Department of Justice

Eric Garner’s death shows exactly what’s wrong with the American legal system

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At first glance, it’s yet another example of a law enforcement officer being cleared of charges for what was quite obviously an unjustified and unnecessary civilian death. But the story of Eric Garner’s homicide exposes so much more of what ails our legal and criminal justice systems.

Garner’s heinous alleged crime that was so deserving of police action, violent arrest, and ultimately death was…selling loose cigarettes out of their original packaging. In the allegedly free market capitalist society of Staten Island, New York, America, this is a misdemeanor offense, for which Garner had several charges already pending at the time of his suffocating death.

In New York, cigarettes are taxed and regulated so highly that they can cost more than $12 per pack. This insane bureaucratic scheme has inevitably created the black market that Garner was participating in - selling cigarettes out of their packs, avoiding the confiscatory taxes altogether, and pocketing the pure profits. Garner was no angel, but he was an entrepreneur, and in Dr Martin Luther King, Jr’s view entirely justified in not following the oppressive New York cigarette laws:

Obstruction Junction, what’s your function?

Eric Holder's Obstruction

In 2009, U.S. officials discovered that Mexican cartels had become the leading gun-traffickers responsible for high levels of crime throughout the Southwest U.S.

On October 31, 2009, the Arizona Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), in cooperation with the Department of Justice (DOJ), launched a sting operation to help reduce cross-border drug and firearm trafficking by “purposely allowing licensed firearm dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers.”  The operation was intended to track weapon purchases made by Mexican drug cartels to expose the location of high level leaders and ultimately lead to their arrests.

By June 2010, the case internally became known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” as ATF agents discovered numerous cartel leaders under investigation were operating out of a busy auto-repair store.  More than 1,608 firearms worth a total of $1 million were purchased by suspected cartel leaders, but unbeknownst to the U.S. government, 179 had been linked to Mexican crimes and 130 had been found at crime scenes in the U.S.

On December 14, 2011, while patrolling Peck Canyon in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Border Patrol officer Brian Terry was shot and killed by Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, a high-level cartel leader who purchased a weapon linked to Operation Fast and Furious.  While the operation was officially terminated on January 25, 2011, Americans and government officials would soon discover that the problems surrounding the sting had only just begun.

Big Brother Alert! Your neighbor could be an undercover federal agent.

Next Door Neighbor

Shocking revelations from “records and interviews” reveal at least 40 federal agencies are using undercover officers to infiltrate everyday scenarios including having them pose “as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing,” according to a New York Times report.

From the story:

At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice.

At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers or accountants or drug dealers or yacht buyers, court records show.

At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud, officials said.

Undercover work, inherently invasive and sometimes dangerous, was once largely the domain of the F.B.I. and a few other law enforcement agencies at the federal level. But outside public view, changes in policies and tactics over the last decade have resulted in undercover teams run by agencies in virtually every corner of the federal government, according to officials, former agents and documents.

Obamacare’s architect agrees: Healthcare law subsidies were supposed to apply only to state-run Exchanges

The Obama administration’s claim that Congress never intended for Obamacare subsidies to apply only to states that implemented their own Exchanges looks much, much weaker this morning. Reason’s Peter Suderman has passed along some video gold, in which the architect of the law says it was worded to place political pressure on states.

Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who worked on Romneycare in Massachusetts, helped the administration craft Obamacare and, in January 2012, stated pretty clearly that consumers in states that opted out of the law would be denied subsidies.

“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits — but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill,” Gruber told an audience. “So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country.”

“I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together,” he said, “and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.”

Here’s the clip (the original is almost an hour long) via Phil Kerpen:

Why the Obama Administration absolutely hates school choice

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Gov. Scott Walker decided to give their two cents on the school choice issue on Politico Magazine. While it was a charming piece, it seriously was lacking in one very important issue.

Yes, it is true that the Obama administration, particularly the Department of Justice, has been doing everything that it can to prevent needy children from increasing their educational opportunities through the expansion of school choice programs.

Facts and numbers are still hard for Democrats to figure out, and they love lying about them when they don’t fit their agenda. No, school choice does not hurt minority children — usually it is the lifeline they need to move up in the world.

And there lies the problem for Democrats.

I’m generally certain that Jindal and Walker are completely aware of the fact that the real issue here has nothing to do with racism or civil rights. What I can’t understand is why they chose to play in the liberal court on this issue.

The real problem that this administration has with school choice is that it could result in a reduced number of potential voters for Democrats in the future. This is about political power, not helping poor children or improving education.

What we need to remember is that public education as we know it today has deep roots in the “Great Society” of Lyndon B. Johnson. While there are many quotes from Johnson’s many speeches that offer a vision of an America without racism, and wonderful educational opportunities for all, that doesn’t necessarily show the whole picture.

