“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bandit Cops - Real Brave Americans Will Take Any Load of Shit That Their Government Cares To Dump On Them (Stinking Rotten US Cops)

The Justice Department just shut down a huge asset forfeiture program

By Christopher Ingraham 

December 23 at 5:05 PM  WAPO

The Department of Justice announced this week that it's suspending a controversial program that allows local police departments to keep a large portion of assets seized from citizens under federal law and funnel it into their own coffers.

The "equitable-sharing" program gives police the option of prosecuting asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize -- even if the people they took from are never charged with a crime.

The DOJ is suspending payments under this program due to budget cuts included in the recent spending bill.

"While we had hoped to minimize any adverse impact on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, the Department is deferring for the time being any equitable sharing payments from the Program," M. Kendall Day, chief of the asset forfeiture and money laundering section, wrote in a letter to state and local law enforcement agencies.

In addition to budget cuts last year, the program has lost $1.2 billion, according to Day's letter. "The Department does not take this step lightly," he wrote. "We explored every conceivable option that would have enabled us to preserve some form of meaningful equitable sharing. ... Unfortunately, the combined effect of the two reductions totaling $1.2 billion made that impossible."

Asset forfeiture has become an increasingly contentious practice in recent years. It lets police seize and keep cash and property from people who are never convicted — and in many cases, never charged — with wrongdoing. Recent reports have found that the use of the practice has exploded in recent years, prompting concern that, in some cases, police are motivated more by profits and less by justice.

Criminal justice reformers are cheering the change. "This is a significant deal," said Lee McGrath, legislative counsel at the Institute for Justice, in an interview. "Local law enforcement responds to incentives. And it's clear that one of the biggest incentives is the relative payout from federal versus state forfeiture. And this announcement by the DOJ changes the playing field for which law state and local [law enforcement] is going to prefer."

Previous research by the Institute for Justice has shown that when states have stricter forfeiture laws, cops are more likely to pursue forfeiture cases under federal law as a means of bypassing those stricter state restrictions.

In California, for instance, police are allowed to keep 66.25 percent of forfeiture proceeds under state law, but 80 percent if they opt for the federal equitable sharing route. And forfeiture figures reflect this: In 2013, California police forfeited $28 million worth of cash and property under state law, but $98 million under federal law, according to the Institute for Justice's research.

It's unclear how much of the total national forfeiture haul will be affected by the DOJ's change, since many states don't make their forfeiture data public. But as the case of California shows, it is potentially significant: In that state in 2013, nearly eight out of every 10 dollars of forfeited property went through federal law. Under this change, that flow of cash would be shut off.

Some law enforcement groups are less than happy with the change. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) said in a statement that "this decision is detrimental to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve."

In a letter sent to President Obama, the leaders of Congress, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the heads of six law enforcement groups -- including the IACP and the National District Attorney's Association --  wrote to express "profound concern" over the changes: "This shortsighted decision by Congress will have a significant and immediate impact on the ability of law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to protect their communities and provide their citizens with the services they expect and deserve."

The National Sheriff's Association was even more critical. "While Congress and the President vacation in peace and tranquility, law enforcement knows all too well that the criminals, terrorists, and criminal aliens do not take a holiday," the group wrote in a statement.  "Those seeking to do us harm can rest easier knowing one less tool can be used against them."

But reformers point out that the change doesn't impact law enforcement's ability to seize goods from suspected criminals -- it only changes their legal options for keeping what they take. The change "does not stop police and prosecutors from chasing criminals," McGrath said in a statement. "[Police] are frustrated because Congress put on hold their chasing cash."

Regardless, the change may not be permanent. In its letter, the DOJ hints that it may be able to restart payments later: "By deferring equitable sharing payments now, we preserve our ability to resume equitable sharing payments at a later date should the budget picture improve." The DOJ hopes to "reinstate sharing distributions as soon as practical and financially feasible," the letter concludes.

Update: This story was updated at 7:00 PM with comments from six law enforcement groups and a statement from the National Sheriff's Association.


