Archive for June, 2014

Boy with Brain Tumor Made Officer for Day by Bethel Park, PA Police Department

June 26, 2014

From The Tribune-Review by Matthew Santoni, June 24, 2014

Joey Fabus’ parents say he loves police officers. And garbage collectors.

It was the Bethel Park Police Department who made the 8-year-old, who has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, an honorary member on Tuesday.

When Community Police Officer Tom Rigetti learned of Joey’s situation, he worked with the boy’s family and Chief John Mackey to make Joey an honorary officer for a day. The role was made complete with a uniform, badge and handcuffs.

“We’re just trying to give him the best life possible right now,” said Joey’s mother, Cindy.

Family and friends wore camouflage T-shirts for “Little Joey’s Army,” a charity started by his godmother, Jessica Rosser of Dormont, to help the family while Joey’s father, David, stays home from work to care for him and take him to radiation treatments.

They followed and filmed him throughout the day, along with police officers from Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair. Many were there on their time off to support Joey.

“I feel safer now that you’re part of our police department,” said Magisterial District Judge Ron Arnoni, who swore Joey in as an officer. Arnoni, a former investigator for the state Office of Attorney General, gave the newest officer a pair of his old handcuffs and a model police car, and later let Joey pose for pictures wearing his judge’s robes.

After being sworn in, Joey rode in Rigetti’s patrol car with his parents, working the lights and sirens, and pulling over Rigetti’s daughter, Mia, 19, for allegedly running a stop sign in front of the municipal building.

Joey took Mia’s license and registration, and filled out a traffic citation, then went back to the district judge’s office. He testified, recommending that the citation be dismissed because Mia was polite and apologetic.

“We saw somebody who ran a stop sign,” Joey said. “We pulled her over, gave her a ticket, but then we let her go.”

His parents initially were worried about Joey getting too tired to make it through the afternoon of activities, but he grinned through everything and continued onward.

“He just keeps going, and hopefully he’s going to keep on going,” Rigetti said.

After a little more riding in the patrol car, he strode through the door of the Bethel Park Community Center to perform a “safety patrol.” He was met with more supporters’ applause, then a proclamation from Bethel Park Mayor Jack Allen that Tuesday was Joey Fabus Day.

In addition to Tuesday’s activities, Little Joey’s Army arranged for him to ride in the Dormont Memorial Day Parade in a rented Camaro, organized a charity golf outing for the family’s benefit on June 22 and is holding a charity concert with the Justin Fabus Band on July 19 at the Crowne Plaza in Bethel Park.

“It’s amazing, the amount of support we’ve gotten from the entire (Bethel Park police) department,” said Joseph Fabus, Joey’s uncle and a Pittsburgh police detective. “We talk a great deal about brotherhood, and that’s what this is about today.”

Fayette County, PA Sheriff’s Son gets Job as Lieutenant at County Prison

June 26, 2014

From The Tribune-Review by Liz Zemba, June 26, 2014

The Fayette County Prison Board on Wednesday hired the son of Sheriff Gary Brownfield, a retired state trooper, to fill a lieutenant’s position.

James Brownfield of Farmington has more than 20 years’ experience as a trooper, said Dominick Carnicella, human resources director. He was the recommended candidate out of five who were interviewed for the post.

Brownfield will earn $47,382 annually.

His father, who chairs the prison board, abstained from voting.

County commissioners Vincent Zapotosky and Al Ambrosini, along with Acting Controller Jeanine Wrona, voted in favor of the hire. Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink and District Attorney Jack Heneks were absent when the vote was taken, but Heneks said later he would have voted to hire Brownfield.

Carnicella said of the five applicants who were interviewed, two work at the prison. Brownfield was one of three applicants who did not work at the prison.

Charles “Chuck” Campbell, a shop steward for United Mine Workers Local 9113, questioned the decision to hire an outsider over the two employees who have experience working at the jail.

“I put in an application for lieutenant and was never called for an interview,” said Campbell, who has 19 years’ experience at the county jail. “After all these years, our people have been putting in applications for lieutenant, and we can’t move up. We don’t even get an interview.”

Carnicella said Campbell was interviewed for a lieutenant’s position in 2013, but he was not the recommended candidate.

‘Rocco’s Law’ Awaits PA Governor’s Signature

June 26, 2014

From The Tribune-Review by Margaret Harding, June 25, 2014

Legislation named for a slain Pittsburgh police K-9 that toughens the penalty for anyone convicted of hurting a police dog is awaiting the governor’s signature, state legislators said on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh Police provided this photo of K-9 officer Rocco. Police said a suspect stabbed Rocco in the back during an incident Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.

