Archive for December, 2011

3 Americans Killed in Northern Mexico Bus Attack

December 24, 2011

From The Associated Press, December 23, 2011

Three U.S. citizens travelling to spend the holidays with their relatives in Mexico were among those killed in a spree of shooting attacks on buses in northern Mexico, authorities from both countries said Friday.

 A group of five gunmen attacked three buses in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz on Thursday, killing a total of seven passengers in what authorities said appeared to be a violent robbery spree.

 An official of the neighbouring state of Hidalgo said the Americans killed in the attack included a mother who was born in the area, and was returning with her two daughters to visit relatives in the region, known as the Huasteca.

 A 14-year-old nephew from the Mexican border city of Reynosa who had joined the three family members on the trip was also killed, said Hidalgo state regional assistant secretary Jorge Rocha.

 A U.S. embassy official confirmed the women’s nationalities, but could offer no information on their ages or hometowns. The official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name, said consular authorities were offering assistance to the victims’ relatives.

 Rocha identified the dead U.S. mother as Maria Sanchez Hernandez, 39, of Fort Worth, Texas, and the daughters as Carla, 19, and Cristina, 13. However, the embassy could not confirm the names. Rocha said Karla appeared to have been born in Mexico, and that all three held dual citizenship.

 While funeral plans were unclear, Rocha said Sanchez Hernandez’s mother wants her daughter to be buried in Mexico.

 Rocha said the other bus passengers killed in the attacks were a young Mexican couple, who left behind a three-month-old baby boy, who survived the attack. A bus driver was also killed.

 Five gunmen who allegedly carried out the attacks were later killed by soldiers.

 Earlier in their spree, the gunmen shot to death three people and killed a fourth with grenade in the nearby town of El Higo, Veracruz.

 On Thursday, the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros, a Mexican border city north of where the attacks occurred, said in a statement that “several vehicles,” including the buses, were attacked, but did not specify what the other vehicles were.

 The consulate urged Americans to “exercise caution” when travelling in Veracruz, and “avoid intercity road travel at night.”

 While the specific area where the Thursday attacks occurred is not frequented by foreign travellers, other parts of the Huasteca — a hilly, verdant area on the Gulf coast — are popular among Mexican tourists and some foreigners.

 The attack occurred near the border with the state of Tamaulipas, an area that has been the scene of bloody battles between the Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.

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Federal Judge Rules Against Arizona Sheriff in Immigration Enforcement

December 24, 2011

From Reuters News Service, December 23, 2011 By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday barred high profile Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio from detaining people simply for being in the country illegally, in a ruling that faulted the local lawman for enforcing federal immigration law.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio talks to the media about the Department of Justice

The 40-page written opinion by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow came on the same day he issued legal sanctions against Arpaio over destroyed documents.

The decisions come as a further blow for the controversial sheriff, who already has faced rebukes from the U.S. Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

Both rulings by Snow stemmed from a 2007 civil lawsuit against Arpaio and his agency, which accuses his officers of racial profiling of Latinos in traffic stops the judge found were conducted as immigration sweeps.

The judge also said officers with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department (MCSO), which covers Phoenix and surrounding areas, circulated emails that “compared Mexicans to dogs” and portrayed them “as drunks.”

“Local law enforcement agencies, such as MCSO, may not enforce civil federal immigration law,” Snow said in his written opinion.

He added that the sheriff’s agency was “hereby enjoined” from detaining “any person based only on knowledge or reasonable belief, without more, that the person is unlawfully present within the United States.”

In his ruling, Snow also granted a request by plaintiffs to certify the lawsuit as a class action.

He defined the class action as encompassing all Latinos “stopped, detained, questioned or searched” by Arpaio’s officers “while driving or sitting in a vehicle” on roads or parking areas in Maricopa County.

EVIDENCE DESTRUCTION

Snow also cited the admitted destruction of emails and patrol records by Arpaio’s office related to the case. He noted the sheriff’s agency never contested those documents were shredded rather than lost.

Further proceedings in the case are expected to be decided by Snow rather than a jury because the plaintiffs have not requested a jury trial.

