A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Archive for the ‘Corruption Corner’ Category

Forensic Voodoo

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If you hang out with enough gunnies you’ll eventually run across Mr. Tough On Crime. Mr. Tough On Crime is remorseless. If somebody has been stopped by a police officer Mr. Tough On Crime more often than not has already judge them to be a criminal. In his eyes the police only stop people who are perpetrating crimes. And if you’ve been convicted of a crime Mr. Tough On Crime will forever disparage your name because you were proven to be filthy criminal scum. Judge Dredd has nothing on Mr. Tough On Crime.

But how guilty are the people sitting in prison right now? Last year it was revealed that microscopic hair forensics was basically voodoo. As it turns out, microscopic hair forensics cannot reliably tell one person from another. This has raised the question about what other supposedly scientific forensic techniques are bullshit and therefore what individuals in prison are actually criminals:

The White House will release a report Tuesday that will fundamentally change the way many criminal trials are conducted. The new study from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) examines the scientific validity of forensic-evidence techniques—DNA, fingerprint, bitemark, firearm, footwear and hair analysis. It concludes that virtually all of these methods are flawed, some irredeemably so.

Americans have long had an abiding faith in science, including forensic science. Popular TV shows like “CSI” and “Forensic Files” stoke this confidence. Yet the PCAST report will likely upend many people’s beliefs, as it should. Why trust a justice system that imprisons and even executes people based on junk science?

Only the most basic form of DNA analysis is scientifically reliable, the study indicates. Some forensic methods have significant error rates and others are rank guesswork. “The prospects of developing bitemark analysis into a scientifically valid method” are low, according to the report. In plain terms: Bitemark analysis is about as reliable as astrology. Yet many unfortunates languish in prison based on such bad science.

Mr. Tough On Crime is a blithering idiot. Condemning anybody who has ended up in one of the State’s slave labor facilities is asinine because many crimes don’t even involve a victim (and therefore aren’t actually crimes) and even when there is a victim the guilt of the accused perpetrator is often not proven beyond a reasonable because so much forensic “science” is voodoo.

I blame a great deal of this on the State’s monopoly on the legal system. Since the State has declared a monopoly on the legal system it is the prosecuting party in almost all criminal cases. The State is necessarily biased against anybody charged with a crime because its job is to prosecute them, not discover the truth about the crime. Many forensic labs work for the prosecutor and are therefore also biased against the defendant because they want to make their paying client happy so they’ll purchase their services again. The judge, at best, is a neutral party but realistically, as en employee of the State, is likely going to be biased against the defendant as well, which is a major problem because they instruct the jury. Members of the jury are often clueless about forensic techniques so they often lap up what the forensic labs, which are usually on the side of the prosecutor, feed them. Jurors are also usually ignorant about their rights as jurors, which is exacerbated by the judge lying to them. Often the only person in a court room that isn’t gunning for the defendant is their lawyer.

With odds like that, it’s difficult to have much faith in a guilty verdict, especially when a great deal of the forensic “evidence” submitted against the defendant isn’t any more reliable than guesswork.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 30th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Why Police Hate Being Recorded

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Many police officers have negative reactions towards being filmed. Why is this? They obviously have something to hide since they always tell us people with nothing to hide shouldn’t oppose surveillance. But what are they hiding? Perhaps instances where they fabricate charges against protesters?

The ACLU of Connecticut is suing state police for fabricating retaliatory criminal charges against a protester after troopers were recorded discussing how to trump up charges against him. In what seems like an unlikely stroke of cosmic karma, the recording came about after a camera belonging to the protester, Michael Picard, was illegally seized by a trooper who didn’t know that it was recording and carried it back to his patrol car, where it then captured the troopers’ plotting.

“Let’s give him something,” one trooper declared. Another suggested, “we can hit him with creating a public disturbance.” “Gotta cover our ass,” remarked a third.

That’s embarrassing!

