Posts tagged abuse of power
Posts tagged abuse of power
“Now you see my fists?” Fullerton police officer Manny Ramos asked Thomas while slipping on a pair of latex gloves.
“Yeah, what about them?” Thomas responded.
“They are getting ready to fuck you up,” said Ramos, a burly cop who appears to outweigh Thomas by 100 pounds…
The cops keep telling him to put his hands behind his back and lay on his stomach, but they are both laying on top of him, making it impossible to even breathe, much less move.
As the video continues, one of the cops can be seen kneeing him.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” Thomas pleads as the officers keep telling him to put his hands behind his “fucking back.”
The cops keep telling him to “relax” to which he responds, “I can’t, dude.”
More cops eventually arrive and a little more than four minutes into the video, they start tasing him.
And a little after five minutes into the video, as three cops are piled on top of him, beating him, tasing him, one cop looks up at another cop who just arrived on the scene and says, “help us.”
At one point he yells out, “Dad, they are killing me.”
Even after seven minutes into the video, when six cops are on top of him and all Thomas is doing is crying for his father, they keep telling him to “relax.”
I’m not really a supporter of the President, but it’s clear to me that the GOP obstruction of his appointees is unprecedented and unacceptable. His appointments represented a record level of diversity, and faced unique obstruction. The Republicans in the Senate stopped him from appointing Judges or from appointing people to executive branch positions.
Most recently, they stopped him from appointing people during a recess (a common tactic by Presidents facing obstruction) by staying in session, refusing to adjourn. Obama responded by appointing his nominees anyway. Let me be clear: I’m glad Richard Cordray is heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The obstruction of his confirmation was unreasonable, unethical and inappropriate.
Does that excuse a violation of the law by the person who has sworn to uphold it, however? Does the fact that this obstruction was unreasonable give room for Obama to skirt the letter of the law, in favor of what he interprets to be the intent?
My answer is that Obama (and any other President) should be held to a higher legal standard than other citizens, not a more politically convenient one. I’m not generally a fan of “slippery slope” arguments, but the inevitable extension of violating the law for convenience is obvious. What’s the difference between what Obama is doing now, and the GOP in Michigan ignoring roll call votes? In both cases, politicians are willfully ignoring the law in order to facilitate political convenience. True, the effects of the GOP’s illegalities are much more regressive than Obama’s, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are elected politicians ignoring the law for political reasons.
Beyond Obama himself exercising inappropriate powers, we have (at most) four and a half more years before someone other than Obama gets the exact same legal powers as Obama. To tell you just how disastrous this could be, keep in mind that in the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency, the democrats blocked all of his appointments (with good reason). Imagine if we elect another Bush-like politician: with the precedent that Obama just set, the regressive executive could simply ignore the fact that the senate was blocking his appointments and simply “recess” appoint when Congress is not in recess (as Obama did).
I’m no legal apologist: I believe citizens have a responsibility to break bad laws. However, if the President of the United States, the man we task with enforcing and upholding our laws, is allowed to break laws whenever he sees fit, the consequences could be disastrous: in the nightmare scenario, Obama might even feel like he can violate the war powers act, or kill any US citizens he believes guilty of a crime, outside of a battlefield, without due process and without legal culpability- and that would just be unthinkable.
Jon Turley takes note of a recent opinion from the 9th Circuit in which, refreshingly, a prosecutor was disciplined for unethical conduct. The DOJ tried to get his name erased from the opinion, but the 9th Circuit refused. Here’s an excerpt from the opinion that’s worth reading in full:
The mistake in judgment does not lie with AUSA Albert alone. We are also troubled by the government’s continuing failure to acknowledge and take responsibility for Albert’s error.
The Department of Justice has an obligation to its lawyers and to the public to prevent prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutors, as servants of the law, are subject to constraints and responsibilities that do not apply to other lawyers; they must serve truth and justice first. United States v. Kojayan, 8 F.3d 1315, 1323 (9th Cir. 1993). Their job is not just to win, but to win fairly, staying within the rules. Berger, 295 U.S. at 88. That did not happen here, and the district court swiftly and correctly declared a mistrial when Albert’s misquotation was revealed.
When a prosecutor steps over the boundaries of proper conduct and into unethical territory, the government has a duty to own up to it and to give assurances that it will not happen again. Yet, we cannot find a single hint of appreciation of the seriousness of the misconduct within the pages of the government’s brief on appeal. Instead, the government attempts to shift blame by stating that “the prosecutor gave the defense counsel an opportunity to stop the offending question before the prosecutor asked it,” but “defense counsel did not realize, or even inquire about, how the question from the change of plea transcript had been redacted.” Gov’t Br. 26-27. Of course, as we have explained, Albert told the district court what he intended to say. Albert did not tell the court or oppos- ing counsel that what he intended to say was not a full nor fair recitation of the magistrate’s question to Lopez-Avila.
