A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Corruption Corner’ Category

We Require More Stolen Money

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The constitutionality of speed cameras has been raised in several court cases. Many of these cases have resulted in speed cameras being ruled unconstitutional because the people who were ticket had no opportunity to defend themselves. A case in Ohio recently found this to be the case. However, the city that was sued is claiming that it will be financially ruined if the ruling isn’t reversed:

The village of New Miami told the Ohio Supreme Court last week that its “fiscal integrity” would be compromised if a lawsuit succeeds in stopping the use of speed cameras. In January, the state Court of Appeals sided with motorists who challenged the constitutionality of the one-square-mile speed trap town’s photo radar program (view ruling). To avoid paying the resulting $3 million in refunds, New Miami is begging the high court for relief.

“The village now faces financial ruin should the Twelfth District’s overly restrictive reading of the sovereign immunity statutes be allowed to stand, and the matter proceed to final judgment,” New Miami attorney James J. Englert wrote.

If a private company claimed that a ruling should be reversed because it was detrimental to its bottom line, the judge presiding over the case would probably laugh at the company’s lawyers and then tell them to get the fuck out of the courtroom. This would be especially true if the company was found to have stolen the money in question. But rules are often different for governmental bodies. When a governmental body steals it’s usually referred to as “taxation,” a “citation,” or an “inspection fee” and considered legitimate.

Personally, I hope the judge refuses to grant the city relief and it ends up having to go into bankruptcy. Any organization that is only able to survive on theft should be tossed into the dustbin of history.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 14th, 2018 at 10:30 am

More Heroes Doing Hero Things

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You might make the mistake of thinking that an individual who carries a toy gun to plant on anybody they decide to shoot is a bad person being but they’re actually heroes:

Last week, the beginning of an explosive corruption trial involving eight members of Baltimore’s elite Gun Trace Task Force revealed that a handful of Baltimore cops allegedly kept fake guns in their patrol cars to plant on innocent people—a failsafe they could use if they happened to shoot an unarmed suspect, the Baltimore Sun reports.

It’s almost as if positions of power that lack accountability breed corrupt behavior.

I’m not sure whether corruption has become more common in law enforcement departments or has simply received more coverage by the press. Arguments can be made for either. But I think it’s obvious that corruption is far more common in modern law enforcement departments than most people realize. I also think it’s likely that we only see the tip of the iceberg and a majority of corruption remains hidden.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 13th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Shut Up, Slave

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Many Americans continue to believe that courts are where justice is done. It’s easy to make that mistake since the courts are usually part of an organization with the word justice in its title. However, courts aren’t where justice is served, courts are where slaves go to beg their masters for leniency or to beg them to inflict harm on another. Sometimes these masters are kind to the slaves, other times they are not:

In Tarrant County, Tex., defendants are sometimes strapped with a stun belt around their legs. The devices are used to deliver a shock in the event the person gets violent or attempts to escape.

But in the case of Terry Lee Morris, the device was used as punishment for refusing to answer a judge’s questions properly during his 2014 trial on charges of soliciting sexual performance from a 15-year-old girl, according to an appeals court. In fact, the judge shocked Morris three times, sending thousands of volts coursing through his body. It scared him so much that Morris never returned for the remainder of his trial and almost all of his sentencing hearing.

The action stunned the Texas Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso, too. It has now thrown out Morris’s conviction on the grounds that the shocks, and Morris’s subsequent removal from the courtroom, violated his constitutional rights. Since he was too scared to come back to the courtroom, the court held that the shocks effectively barred him from attending his own trial, in violation of the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, which guarantees a defendant’s right to be present and confront witnesses during a trial.

While it’s nice that the case was thrown out, merely throwing the case out won’t solve the long term problem. The judge in question was found to have violated an individual’s constitutional rights by physically assaulting him to such a degree that the individual was afraid to return to the courtroom. Unless the judge faces consequences for his actions, there is nothing dissuading him or other judges from doing the same thing or worse in the future.

A major problem with today’s “justice” system is the professional immunity culture. So long as a government agent in the “justice” system is acting in their official capacity, they are basically immune from suffering consequences for bad actions. Officers routinely get away with perjury. Prosecutors routinely get away with withholding evidence that might help the defense. Judges routinely get away with violating the constitutional rights of individuals in their courtrooms. The lack of consequences creates an environment where others feel safe performing misdeeds themselves. There is no hope of reforming the system unless this culture of professional immunity is dealt with but it won’t be dealt with because the people charged with holding members of the “justice” system accountable are also members of the “justice” system. Not surprisingly, whenever the “justice” system investigates itself it finds that it did nothing wrong.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 8th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Spook Squad

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I’ve often wondered how Geek Squad stays in business. The prices it charges for even the most trivial repairs are absurd. More and more I’m becoming convinced that Geek Squad stays in business because it is being propped up by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI):

After the prosecution of a California doctor revealed the FBI’s ties to a Best Buy Geek Squad computer repair facility in Kentucky, new documents released to EFF show that the relationship goes back years. The records also confirm that the FBI has paid Geek Squad employees as informants.

EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit last year to learn more about how the FBI uses Geek Squad employees to flag illegal material when people pay Best Buy to repair their computers. The relationship potentially circumvents computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.

While Geek Squad has been caught red handed working with the FBI, any employee at any computer repair company could be operating under the same deal. The FBI has a vested interest in access the information on as many computers as possible and people who repair computers often have unrestricted access to a lot of information on a lot of computers.

If you’re going to send your computer to somebody else for repairs, here are my recommendations to guard your privacy. If the device you’re sending in has a removable hard drive, remove the drive that is in it and replace it with a blank drive (one that has never been used to store personal information). On the blank drive install the operating system that came on the device and a user account with generic credentials (this is one of the few times where the password “password” is a good idea) so the repair person can log in. By doing this you ensure that the repair person doesn’t have access to any of your personal data. When the device comes back, format the drive that you provided the repair person, remove it, and install the hard drive with your data again.

If your device doesn’t have a removable drive, ensure that the first thing you do when you initially start the device after getting it out of the box is enable full disk encryption. When you need to send the device in for repairs, format the drive, reinstall the default operating system, setup a user account with generic credentials, and send the device in. When the drive comes back, wipe the drive again and restore your data from a backup. For those who are wondering why full disk encryption should be enabled it’s because formatting a drive doesn’t necessarily erase the data. By default formatting a drive wipes the file allocation table but leaves the data preserved. Enabling full disk encryption ensures that the data on the drive is unreadable without the proper decryption key. While formatting won’t erase the data, the data will be unreadable to the repair man if they attempt to restore the old file allocation table to pilfer your data for law enforcers.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 7th, 2018 at 11:00 am

A Government of Governments

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What do you get when you establish a government made up entirely by other governments? Another terrible government:

New revelations about the sexual exploitation of hundreds of women by United Nations peacekeepers have emerged a decade after the organization first identified the problem.

In a draft report obtained by the Associated Press, the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services — a U.N. watchdog within the U.N. — said members of a peacekeeping mission had “transactional sex” with more than 225 Haitian women. The women traded sex for basic needs, including food and medication.

“For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the ‘triggering need,’” the report said. In exchange for sex, women got “’church shoes,’ cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money” from peacekeepers.

I don’t have a problem with prostitution when prostitutes are performing the job voluntarily. However, no interaction with a government agent is truly voluntary. Moreover, the United Nations is holding a good deal of the Haitian population in its prison, err, refugee camps, which gives the government of governments almost absolute control over many Haitians lives.

There is also the issue of accountability. The United Nations was established to oversee national governments. But who watches the watchmen? There is no organization to oversee the United Nations, which means it seldom faces consequences when it does something wrong. While the organization may claim that it prohibits its soldiers from having sex with the people it is oppressing saving, there is nobody to hold it accountable when it ignores its own soldiers who are breaking that rule.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 6th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Incarceration without Conviction

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Here in the United States we have a right to a speedy trial… according to four out of seven judges:

New York State’s highest court has tossed out a murder indictment against a man who sat on Rikers Island for more than six years awaiting trial, ruling the delay was caused by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which kept him locked up as it struggled to bolster its case against him.

In its split decision on Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals wrote in unusually pointed language that “incarceration should generally follow conviction, not precede it.” The court’s decision, which cited the defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial, was issued less than a month after a federal appeals court in New York vacated a marijuana distribution charge against a man from Cattaraugus, N.Y., who spent seven years in jail and never went to trial.

The real takeaway from this story is that this ruling came down to a single judge. Three out of the seven judges apparently thought it was perfectly acceptable to incarceration a man for six years even though he hadn’t been convicted of a crime.

Stories like this are why I refer to the United States as a police state. A man lost six years of his life just so a district attorney could build a valid case against him. Then only four out of seven judges thought that the incarceration was unlawful. Now the district attorney and everybody else involved in keeping that poor bastard in a cage for so long will likely walk away unpunished. At most a civil suit will result in the man receiving some taxpayer money as an inadequate form of apology. Many Americans assume that a country has to be as bad as North Korea to qualify as a police state but all that is really necessary is for government agents involved in enforcing laws to go unpunished when they abuse their power. Once an environment of accountability ceases to exist, government agents are free to punish anybody they want for whatever reason they want.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 1st, 2018 at 10:30 am

The Minneapolis Police Department’s Useless Body Cameras

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The City of Minneapolis spent $4 million to equip its law enforcers with body cameras. You might think that Minneapolis invested that money to hold its officers accountable but you would be wrong:

The Minneapolis Police Department is not tracking whether all officers are routinely activating body cameras and has not fully staffed the office tasked with reviewing body camera footage, despite the City Council’s directing it to do so last fall.