Senate Bill 1261 and House Bill 2026, which make up “Rocco’s Law,” would change the charge against a person convicted of severely injuring or killing a police animal from a third- to a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony carries a fine of $25,000 and up to 10 years in prison. Current law carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

The House unanimously passed SB 1261 on Tuesday and the Senate passed HB 2026 last week.

“It took bipartisan, bicameral cooperation and coordination to get Rocco’s Law to the governor in just five short months,” said state Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, in a statement.

Rocco, an 8-year-old German shepherd, was stabbed while helping Pittsburgh police track a suspect in the basement of a Lawrenceville building on Jan. 28. He died two days later of his wounds.

Police charged John Rush, 21, of Stowe with aggravated assault, abusing a police animal, resisting arrest, cruelty to animals and other crimes. He is being held without bail in the Allegheny County Jail as he awaits trial.

“Rocco’s service to the community continues even after his tragic death by inspiring a fresh look at our anti-cruelty laws,” said state Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair, who sponsored the House measure.

Ford City, PA Police Car Up and Running Thanks to Donation

June 26, 2014

From The Tribune-Review by Brigid Beatty, June 26, 2014

Things appear to be looking up for the Ford City police department, with all three patrol cars back on the streets and with possible new hires on the horizon.

After about four months of car trouble, the department on Tuesday finally got the newest vehicle — a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria — up and running.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Sgt. John Atherton, officer-in-charge. “The transmission has been fixed, and we put in a new computer system — a Panasonic Toughbook. It’s another tool to combat crime.”

The computer is designed to help law enforcement officials conduct background searches and can withstand vibrations caused by traveling over western Pennsylvania roads, Atherton said.

Transmission repairs were paid for by a $1,900 donation from the Ford City Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Atherton said he and the department are grateful to the organization for helping out.

He is also glad to have gotten a positive response from council on Monday about possibly filling positions recently vacated by two part-time officers who resigned from the department.

Atherton and Sgt. Mark Brice are the department’s only full-time policemen. The remainder of the department is made up of 12 part-timers, with only five of those working 32 hours a week.

“If one of the five gets sick, it would put a strain on the department,” Atherton said. “We’ve been very fortunate that over the past couple of years, we’ve kept overtime to a minimum.”

Filling the vacated positions would ensure keeping future overtime costs low and would prevent officer fatigue from having to work back-to-back shifts, he said. Atherton recommended that council hire between four and six additional part-time officers.

Council voted 3-2 to begin the hiring process by conducting interviews with potential candidates. As of Monday, there were seven applicants.

Councilman Josh Abernathy abstained, and Councilman Jerry Miklos opposed the measure. Councilman Scott Gaiser was absent.

“It’s hard for me to understand how we can’t run a police department with 14 or 16,” Miklos said.

But according to Mayor Marc Mantini, having at least 18 officers on board is a matter of public safety because it helps ensure an adequate stream of police coverage.

“We need this pipeline,” Mantini said. “Once the pipeline ceases, we’ll be in trouble.”

Obama Opens Borders, Releases Illegal Immigrants Into U.S.

June 24, 2014

From The New American by Warren Mass, June 24, 2014

As the non-stop flood of illegal immigrants continues to pour across the Rio Grande, some are calling the boundary between the United States and Texas an “open border.” Furthermore, instead of deporting most of these illegal border crossers — many of whom are from Central America — federal officials have been releasing them within the U.S. interior.

A large number of those traveling from Central America to our southern border are unaccompanied children. The Obama administration has estimated that 60,000 children unaccompanied by parents or relatives will pour into the United States this year, up from about 6,000 in 2011.

Among those who are highly critical of our government’s virtual open-border policies is Albert Spratte, the sergeant-at-arms of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley. A June 23 National Review Online article attributed an amazing observation to Spratte: “There are two types of illegal immigrants crossing the border: those whom Border Patrol catches and those who catch Border Patrol.” Journalist Ryan Lovelace, who accompanied Spratte on patrol, witnessed a man emerging from the brush only to surrender to Spratte. The man said he had traveled 15 days from El Salvador and was headed to California to do some remodeling work. Though he still carried paperwork ordering him to appear in court several years ago, the man nevertheless did not fear prosecution or deportation, but assumed that immigration officials would safely guide him to his destination!

Spratte told Lovelace that a group of nearly 300 Central Americans had recently turned themselves in to U.S. officials.

“Next week 300 is going to be nothing,” said Spratte. “It’ll be 500 or 400 until they make the decision to start enforcing our immigration laws and deporting people.”

