America has become nothing more than a criminal state, a Leviathan without the restraint of the rule of law, morals or any form of ethical philosophy or religion. All empires become infected with the same deadly viruses; a hubris and loss of empathy first applied externally, then within.
It is what powerful, centralized and coercive governments become over time, particularly so when there is no longer any true democratic accountability. We have become the global rogue nation for what we have done to others outside our own, increasingly ill-defined borders, we now do to our own people. This was the warning that our founders made, as well as the likes of Tocqueville and the Yale Professor who nailed it in 1898, that I have produced many times here on this blog, William Graham Sumner’s brilliant speech, which I have once again attached below.
The evil we do unto others has come home to be done to us. The evidence is overwhelming, but take the time to just read the story of police and state sponsored corruption against Americans below through civil forfeiture, which has not remotely been curtailed despite the light that is occasionally shone its way.
If you read a book over the next month, and I hope you read many, the one I strongly recommend for its level headed, but deep and concise analysis is from one of the elites own former players, Lawrence Lindsey, it is brilliant.
Loretta Lynch, US attorney general. Just before her nomination, Lynch’s office announced, with some pride, that between 2011 and 2013 alone, it had confiscated over $113 million in assets through civil asset forfeiture proceedings—seizures in which there was only a belief of criminal activity, not any formal charge or conviction.
Intended originally to hinder organized crime through confiscation of different pieces of its enterprise, civil asset forfeiture has since become a means for the federal government and local law enforcement to capture the private resources of Americans, unimpeded by the original protections of the Constitution. Directly contrary to our Founders’ intentions, citizens in these cases are robbed of due process, and instead are forced to fight costly and time-consuming legal battles where they are seen as guilty until they can prove their innocence. Worst of all, in nearly all states in our country, the police departments are allowed to keep the funds and property they seize, an approach that has been dubbed “policing for profit.”
One prime example reveals a lot about Lynch’s attitudes toward personal liberty. In 2012, federal agents seized the bank account of a small business owned by brothers Jeffrey, Mitchell, and Richard Hirsch, amounting to roughly $447,000.
Their business distributed small items such as cigarettes and candy to stores throughout Long Island, New York. Most of their income was cash, which they deposited regularly in increments of $500 to $9,000—as they had for nearly twenty-seven years. Despite this consistency and the clear justification for such deposits, the Hirsches were accused of “structuring”: deliberately depositing in such a fashion in order to avoid IRS reporting requirements for transactions over $10,000.
No charges were ever filed, yet their business was effectively shut down in the case handled by Lynch, then US attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Only because of intense political pressure did the Hirsches’ case have a happy ending. Partly because of her history of overaggressive confiscation, Lynch’s seizure of their account attracted considerable attention from several US senators who were highly critical of Lynch’s approach. The Hirsches ultimately got their money back, but only after a two-year court battle. As Jeff Hirsch commented rightly, “Nobody in America should have to live through the nightmare we’ve experienced.”
There is even circumstantial evidence that Lynch’s office knew it didn’t have a case: the US Attorney’s Office offered to return a portion of the Hirsches’ business capital if they agreed to cease their efforts to get the rest of it back. Lynch and her associates were willing to settle in order to prevent the Hirsches’ case from reaching the objective scrutiny of a court of law. What does that say about their integrity or their view of proper judicial process?
Instances like the Hirsches’ are by no means unique. Take the case of Russ Caswell, the seventy-year-old owner of Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Based on a few drug-related arrests at the motel, a local fixture since 1955, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the local police department seized Caswell’s motel, though these crimes occurred behind locked doors by people with no connection to Caswell except that they stayed in his motel. Similar to the Hirsches’ case, no charges were filed against Caswell, and he provided a likely explanation for the government’s true interest in his business worth an estimated $2 million: “This had nothing to do with drugs. It was just an excuse to steal property from us.” Ultimately Caswell prevailed in court, as the judge ruled that the authorities had engaged in “gross exaggeration” in presenting evidence.
The alarming trend that is emerging in our country is that if police can seize your property, they will. And they (rightly) assume that in most cases, people won’t expend the resources or time necessary to reclaim their possessions.
Take, for example, the Philadelphia Police Department’s seizure of Christos and Markella Sourovelis’s home. The police claimed their property, leaving the Sourovelises homeless, because their son had sold $40 of heroin to an undercover officer from the property. Similar to Caswell’s case, the Sourovelises had no knowledge of their twenty-two-year-old son’s drug activity. Of course, selling heroin is a serious crime, but does this response seem appropriate? Philadelphia officials have seized more than 1,000 houses, 3,300 vehicles, and $44 million in cash in the last ten years in cases that often bear an uncomfortable resemblance to those discussed here.
Or consider Tan Nguyen’s experience in Humboldt County, Nevada. Mr. Nguyen was stopped for driving three miles an hour over the speed limit and declined the deputy’s request to search his vehicle. The officer searched Nguyen’s car anyway and confiscated $50,000 in cash and cashier’s checks from a closed briefcase, which Nguyen claimed were casino winnings. The deputy didn’t charge Nguyen with any crime, nor did he write him a traffic ticket. In a lawsuit filed against the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, Nguyen alleged that the officer violated his civil rights through “unconstitutional search and seizure.”
