A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Corruption Corner’ Category

An Entire System of Bad Apples

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When it comes to police are there just a few bad apples or is the entire system rotten to the core? According to people who make excuses for any officer misdeed there are just a few bad apples. But if you look at how the system deals with those bad apples you quickly realize that their claim is false:

Almost five years ago, Darren Rainey, a mentally ill black man serving a two-year prison sentence for drug possession, was locked in a shower by prison guards at Dade Correctional Institution in Florida after they said he defecated on himself in his cell. The water was allegedly turned up to a scalding 180 degrees and he was left in there for hours. He entered the shower at around 7:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead two hours later.

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We could debate and wonder about all of this, but one horrific detail is not debatable. When Darren Rainey was removed from that shower, his skin was falling off of his body. This is not normal — particularly in light of the fact that “confinement in a shower” was ruled as one of the primary causes of his death.

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That Darren Rainey died on their watch, in a shower that they put him in for hours on end, with skin falling off of his body, and they didn’t even lose their jobs or law enforcement certification, and that many of these staff members are still working in law enforcement is incomprehensible. What worse could happen on a staff member’s watch in Florida than this?

Here we have a few bad apples who locked a mentally ill man in a shower, with water far hotter than the legally allowed hottest temperature of 120 degrees, until he died. At the absolute minimum that’s a negligence-related death that would probably get most people charged with manslaughter. Yet those few bad apples were protected by another bad apple, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, who didn’t prosecute the officers after seeing the evidence. Those bad apples were also protected by the bad apples who are charged with personnel matters who should have fired the officers on the spot.

Perhaps there were only a few bad apples at first but it’s obvious that the entire system is rotten at this point.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 22nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Looking Good While Thumping Skulls

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The Los Angeles Country Sheriff’s Department decided that its current silver colored metal uniform ornaments are no longer in vogue. To correct this horrible fact the department is going to spend $300,000 of taxpayer money on replacing all of its current silver colored ornaments with brass colored ornaments:

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is getting down to brass tactics.

Sheriff’s officials are spending $300,000 on items they say would make deputies look more professional in their jobs and could help make them safer.

But the taxpayer dollars won’t go toward tools such as higher-quality ballistic vests, backup guns or body cameras, all of which are optional items that deputies have to pay for on their own.

Instead, Sheriff Jim McDonnell is spending the money on a minor cosmetic makeover of deputies’ uniforms: changing the color of their belt buckles and other metal pieces of gear from silver to gold. That way, the metallic bits — all made of brass — will match the gold-hued tie clips, lapel pins and six-pointed star badges that deputies already wear, McDonnell said.

This waste of money wouldn’t be so bad if the department was a business with funds acquired through voluntary trade. But the department is funded entirely through expropriating wealth from the people is claims to protect. I doubt the color of the metal ornaments will even be noticed by 99.9 percent of the department’s victims clientele. After all, who really gives a shit what color the metal ornaments on an officer’s uniform are when they’re either responding to your 911 call or thumping your skull because your skin color is a bit too dark for their liking? Since nobody will likely notice nor care about this change it’s an even bigger waste of taxpayer money than most expenditures.

But I’m sure the officers will feel better knowing that the metal bits on their belt finally match their tie clips.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 15th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Payback

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If there’s one thing the State won’t tolerate, it’s disobedience:

Authorities are opening a federal criminal investigation into WikiLeaks’s publication of troves of documents detailing purported CIA hacking programs, CNN reported Wednesday.

The FBI and CIA will collaborate on the probe, according to CNN, which reported that it is focused on determining how the anti-secrecy organization obtained the documents and whether they were leaked by an employee or contractor.

Notice how the criminal investigation is being performed against WikiLeaks and not the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)? That shows you where the State’s priorities are. Much like when it went after Snowden instead of the National Security Agency (NSA), when the State is given a choice to go after criminals within its agencies or the people who blew the whistle on those criminals, it always chooses the latter.

Once again I must reiterate the point that the State doesn’t exist to protect the people, it exists to exploit the people and will go to any extent to do it.

Threw It On the Ground

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Hypothetically speaking, if you walked up to a teenage girl, grabbed her, and slammed her into the ground what would you expect to happen? If you said that you’d expect to go to prison you don’t have a badge:

A North Carolina police officer who was shown on a video throwing a 15-year-old girl to the ground while trying to break up a fight at a high school in January will not face criminal charges, the Wake County district attorney said this week.

The district attorney, N. Lorrin Freeman, said in a statement that a grand jury had declined to bring criminal charges against the officer, Ruben De Los Santos, for his actions in the cafeteria at Rolesville High School on Jan. 3. Ms. Freeman had asked the grand jury to review whether the case showed “willful failure to discharge duties” and “assault on a female.”