Notice how the recorded footage came from the protesters camera and not the dashcam in the police car or body cameras? Recently many police officers have expressed a willingness to wear body cameras. This change of heart seems to indicate that officers are willing to be monitored. In reality the officers know that the departments control that footage and can disappear it “accidentally” at any time. It’s public recordings that really body them because they can’t conveniently toss the footage down the memory hole. This is why I encourage everybody to film any police encounter they are either a party to or come across even if the officers are wearing body cameras. Don’t let shit like what these officers pulled go unnoticed.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2016 at 10:30 am

First World Police Problems

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How much wealth has the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stolen through civil forfeiture? Nobody knows but it’s enough that if calculated it would apparently crash NYPD’s computers:

The New York City Police Department takes in millions of dollars in cash each year as evidence, often keeping the money through a procedure called civil forfeiture. But as New York City lawmakers pressed for greater transparency into how much was being seized and from whom, a department official claimed providing that information would be nearly impossible—because querying the 4-year old computer system that tracks evidence and property for the data would “lead to system crashes.”

I’m not sure if that means NYPD has a really shitty computer system, has stolen a mind boggling amount of stuff, or is lying to us. The worst part? All three possibilities are equally likely.

And can you imagine the public relations meeting where this excuse was considered acceptable enough to release? Who in their right mind thought admitting that their computer system cannot calculate the amount of stuff that has been stolen was a good idea? That just illustrates the sheer scope of the problem to the public, it doesn’t make NYPD look justified.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 20th, 2016 at 10:00 am

That’s a Good Racket

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Civil forfeiture is often used to rob large amounts of cash, cars, and other valuable items from the public. It’s a nice racket because the victim has to prove that their assets weren’t tied to a drug crime and since proving a negative is very difficult civil forfeiture rakes in a ton of cash for the State. But what about poorer people? Not everybody is cruising around with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash or drives a nice car. Fortunately, for the State, civil forfeiture is a versatile theft mechanism and can be adapted to meet the needs of the thief:

After the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office sued New Jersey resident Jermaine Mitchell to keep $171 dollars seized from him during a drug arrest earlier this year, it sent him a notice in jail of his right to challenge the seizure. The catch? It would cost him $175 just to file the challenge.

Mitchell’s is one of 21 civil asset forfeiture cases that the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office combined together in a what the ACLU of New Jersey said in a court filing last week is an unlawful scheme that deprived Mitchell and the other defendants of their due process rights under the Constitution.

I know how Mitchell feels. I received a parking ticket in St. Paul a few years ago. Normally I’d be all gung ho about fighting such a ticket but the cost of fighting it was higher than the ticket itself. Had I fought the ticket I’d have actually lost money on the deal.

It must be nice to have a monopoly on the legal system. You can create the rules, set the fines, and set the amount it will cost the peasantry to get their day in court. If you just set the fines lower than the price of accessing the courts you can rake in a ton of cash without much worry of being challenged.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 16th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Without Government Who Would Slaughter the Horses

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Without government who would round up wild horses and slaughter them?

Last Friday, the Bureau of Land Management‘s (BLM) National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board made the decision to use euthanasia to kill 45,000 wild horses currently captive in government holding facilities throughout the US. The decision has come under great scrutiny by organizations who argue for using birth control to minimize population growth, instead.

This is a nice racket the ranchers have going for them. Instead of having to foot the expense of dealing with competition for their cattle herds the ranchers can just use their political clout to get the BLM to round up the competing wildlife at tax payer expense. Now the BLM is tired of storing the horses and wants to slaughter them at tax payer expense, which means the ranchers will have to compete against a glut of cheap horse meat, right?. Wrong. The cattle ranchers need not worry because the United States government protects ranchers from that form of competition as well.

If you have enough political clout you can socialize the expenses of doing business. Ranchers have a lot of clout in many regions of the United States and they use that clout to make the rest of us pay the expenses they would face otherwise.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 14th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Rigging the Trial

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The trial of Ammon Bundy and six of his cohorts is ramping up. Their crime, for those unfamiliar with the case, occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But it’s already obvious that the trail is a formality and the verdict is predetermined as the judge is rigging the trail:

The judge also said she intends to question each juror on whether they were handed a flier outside court about jury nullification, and to instruct them that they must follow the law even if they disagree with it. Judge Brown said deputy U.S. marshals indicated there may be people outside court distributing such fliers.