Finally, upon initial release of this opinion, the government filed a motion requesting that we remove Albert’s name and replace it with references to “the prosecutor.” The motion contended that naming Albert publicly is inappropriate given that we do not yet know the outcome of any potential investigations or disciplinary proceedings. We declined to adopt the government’s suggestion and denied its motion. We have noticed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona regularly makes public the names of prosecutors who do good work and win important victories. E.g., Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, “Northern Arizona Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Arson,” (January 31, 2012) (“The prosecution was handled by Christina J. Reid-Moore, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix”), available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2012/PR_01312012_Nez.html.
If federal prosecutors receive public credit for their good works—as they should—they should not be able to hide behind the shield of anonymity when they make serious mistakes.
I write plenty about police brutality and how it won’t change until we hold our police accountable, but this is a very important other side to that coin. As long we we have Federal prosecutors that are willing to convict an innocent person for the sake of their record, we will have abuse of authority.
Leading neuroscientists believe that the UK Government may be about to sanction the development of nerve agents for British police that would be banned in warfare under an international treaty on chemical weapons.
A high-level group of experts has asked the Government to clarify its position on whether it intends to develop “incapacitating chemical agents” for a range of domestic uses that go beyond the limited use of chemical irritants such as CS gas for riot control.
The experts were commissioned by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, to investigate new developments in neuroscience that could be of use to the military. They concluded that the Government may be preparing to exploit a loophole in the Chemical Weapons Convention allowing the use of incapacitating chemical agents for domestic law enforcement.
Today, in “terrifying Orwellian tactics”, we discover that the United Kingdom is paying scientists to create a nerve gas to use on protesters that would be illegal to use on anyone else in the world. Don’t worry, though, I’m sure they’ll thoroughly test it and make sure there are no long term effects! It’s like Operation Ranch Hand all over again.
A Houston Police officer arrests a man for speaking his mind about the police (he says, “They don’t believe in freedom, they believe in authority,” and the police subsequently arrest him). When the crowd expresses outrage, that officer gets a shotgun and points it at the crowd.
In 2005, a group of California Muslims called “The Shura Council of South California” took notice of the FBI’s racially discriminatory investigations and sued them. During the course of the lawsuit, they filed a request for some documents involved in the FBI’s investigation, using the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA for short. They got some documents, but the FBI said most of the documents didn’t exist (and redacted most of the information in the ones that did exist in the name of “National Security”.
Well, a few years later The Shura Council filed another FOIA request for the same documents- this time, the documents existed, but were still redacted. Here’s the smoking gun: the information redacted and the documents that the FBI falsely stated did not exist had nothing to do with national security. The FBI lied to the court about the documents, both by saying they didn’t exist and redacting non-sensitive information. EFF has more:
After court ordered the FBI to submit full versions of the records in camera, along with a new declaration about the agency’s search, the FBI revealed for the first time that it had materially and fundamentally mislead the court in its earlier filings. The unaltered versions of the documents showed that the information the agency had withheld as “outside the scope” was actually well within the scope of the plaintiffs’ FOIA request. The government also admitted it had a large number of additional responsive documents that it hadn’t told the plaintiffs or the court about. Id. at 7-8.
If these revelations weren’t bad enough, the FBI also argued FOIA allows it to mislead the court where it believes revealing information would “compromise national security.” Id. at 9. The FBI also argued, that “its initial representations to the Court were not technically false” because although the information might have been “factually” responsive to the plaintiffs’ FOIA request, it was “legally nonresponsive.” Id. at 9, n. 4 (emphasis added).
The court noted, this “argument is indefensible,” id. at 9-10, and held, “the FOIA does not permit the government to withhold responsive information from the court”… “The Government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the Court.”
This is nothing new (the FBI has been deceiving the courts and public for years), but both the public admonition from the courts and the public revelation about the deception are both important steps in turning our FBI from a racially motivated group that disenfranchises poor minorities into an actual bureau of investigation.
The Department of Homeland Security told the banks of Insex.com that BDSM pornography funneled money to terrorism, so the banks stopped processing their credit card transactions. All in the name of freedom.
An Arizona police officer told a citizen he didn’t need a warrant to enter his home, put a gun against his head, shot his dog, then shot and killed him. The 29 year old man was unarmed, his partner says he was never threatened, and the police are standing behind the murdering officer.