  1. The No Fly List is not a government program easily challenged. Indeed, it operates in secrecy, from an undisclosed location, administered by an office – the Terrorist Screening Center – that doesn’t accept public inquiries. When challenged in court, the watchlisters routinely declare their methods safe but secret and fight the disclosure of their standards and criteria for inclusion.

    The British Muslim family recently denied travel to Disneyland might soon discover this, despite the fact that Prime Minister David Cameron has been called upon to examine the case.

    The Guardian reported that, despite prior US approvals, the entire family was turned away from Gatwick’s departure lounge. Without warning or a hearing, their freedom to travel was stripped away at great expense and deep humiliation. Instantly, they were reduced to the status of suspected terrorists by anonymous US officials working without any judicial oversight.

    The US has stopped a British Muslim family from going on holiday – we can’t look the other way.

    Imagine your family in their shoes. If you can’t, then you don’t understand the power of the US No Fly List.

    Just ask Ayman Latif, an honorably discharged US marine who sought to return home from abroad to shore up his veteran’s benefits. Without any offered reason or warning, he was exiled by a system that he has spent the last five years challenging in federal court.

    Or ask Rahinah Ibrahim, now a distinguished architect and scholar. As a Stanford University graduate student she found herself arrested and handcuffed in front of her young daughter when she sought to travel from San Francisco to an academic conference. Her eight years of litigation finally uncovered that an FBI agent had mistakenly watchlisted her; the presiding judge labeled it “a bureaucratic analogy to a surgeon amputating the wrong digit”. (Full disclosure: I testified on behalf of Dr Ibrahim at the first and only such trial held so far.)

    Or ask many others (whose stories are told in my book on the subject) who say they found themselves at the tender mercies of government officials – typically FBI agents – offering their help to get off the list in exchange for becoming government informants when they returned home.

    It’s not just Muslim names on this sad list. Although accusations of racial profiling have haunted the use of the No Fly List in the past, for every Mohammad Tariq Mahmood (one of the Gatwick 11), there is a Cat Stevens or Ted Kennedy or John Lewis.

    In this story, however, lies a cautionary tale for travelers regardless of citizenship or religion.

    Thanks to some courageous lawyering in tough, often pro bono cases, startling information has been pried from officials: the standard for inclusion on this list is often based on a “predictive judgment”, a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is a “suspected terrorist” presenting some sort of future threat.

    “In other words”, one federal judge wrote, clearly dismayed by the departure from traditional legal requirements that someone be guilty of some action before deprived of their rights, “an American citizen can find himself labeled a suspected terrorist because of a ‘reasonable suspicion’ based on a ‘reasonable suspicion’.”

    1. The cautionary tale grows grimmer still. For there is no logical reason why terrorist watchlists need be limited to air travel.

      Indeed, few realize how many watchlists already exist until they find themselves in their crushing grip. There is, of course, a watchlist for maritime travel. And this month President Obama urged the use of the No Fly List to deny access to firearms.

      Whatever one’s views of the second amendment to the constitution, the evidence is unmistakable. A list once confined to stopping hijackers and 9/11 style bombers has grown into the go-to tool for government officials who don’t like their predictive judgments questioned by lawyers and judges.

      Slowly, federal lawsuits have forced some light on to this system and forced back the worst abuses. But there is still a long way to go. Whatever US officials suspect of this British family, they deserve respect for the fundamental right we all must protect at our peril: equal justice before a neutral magistrate in a public forum.


    The no-fly list is part of the post 9/11 security apparatus, which is a labyrinth of euphemisms and acronyms. The effort is coordinated by the Terrorism Screening Center (TSC), a multi-agency group of officials managed by the FBI in coordination with the CIA. All federal departments and agencies are responsible “for collecting information about potential terrorists or attacks” and sharing that information with the FBI or the CIA, either of which can “nominate” individuals for inclusion in the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB).