Get ready, conservatives, we’ve got another fight coming with Eric Holder: DoJ revives ‘domestic terrorism’ task force

Janet Reno and Eric Holder

Remember when the Department of Homeland Security published “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” suggesting an economic recession and the election of the first black president could lead to rightwing domestic terror attacks, in 2009? The response from conservatives was swift and harsh.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder reconstituted a committee within the Department of Justice to target potential rightwing domestic terrorism. The Committee on Domestic Terrorism, which was first established under President Bill Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno to target “rightwing zealots,” will focus on instances of “homegrown” terrorism.

Of course, that means the Department of Justice will focus their attention on conservative groups in a further effort to stifle dissent.

Attorney General Holder said in a release:

But we also must concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice. To that end, I am announcing today that the Department of Justice is reconstituting a committee on domestic terrorism that was first established nearly 20 years ago under my predecessor, Attorney General Janet Reno, in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing….

Obama Makes a Mockery of Due Process, DOJ Memo Justifies Targeted Killing

Imagine that you live in a country that is run by a powerful handful of people that can order the death of any of its citizens, at any time, for any given reason without ever pressing charges against that citizen or bringing him or her to justice.

Imagine that this country you live in has apologists picked by the democratically elected president telling you and your family that what the president decides to do, should be done, whether you like it or not. They claim that his decisions should be supported by you, whether you think that what he’s doing is right or not, or even if what he chooses to do doesn’t represent you or your loved ones in the slightest.

This country is the United States of America, and the handful of people ruling our resources and citizens have a hit list of Americans and non-Americans they can kill at any given time, for any given reason, without due process.

The president’s apologists also want you to believe that that’s okay, he knows exactly what he’s doing and you shouldn’t be afraid.

According to a Washington Post report, President Obama’s hit list, which goes by the title “disposition matrix,” included at least three Americans. During President George W. Bush’s administration, an intelligence official claimed that he “did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing.” Under Obama, at least three American names are known to have been part of the hit list.

House Republican moves to impeach Eric Holder

Citing a scandals and failure to comply with congressional investigations, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) has announced on Wednesday that he will introduce articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder:

A group of 11 House Republicans will introduce a resolution Thursday calling for the impeachment of Eric Holder, saying the Attorney General has lost credibility and trust over a string of issues in recent years.

The articles of impeachment, drafted by Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, faults the Attorney General for refusing to comply with a congressional investigation of the botched gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious,” led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
[…]
“This was not a decision that I made lightly,” Olson said in a statement. “The American people deserve answers and accountability. If the Attorney General refuses to provide answers, then Congress must take action.”

CNN reported last week that Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, was highly involved in this new effort to try and impeach Holder.

Given the mood among House Republican leadership, which wants to avoid any big political battles with President Barack Obama between now and the mid-term election, this isn’t likely to get very far. CNN noted that it the impeachment effort probably won’t get a vote in committee.

Even if it did manage to get out of committee and pass the House of Representatives, the Senate, controlled by Democrats, would never bring it to the floor for a vote. The impeachment effort is, basically, a statement of disapproval against Holder than anything substantive.

Gun Control Bill is Another Step to Registration

gun show

Yeah, we all know what the media and gun control advocates are telling us — that the background check compromise between Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) explicitly prohibits gun registration and that the White House doesn’t support such a policy.

That may be true today, but let’s not deny that the eventual goal of the anti-gun Left. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) summed up the issue well during an interview last night on Hannity.

“Why is all this focus directed at background checks?” he asked. “The reason is because the Department of Justice has said the only way to implement what they want–universal background checks–is a registry, a federal list of every gun owner in America. And that would be wrong; it’d be unconstitutional.”

The most underreported part of this whole is discussion is the Department of Justice (DOJ) research memo that Cruz referenced. It stated very clearly that the effectiveness of universal background checks, which would cover private gun sales, “depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun registration and an easy gun transfer process.”

The Toomey-Manchin deal only addresses gun shows and online firearms sales, which essentially makes it a useless policy. If you walked into a gun show this weekend and purchased a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, you would have to go through a background check.

White House Knocks Conservative Senators Over Gun Control Filibuster Threat

Jay Carney

On Tuesday, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) sent notice to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that they would filibuster a procedural motion on new gun control measures that will be brought before the chamber next month.

“We…intend to oppose any legislation that would oppose on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance,” stated the letter from the conservative trio.

“The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ right to self-defense,” they noted. “It speaks to history’s lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history’s warning about the oppression of a government that tries.”

The main issue is the push for universal background checks, which Reid has said will be included in any gun control package that passes the Senate. Cruz, Lee, and Paul believe that the measure will serve as a vehicle for a national gun registry.

“The Democrats’ proposed legislation would require universal background checks for private sales between law-abiding citizens, which according to DOJ would be effective only if accompanied by a national gun registry,” said Cruz in a statement posted on his website. “This raises serious constitutional issues, and would divert resources from prosecuting felons and fugitives who try to illegally purchase guns.”


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