In our June 20 article, we quoted another member of the NBPC, Stu Harris, vice president of the union’s Local 1929 in El Paso, Texas. Speaking with Breitbart Texas (the section of dedicated to covering Texas news), Harris shared his views on the vast increase in illegal cross-border traffic: “This situation is de facto amnesty. The word has gotten out that we will simply release people into the US if enough of them come at once. The result is that they are doing it.”

A June report from KRGV News in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas that we cited recently noted that a Guatemalan woman named Nora Griselda Bercian Diaz had crossed the border illegally with her six-year-old daughter. Bercian Diaz related to KRGV that people back in Guatemala had told her: “Go to America with your child; you won’t be turned away.”

Bercian Diaz told the news crew that when the reporters encountered her, she and her daughter were lost and searching for Border Patrol agents!

It is obvious from these reports that failing to secure the passage of legislation offering amnesty to illegal immigrants (under the guise of “a path to citizenship”), the Obama administration is offering it anyway. Otherwise, why would illegal immigrants seek out Border Patrol agents instead of hiding from them?

In response to the massive migration of illegal aliens into our nation, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) posted a statement on his Senate webpage on June 3 carrying the headline: “President Obama is personally responsible for ‘rising crisis’ at border.” His message began:

The rising crisis at the border is the direct and predictable result of actions taken by President Obama. He and his Administration have announced to the world that they will not enforce America’s immigration laws, and have emphasized in particular that foreign youth will be exempted from these laws. The world has heard the President’s call, and illegal immigrants are pouring across the border in pursuit of his promised amnesty. President Obama is responsible for this calamity, and only by declaring to the world that our border is no longer open — and that the law will be restored — can this emergency be stopped.

Sessions listed both humanitarian and budgetary reasons for holding the Obama administration responsible for creating the crisis in the first place — then spending large amounts of money to remedy its symptoms. He stated the incentive for crossing our border illegally — citizenship — must be removed:

Adding to the incentive, politicians in both parties have promised citizenship for anyone in the world who arrives illegally in the country by a certain age. The first overriding goal must always be to reduce lawlessness, not incentivize it.

Sessions noted that even the New York Times has reported that the Obama administration’s lack of enforcement has become widely known throughout Latin America, saying that the United States might as well hang a sign saying “open” across the U.S. border.

If immigration officials are not deporting or detaining those who cross our border illegally, what are they doing with them? In a June 23 report, AP’s immigration reporter Alicia Caldwell noted that the Obama administration has released a large number of illegal immigrant families from Central America in recent months, but  — despite the fact the officials know how many they have released — they won’t reveal that information.

When Caldwell called the Homeland Security deputy secretary’s office on June 20 to obtain figures about the releases, she was told: “We will get back to you.”

The AP report listed numerous occasions when U.S. officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, and Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas dodged all questions concerning the number of illegal immigrants released.

The figure is widely believed to exceed 40,000 since October, noted Caldwell, which is “slightly below the roughly 52,000 children caught traveling illegally from Central America over the same period.” Those figures closely match the administration estimates we cited above of 60,000 unaccompanied children who will pour into the United States this year.

The report noted that most of the immigrant families are from Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala and cannot be immediately deported, so U.S. officials have been releasing them into the U.S. interior with instructions to report within 15 days to the nearest U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office. We saw how that works out, however, when the Salvadoran man who voluntarily surrendered to Border Patrol Agent Spratte still carried paperwork ordering him to appear in court several years ago, and yet fearlessly crossed the border illegally once more.

With our borders open and armies of illegal immigrants who have traveled up to 2,000 miles to cross them, this situation can only be described as an invasion. Since that is the case, it is time for Congress to fulfill its mandate found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution: “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”

Article IV, Section 4 also states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion.”

The Constitution is clear: It is time for Congress to pass legislation requiring the federal government to repel the invasion.

Border Highway Heavily Patrolled by State and Local Police – But Not Border Patrol

June 24, 2014

From by Kit Daniels, June 24, 2014

Near Highway 281 outside of Pharr, Texas, a surveillance tower stood high above a dirt road leading towards the Mexican border, yet it wasn’t manned by the Border Patrol but rather city police.

Only a few hundred yards away, at the intersection of the dirt road and the highway, a police officer sat in a SUV facing south and watched the traffic rolling by.

The Pharr, Texas police officer parked not far from the surveillance tower.

But for the westbound drivers, this officer was only the first they’d seen in a handful of minutes, as the stretch of highway to the east of Pharr was heavily patrolled by Texas state troopers, one of whom told Infowars that the area is known for kidnappings and other violent crimes.