Deputy Chief Henry Halvorson told the council last week that such a comprehensive report would be too labor-intensive. Someone has to check several databases and watch the video to decide whether each officer followed department policy, he said. Instead, Halvorson said, the police will analyze 2 percent of officers’ body camera usage for each quarterly audit starting in the second quarter.

Mr. Halvorson’s excuse is pathetic. There is no need to manually watch all of the footage collected by an officer’s body camera to know whether or not they used it. The camera should create a record every time it is turned on or off. If the records shows that an officer didn’t turn their body camera on or turned it off during their shift, inquiries should be made. The technical solution is dead simple and requires almost no additional manual labor.

But body cameras aren’t about holding law enforcers accountable. If that were the case, Bob Kroll and his police union buddies would stopped their adoption. What body cameras are about is collecting evidence that a law enforcer can use against you in court. Since nobody is reprimanding officers for failing to keep their body camera on, they can turn it off while they’re executing an unarmed black man then turn it back on when they’re arresting somebody for possession of pot.

Minneapolis’ body camera program demonstrates once again that any solution offered by a government body will only benefit that body.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:00 am

The States has Decided to Keep Its Political Prisoner

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Anybody who paid attention to the trial of Ross Ulbricht knows that he was railroaded. The judge ruled his defense inadmissible. Then when several officers involved with hunting down Ulbricht were found to have been corrupt, thus bringing the validity of any claims they made during the trial into question, but new trial was called. Ulbricht’s lawyer has continued to push for a new trial despite these setbacks. Unfortunately, it looks like the State will keep its political prisoner:

The federal judge overseeing the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the man convicted of creating the underground Silk Road drug website, has denied the Ulbricht legal team’s attempt to extend the normal three-year window for “post-conviction relief.” In essence, the move stifles Ulbricht’s new attorney’s extraordinary effort to re-open the case with new exculpatory evidence, on the off-chance that it exists.

Don’t forget that all of this was done because of a fucking website. Ulbricht was never charged with manufacturing, selling, or distributing any illegal substances. The only thing he was guilty of was running a website. But the State needed to make an example out of somebody and Ulbricht was the person it could get.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Just More Heroes Doing Hero Things

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For the life of me I can’t figure out why our heroes in blue have such a dismal reputation:

BALTIMORE — The officers’ job during some of the bloodiest years in Baltimore was to get guns off the streets.

Instead, they plundered money, jewelry, drugs and weapons and gouged the cash-strapped city for overtime and hours they never worked, according to their own admissions and testimony in ongoing criminal cases.

Over the past four years, some members of the Gun Trace Task Force stole more than $300,000, at least three kilos of cocaine, 43 pounds of marijuana, 800 grams of heroin and hundreds of thousands of dollars in watches from suspected drug dealers and civilians, according to officers’ plea agreements and statements in federal court.

They admit to putting illegal trackers on the cars of suspected dealers so they could rob their homes and sell off any drugs and guns they found.

This sounds an awful lot like the Minneapolis Gang Strike Force. In both cases officers were assigned to specific duties and used their newfound positions of authority to rob people left and right. Moreover, it appears as though the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force followed in the footsteps of the Minneapolis Gang Strike Force in that it committed so many crimes that they could no longer be effectively swept under the rug.

I’m sure Minneapolis and Baltimore aren’t unique. After all, what else could be expected of a group of officers given tremendous powers, in addition to the tremendous powers they already have, and almost no oversight? Such an environment is custom made for corrupt behavior.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 9th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Pretending to Do Something

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There is never a shortage of government busybodies when something has to be done and people have been demanding that something be done in response to the Las Vegas shooting. So the law enforcers in Mesa, Arizona have answered those demands by arresting and charing an individual show the shooter purchased ammunition from:

U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Authorities have charged Douglas Haig, 55, of Mesa Arizona with selling “armor-piercing ammunition” to Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock according to court documents acquired by the Associated Press. Haig works full time as an aerospace engineer and part-time as a manufacturer of reloaded ammunition.

This would be like arresting the head of Ford in response to somebody using an F-150 to run down a group of people. Haig made a product and sold it. After that he ceased to have control over it and therefore ceased to be responsible for it. But that doesn’t matter because the government wants to show the world that it’s doing something in response to the shooting.

The lack of Haig’s involvement with the crime doesn’t matter as illustrated by the charges against him. He’s not be charged with anything relating to the shooting. Instead he’s being charged with violating an unrelated regulation against manufacturing “armor piercing” ammunition (which, itself, is a nonsensical legal definition) without a license. Since none of the Las Vegas shooter’s victims were wearing body armor, the ability for the ammunition he used to penetrate body armor is irrelevant (and that’s not what the legal definition of “armor piecing” is even based on). But the arrest gives the law enforcers something to show the public and that’s all that matters.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 8th, 2018 at 10:30 am