Grand Juries tend to indite everybody unless they have a badge. For some reason, when the accused party has a badge, grand juries almost always vote against pressing charges.

On the upside, the officer resigned:

The police department in Rolesville, a town of about 5,000 people 15 miles northeast of Raleigh, said it put the officer on paid administrative leave after the incident. He resigned last Thursday, the department said in a statement.

Hopefully that means that a police union can’t force the department to hire him back. The downside to this is that the officer is free to terrorize people in another community.

At the end of the day, this story yet again demonstrates that if you want to beat the shit out of people legally you can become a police officer.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Punishing Suspects without Proving Guilt

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Federal prosecutors have a history of letting suspected child pornographers go free so it can keep the techniques it used to identify them secret. That history continues:

Rather than share the now-classified technological means that investigators used to locate a child porn suspect, federal prosecutors in Washington state have dropped all charges against a man accused of accessing Playpen, a notorious and now-shuttered website.

The case, United States v. Jay Michaud, is one of nearly 200 cases nationwide that have raised new questions about the appropriate limitations on the government’s ability to hack criminal suspects. Michaud marks just the second time that prosecutors have asked that case be dismissed.

Of course, the government left an out for itself. Double jeopardy is a concept under United States law that protects individuals from being prosecuted for the same crime twice. However, like all concepts that appear to protect the people from the government, there are loopholes that allow double jeopardy to be bypassed. A case can be dismissed with either with or without prejudice. If a case is dismissed with prejudice then it is done. If a case is dismissed without prejudice then it can be brought back into the courtroom at a later date.

“The government must now choose between disclosure of classified information and dismissal of its indictment,” Annette Hayes, a federal prosecutor, wrote in a court filing on Friday. “Disclosure is not currently an option. Dismissal without prejudice leaves open the possibility that the government could bring new charges should there come a time within the statute of limitations when and the government be in a position to provide the requested discovery.”

Dismissal without prejudice is often used when prosecutors screwed up procedurally. It gives them the option to correct their mistake and refile. But in this case the prosecution didn’t screw up procedurally. It simply didn’t want to reveal its evidence at this time but wants to reserve the ability to refile the charges at a time it finds more convenient. By using the ability to dismiss without prejudice in this manner the State has effectively nullified the concept of double jeopardy.

The government can recharge Jay Michaud when it decides that it wants to actually reveal its evidence. I think this move shows us how the government is planning to proceed. Instead of revealing the exploits it used to identify suspected child pornographers, the government will bring charged and dismiss them without prejudice and then recharge previous suspects after either the exploits have been discovered and patched or the statute of limitations is about to expire.

I’m sure this sounds like a great strategy to many people, especially considering the crime at hand. But it throws the entire concept of double jeopardy out the window. Instead of gathering enough evidence to bring charges and revealing that evidence to a jury, prosecutors can gather evidence, bring charges, dismiss the case without prejudice, and then bide their time until they decide to press charges again (where they may decide to just repeat the cycle or actually prosecute the suspect). Meanwhile, the suspect has to live with the charges looming over their head, which will almost certainly cause them a great deal of anxiety and mental anguish. It’s borderline mental torture. Dismissal without prejudice when used in this manner allows the State to inflict some punishment in the form of mental anguish without having to actually prove a suspect is guilty of a crime.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 7th, 2017 at 10:00 am

This Will End Well

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I would think that a nation primary composed of people who have had a rather unpleasant history with government databases would be very reluctant about creating government databases. But then I would be wrong:

The Knesset passed the biometric database law Monday night.

The bill was approved in its second and third readings after all objections were overcome. The final vote was 39-29 in favor.

The bill was significantly changed from its original version.

Over the course of the day it was decided that the database will not include fingerprints of anyone under the age of 16 and will not be used for unusual police applications.

New additions to the law were intended to amend the arrangements for the biometric database, in which all residents of the State will have their pictures and fingerprints taken, but for those who object, their data would be tied to their smart-cards instead of being entered into a database. However, those who choose to not be entered into the database will have to renew their passports and ID cards once every five years instead of every ten.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 1st, 2017 at 10:00 am

Your Privilege to Privacy Has a Lot of Exception

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I remember hearing a rumor that the Bill of Rights included an amendment regarding privacy. You wouldn’t know it living in our society though. Between the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive surveillance apparatus, law enforcement’s tendency to deploy cell phone interceptors without so much as a warrant, and the recent trend of municipal governments deploying license plate scanners throughout their realm of influence it’s pretty obvious that if we had a right to privacy it’s effectively dead now. But every so often the courts find a shred of privacy remaining. When they do they work efficiently to destroy it:

It’s a case I first wrote about a year ago when the Minnesota Court of Appeals reinstated charges against a Meeker County resident after a district court threw out the case against Leona Rose deLottinville because sheriff’s deputies captured her while she was visiting a boyfriend. The lower court had also ruled that evidence seized in the arrest could not be used against her because the warrant for her arrest did not authorize police to search her boyfriend’s apartment.