Snow’s sanctions against Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office were outlined in written opinions issued a day after the judge heard oral arguments on the matter.

Separately last week, the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report accusing Arpaio and his deputies of engaging in a “pervasive culture of discriminatory bias” and violating civil rights laws by singling out Latinos for unlawful detention and arrests.

The same day, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security barred Arpaio’s deputies from screening jail inmates for their immigration status.

Arpaio was given until January 4 to agree to negotiations addressing the abuses cited by the Justice Department or face a request for a court order requiring compliance.

The Justice Department’s report and the similar allegations raised in the lawsuit relate to Arpaio’s controversial efforts to crack down on illegal immigration in Maricopa County.

Those efforts have earned him accolades in conservative political circles. Several candidates for the Republican presidential nomination sought his endorsement, which ultimately went to Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Arpaio has denied that his department engages in racial profiling and accused the Justice Department under President Barack Obama of undermining immigration enforcement.

A lawyer for Arpaio was not available for comment.

The sheriff was a strong supporter of controversial new Arizona law SB 1070, requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain and suspect of being in the country illegally.

That law is under challenge by the Obama administration in a case the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide next year.

Aside from the allegation of racial profiling, Arpaio also faces a firestorm over media reports that his office might have given short shrift to hundreds of sex-crime investigations.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Jerry Norton)

Liberals Continue to Abandon Obama!

December 24, 2011

From: Access Hollywood – Thursday, December 22, 2011

Academy Award winning actor Matt Damon was one of Barack Obama’s most vocal Hollywood supporters in the 2008 election, but the actor has since changed his tune.

Matt Damon steps out at the ‘Contagion’ premiere at Lincoln Center in New York City

After speaking out against Obama’s economic decisions to Piers Morganlast year, the “We Bought a Zoo” star has expressed his disappointment with the Commander-in-Chief yet again.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who worked for Obama at the grassroots level. One of them said to me, ‘Never again. I will never be fooled again by a politician,'” Matt, 41, told Elle magazine in a new interview. “You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better.”

Referencing nearby Occupy Vancouver protestors (the interview took place in the British Columbian city), Matt said the President had more than enough of a “mandate” to make more drastic political decisions.

“If the Democrats think that they didn’t have a mandate–people are literally without any focus or leadership, just wandering out into the streets to yell right now because they are so pissed off,” he told the mag. “Imagine if they had a leader.”

As previously reported on AccessHollywood.com, though Matt may have strong political opinions, the actor shot down rumors of possible political aspirations earlier this year.

When asked by a paparazzo if he’d consider running for President back in August, Matt quickly replied, “No, sir.”

Adding, “I think there are probably better choices out there.”

Mexican Authorities Seize 229 Tons of Methamphetamine ‘Precursor Chemicals’

December 24, 2011

From The Associated Press, December 23, 2011

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico said Friday that it seized 229 metric tons of precursor chemicals used to make methamphetamine, the third such huge seizure this month at the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas, all of which were bound for a port in Guatemala.

The seizure bringing to over 534 tons the amount of meth chemicals detected at Lazaro Cardenas in less than a month.

Authorities announced on Dec. 19 that they had found almost 100 metric tons of methylamine at the port, and earlier said that 205 tons of the chemical had been found there over several days in early December.

Experts familiar with meth production call it a huge amount of raw material, noting that under some production methods, precursor chemicals can yield about half their weight in uncut meth.

The Attorney General’s Office said the most recent seizure was found in 1,600 drums, and had been shipped from Shanghai, China.

All three shipments originated in China and were destined for Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, authorities said.

The office has not indicated which cartels may have been moving the chemicals, but U.S. officials have noted that the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s most powerful, has moved into meth production on an industrial scale.

Sinaloa also has operations in Guatemala, and given recent busts by the Mexican army of huge meth processing facilities in Mexico, the gang may have decided to move some production to Guatemala.

Lazaro Cardenas is located in the western Michoacan state, which is dominated by the Knights Templar cartel and previously by the La Familia gang.

However, a series of arrests, deaths and infighting may have weakened those gangs’ ability to engage in massive meth production.

