A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Archive for the ‘Your Government Doesn’t Love You’ tag

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

Everything is Permitted

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I do enjoy those rare glimpses into the unfiltered minds of our overlords. Usually they are careful with what they say and hide their depravities behind a veil of officialdom. But every now and then their facade cracks and they reveal their trust selves to the world. Rudolph Giuliani just did exactly that:

Giuliani said Trump does not necessarily want the United States to extract the oil itself but wants to “leave a force back there and take it and make sure it’s distributed in a proper way.”

“That’s not legal, is it?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked, as the Geneva Conventions forbid seizing the natural resources of a sovereign nation after invading it.

“Of course it’s legal. It’s a war,” Giuliani said, laughing. “Until the war is over, anything’s legal.”

Suddenly the perpetual state of war makes more sense. So long as the war continues the State believes it can excuse any of its depravities.

What Giuliani has expressed isn’t unique to him, he was just dumb enough to say it publicly. But if you look at the extensive list of atrocities that have been committed by the United States in this never ending war such as bombing wedding parities, killing children, and raping prisoners and you see that punishments are never doled out you realize that the political class believes everything done is legal. What makes matters worse is that there is no relief for the civilians living in the areas the United States is bombing. Since the war on terror has no concrete set of parameters that constitute winning the war has no defined end. It can be waged perpetually and the State has no motivation to end it since it believes war gives it an avenue to do anything without consequences.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 15th, 2016 at 10:30 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

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

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

United States Presidential Politics in a Nutshell

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Have you used a private e-mail server for public business? Did you make most of your e-mails disappear when the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) started to investigate? Did you purposely remove classification headings so you could continue using your private e-mail server? Have you been directly involved in the perpetration of war crimes during your stint at the State Department? No problem, you won’t be arrested.

Did you spray paint some graffiti on a bulldozer blade? Well you’re going to be arrested you dastardly mother fucker:

CANNON BALL, N.D. — A North Dakota county has issued a warrant for the arrest of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who is accused of spray-painting construction equipment during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein may both be running for president but only the former is in the Big Club.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 9th, 2016 at 10:00 am