All of these officers heavily outnumbered the Border Patrol agents seen in and around a 50 mile stretch of highway between Pharr and the border city of Brownsville, Texas on Monday, a chilling indication that state and local law enforcement agencies are likely having to step up against the tide of violence coming from the south as the Border Patrol backs off from many of its law enforcement duties.

One of the numerous Texas state troopers encountered on Highway 281 near the Mexican border.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s drugs, bodies, or how large the group is, our agents are being ordered to stand down by Border Patrol management,” Shawn Moran, Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council, told Breitbart News back in October. “I have received reports from our agents in every single sector from San Diego to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas that they are receiving these orders.”

“They are not being relieved in place, they are simply being told that someone else is being dispatched, but none of us have seen that occur,” he continued. “We are simply being ordered to stand down and stop tracking and trying to apprehend the criminals.”

Nothing has changed for the better. As we reported yesterday, far more Border Patrol vehicles were parked at various government facilities than patrolling the streets and surrounding areas of Brownsville, contrary to what one would expect considering the current surge of immigrant youth flooding into America.

The morale of immigration agents has declined considerably and many of them are now looking for new jobs because even when the agents are not stonewalled from making arrests, the immigrants they capture are quickly released.

“We can put as many people as we want on the border, but if we’re gonna catch them, hook them up and then release them, then what good is it gonna do?” An anonymous Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent told Infowars.

The U.S. Supreme Court Is Marching in Lockstep with the Police State

June 24, 2014

From The Rutherford Institute by John W. Whitehead, June 23, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court was intended to be an institution established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds. Yet as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice. In the police state being erected around us, the police and other government agents can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

The U.S. Supreme Court Is Marching in Lockstep with the Police State

Whether it’s police officers breaking through people’s front doors and shooting them dead in their homes or strip searching innocent motorists on the side of the road, these instances of abuse are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to virtually every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution.

These are the hallmarks of the emerging American police state: where police officers, no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace, are part of an elite ruling class dependent on keeping the masses corralled, under control, and treated like suspects and enemies rather than citizens.

A review of the Supreme Court’s rulings over the past 10 years, including some critical ones this term, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order and protecting government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits. In Plumhoff v. Rickard (2014), the Court declared that police officers who used deadly force to terminate a car chase were immune from a lawsuit. The officers were accused of needlessly resorting to deadly force by shooting multiple times at a man and his passenger in a stopped car, killing both individuals.

Police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips. In a 5-4 ruling in Navarette v. California (2014), the Court declared that police officers can, under the guise of “reasonable suspicion,” stop cars and question drivers based solely on anonymous tips, no matter how dubious, and whether or not they themselves witnessed any troubling behavior. This ruling came on the heels of a ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in U.S. v. Westhoven that driving too carefully, with a rigid posture, taking a scenic route, and having acne are sufficient reasons for a police officer to suspect you of doing something illegal, detain you, search your car, and arrest you—even if you’ve done nothing illegal to warrant the stop in the first place.

Secret Service agents are not accountable for their actions, as long as they’re done in the name of security. In Wood v. Moss (2014), the Court granted “qualified immunity” to Secret Service officials who relocated anti-Bush protesters, despite concerns raised that the protesters’ First Amendment right to freely speak, assemble, and petition their government leaders had been violated. These decisions, part of a recent trend toward granting government officials “qualified immunity”—they are not accountable for their actions—in lawsuits over alleged constitutional violations, merely incentivize government officials to violate constitutional rights without fear of repercussion.

Citizens only have a right to remain silent if they assert it. The Supreme Court ruled in Salinas v. Texas (2013) that persons who are not under arrest must specifically invoke their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in order to avoid having their refusal to answer police questions used against them in a subsequent criminal trial. What this ruling says, essentially, is that citizens had better know what their rights are and understand when those rights are being violated, because the government is no longer going to be held responsible for informing you of those rights before violating them.

Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside. In Florida v. Harris (2013), a unanimous Court determined that police officers may use highly unreliable drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops. In doing so, the justices sided with police by claiming that all that the police need to do to prove probable cause for a search is simply assert that a drug detection dog has received proper training. The ruling turns man’s best friend into an extension of the police state.

Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime. In Maryland v. King (2013), a divided Court determined that a person arrested for a crime who is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty must submit to forcible extraction of their DNA. Once again the Court sided with the guardians of the police state over the defenders of individual liberty in determining that DNA samples may be extracted from people arrested for “serious offenses.” While the Court claims to have made its decision based upon concerns of properly identifying criminal suspects upon arrest, what they actually did is open the door for a nationwide dragnet of suspects targeted via DNA sampling.

