A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Archive for the ‘Law and Disorder’ tag

Moral Hypocrisy

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Whenever discrimination appears to rear its ugly head a large number of people demand that the State fix it. Never letting an opportunity to expand its power to go waste the State has heeded these demands and appointed itself as the ultimate authority in dealing with discrimination.

Case in point, the United States Department of Labor (DoL) is filed a lawsuit against Palantir because the organization appears to be discriminating against Asians. The funniest part is the threat the DoL is making:

Should the suit succeed, the Labor Department has asked for an order canceling all of Palantir’s current and future government contracts, which would include those with the F.B.I. and the United States Army.

“Federal contractors have an obligation to ensure that their hiring practices and policies are free of all forms of discrimination,” said Patricia A. Shiu, who is director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

That’s rich!

An organization that literally uses slave labor is threatening to cancel its contracts with an organization that may be discriminating against Asians in its hiring practices. How much more hypocritical can an organization get?

People turn to the State and demand that it enforce morality. But the State is an immoral creature that lies, cheats, steals, and kills. It is like hiring a fox to guard a hen house. Sure, on the surface it may appear to be doing exactly what you want it to do but if you have the guts to take a look under the surface you’ll see that it’s doing far more horrific shit than the entities it’s going after.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 28th, 2016 at 10:00 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

I Will Not Be Pushed, Filed, Stamped, Indexed, Briefed, Debriefed, or Numbered

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What term should be used to describe people who cross the imaginary line that separates the United States of American from the rest of the world without first receiving permission from the State? Some refer to them as illegal immigrants. Others refer to them as undocumented workers. Truthfully, both of these labels are stupid. Somebody crossing an imaginary line isn’t doing anything illegal because the entity that has decreed itself the owner of the entire country isn’t a legitimate entity. Likewise, calling them undocumented words is dumb because human beings shouldn’t have to be documented:

It is the promotion of the term “undocumented” term that concerns me. Just as no human is illegal, I see no reason why we should promote the idea that humans should be documented. To me being “documented” conjures up the image of a dystopian future where we are branded with identification numbers that are needed for every little transaction. Indeed, I consider the term undocumented to be worse than illegal since it implies that all individuals, including natural born citizens, should be documented in this manner. At minimum the term implicitly justifies a program like e-verify, a de facto form of national ID in the United States, which makes one’s right to work dependent on government approval.

The idea that human being should be documented by the State can best be summed up, in a German accent, by the phrase, “Papers please.” We’ve seen what happens when the State maintains documentation on people. When it decides to target a subset of those people the State has all the information it needs to do so. The Nazis used its documentation to target Jews. The Soviet Union used its documentation to target counterrevolutions. Here in the United States the government routinely uses its documentation to target those with even the most benign criminal record.

Few things are more dangerous than documentation on people in the hands of the State. The idea that people should be documented by the State should go the way of the dodo.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 14th, 2016 at 11:00 am

How to Use a IMSI Catcher

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International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers have remained one of the State’s more closely guarded secrets. In order for local law enforcers to gain access to one of the devices the Federal Bureau of Investigations requires them to sign a nondisclosure agreement. The FBI is even willing to drop cases rather than reveal how the surveillance devices work. But as Benjamin Franklin said, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” With multiple agencies having access to information about IMSI catchers it was inevitable that information such as the user manuals would leak:

HARRIS CORP.’S STINGRAY surveillance device has been one of the most closely guarded secrets in law enforcement for more than 15 years. The company and its police clients across the United States have fought to keep information about the mobile phone-monitoring boxes from the public against which they are used. The Intercept has obtained several Harris instruction manuals spanning roughly 200 pages and meticulously detailing how to create a cellular surveillance dragnet.

I haven’t read through the manuals yet but the highlights posted by The Intercept shows the software tools provided with the catchers to be robust and so simple even a cop can use them.

One might be compelled to ask why the State is so dead set on keeping this technology secret. Especially when anybody with the money can acquire one through the black market. The answer to that question is that the State is like any other criminal organization in that it tries to keep its operations as secret as possible. Sure, it maintains a public face just as Al Capone maintained soup kitchens. But the nitty gritty stuff is always hidden behind a veil of fancy words like “classified”. This is because the State knows what it’s doing is morally repugnant and wouldn’t be enjoyed by the people who think the State serves them. Fortunately the State’s secrets always leak out eventually.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 13th, 2016 at 10:30 am

What It Takes for a Police Officer to Be Fired

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We’ve seen numerous cases where officers used an obviously unnecessary level of force and received little more than a paid vacation as punishment. It really makes one wonder what it takes for a cop to actually get fired. Apparently it takes a cop not killing somebody:

After responding to a report of a domestic incident on May 6 in Weirton, W.Va., then-Weirton police officer Stephen Mader found himself confronting an armed man.

Immediately, the training he had undergone as a Marine to look at “the whole person” in deciding if someone was a terrorist, as well as his situational police academy training, kicked in and he did not shoot.

“I saw then he had a gun, but it was not pointed at me,” Mr. Mader recalled, noting the silver handgun was in the man’s right hand, hanging at his side and pointed at the ground.

