one other old fart, James R. Schlesinger (not Robert A. Schlesinger, who is a journalist, sometimes at HuffPo). James R. Schlesinger, as you may recall, is the guy who was on the job for less than a year in 1973 and who took over under Nixon when Richard Helms was fired for not covering up Watergate, and Schlesinger’s first words on the job were literally “”I’m here to make sure you don’t screw Richard Nixon”. This austere group, along with John Deutch, a man who had his own criminal problems, think this investigation should not go forward. Very compelling. Marcy will be along shortly with a post on this for those interested.

      • Stephen says:

        Please don’t forget Mr. Schlozman, who will not be pursued on perjury charges after apparently lying under oath to congress while questioned by Schumer. A lawyer friend of mine said that the first thing you learn in law school is that there is no justice.

    • DWBartoo says:

      This would be the gravitas brigade, one imagines.

      No doubt the combined weight of their “legitimate” concerns will “center” the dithering Obama Presidency sufficiently to “buck up” the President to do the right and honorable thing.

      (The preceding snark is for entertainment porpoises only and, in no way, reflects how things actually happen on the political level, also known as the Sunstein horizon-line …)

  43. Neil says:

    Calvo goes on to explain how not only did the police abuse their authority, they attempted to falsify their story to cover up their misconduct and disregard of the Constitution and state laws.

    To this day, the Cambridge Police Chief has not reconciled Crowley’s account of speaking with the 911 caller at the scene with the 911 caller’s account …in which Crowley documented her saying “two black men with backpacks.” She flatly denies it. She held a press conference the Wednesday following the incident to set the record straight. Still, no word.

    It is a practice known as “testilying” and it is a big problem. The police pay scant attention to 4th amendment protections knowing they will rarely be challenged on their account of the story, written and filed so as to indicate all such protections were enforced.

    Is this the kind of problem you might expect the state Attorney General to address because it bears upon the nature and quality of law-enforcement where it intersects with civil rights?

    The Suffolk County DA is the last person on earth I’d expect to rock the boat in this respect, so who can we count on to expunge the corruption, Boston Police Commissioner Davis? He’s indicated a desire to implement a ‘no tolerance’ rule for testilying. How will it be implemented and who will keep the rank-and-file accountable?

    • bmaz says:

      Unfortunately no, this is what Calvo was saying about authorities not wanting to touch it; and he is right, they will not. The only way to address such misconduct is through civil action and complaints to citizen police review boards (which is precisely why such few jurisdictions have them).

  44. T-Bear says:

    The disservice to civil society began quite early, with the advent of widespread TV and IIRC Jack Web and the Badge 714 type police shows which instilled into the public that police can do no wrong. Nixon’s “Law and Order” played upon and amplified that perception. The unintended consequences are the basis of your post, a police force out of control and well into police state territory. Fear the result, prepare for the worst, it will surely happen. It is a country in crisis as you post. From my experience, it is unsafe to live there and has not been safe for quite some time. I doubt that I shall ever return. Check Digby’s accounting of tazer death and abuse entries for an eye-opener and a needed public service. A remarkable and needed airing of the issue this post provides, brilliant.

  45. Mary says:

    @106 – I don’t begin to have the expertise or knowledge to even have the conversation with you on that, although others may. It does seem like there has been a lot of money and blood invested in things that were more beneficial for sects of economic interests than “national security” over a long long period of time.

    @110 Deutch being so worried about what happens with classified info is pretty rich, what with his laptop situation, but Woolsey is really an interesting name on the list. I guess anyone who focused really closely on KSM and his torture would pretty much have to focus on Danny Pearl’s murder and people who started him on the paths that ended so horrifically.

  46. posaune says:

    bmaz, late to the party.

    This is something I’ve been worried about. a lot.
    This militarization is seen everywhere (and it is the worst here in DC):
    -increased #s of police presence
    -style of uniform, i.e. combat helmets and shields (not like friendly neighborhood police shirts of the 1970s)
    -visible weapons (i.e., machine guns)
    -quicker threats (I got stopped on Capitol Hill and told my trunk would be searched what list would I be on then?)
    -presumed guilt (like the Gates case!)
    -bollards and checkpoints everywhere, fences restricting access.
    (Have to share my own little protest campaign here: I work in urban planning writing technical reviews for construction and development plans: lately, I’ve been adding for every project an open space area and slapping a public access easement on it. I’m praying we get a first amendment case for one of those!)

    I’m wondering if these militarization attitudes seep upward from the prison staffs? prisoner abuse is OK?
    Remember those MP and underlings at Abu Gharib? They were prison workers in western MD and PA.

    How slippery is the slope and we are sliding on down to complete immorality. Some Christians, huh? Those right-wingers and their church going.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I understand. As you probably know, I have been kind of around the scene for a while now. Got out of law school in the mid 80s and quickly got a close up view because I practiced criminal law heavily. But I think it was at a constant and unavoidable level until the conservative backlash from the Warren Court era started. Not long before I enterd practice the talk of the “slippery slope” on the degradation of the Bill of Rights started and, although scoffed at at first, it really was true. Commenters that say this crap has always been around are correct, but it was at kind of a constant and understandable level until the point I describe. Since that point, it has been a bleak spiral down to where we are today, and 9/11 facilitated a “surge” in the wrong direction. We need to reset.

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