Police can stop, search, question and profile citizens and non-citizens alike. The Supreme Court declared in Arizona v. United States (2012) that Arizona police officers have broad authority to stop, search and question individuals—citizen and non-citizen alike. While the law prohibits officers from considering race, color, or national origin, it amounts to little more than a perfunctory nod to discrimination laws on the books, while paving the way for outright racial profiling and destroying the Fourth Amendment.

Police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense.” A divided Supreme Court actually prioritized making life easier for overworked jail officials over the basic right of Americans to be free from debasing strip searches. In its 5-4 ruling in Florence v. Burlington (2012), the Court declared that any person who is arrested and processed at a jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her offense (i.e., they can be guilty of nothing more than a minor traffic offense), can be subjected to a virtual strip search by police or jail officials, which involves exposing the genitals and the buttocks. This “license to probe” is now being extended to roadside stops, as police officers throughout the country have begun performing roadside strip searches—some involving anal and vaginal probes—without any evidence of wrongdoing and without a warrant.

Immunity protections for Secret Service agents trump the free speech rights of Americans. The court issued a unanimous decision in Reichle v. Howards (2012), siding with two Secret Service agents who arrested a Colorado man simply for daring to voice critical remarks to Vice President Cheney. However, contrast the Court’s affirmation of the “free speech” rights of corporations and wealthy donors in McCutcheon v. FEC (2014), which does away with established limits on the number of candidates an entity can support with campaign contributions, and Citizens United v. FEC  (2010) with its tendency to deny those same rights to average Americans when government interests abound, and you’ll find a noticeable disparity.

Police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home. In an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King (2011), the Supreme Court placed their trust in the discretion of police officers, rather than in the dictates of the Constitution, when they gave police greater leeway to break into homes or apartments without a warrant. Despite the fact that the police in question ended up pursuing the wrong suspect, invaded the wrong apartment and violated just about every tenet that stands between us and a police state, the Court sanctioned the warrantless raid, leaving Americans with little real protection in the face of all manner of abuses by police.

Police can interrogate minors without their parents present. In a devastating ruling that could very well do away with what little Fourth Amendment protections remain to public school students and their families—the Court threw out a lower court ruling in Camreta v. Greene (2011), which required government authorities to secure a warrant, a court order or parental consent before interrogating students at school. The ramifications are far-reaching, rendering public school students as wards of the state. Once again, the courts sided with law enforcement against the rights of the people.

It’s a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name. In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada (2004), a majority of the high court agreed that refusing to answer when a policeman asks “What’s your name?” can rightfully be considered a crime under Nevada’s “stop and identify” statute. No longer will Americans, even those not suspected of or charged with any crime, have the right to remain silent when stopped and questioned by a police officer.

The cases the Supreme Court refuses to hear, allowing lower court judgments to stand, are almost as critical as the ones they rule on. Some of these cases, turned away in recent years alone, have delivered devastating blows to the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Legally owning a firearm is enough to justify a no-knock raid by police. Justices refused to hear Quinn v. Texas (2014) the case of a Texas man who was shot by police through his closed bedroom door and whose home was subject to a no-knock, SWAT-team style forceful entry and raid based solely on the suspicion that there were legally-owned firearms in his household.

The military can arrest and detain American citizens. In refusing to hear Hedges v. Obama (2014), a legal challenge to the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), the Supreme Court affirmed that the President and the U.S. military can arrest and indefinitely detain individuals, including American citizens. In so doing, the high court also passed up an opportunity to overturn its 1944 Korematsu v. United States ruling allowing for the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

Students can be subjected to random lockdowns and mass searches at school. The Court refused to hear Burlison v. Springfield Public Schools (2013), a case involving students at a Missouri public school who were subjected to random lockdowns, mass searches and drug-sniffing dogs by police. In so doing, the Court let stand an appeals court ruling that the searches and lockdowns were reasonable in order to maintain the safety and security of students at the school.

Police officers who don’t know their actions violate the law aren’t guilty of breaking the law. The Supreme Court let stand a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Brooks v. City of Seattle (2012) in which police officers who clearly used excessive force when they repeatedly tasered a pregnant woman during a routine traffic stop were granted immunity from prosecution. The Ninth Circuit actually rationalized its ruling by claiming that the officers couldn’t have known beyond a reasonable doubt that their actions—tasering a pregnant woman who was not a threat in any way until she was unconscious—violated the Fourth Amendment.

When all is said and done, what these assorted court rulings add up to is a disconcerting government mindset that interprets the Constitution one way for the elite—government entities, the police, corporations and the wealthy—and uses a second measure altogether for the underclasses—that is, you and me.

