Are American Troops Already Fighting on the Front Lines in Iraq?
I watched the trucks pass and saw for myself the crews inside them. They didn’t wear any identifying insignia but they were visibly Western and appeared to match all the visual characteristics of American special operations soldiers.
Contacts in the Kurdish intelligence service and Peshmerga leadership confirmed what we saw. “Yes,” one commander replied to our questions. “German and American forces are on the ground here. They are helping to support us in the attack.”
“There are no U.S. troops on the ground in or around Zumar.” The Pentagon told The Daily Beast on Monday night. Captain Rick Haupt, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which has control over military operations in the Middle East, denied that U.S. troops were involved in the fighting but confirmed U.S. aircraft “performed one strike destroying several vehicles in the vicinity of Zumar” on Monday.
10:56 am |
September 2 2014
| 24 notes
“You must be doing something wrong if you invoke your rights.”
— Sgt. Richardson of the Jacksonville, FL Sheriff’s Office, as caught on video speaking to a man filming prisoner transport outside a county courthouse. When confronted by police, the man invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid explaining why he wanted to film there. This was the police response.
10:54 am |
September 2 2014
| 149 notes
The Pentagon is giving weapons to campus security at many universities, too
Campus police at more than 100 colleges and universities are taking advantage of the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which gives surplus military equipment and weapons to local police departments.
For example, last year the Ohio State University acquired a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle — a vehicle designed to withstand IED attacks and looks to the civilian eye like a cross between a tank and a Humvee — for campus use. When questioned, the university repeatedly avoided explaining why an MRAP was needed by campus security.
OSU is not alone in militarizing campus police. The University of Maryland, Morgan State University, and Coppin State University received assault rifles, “riot type” shotguns, and armored vehicles from the 1033 program. Florida State has an Army Humvee, and Florida International University has military rifles.
View the full list of police departments, including campus police, which have participated in the 1033 program here.
- - Bonnie Kristian
10:44 am |
September 2 2014
| 102 notes
idontcareifyoucare said: I just read your post about the shooting in St. Paul, in which 2 dogs were killed from a raid. I'd like to let you know that I'm actually close friends with the owners and Mello and Laylo were the two most adoring dogs I had ever met. I'm going to tell Larry about your post, and I'm sure it will bring a tear to his eye.
(For those who haven’t read it, this is the post in question.)
Thank you—please give them my sincere condolences. I can only hope that at least some good will come out of these stories in the form of better training, discipline, and/or monitoring of the St. Paul Police so that this doesn’t happen to more families in the future.
8:03 am |
September 2 2014
| 14 notes
epicmuttonchops said: i just browsed your blog for a good amount of time after seeing your comments on Lollie's arrest, so here's a follow. i connect with your political stances, being libertarian myself, and i enjoy the random pics of guinea pigs :)
7:55 am |
September 2 2014
| 4 notes
New from me at Rare: 6 more big lies the government told us
This is the second half of a two-part series. Read the first half here if you missed it last week.
American trust in government is at an all-time low. Last week, I pointed out six big lies the government told us.
Here’s six more.
1. We’re here to protect your rights
As many Americans have learned recently, there’s an epidemic of police brutality in America. With the help of the federal government, America police departments have been militarized, and too often they treat citizens like an enemy to defeat instead of a population to protect.
As Senator Rand Paul wrote:
When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.
Police brutality is a systemic problem—84 percent of cops say they’ve seen it happen—and it unfairly targets minorities. Protecting our rights, this is not.
2. Your stuff is yours to keep
Did you know the Supreme Court has ruled it’s legal for the government to take your house and give it to a business so they can use the land instead?
Well, it did.
While most people will thankfully never be subjected to this gross abuse of private property rights, the government could still legally take your stuff through civil asset forfeiture.
Never heard of it? Most haven’t.
As I noted a few weeks ago, civil asset forfeiture is basically a law that allows a police officer who finds you “suspicious” to just take your stuff. Once your property has been confiscated, the burden of proof is on you, not the police, to show that you didn’t get it from any criminal activity. You have no right to a lawyer and won’t get a day in court.
Civil asset forfeiture happens a lot, because police conveniently consider large amounts of cash very suspicious indeed—but not too suspicious to dump it right into their own department coffers.
3. You can trust us with your future
More than half of Millennials believe we’ll never get any of the money we’re forced to pay into Social Security—and we’re right:
The management of entitlement programs, already weighted heavily in favor of the older population, has a very specific terminal point that coincides neatly with the Boomers’ deaths. The 2011 report by the Social Security trustees estimates that, under its current administration, the fund will run out in 2036, so there’s just enough to get the oldest Boomers to age ninety.
For Millennials, there’s nothing secure about Social Security. So when do we get to opt out and be responsible for our own futures?
Read the whole thing here.