    From that database, names are passed “downstream” (in bureaucratic jargon) to the so-called “frontline” agencies—for example, to the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), which administers the no-fly list, and to the State Department, where the names are put into the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS), which American consular officers around the world call up when a foreigner applies for a visa.

    State and local law enforcement officials have access to the database, which now has some 700,000 records. A police officer pulling over a driver for speeding can check the name on the driver’s license against the TSDB. In addition, the lists are shared with more than 20 foreign governments.

  3. Before the 9/11 attacks, there were perhaps a dozen people worldwide on America’s no-fly list.

  4. Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove, a liberty-minded conservative and staunch defender of gun rights, took to the House floor Thursday to warn the nation about the perils of strict firearms legislation, offering that “the most effective defense against an armed terrorist is an armed American.”

    McClintock, delivering his remarks as many lawmakers across the country seized on the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino to renew their push for tougher laws, said that if just one person in the room had been able to return fire, “many innocent lives could have been saved.”

    “But Californians are subject to the most restrictive gun laws in the country, making it very difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right to defend themselves,” he said. “And in a society denied its right of self-defense, the gunman is king.”

    Among the proposed restrictions advocated by President Barack Obama and rebuffed by Congress is to ban those on the federal government’s terrorist no-fly list from being able to purchase a gun. On Thursday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said he would sign an executive order doing so. And last week, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, said he would carry such a bill when the Legislature returns next month from its winter recess.

    Along with philosophical qualms, McClintock said he has personal reasons to doubt the efficacy of the no-fly list. Turns out that when he was in the state Senate a decade ago, McClintock said, he discovered he couldn’t check into his flight.

    “When I asked why, I was told I was on this government list,” McClintock said, calling the whole experience “Kafkaesque.”

    “My first reaction was to ask, ‘Why am I on that list?’ ‘We can’t tell you that.’ ‘What are the criteria you use?’ I asked. ‘That’s classified.’ I said, ‘How can I get off this list?’ The answer was, ‘You can’t.’ ”

    He said it ended up being a case of mistaken identity with an Irish Republican Army activist the “British government was mad at.”

    Read more here:

  5. Section 215/Megadata

    The Whole Haystack

    A Reporter at Large January 26, 2015 Issue
    The Whole Haystack
    The N.S.A. claims it needs access to all our phone records. But is that the best way to catch a terrorist?
    By Mattathias Schwartz

  6. I'm not getting this about an asset forfeiture program. I seem to have missed this. Never have heard about the police out this way involved in such a thing.

    What kind of assets ? Why ?

    It sounds totally unconstitutional. We are innocent until proven guilty. You can't be proven guilty without a trial. Without being found guilty one can't be penalized.

    I would think some court somewhere would have acted on this.

    I don't quite get what is going on here.

    1. .

      It sounds totally unconstitutional. We are innocent until proven guilty. You can't be proven guilty without a trial. Without being found guilty one can't be penalized.


      Have you been in a coma since 9/11?


    2. I will take the time to look into this new thing on my radar screen.

      I've never heard of it.

      It isn't done out here that I have read.

      Another smart ass comment from the smart ass Q.

    3. In fact I'll do better than that.

      I will my ask lawyer and her associate next time I get the chance.

      Then I will have some real information that is reliable.

      I will give a report on the response.

  7. Not much happening beyond the fact that your country has been stolen.

    1. Perhaps Pennsylvania.

      I give you credit for trying to do something about it if things your way are as bad as you describe.

      By all means vote for Bernie.

      He loved the Soviet Union.

      That should help !

      I'd suggest you vote for Rand Paul instead, but what do I know.


      Things go on about as usual out this way.

      Except for the influx of refugees - from California, and back east. :(

      I don't like even American refugees, much less Syrian ones.

      Just the way I am.


    Rand Paul will not accept being relegated to an undercard debate and is willing to protest, the Republican presidential candidate said Wednesday.

    “I won’t participate in any kind of second-tier debate,” Paul declared in a radio interview with Fox News host Brian Kilmeade.