Regardless of what you think about the occupation itself, the fact that the judge is telling jurors that they can’t exercise their rights should be concerning. It goes against the very purpose of having jury trials and all but guarantees a guilty verdict for Bundy and his buddies.

If you research how juries work you will learn that they don’t have to rule based on the written law. A jury isn’t punished regardless of its ruling or the reason behind that ruling. If a jury rules against the written law that’s entirely acceptable. The lack of punishment for juries was deliberate and was meant to act as a check against erroneous laws. But more and more courts are applying pressure to juries to rule in the “right” way. As this pressure increases jury trials will shift away from being a mechanism of determining actual fault and towards being mere legal formalities. As that shift continues one of the last avenues of saving people from the depravities of the State will be lost.

I won’t be surprised if we see a day where juries that rule the “wrong” way are punished. Perhaps in the near future jurors will be told what the “right” verdict is by the judge and any jurors who rule otherwise will be held in contempt of court.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 8th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Ka-Ching

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Scott Adams may have described civil forfeiture better than anybody:

ka-ching

Just change out the text slightly. In the first panel Dogbert could say, “I’ve declared a law that allows cops to steal property if they can claim it might be tied to a drug crime.” In the second panel he could say, “When the cops seize the property we’ll put the burden of proving it wasn’t tied to a drug crime on the owner.” The third panel can be left unchanged.

The Wyoming Supreme Court recently refused to hear an appeal of a man who had $470,000 stolen from him under civil forfeiture laws without even being charged with a crime:

CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal from a man who contends it was unconstitutional for the state to seize $470,000 in cash from him and then seek to forfeit it on the grounds that it was drug money, all without charging him with a crime.

How can the State claim the money is related to a drug crime if it doesn’t even have enough evidence to charge him? That’s a trick question. Civil forfeiture laws have nothing to do with fighting verboten drugs. The laws are about one thing: giving the State yet another legal justification for stealing your wealth.

What about your constitutional rights? The government can’t just steal your money, right? That’s unreasonable search and seizure, is it not? George Carlin probably illustrated constitutional rights the best:

Now, if you think you do have rights, I have one last assignment for ya. Next time you’re at the computer get on the Internet, go to Wikipedia. When you get to Wikipedia, in the search field for Wikipedia, i want to type in, “Japanese-Americans 1942” and you’ll find out all about your precious fucking rights. Alright. You know about it.

In 1942 there were 110,000 Japanese-American citizens, in good standing, law abiding people, who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That’s all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had was…right this way! Into the internment camps.

The Bill of Rights sounds like a wonderful idea on paper but that’s the only place it exists, on paper. Unfortunately the very Constitution that supposedly guarantees you your rights also gives a monopoly on law to the State. So the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, means whatever the fuck the State says it means. If you don’t agree you can take it up with the law enforcers who will tell you that they’re “only doing their jobs” as they beat your with a truncheon for refusing to surrender your cash on constitutional grounds.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 7th, 2016 at 10:30 am

The FBI and Child Pornography

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The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) seemingly went scorched Earth during its campaign to takedown a hidden child pornography site. Except it didn’t take the site down. It not only left it running once it discovered where it was being hosted and continued hosting the site itself but it even actively worked to upgrade the site so it could distribute more child pornography:

Under the FBI’s stewardship, Playpen membership rose by 30 percent and the number of visitors to the site increased from roughly 11,000 to 50,000 per week, assistant federal defender Peter Adolf argued in a motion to dismiss his client’s indictment. Playpen distributed 200 videos, 9,000 images and 13,000 links to child pornography while the FBI ran the site from February 20th to March 4th, Adolf said. He supported his claims with archived messages from Playpen users commenting on how well the site was running during this same timeframe.

[…]

“Government agents worked hard to upgrade the website’s capability to distribute large amounts of child pornography quickly and efficiently, resulting in more users receiving more child pornography faster than they ever did when the website was running ‘illegally,'” Adolf wrote.

How can the FBI claim it was fighting child pornography when it was not only distributing it but also working to distribute more of it? I’m sure the FBI and its apologists will claim that the ends justified the means but it’s exactly that attitude that allowed a supposed law enforcement agency to perpetrate a crime that a large portion of society finds especially heinous.