Keep in mind that in former regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the complicity of the courts was the final piece to fall into place before the totalitarian beast stepped out of the shadows and into the light. If history is a guide, then the future that awaits us is truly frightening.

Obama ‘Risking Lives’ of U.S. Border Patrol Agents

June 24, 2014

From by Drew Zahn, June 23, 2014

In the middle of the night on May 29, a U.S. Border Patrol agent identified by court records only as “S.H.” was patrolling on his bicycle near the Los Olmos Arroyo in Texas, when he spotted a group of people who appeared to have just crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico into the U.S.

U.S. Border Agent wounded by rock-throwing illegal immigrants, PHOTO: Homeland Security Today

U.S. Border Agent wounded by rock-throwing illegal immigrants, PHOTO: Homeland Security Today

According to a report in the McAllen Monitor, the agent radioed for backup before advancing toward the group, when suddenly, the illegal immigrants hiding in the darkness took off, running in all directions.

The agent gave chase through the brush, but in the darkness he was pitched from his bicycle, and his flashlight was sent flying.

As “S.H.” tried to regain his feet, court records state, 18-year-old Arnold Cruz Rivera, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, landed his first punch on the agent, then darted for a nearby stream. The agent got up and resumed the chase.

FBI agents say Rivera punched the agent in the face and chest several more times, but “S.H.” began to swing back, “not knowing where he was striking due to little to no light conditions,” until he was able to hold the fleeing suspect down until help arrived.

Today, Rivera has been formally charged with assaulting a federal officer and immigration violation, but the story is just one of many tales of peril faced by U.S. Border Patrol agents who are withstanding a marked uptick in violent assaults as they try to hold back the tide of illegal immigrants surging across the U.S. border.

In early April, for example, a Border Patrol agent in Abram, Texas, The Monitor reports, fought a Guatemalan national who rammed the agent’s head into a tree and then pushed the butt of the agent’s rifle into his face.

In early March, another Border Patrol agent in Brooks County, Texas, fought with a Salvadoran national who managed to take the agent’s handgun and fire off two shots before he was subdued.

And in November of last year, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency reports, a group of 100 Mexican nationals illegally crossed into the United States and attacked U.S. Border Patrol Agents with rocks and bottles.

After the U.S. agents chased the mob back over the border, Mexican authorities allowed the suspects to disperse without being arrested or otherwise suffering any consequences for their brutal attacks on U.S. law enforcement.

“Our agents are doing the best they can with the resources they have,” Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, explained on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” earlier this month. “The Border Patrol is under siege.”

“This is something that’s been going on for over a year and is just getting worse,” he continued. “The American public needs to see what is going on. They need to see how hard our agents are working and how helpless they are to stop this and to make this situation better.”

Illegal immigration has exploded in recent months along the U.S. Mexican border, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Border Patrol agents told Breitbart Texas that more than 1,000 illegal immigrants are apprehended each day in the RGV area.

Brandy Darby, Breitbart Texas’ managing director, has kept a chronicle of more than 40 reported assaults and drug-gang activities among the illegal aliens streaming across the border.

To make matters worse, the National Border Patrol Council, a union of U.S. Border Patrol agents, is reporting federal authorities are turning a blind eye to assaults on its members.

“The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol are routinely attacked in remote areas along the U.S.-Mexico border, sometimes resulting in agents losing their lives for their service,” Darby wrote in November of last year. “The NBPC recently spoke out against the U.S. Border Patrol’s parent agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), alleging that both the CBP and the U.S. Attorney’s Office were routinely refusing to prosecute illegal immigrants who had assaulted Border Patrol agents.”

“The physical assaults on Border Patrol agents are increasing in numbers and in frequency,” added Stu Harris, vice president of Local 1929 of the NBPC. “Our Border Patrol agents are less safe now, and the dangers are increasing as they are more often working alone in isolated areas.”

Despite the increased risk, activist groups and scathing reports in mainstream media outlets have pressured the U.S. Border Patrol to put into place new restrictions on the use of force by its agents.

“Examples include refraining from blocking moving vehicles’ paths or firing at rock-throwers unless in imminent danger,” the Huffington Post reported. “Additionally, agents will be trained on how to carry and use lighter weapons, while also facing restrictions on Taser use.”

Moran, however, says the additional restrictions could hinder agents’ ability to protect both the border and their own lives.

“The lives of Border Patrol agents should not be pawns in the political games of Washington, D.C.,” Moran told Breitbart Texas, “and this administration is literally risking our lives.”