7:53 am |
September 2 2014
| 69 notes
In July I shared a story of an incident in which my city’s police stormed a man’s house looking for drugs in the middle of the night and executed his two (understandably startled) dogs. One of the dogs was shot to death while fleeing in fear, and as I noted then, this isn’t an isolated incident. Just a few years ago, the Saint Paul Police killed another family dog…and forced handcuffed children to sit next to its bleeding corpse. The kicker? The raid wasn’t even in the right house!
Now, a new report has surfaced of SPPD brutality. This time, a young father named Chris Lollie was arrested while waiting to pick up his kids from school. The charges were “Trespassing, Disorderly Conduct, and Obstructing Legal Process,” and police claimed he refused to leave an area reserved for employees of the bank building he was in. However, not only were there no signs indicating that the location was private, but Lollie wasn’t even in the bank proper; he was in the skyway.
(For those who aren’t familiar with the skyway system, it’s a thing we have in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and some other Minnesota cities. Basically, it gets hella cold here in the winter, so they built enclosed sidewalks, or skyways, one or two stories up. In the downtown areas, the skyways form a whole second network of pedestrian roads, and once you get inside your office building—or whichever building is closest to your parking garage or bus stop or whatever—you can use them to move from building to building to get around the whole downtown area. It’s an easy way to go to lunch or meetings without having the snot in your nostrils freeze. I mention all that to say: Skyways are public spaces. You do not have to be an employee in the buildings they connect to use them. Lollie was not trespassing.)
Fortunately, Lollie had the presence of mind to capture his interaction with the SPPD on film. Here’s a transcript I’ve made of the first few seconds:
Lollie: So what’s your business with me right now?
Officer: I want to find out who you are, and what the problem was back there…
Lollie: There is no problem—that’s the thing.
Officer: So, talk to me, let me know, and you can be on your way.
Lollie: Let you know…why do I have to let you know who I am? Who I am isn’t the problem.
Officer: Because that’s what police do when they get called.
Lollie: Well, I know my rights, first off. Secondly, I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws. Like I told him, I’m going to New Horizons [School] to pick up my kids at 10 o’clock. I was sitting there for ten minutes…
As the officer brushes aside his explanation and continues to illegally demand he identify himself, Lollie cuts to the chase: “The problem is I’m black. That’s the problem. No, it really is, because I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Next, Lollie and the female officer he’s been walking and talking with meet a male officer. When Lollie politely asks the officer not to touch or obstruct him, because he has to go get his kids, the man immediately responds, “Well, you’re going to go to jail then.”
As the police initiate the arrest process—telling him to put his hand behind his back or “otherwise things are going to get ugly"—the camera visuals go black. Lollie continues to be heard pleading, still polite even while he’s assaulted, that he be allowed to go meet his children.
Next, they tase him.
If that’s not enough to convince you that this is gross police misconduct, seriously, take five minutes and watch the video. The calmness of his tone alone should make it obvious that there is no possible argument that the situation merited this kind of police action:
After multiple witnesses verified Lollie’s version of events, prosecutors dropped all charges against him. One woman who is also not an employee at the bank the skyway links noted that she regularly sits during her lunch break exactly where Lollie was sitting, but she has never been harassed by police. However, the SPPD continue to defend their actions.
At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf points out how simple it would have been for police to resolve this situation without violence and an arrest had they cared to do so:
His story about getting his kids wasn’t merely plausible, given the man’s age and the fact that there was a school right there–it was a story the female police officer shown at the beginning of the video or the male officer shown later could easily confirm.
Lollie is also absolutely correct that no law required him to show an ID to police officers. As Flex Your Rights explains, “Police can never compel you to identify yourself without reasonable suspicion to believe you’re involved in illegal activity,” and while 24 states have passed “stop and identify” statutes “requiring citizens to reveal their identity when officers have reasonable suspicion to believe criminal activity may be taking place,” Minnesota isn’t one of those states.
The female officer shown in the beginning of the video could easily have de-escalated the encounter by saying, “You’re right, sir, you have every right to refuse to show me identification, and if you’re just picking up your kids I’m so sorry to have bothered you. If you don’t mind, I just want to walk with you to confirm that your story checks out so I can inform the 911 caller of their error. That way we can make sure this never happens again when you’re just here to pick up your kids.”
Or she could’ve said, “Sir, I totally see why this is confusing–a lot of people would think so. Let me try to explain. That totally looks like a public seating area, but it’s actually private. Don’t you think they should have a sign saying so? Calling me may seem like an overreaction, but technically they can ask you to leave. You’re walking away now, so there’s actually no problem as long as you’re not going to go back. Are you? Okay, then we have no problem, have a wonderful day.”
As Lollie is carried away post-tasing, he can be heard challenging the officers’ “legal” assault: "Who are you? You don’t rule me. I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t hurt anybody. I didn’t touch anybody."
If only the SPPD could honestly say the same.
1:19 pm |
August 30 2014
| 24,109 notes