Also Friday, the attorney general’s office in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz reported that it had found ten bodies in an area along the border with the neighboring state of Tamaulipas. The office said investigators were alerted to the bodies by a tip, and are working to identify them and the cause of death.

The area has been the scene of bloody battles between the Gulf and Zetas cartels.

U.S. Cops Ready for War?

December 21, 2011

By Andrew Becker | The Daily Beast, December 21, 2011

Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.

Cops Ready for War

Cops Ready for War?

But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.

Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.

“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”

Like Fargo, thousands of other local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-style equipment in the name of homeland security, aided by more than $34 billion in federal grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a Daily Beast investigation conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

The buying spree has transformed local police departments into small, army-like forces, and put intimidating equipment into the hands of civilian officers. And that is raising questions about whether the strategy has gone too far, creating a culture and capability that jeopardizes public safety and civil rights while creating an expensive false sense of security.

“The argument for up-armoring is always based on the least likely of terrorist scenarios,” says Mark Randol, a former terrorism expert at the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress. “Anyone can get a gun and shoot up stuff. No amount of SWAT equipment can stop that.”

Local police bristle at the suggestion that they’ve become “militarized,” arguing the upgrade in firepower and other equipment is necessary to combat criminals with more lethal capabilities. They point to the 1997 Los Angeles-area bank robbers who pinned police for hours with assault weapons, the gun-wielding student who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and the terrorists who waged a bloody rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 164 people dead and 300 wounded in 2008.

The new weaponry and battle gear, they insist, helps save lives in the face of such threats. “I don’t see us as militarizing police; I see us as keeping abreast with society,” former Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton says. “And we are a gun-crazy society.”

Adds Fargo Police Lt. Ross Renner, who commands the regional SWAT team: “It’s foolish to not be cognizant of the threats out there, whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, or Fargo. Our residents have the right to be protected. We don’t have everyday threats here when it comes to terrorism, but we are asked to be prepared.”

The skepticism about the Homeland spending spree is less severe for Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, which are presumed to be likelier targets. But questions persist about whether money was handed out elsewhere with any regard for risk assessment or need. And the gap in accounting for the decade-long spending spree is undeniable. The U.S. Homeland Security Department says it doesn’t closely track what’s been bought with its tax dollars or how the equipment is used. State and local governments don’t maintain uniform records either.

To assess the changes in law enforcement for The Daily Beast, the Center for Investigative Reporting conducted interviews and reviewed grant spending records obtained through open records requests in 41 states. The probe found stockpiles of weaponry and military-style protective equipment worthy of a defense contractor’s sales catalog.

In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots, while an Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.

The flood of money opened to local police after 9/11, but slowed slightly in recent years. Still, the Department of Homeland Security awarded more than $2 billion in grants to local police in 2011, and President Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contributed an additional half-billion dollars.

Law enforcement officials say the armored vehicles, assault weapons, and combat uniforms used by their officers provide a public safety benefit beyond their advertised capabilities, creating a sort of “shock and awe” experience they hope will encourage suspects to surrender more quickly.

“The only time I hear the complaint of ‘God, you guys look scary’ is if the incident turns out to be nothing,” says West Hartford, Conn., Police Lt. Jeremy Clark, who organizes an annual SWAT competition.

A grainy YouTube video from one of Clark’s recent competitions shows just how far the police transformation has come, displaying officers in battle fatigues, helmets, and multi-pocketed vests storming a hostile scene. One with a pistol strapped to his hip swings a battering ram into a door. A colleague lobs a flash-bang grenade into a field. Another officer, holding a pistol and wearing a rifle strapped to his back, peeks cautiously inside a bus.

The images unfold to the pulsing, ominous soundtrack of a popular videogame, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Though resembling soldiers in a far-flung war zone, the stars of this video are Massachusetts State Police troopers.

The number of SWAT teams participating in Clark’s event doubled to 40 between 2004 and 2009 as Homeland’s police funding swelled. The competition provides real-life scenarios for training, and Clark believes it is essential, because he fears many SWAT teams are falling below the 16 hours of minimum monthly training recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association.

“Luck is not for cops. Luck is for drunks and fools,” Clark said, explaining his devotion to training.