“Instead of introducing … potentially restrictive policy changes, NBPC called upon CBP to open its books and provide the real story regarding the actual number of use of force incidents involving Border Patrol agents and whether force was justified,” the NBPC wrote in a released statement last year. “NBPC believes CBP should provide transparency around the criminal histories of those who allege use of force by Border Patrol agents, statistics regarding the number of assaults on Border Patrol agents, and the blatant lack of prosecutions against those who assault them.”

Zack Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, says that despite news stories painting border agents as armed aggressors against desert peasants toting only rocks, agents must have a way to defend themselves. Rocks, he pointed out, can be lethal as well.

“If you don’t throw rocks at the Border Patrol agent, they’re not going to shoot you,” Taylor told Breitbart Texas. “If you threaten the life of the officer, you then put the officer in a position where he has to protect his life. What do people not understand about that?”

FOIA Request On Effectiveness Of License Plate Readers Greeted With A Blank Stare By Virginia Police Department

June 24, 2014

From by Tim Cushing, June 23, 2014

Law enforcement agencies are generally pretty happy with their automatic license plate readers. It allows them to harvest millions of plate/location records without having to exit their vehicles, much less slow them down. It also allows them to spring from their cruisers with guns out and force non-car thieves into submissive positions while they perform the sort of due diligence that should have been completed long before the cops/guns exited their respective holders.

What they don’t seem to like is anyone asking questions about the massive databases they’re compiling or whether they’ve bothered to institute any minimization/privacy policies. When questioned, they usually talk about what a great tool it is for crime-fighting, even if said tool contains millions of useless photos entirely unrelated to criminal activity. Some even claim that every single photo in the database is integral to ongoing investigations and therefore cannot be subjected to minimization procedures, much less the pesky FOIA requests of surveilled citizens.

And sometimes, these agencies are so sure they like the tech that they can’t even be bothered to determine whether it’s actually doing anything to assist in the business of law enforcement. Stephen Gutowski at the Capitol City Project recently asked the Fairfax County, VA police about the effectiveness of its license plate photo database and got this ‘FILE NOT FOUND’ statement in response.

This letter is in response to your FOIA request in which you requested the number of ALPR records Fairfax County currently has on file. This number is constantly fluctuating, but as of 05/20/2014 at 1003 hours there were 2,731,429 reads in the system.

You further requested any available metric the county uses to determine the system’s effectiveness. It was found that the Fairfax County Police Department does not possess any such responsive materials based on the information you requested.

The assumption here is that the system works. The Fairfax County PD occasionally posts arrests linked to ALPR database hits and… well, beyond that, the PD draws a blank. Presumably a handful of arrests justifies a multi-million image-and-location photo database. But this lack of self-assessment shouldn’t be acceptable, not for an agency that has abused its technology in the past.

It came to light late last year that the Fairfax PD trolled political rallies to grab more plate data, racking up nearly 70,000 photos in five days. This abuse prompted a local lawmaker to push legislation aimed at severely limiting, if not completely eradicating, ALPR readers in his district. Not a bad idea, as far it goes.

Virginia law enforcement agencies aren’t going to be happy with this move and they’ll be able to mobilize a pretty powerful opposition. But these are the same entities that tried to bury info on plate readers back in 2009, simply because they felt the public might try to get the system shut down if they knew what was going on. But the lack of controls or any gauge of the system’s effectiveness shouldn’t be allowed to escape unnoticed, because the failure to monitor error rates and hits can result in catastrophic consequences for citizens whose plates trigger false hits — something this system does at twice the rate of recoveries.

The license plate readers demonstrated a high error rate. Four ALPR vehicles used in Fairfax County over the course of five nights in February 2009 scanned 69,281 vehicles. The camera database produced twelve bogus hits and recovered four stolen vehicles, for a recovery rate of 0.6 percent and an error rate of 1.7 percent.

The technology can be used responsibly, but law enforcement agencies with tough minimization policies are almost nonexistent. And as we’ve seen twice in the last month alone, officers relying on faulty data aren’t making an effort to verify database hits before attempting to effect arrests. Someone’s going to be hurt or killed because of bad data, and hardly anyone in law enforcement seems to be concerned. If they did, strict policies on verification and disposal of non-hit data would be the rule, rather than the exception.

Obama’s ‘Enforcer’ Threatening ‘Separation of Powers Doctrine’

June 24, 2014

From by Greg Corombos, June 24, 2014

Eric Holder evolved from a widely respected prosecutor into an increasingly partisan operative, who eventually felt free to trump justice with politics when his ideological soulmate tapped him as attorney general.

That’s the thesis of “Obama’s Enforcer,” a new book by former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky, who is now with the Heritage Foundation. His co-author is longtime investigative reporter and columnist John Fund.