Mr. Mader, who was standing behind Mr. Williams’ car parked on the street, said he then “began to use my calm voice.”

[…]

Mr. Mader — speaking publicly about this case for the first time — said that when he tried to return to work on May 17, following normal protocol for taking time off after an officer-involved shooting, he was told to go see Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander.

In a meeting with the chief and City Manager Travis Blosser, Mr. Mader said Chief Alexander told him: “We’re putting you on administrative leave and we’re going to do an investigation to see if you are going to be an officer here. You put two other officers in danger.”

Mr. Mader said that “right then I said to him: ‘Look, I didn’t shoot him because he said, ‘Just shoot me.’ ”

On June 7, a Weirton officer delivered him a notice of termination letter dated June 6, which said by not shooting Mr. Williams he “failed to eliminate a threat.”

As Radley Balko noted, Mader did exactly what people expect cops to do. He put himself on the line to protect a member of the community. For doing that he was terminated. Apparently the only option allowed, at least at his former police department, is to kill anybody in crisis.

This situation speaks volumes. We’re told that the police exist to serve and protect. Hell, they even have that local splashed on their squad cars in a lot of places. But time and again we see officers who are actively attacking members of the community walk away scot-free while officers who do work to protect the community end up being punished. This really illustrates the real purpose of the police, which is to expropriate wealth from the populace for the State.

Mader should have received recognition from his department for a job well done and given the opportunity to train his fellow officers in dealing with people in crisis. Other departments should have asked him to come teach their officers as well. What Mader did is what the words protect and serve imply. But protecting and serving doesn’t generate revenue for the State so he was made an example of. This is why the number of good cops is so low, when they manage to get into a department they are quickly weeded out.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 13th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Don’t Talk to Police

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I know that it’s been said again and again but it bears periodic repetition: don’t talk to the police. Period.

Someday soon, when you least expect it, a police officer may receive mistaken information from a confused eyewitness or a liar, or circum­stantial evidence that helps persuade him that you might be guilty of a very serious crime. When confronted with police officers and other government agents who suddenly arrive with a bunch of questions, most innocent people mistakenly think to themselves, “Why not talk? I haven’t done anything. I have nothing to hide. What could pos­sibly go wrong?”

Well, among other things, you could end up confessing to a crime you didn’t commit. The problem of false confessions is not an urban legend. It is a documented fact. Indeed, research suggests that the innocent may be more susceptible than the culpable to deceptive police interrogation tactics, because they tragically assume that somehow “truth and justice will prevail” later even if they falsely admit their guilt. Nobody knows for sure how often innocent people make false confessions, but as Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski recently observed, “Innocent interrogation subjects confess with surprising frequency.”

People still mistakenly believe that the police are the good guys and that cooperating with them can only be beneficial if you’re an innocent person. In reality police are not the good guys, they’re the revenue generators for the State. Their goal of raising revenue can only be realized by charging people with crimes. So long as wealth can be expropriated it doesn’t matter to the State whether the person hauled in actually perpetrated the crime or not.

A false confession is just as good as a truthful confession to the police. Either one achieves their goal of raising revenue. That means any belief you have in justice prevailing is wrongly held.

When an officer wants to question you about something you should immediately shut up and lawyer up. Most politicians are lawyers and they have crafted the system to benefit lawyers. The downside is that you’re basically stuck handing money to lawyers if you’re accused of a crime. The upside is that a lawyer knows the ins and outs of the system far better than most police officers and can therefore provide you with decent protection (assuming they’re not incompetent). A lawyer, for example, knows what to say without confessing you were guilty of a crime. They also know the rules regarding admissible evidence and whether or not the police have a case without a confession. You (and me), as a layperson, are likely to naive about the legal system that you don’t even know what you don’t know. And that ignorance can land you in a cage for a crime you didn’t commit.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 9th, 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

A Bit of Rare Common Sense

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Although it’s exceedingly rare these days sometimes you do see a bit of common sense show itself in the courts. Back in 2014 Alyssa Drescher was expelled from school because she had forgotten about a small pocket knife in her purse. Over two years later the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that mere possession of a weapon (except for firearms because they’re extra evil) is not enough to expel a student. For such a punishment to be delivered the school must also demonstrate that a student had malicious intent:

With school starting in many Minnesota districts Tuesday, administrators around the state are facing a new legal landscape. A Minnesota Supreme Court ruling will likely change the way administrators discipline students caught with weapons.

Under the court decision, schools will have to investigate the student’s intent when weapons that aren’t firearms show up in school.

This is the way it should always be. Weapons are inanimate objects and therefore their mere presence isn’t dangerous. What makes a weapon dangerous is the intent of the user. A good person with a gun isn’t a threat to anybody. An evil person is a just as much of a threat with a gun as with an automobile. Good people aren’t going to hurt others and evil people will find a way to hurt others.

Until today all schools were under the tyranny of zero tolerance policies. I hope this court ruling is the first step in the complete eradication of zero tolerance.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 8th, 2016 at 10:00 am