One beneficiary of Homeland’s largesse are military contractors, who have found a new market for their wares and sponsor training events like the one Clark oversees in Connecticut or a similar Urban Shield event held in California.

Special ops supplier Blackhawk Industries, founded by a former Navy SEAL, was among several Urban Shield sponsors this year. Other sponsors for such training peddle wares like ThunderSledge breaching tools for smashing open locked or chained doors, Lenco Armored Vehicles bulletproof box trucks, and KDH Defense Systems’s body armor.

“As criminal organizations are increasingly armed with military-style weapons, law enforcement operations require the same level of field-tested and combat-proven protection used by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other high-risk locations,” boasts an Oshkosh Corp. brochure at a recent police seminar, where the company pitched its “tactical protector vehicle.”

The trend shows no sign of abating. The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from an estimated $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the Homeland Security Research Corp.

The rise of equipment purchases has paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams, but reliable numbers are hard to come by. The National Tactical Officers Association, which provides training and develops SWAT standards, says it currently has about 1,650 team memberships, up from 1,026 in 2000.

Many of America’s newly armed officers are ex-military veterans from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Ramsey, who was police chief in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, upgraded the weaponry when he moved to Philadelphia in 2008. Today, some 1,500 Philly beat cops are trained to use AR-15 assault rifles.

“We have a lot of people here, like most departments, who are ex-military,” Ramsey says. “Some people are very much into guns and so forth. So it wasn’t hard to find volunteers.”

Some real-life episodes, however, are sparking a debate about whether all that gear also creates a more militarized mind-set for local police that exceeds their mission or risks public safety.

In one case, dozens of officers in combat-style gear raided a youth rave in Utah as a police helicopter buzzed overhead. An online video shows the battle-ready team wearing masks and brandishing rifles as they holler for the music to be shut off and pin partygoers to the ground.

And Arizona tactical officers this year sprayed the home of ex-Marine Jose Guerena with gunfire as he stood in a hallway with a rifle that he did not fire. He was hit 22 times and died. Police had targeted the man’s older brother in a narcotics-trafficking probe, but nothing illegal was found in the younger Guerena’s home, and no related arrests had been made months after the raid.

In Maryland, officials finally began collecting data on tactical raids after police in 2008 burst into the home of a local mayor and killed his two dogs in a case in which the mayor’s home was used as a dropoff for drug deal. The mayor’s family had nothing to do with criminal activity.

Such episodes and the sheer magnitude of the expenditures over the last decade raise legitimate questions about whether taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth and whether police might have assumed more might and capability than is necessary for civilian forces.

“With local law enforcement, their mission is to solve crimes after they’ve happened, and to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected in the process,” says Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The military obviously has a mission where they are fighting an enemy. When you use military tactics in the context of law enforcement, the missions don’t match, and that’s when you see trouble with the overmilitarization of police.”

The upgrading of local police nonetheless continues. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio now claims to operate his own air armada of private pilots—dubbed Operation Desert Sky—to monitor illegal border crossings, and he recently added a full-size surplus Army tank. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly boasted this fall he had a secret capability to shoot down an airliner if one threatened the city again. And the city of Ogden, Utah, is launching a 54-foot, remote-controlled “crime-fighting blimp” with a powerful surveillance camera.

Back in Fargo, nearby corn and soybean farmer Tim Kozojed supports the local police but questions whether the Homeland grants have been spent wisely. ”I’m very reluctant to get anxious about a terrorist attack in North Dakota,” Kozojed, 31, said. “Why would they bother?”

Mexico Disbands Entire Police Force in Veracruz

December 21, 2011

Mexican Navy, Marines Taking Over

From The Associated Press, December 21, 2011

VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — A Mexican state plagued by drug violence has disbanded the entire police force in the major port city of Veracruz, and officials say the Navy will take over.

The Veracruz state government says it’s part of an effort to root out corruption from law enforcement and start from zero in the city of Veracruz.

State spokeswoman Gina Dominguez said Wednesday 800 police officers and 300 administrative employees were laid off. At a press conference, she said they can still apply for state police jobs but must meet stricter standards.