    Paul talked up his campaign, touting the size of his operation in Iowa and the millions of dollars he’s raised. “Doesn’t mean I’m gonna win, but I think without question we have a first-tier campaign and we just can’t accept the designation of being artificially told that we don’t have a chance with three weeks to go,” he said, alleging that downgrading a candidate to a secondary debate at this point would “destroy the campaign.” “So we won’t stand for it and we will protest any such designation.”

    The Kentucky senator was responding to the news that only six candidates are likely to make Fox Business Network’s main debate stage in South Carolina on Jan. 14. According to the debate criteria and current poll numbers — the main debate will feature the top six candidates based on national polling, and the top five based on an average of Iowa and New Hampshire polls — Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina could be relegated to the happy hour debate.

    “It’s the kids’ table, and at that table you’re not considered to be a competitor, not considered to be having a chance,” Paul said.

    Paul maintained he could make the big stage. He's just 0.3 points below the criteria, he said, and it would be illogical to exclude someone who's within the margin of error. “But, frankly, if we beat Chris Christie by 0.3 and he’s excluded, as much as I disagree with him politically I think that’s a mistake,” Paul said. “The same way with Fiorina. There’s no reason why people should be told that they have no chance with three weeks to go.”

    He made the case for having all nine candidates who participated in CNN’s debate last week on the main stage come January. Paul, however, was a late addition to the prime-time event earlier this month, just making the cut after the network tweaked its criteria.

    “I think eight or nine on a stage is not too many to have a substantive debate,” he argued. “I mean, if you get rid of some of the silliness with Donald Trump you’d have a chance to get some more substantive debate also.”

    Paul, who polls sixth at 4 percent in the latest CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday, dismissed the accuracy of polls. He slammed the media for relying so heavily on something unscientific and suggested Americans who are unlikely to vote in a primary are included in the surveys. He highlighted the fall of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and the recent rise of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as examples of how “wildly inaccurate” polls are. Cruz has essentially replaced Carson as Trump's primary competition. In the latest national poll, Carson sits alongside Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in third place at 10 percent. Cruz is at 18 percent, behind Trump at 39 percent.

    “There’s no evidence that the polling’s very accurate so if we’re gonna make our decisions based on polling why have elections?” he questioned. “You know, we can have ‘American Idol’ contests instead. I think it’s a huge mistake to allow that to happen.”

    Paul blasted the system of allowing the media and artificial polls to determine who belongs on the main stage and also took a shot at Trump, who appeared to be oblivious to a question posed in the last debate about the nuclear triad. “People are gonna make time for Donald Trump to be at the center of the stage and he doesn’t know what the nuclear triad is,” Paul fired. “His spokesman came out this week and said: ‘We’ve got it. We need to show people that we’re unafraid to use the nuclear arsenal.’”

    Read more:


    The Republican National Committee and host networks should look at a combination of polling, fundraising and organizational strength when determining who makes it to the big stage, he said. Paul pointed to Jeb Bush as an example, while noting that he’s bested the former Florida governor in a couple of the latest national polls. “Are people gonna exclude Jeb Bush from the stage, who’s raised $100 million,” he asked. “That would be crazy.”

    Read more:

    1. With all his corporate money and family name recognition, Jeb Bush is at 4.4%.

    2. What ?

      How can this possibly be ?

      You are always telling us that money is everything in politics. -- ??

      I don't get it.

      Debates ?

      Debates with 16 candidates aren't really debates.

      They are absurd little photo op sessions with people making disjointed absurd headline grabbing meaningless statements.

      Under these circumstances the Republican solutions seem reasonable enough.

      Of course the Democrats don't have this problem.

      Their problem is they don't have any viable candidates other than a criminal and a commie.

      If you call Bernie viable.

      I liked Trump's statement about Hillary. He said she is running partly to stay out of jail.

      I think he is partly right.

    3. "Q" once used this tactic.

      It worked too.

      Got himself elected to some elderman position in his little suburb outside Detroit, by wooing the suburban female voters in person, and the law couldn't touch him during the legislative session, which he skillfully got extended to formally include the entire year.