In upholding that decision Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court said the woman, who was suspected of possessing meth, had no greater expectation of privacy when visiting another home than in her own home. [Updated]

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“We understand that a homeowner might well be surprised and distressed to learn that police may enter at any time to arrest a guest,” he said. “But there is no indication in this case of any such abuse; deLottinville was visible to the officer before he entered the home. And the question of what rights the homeowner may have in such a situation is not before us.”

In a dissent, however, Justice Margaret Chutich said Lillehaug the majority opinion “fails to protect the right of a host from unreasonable governmental intrusion into the sanctity of her home, a right at the ‘very core’ of the Fourth Amendment.”

Of course the majority ruled based on the rights of the kidnapped individual, which completely ignored the rights of the homeowner. At least Justice Margaret Chutich understood this fact. Unfortunately, she was part of the minority and as we all know in a democracy the majority rules.

I believe the potential for abuse of this ruling is obvious. Home owners in Minnesota can now lose their privacy privileges if they invite the wrong person over. How can a homeowner decided whether or not they’re inviting the wrong person over? I guess they have to call their local police department and ask if a warrant has been issued for any guests they have over.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 17th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Increasing Government Opaqueness

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Barack Obama promised to create the most transparent government in history. After eight years his administration managed to create one of the most opaque governments in history. His predecessor’s administration, which at least saved us the lying about creating a transparent government, is continuing in his footsteps:

But on March 1st, the FBI is intentionally rolling back the technological clock, and will only allow requests via fax or snail mail, plus a limited amount through their online portal.

This will undoubtedly hinder the public’s ability to get information from the agency. On top of eliminating a far less burdensome method of communication, submitting through the FBI’s portal requires including personal information, including phone number and address, and agree to the site’s terms of service. Nested in the TOS is the requirement that users only make one FOIA request per submission per day.

At least the current administration won’t get a free pass from the political left like the last one did.

This change in policy is an example of the low level nonsense the State pulls to make the lives of its detractors more difficult. On the surface it doesn’t seem like much. After all, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) hasn’t been changed. Below the surface the difficulty of filing a FOIA request has been increased slightly, which will likely discourage some people from filing such requests. In time the difficulty will be raised slightly again and again and again. Eventually filing a FOIA request will be such a pain in the ass that almost nobody will do it. Then the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) will have achieved its goal of making FOIA a toothless law without having to actually violate it.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Freedom of the Press

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Ever since the various governments within the United States declared that it was okay for them to keep secrets the freedom of the press has been eroding. In recent years that steady erosion has turned into a complete collapse. Now we live in a world where journalists face felony charges for covering events:

Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

A documentary producer, a photojournalist, a live-streamer and a freelance reporter were each charged with the most serious level of offense under Washington DC’s law against rioting, after being caught up in the police action against demonstrators.

Notice how the journalists are being charged under the rioting laws? If they were being charged for covering the event that would be an overt suppression of the press. As anybody who has lived in this country long enough will tell you, the politicians here prefer covert suppression over overt suppression. Charging the journalists with covering the wrong event would raise a bunch of questions about the First Amendment. But charging them for participating in a riot avoids those questions and gives a reason for the tough on crime crowd to support the suppression.

United States Postal Service Increasing its Surveillance

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The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced that photographing every piece of mail is no longer enough surveillance for its taste so it will be expanding its efforts:

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is expanding its presence online, targeting dark net drug dealers and their use of snail mail in distributing their goods across the country.

New job listings indicate that the USPIS, the law enforcement element of the national postal service, is seeking Investigative Analysts and Intelligence Specialists to lead operations to tackle cybercrime and black market websites, reports Motherboard.

“Candidates shall have demonstrated experience in using cyber intelligence tools and software tools to actively search and mine the publicly available Internet and the dark net/deep web,” the job duty section on one listing reads.

The analyst or intelligence researcher will aim to seek out “pattern of life” data “in an effort to determine physical attribution of an internet identity.” In other words, they’ll be in charge of digging through information that can be used to uncover the individuals behind online drug dealing networks.

Always be wary of a package delivery service that also has its own police force.

The government loves redundancy. What the USPS is working to accomplish is the same thing that the National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and probably a dozen other federal agencies are already doing. Why is the USPS investing resources into a job that’s already being done by many other agencies? Why not hand the job of finding drug dealers over to the Drug Enforcement Agency? Because the State loves redundancy, especially when it comes to surveillance.

While this is a privacy concern it’s also an efficiency concern. Reproducing effort requires more resources. So even if you are one of those people who believes that paying taxes is righteous and good, you might want to ask why your tax dollars are being wasted on funding the exact same program a dozen times over.