Armed marines have barricaded police headquarters and Navy helicopters were flying above the city where 35 bodies 35 bodies were dumped in September. It was one of the worst gang attacks of Mexico’s drug war.

U.S. Authorities Bust Mexican Drug Network in Arizona

December 21, 2011

From Reuters News Service, December 21, 2011

TEMPE, Ariz (Reuters) – U.S. authorities have arrested 203 people and smashed a Mexican trafficking ring that funneled millions of dollars in drugs to Arizona for the powerful Sinaloa cartel, officials said on Tuesday.

The multi-agency bust, led by Tempe police and the Drug Enforcement Administration, dismantled a cell running heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana to Arizona for the Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Mexico’s most wanted man, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman.

“Operation Crank Call” began when a Tempe police officer arrested two men in a street-level drug deal last year. One of the suspects was later identified as a delivery driver for the Mexican smuggling ring.

It subsequently led to 203 arrests, the seizure of more than 1,200 pounds of narcotics, $7.8 million in drug cash and 44 guns across the Phoenix valley area over a 15-month period, police said.

“Operation Crank Call deals another significant blow to the drug trafficking organizations that continue to try and make the Phoenix metropolitan area a primary hub of drug distribution,” said Doug Coleman, the DEA’s acting special agent in charge.

“By dismantling this group, DEA and our partners have taken large quantities of drugs, millions of dollars in drug trafficker assets, and powerful weapons off our streets,” he added.

The Sinaloa cartel is fighting rival traffickers in Mexico, where surging drug-related violence has killed more than 44,000 people since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and sent the military to crush the powerful smugglers.

The cartel funnels narcotics through the Mexico border state, sneaking loads through the ports of entry, through clandestine tunnels and over the porous border and through the desert.

Police said those arrested included U.S. and Mexican citizens. Charges brought in the case ranged from simple possession and drug paraphernalia offenses to trafficking charges.

Coleman said the investigation was ongoing and expected further arrests.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Aiken, SC Master Public Safety Officer Killed in Shootout

December 21, 2011

From www.wbtv.com By Nick Needham, December 21, 2011

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) – One Aiken police officer has been killed and another wounded in a shootout that also sent a suspect to the hospital.

Lt. David Turno says the shooting happened before 9 p.m. Tuesday at an apartment complex.

Turno says 33-year-old Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson died from his wounds. Twenty-eight-year-old Officer Travis Griffin was treated and released after a bullet-proof vest prevented serious injury.

Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson

Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson

The suspect was wounded and has been taken to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

Lisa Hintz with Aiken Rescue says those at the agency’s headquarters heard about a dozen shots.

Turno says two other people are being questioned. He says the State Law Enforcement Division is investigating, standard procedure during an officer-involved shooting.

Turno says Richardson had been with the department since 1999.

North Dakota Sheriff Calls In Predator Drone For Use in “Farm Standoff”

December 15, 2011

By Daily Mail Reporter, 13 December 2011

Meet the Brossarts, a North Dakota family deemed so dangerous that the local sheriff unleashed an unmanned Predator drone to help bring them in.

The Brossart’s alleged crime? They wouldn’t give back three cows and their calves that wandered onto their 3,000-acre farm this summer.

The same aerial vehicles used by the CIA to track down and assassinate terrorists and militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan are now being deployed by cops to spy on Americans in their own backyards.

Susan Brossart -
[Rodney Brossart -

The head of the Brossart family are Susan and husband Rodney, who live with seven of their eight adult children in a compound which includes a house, trailer and two RVs.

Abby Brossart
Alex Brossart -

Daughter Abby allegedly hit an officer during the arrests, which included brother Alex, after the family was spied on by a government drone.

Thomas Brossart
Jacob Brossart -

Sons Thomas and Jacob were also arrested in the bust after a 16-hour stand off, which stemmed from a half dozen cows that wandered onto their property.

saying the unregulated use of the drones is intrusive.A spy plane comes home: Privacy advocates fear the use of Predator drones on US citizens gives police agencies too much power

That’s when the sheriff summoned a $154 million MQ-9 Predator B drone from nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base, where it was patrolling the US-Canida border for the US Department of Homeland Security.

