I don’t care about Trump and his associates.
And I can’t even muster the energy to comment on the Russia investigation.
But I am appalled by the blase reaction of the news and public to no-knock raids and gag-orders.
Longtime Trump friend Roger Stone was arrested in an early morning FBI raid on his home last week. He was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
Helicopters, SWAT gear, and automatic rifles–dozens of agents descended on Stone’s home before the sun came up. To arrest a man suspected of perjury and obstruction, completely non-violent crimes. A man who was not a flight risk. A man they had no reason to believe would resist, flee, or destroy evidence.
I saw one reporter mention offhand that the extreme response might have been to send a message to Stone, who has been one of the most vocal supporters of Trump throughout this whole Mueller-Russia investigation.
To send a message.
Law enforcement kicked in doors, aimed rifles, and brought out the helicopters to send a message.
To intimidate a political opponent. To tell him to shut the hell up.
I don’t care if you are the most rabid left-wing liberal, a staunch thin-blue-line conservative, or anywhere in between. This is the type of thing that should raise red flags to everyone who cares one iota about personal freedom or an impartial justice system.
It is a police state tactic, pure and simple.
Again I don’t care how guilty the guy is. This has nothing to do with the merits of the investigation or the conduct of Trump and his people.
In the free world, you are innocent until proven guilty.
And the nature of the charges are light years away from warranting this type of extreme-force response, even if he is guilty as hell.
A blind justice system responds based on the threats, based on the evidence.
A banana republic sends thugs to intimidate political opponents, and outspoken critics.
And the suppression of free speech continues into the courtroom.
A gag-order is when a judge forbids those involved in a case from discussing it in public.
Stone now faces the same judge that issued gag-orders silencing other Trump allies caught in the probe. The judge was appointed by Obama.
The federal judge in Stone’s case, Amy Berman Jackson, has already hushed a coterie of others caught in special counsel Robert Mueller’s dragnet, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and their attorneys. They were quieted after one of the lawyers told reporters that Mueller’s case was “ridiculous.”
Gag-orders are so obviously anti-free-speech that it’s clear the First Amendment has failed to protect our natural right to say what we want.
So they have no rights to express themselves, simply because they have been charged with a crime?
No-knock raids aren’t exactly in the spirit of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure either. You are supposed to be presented with a warrant, detailing what exactly will be searched and seized.
They could have arrested him when he went out to the mailbox or pulled him over on the way to a restaurant. But they waste taxpayer dollars and put lives in danger as an unconstitutional show of force.
No-knock raids became mainstream after the start of the drug war. The excuse was that evidence might be destroyed if the police announced themselves.
I’m not going to get into all the reasons the drug war is a horrific failure. Suffice it to say that it provided an excuse to massively expand the police state.
Same with SWAT raids in general. SWAT teams were introduced to be used only in dire hostage situations…
Big surprise, now SWAT raids occur tens of thousands of times every year across the country. They happen for small scale non-violent victimless drug crimes.
But they also happen for no reason at all…
Families have been raided for discarded loose tea leaves, mistaken for marijuana, after buying lamps to grow hydroponic tomatoes.
People have lost their lives for not knowing it was the police breaking in to their home. When they tried to defend themselves from the home-invasion, they were shot to death by police. Often, police find nothing in these raids.
Roger Stone just happens to be more high profile then these other poor victims of the police state.
And if that means he has more power to fight these abuses in court, all the better. Maybe his defense team can get some good precedents on the books, with First Amendment arguments against gag-orders.
But the sad truth is that most people don’t think past, “I hate Trump. I love everything bad that happens to everyone in his orbit.”
And this attitude which divides Americans is likely the same attitude that allowed these abuses to become so widespread in the first place.
If it’s not happening to them, they don’t care. And when it does happen to them, it’s too late to care.