Furthermore, if the FBI isn’t punished for this what’s to stop it from setting up another child pornography site and permanently operating it in the name of fighting child pornography? What’s to stop it from partnering with child pornographers so it can increase the available content on its site so it can attract more child pornography consumers? I’m sure there are FBI apologists who will claim my insinuation is ridiculous but they would have probably told me that the FBI hosting child pornography was ridiculous just a year or two ago.

What’s the point of having a law enforcement agency that perpetrates the very crimes it’s supposed to fight?

Written by Christopher Burg

August 24th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Cash, Baby

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Some people think that the war on drugs is about protecting the American people from the effects of drugs. Regardless of what your D.A.R.E. program officers told you in school that isn’t the case. The war on drugs is about the money and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is done pretending otherwise:

WASHINGTON — Federal drug agents regularly mine Americans’ travel information to profile people who might be ferrying money for narcotics traffickers — though they almost never use what they learn to make arrests or build criminal cases.

Instead, that targeting has helped the Drug Enforcement Administration seize a small fortune in cash.

[…]

It is a lucrative endeavor, and one that remains largely unknown outside the drug agency. DEA units assigned to patrol 15 of the nation’s busiest airports seized more than $209 million in cash from at least 5,200 people over the past decade after concluding the money was linked to drug trafficking, according to Justice Department records. Most of the money was passed on to local police departments that lend officers to assist the drug agency.

The best scams are the ones that cut everybody in on the action. Local law enforcement agencies get a cut, the DEA gets a cut, and the State gets a cut so none of them are motivated to fight against this kind of theft.

With all of the news of corruption surround the drug war it amazes me that so many Americans are still being suckered by the claim that it’s about protecting people. Using drugs certainly caries the chance of developing negative side-effects or dying. But having men with guns who are too lazy to verify an address kick in your door at oh dark thirty and shoot you is a guarantee of negative side-effects or death. And if that wasn’t enough the drug war also opens the door for rampant corruption. Police officers can blackmail drug dealers and users, steal large quantities of cash without any justification other than the quantity of cash being large, ignore laws against unreasonable searches by claiming a dog “signaled” that there were drugs in the car or house, etc.

The supposed prescription is far worse than the disease in this case. But it was never about curing the disease, it was always about milking the patient for every dime they have.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 12th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Things are Different When You Have a Badge

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If you’ve ever been the victim of online harassment and have tried to get the police to intervene you’ve probably been told that, “There’s nothing we can do.” It seems that police departments are entirely powerless when it comes to tracking down online miscreants. Except when somebody online criticizes the police. When that happens they seem to have no problem tracking the person down and sending heavily armed men to kick in their door at oh dark thirty:

AFTER A WATCHDOG BLOG repeatedly linked him and other local officials to corruption and fraud, the Sheriff of Terrebone Parish in Louisiana on Tuesday sent six deputies to raid a police officer’s home to seize computers and other electronic devices.

Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s deputies submitted affidavits alleging criminal defamation against the anonymous author of the ExposeDAT blog, and obtained search warrants to seize evidence in the officer’s house and from Facebook.

Isn’t it funny how the police are more than capable of identifying anonymous bloggers when they’re the ones being criticized? Things are a bit different for people in the big club.

This is another example of the legal system being used to punish dissent. The First Amendment supposedly covers the right to protest. If your police department is corrupt you’re supposed to have the right to point that out. If you simply don’t like what your police department does you’re supposed to have the right to protest them. But here in the United Police States of America such activity can get your home raided, your computers stolen, and put you in a position where you have to spend money on a lawyer.

It should be noted that this incident isn’t unique:

This isn’t the first time that Louisiana law enforcement officers have challenged those who criticize them. In 2012, Bobby Simmons, a former police officer, was arrested and jailed on a charge of criminal defamation for a letter he wrote to a newspaper regarding another police officer. The charge was later dropped, and Simmons filed a civil suit alleging that his civil rights were violated.

If you’re harassing people online the police will leave you alone. If you’re exercising your supposed First Amendment right to protest the police they will find you and they will use the court system to punish you for being an uppity slave.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 9th, 2016 at 10:30 am