According to the legal complaint filed by his attorney, the officer threatened to seize and tow his vehicle unless he “got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened.” Unsurprisingly, the Sheriff’s Department settled, returning all of Nguyen’s cash plus $10,000 to cover his attorney fees.
the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department used $25,000 of seized funds to send fifty officers to the Walt Disney World Resort for customer service training via Disney’s “Approach to Business Excellence” program.8 Texas district attorney Ron Sutton flew his entire office and their spouses and a local judge to Hawaii for a six-day “law conference” using $27,000 of confiscated funds.
In Georgia, the Camden County Sheriff’s Department bought a $90,000 Dodge Viper with seized assets, a purchase it justified by using the car for antidrug outreach programs. Sheriff Bill Smith of the same department was investigated by a federal grand jury for several instances of spending confiscated assets questionably, including a $250,000 donation to his alma mater.
Texas district attorney Michael McDougal purchased alcohol and even a margarita machine for a community cookout with seized funds. Though civil asset forfeiture doesn’t usually fund such extravagant purchases, the underlying principle is the same: law enforcement in today’s America is driven by motives completely contradictory to protecting its people, and that is a real problem.
The rigging of the system is so complete that the official advice is to surrender your rights as a citizen and cut a deal.
Consider the case of Lyndon McLellan, a convenience store owner in Fairmont, North Carolina.12 Mr. McLellan had his life savings of $107,000 all invested in the working capital of his business. The IRS seized the funds in December 2014, alleging deposit-structuring violations like those in the Hirsches’ case. The Department of Justice joined in the suit. However, as in so many other related cases, McLellan was never formally charged.
It’s important to note that this seizure occurred after supposed reforms were implemented in the scandal-plagued IRS to prevent such practices. McLellan did what every American has a right to do: he complained to his congressman.
In February 2015, Representative George Holding, a member of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, had IRS commissioner John Koskinen before him. Without naming the case, he outlined the facts, and Commissioner Koskinen agreed that the IRS had violated its own guidelines in going after McLellan. This was too much for the authorities.
The assistant US attorney in charge of the case notified McLellan’s lawyer and accountant that he was “concerned” that the case had been brought to the attention of Congress. “Whoever made [the document] public may serve their own interest but will not help this particular case,” he wrote. “Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it. But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency. My offer is to return 50% of the money. The offer is good until March 30th COB.”
The American people are being shaken down by their government, and the attitude that “We can take your money; what are you going to do about it?” pervades our justice system. When the US attorney’s “final offer” was made public, McLellan received a more generous counter offer, but not one that would cover all he had lost since the start of the case.
While the US Attorney’s Office agreed to return the money it had seized, it refused to pay McLellan’s legal fees, which at this point amounted to $22,000, or to pay for the interest that would have accrued if McLellan’s capital had remained unperturbed.
This is how the Ruling Class operate in the “Land of the Free.” It seems that your money is theirs for the taking even if you are innocent. And all this from a case about which even the IRS commissioner agreed the IRS was in the wrong.
Between 2005 and 2012, IRS seizures have increased by more than 450 percent, netting $242 million in seized funds during this period. Moreover, this rise in seizures has led to a 166 percent increase in revenue obtained through forfeiture. Of these structuring confiscations, 80 percent were labeled civil, and not criminal, meaning that seizures could occur more easily and the citizens affected had less protection under the law.
The power seizure is made worse by the fact that it creates a profit incentive for law enforcement. The combined resources in the US government’s main forfeiture accounts—the DoJ’s Assets Forfeiture Fund and the Treasury Forfeiture Fund—rose from $763 million to $3.2 billion between 2001 and 2012.15 This is money these agencies can use as they please without federal oversight.
This raises an important issue about how the Ruling Class view the role of the police and the courts. In our civics books, the police protect the public from “the bad guys.” But, of course, this presumes that they know who “the bad guys” are. If the police start punishing the innocent in the name of punishing the guilty, then the distinction disappears.
There can be no clearer example of a “police state” attitude than the case of Lyndon McLellan, who was threatened by a federal prosecutor for the temerity of reporting the abuses of the police to his local congressman.
Contrast this with the attitude of the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service toward the behavior of their own officials. Lois Lerner, the presidentially appointed IRS official in charge of approving the application of nonprofit organizations, came under fire for delaying the approval of groups with whom she and the administration disagreed.Her emails were destroyed. Copies of her emails were apparently retained by the IRS and destroyed after the date at which they had been requested by the Congress. The emails of friends in political organizations were destroyed around the same time. Ms. Lerner herself took the Fifth Amendment when she was asked questions about what happened.
Moreover, the Department of Justice found “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment, and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints.”
But despite this pattern of misbehavior, the Department of Justice, under Attorney General Loretta Lynch, found that “[P]oor management is not a crime,” and so no charges were filed.
Despite their massive grab of power and resources, the Ruling Class have not delivered on their promises to make the lives of “ordinary” Americans any better. Inequality has increased. The debt load has skyrocketed. Schools are high cost and low quality, abysmally so. Infrastructure creation is overpriced and hindered by special interests that are political supporters of the Ruling Class.
Demands are made that gun ownership be restricted even though past Ruling Class efforts to limit guns have failed, and crime has risen under their watch. Finally, the Ruling Class feel free to seize lawfully earned money without any need to build a burden of proof.
They use police-state tactics to go after the few who fight these injustices, while at the same time protecting their own from the consequences of their actions. This is what the Founding Fathers called “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” Fortunately, we Americans still have recourse. But we must act to prevent further depredations of our liberty.
=Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever (Lindsey, Lawrence B.)
Very well said–Kudos to Bill O’Reilly!