Attorney general is a political appointment, and those nominated for the job usually share some if not many ideological similarities with the president who chooses them. However, von Spakovsky said there is a stark difference between past attorneys general and what we’ve seen from Eric Holder.

“Holder has put politics at the forefront, ahead of justice,” said von Spakovsky. “You can look at prior attorneys general and you will find that they, very carefully, treaded the line between working for the president and trying to put his priorities in place but on the other hand, realizing they are the attorney general. The interests of justice and nonpartisan enforcement of the law takes a higher priority. Past attorneys general of both parties have done it very well.”

He added, “That is not the way Holder has run the Justice Department. He obviously considers himself part of the president’s political team first, attorney general a distant second. You can see that in the way that he’s conducted himself and the way they have politicized the prosecution process.”

According to von Spakovsky, Holder approached the law much differently earlier in his career. A generation ago, officials in both parties applauded him as a tough-minded prosecutor and judge. Slowly, his actions began to reflect his deepening political philosophy.

“He went from being a very nonpartisan, professional lawyer to having politics and ideology driving him,” he said. “A (40-year Justice Department) lawyer we talked to thinks some of that may have been influenced by the woman he married (Sharon Malone) because of the very bitter attitude she has toward the experiences of black Americans.”

The book alleges Holder’s increasing partisanship was already on display while he was deputy attorney general in the later years of the Clinton administration.

“He did things there like recommend pardons for 16 terrorists in American jails. Why? They were Puerto Rican terrorists and the thought at the time was this might help Hillary Clinton with her Senate run in New York, so sacrificing national security for political advantage,” said von Spakovsky.

Last decade, Holder shed his Clinton loyalties in favor of Barack Obama, following Obama’s meteoric rise during and after his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. By 2008, Holder was not only solidly on board for Obama early in the race against Sen. Clinton, but he was a chief fundraiser and surrogate for his candidate as well. The reason, according to von Spakovsky, was an instantaneous ideological symmetry. He said that can be seen today, as both men have little regard for enforcing laws with which they disagree.

“This attorney general believes he can refuse to defend any law that he doesn’t like, and that’s the way he has approached his office. That is extremely dangerous. It violates separation of powers. It can tear apart the kind of constitutional structure we have,” said von Spakovsky, citing Holder’s refusal to enforce immigration law, mandatory drug sentences and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Worse yet, say the authors, is that Holder is encouraging like-minded state attorneys general to follow his lead and not enforce statutes that run contrary to their political beliefs, particularly in the state-by-state debates over the definition of marriage.

Another development von Spakovsky and Fund find very troubling is the politicizing of the Office of Legal Counsel, or OLC, which they claim is critical to maintaining judicial impartiality in the U.S.

“The Office of Legal Counsel is a very special office within the Justice Department,” said von Spakovsky. “Its job has always been to provide legal opinions to the president, and particularly on the constitutionality of proposed legislation and actions the president wants to take. It has the highest, most sterling reputation of any office or division within the Justice Department. They’ve always been known as an office that will provide an objective opinion. They don’t care who’s in the White House or what opinion the White House would actually like to have.”

He said that’s all changed under Holder’s time in office.

“For the first time in it’s history, Eric Holder has changed that. He has installed someone who will give him the legal opinions he wants despite them not being correct,” said von Spakovsky.

The clearest example of this, according to the authors, is President Obama’s attempt to make recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, even though the U.S. Senate was not technically in recess.

“We spoke to veterans of that office who said that opinion was an embarrassment,” said von Sakovsky. “It was very clear they had written the conclusion they wanted and then tried to make up the law to fit it. Some of the arguments they made were described as laughable by a former OLC lawyer who had worked for several different administrations.”

In addition to refusing to enforce laws contrary to his beliefs, Holder is also accused by Fund and von Spakovsky of harassing citizens and businesses with crippling fines and court costs for the smallest and most questionable violation of federal law and regulations. They also say Holder and his allies in the Justice Department have made a habit of getting sued by their own friends to change laws without congressional approval.

“The administration and the Justice Department have been engaging in what we call collusive settlements. These are what we call ‘sue and settle’ cases, where the department will go and solicit one of their allies, a political advocacy organization and say, ‘Why don’t you guys sue us, claiming that we haven’t, for example, issued a particular type of environmental regulation that we all want but don’t have the legal authority to issue. As soon as you file the lawsuit, we will not fight it. We’ll immediately surrender and agree to settle. The settlement agreement, which we can get rubber-stamped by a federal judge, will let us do whatever we want,’” said von Spakovsky.

“Those kinds of cases have skyrocketed under the Holder Justice Department and under this administration. That’s a pretty clear indication of the kind of abuse that the department is engaging in.”