June 09, 2011

I'd Watch My Step Around the Railroad Retirement Board if I Were You

More from Matt Welch on that Dept. of Education SWAT raid.

As he points out, the problem with using these violent tactics to serve routine warrants isn't just the needless physical, psychological, property, and puppy damage that can result to those they target, many of whom turn out to be perfectly innocent and unconnected to the "investigation." It's that these operations are dangerous to everyone, not just the targets, but neighbors, including children, not to mention the officers themselves. Innocent people get shot, little girls get set on fire in their sleep, confused, frightened people reflexively scramble to defend themselves, creating a volatile situation that all too often ends in tragedy for all concerned. When you send a paramilitary unit to break down someone's door in the middle of night, there's no telling what that entry will provoke, but there's a strong possibility that there's going to be some shooting. And since making sure they even have the right house doesn't seem to rank very highly on the pre-raid checklist, it's something that could quite literally happen to almost anyone.

Now it may well be that this lady has engaged in some horrible crime in the general area of fraudulently obtaining financial aid from the government. Find her, arrest her, prosecute her, sure. But can there possibly be anyone, anyone at all, who truly believes that a pre-dawn raid by a heavily-armed, paramilitary tactical unit is the right tool for the job? And remember: she didn't even live there!

Apparently, the power to order these "investigations" was granted to the Inspectors General of dozens of federal bureaus (those who are presidentially appointed) by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. These include not only the Department of Education but the Environmental Protection Agency, the FDIC, and the Department of Transportation. Did you know there was a federal Railroad Retirement Board? Well, there is, and if they wanted to, they could send a paramilitary team to break down your door, shoot your pets, and set your daughter on fire. So try to stay out of their way if you can.

(At first I misread the criteria and thought the list included the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well. Since that IG isn't appointed by the president, he can't order pre-dawn raids on anyone. Maybe one day. Then we'd see some real pledge breaks.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 9, 2011 06:38 PM | TrackBack

With the rise of the Tea Party, which I presume is full of libertarians, maybe we can put an end to this horses#!t.

Posted by: Bill at June 10, 2011 03:44 PM