Using a handheld device that picked up the video camera footage from the spy plane, Sheriff Janke was able to watch the movements of everyone on the farm.

During an 16-hour standoff, the sheriff and his deputies waited until they could see the remaining Brossarts put down their weapons. Then, dressed in SWAT gear, they stormed the compound and arrested the three Brossart sons. No shots were fired.

Susan Brossart, the matriarch of the clan, was later arrested, as well.

Police also recovered the cattle, valued at $6,000.

They face several felony charges and have repeatedly not shown up for court after posting $250,000 bail.

US Customs and Border Protection agents fly eight Predator remote-controlled aircraft to patrol the American borders with Canada and Mexico, searching for smugglers and illegal immigrants.

But increasingly, the federal government and local police agencies are using those drones to spy criminal suspects in America with sophisticated high-resolution cameras, heat sensors and radar. All of it comes without a warrant.

Rodney BrossartNot his first arrest: An earlier police handout showing Rodney Brossart, who lives on a 3,000 acre farm in North Dakota with his family.

Allowing local sheriffs and police chiefs access to spy planes happened without public discussion or the approval of Congress. And it has privacy advocates crying foul, saying the unregulated use of the drones is intrusive.

‘There is no question that this could become something that people will regret,’ former Rep Jane Harman, a Democrat, told the Los Angles Times.

The sheriff says that might not have been possible without the intelligence from the Predators.

‘We don’t have to go in guns blazing. We can take our time and methodically plan out what our approach should be,’ Sheriff Janke told the Times.

All of the surveillance occurred without a search warrant because the Supreme Court has long ruled that anything visible from the air, even if it’s on private property, can be subject to police spying.

However, privacy experts say that predator drones, which can silently fly for 20 hours nonstop, dramatically surpasses the spying power that any police helicopter or airplane can achieve.

Explaining to a 5-Year Old Why the Indefinite Detention Bill DOES Apply to U.S. Citizens on U.S. Soil

December 15, 2011

Washington’s Blog, Thursday, December 15, 2011

In response to my essay documenting that the indefinite detention bill does apply to American citizens on U.S. soil, a commentator posted:

Can somebody explain to me like I am 5, why [one of the bill’s provisions – which discusses U.S. citizens] does not protect citizens?

Yes, let me explain it in words that even a 5-year-old can understand …

The bill says that the military must indefinitely detain anyone SUSPECTED of helping bad guys.

One provision says that the mandatory (“must”) indefinite detention doesn’t apply to U.S. citizens … but the government CAN indefinitely detain any U.S. citizen it feels like without trial, without presenting evidence, without letting the citizen consult with a lawyer, and without even charging the citizen.

This would destroy our Constitutional rights to trial, to face our accuser and to consult with an attorney.

Indeed, it would destroy rights created in England in 1215.

In other words, it’s like saying “you don’t HAVE to lock up Joey for the rest of his life because he called you a mean name, but you CAN lock him away and throw away the key and then falsely accuse him of being a suspected terrorist if it would make you happy”.

Get it?

That is why Congressman Justin Amash wrote:

Senators McCain and Levin have teamed up to promote one of the most anti-liberty pieces of legislation of our lifetime, S 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill would permit the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the President. It is destructive of our Constitution.

… A few commenters have suggested that the dangerous provisions in S 1867 (discussed in my previous post) do not apply to American citizens because of this language in Sec. 1032: “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.” This language appears carefully crafted to mislead the public. Note that it does not preclude U.S. citizens from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, it simply makes such detention discretionary.

Amash subsequently wrote:

Pres. Obama and many Members of Congress believe the President ALREADY has the authority the bill grants him. Legally, of course, he does not. This language was inserted to keep proponents and opponents of the bill appeased, while permitting the President to assert that the improper power he has claimed all along is now in statute.

***

They will say that American citizens are specifically exempted under the following language in Sec. 1032: “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.” Don’t be fooled. All this says is that the President is not REQUIRED to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial. It still PERMITS him to do so.

The ACLU notes:

Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.