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Unreasonable Police Searches Are Illegal And Happen Far Too Often

police lightsBy Steve Chapman
Chicago Tribune

The most memorable moment of the recent Democratic National Convention was when the father of a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq demanded of Donald Trump, “Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.” Conservatives, however, also revere our founding document. At the first tea party rallies in 2009, attendees waved copies.

But the Constitution is not self-enforcing, and one important section has eroded to the point of invisibility: the Fourth Amendment. It says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” In much of America, that guarantee is an empty promise.

The latest evidence came in a report on police practices in Baltimore, issued Aug. 10 by the U.S. Department of Justice after an investigation spurred by the 2015 death of Freddie Gray. It documents that the city’s law enforcement officers operate with virtually no regard for the Fourth Amendment.

In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cops may stop someone when they have reasonable grounds to suspect criminal activity and, if they have reasonable grounds to think the person is armed, may frisk him lightly to detect weapons. They may not stop anyone they please, and they may not vigorously search a citizen’s clothing and body without a good reason.

The court intended to empower police only within strict limits. It emphasized, “No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law.”

But the Justice Department found that in Baltimore, police routinely stop people on the street without reasonable suspicion, conduct physical searches that lack adequate grounds and exceed legal limits, and arrest people without justification. Each of these practices is more than a mistake: It is a violation of fundamental liberties at the heart of what it means to be an American.

To read more click here. 

Illegal Immigration This Year Already Exceeds Totals from Last Year

Border Fence along Mexico and the U.S.

Border Fence along Mexico and the U.S.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The number of undocumented immigrants sneaking into the U.S. this year has already surpassed 2015 with two months until the fiscal year ends, the Washington Times reports. 

During the first 10 months of the fiscal year, more than 332,000 people were caught at the border, exceeding last year’s numbers.

Federal authorities report a renewed interest in crossing the border, especially among children and families from Central America. The increase apparently has been spurred by violence at home and hopes of being granted amnesty.

“Overall apprehensions by the Border Patrol in July along our southwest border — an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally — fell during the month of July, although apprehensions of unaccompanied children and family units increased somewhat from June. These trends are generally in line with seasonal patterns we have observed in previous years,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Homeland Security agency that oversees the Border Patrol, said in releasing the numbers.

DEA’s Catch-22 on Marijuana Makes Reclassification Nearly Impossible

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Editorial Board
The Register Guard

The Drug Enforcement Agency has rejected petitions to remove marijuana from its list of Schedule 1 drugs — those with a high potential for abuse, and lacking any recognized medical uses. It’s laughable — and, for those whose lives have been ruined by a small-time marijuana arrest, tragic — that pot should remain in the same category as heroin and LSD. But simultaneously with the DEA’s announcement, the Obama administration said last week it would lift roadblocks to research that could lead to a more rational approach toward marijuana.

The DEA based its decision on the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has not determined that marijuana is “a safe and effective medicine.” One reason the FDA had made no such determination is that the Schedule 1 classification stands in the way of marijuana research. It’s a Catch 22: Marijuana’s status as a drug with no beneficial uses blocks study of uses that might be beneficial.

The Obama administration’s new policy will lift one of the primary barriers to research. Currently, the FDA recognizes only federally approved research studies, and those must obtain marijuana from a federally approved source. Only one such source exists: The University of Mississippi is the sole supplier of marijuana for medical studies. Obtaining marijuana from that source can take years, applications are often denied, and some types of marijuana — including those with high concentrations of one of the drug’s active compounds, THC — are not available. The Obama administration will increase the number of research universities licensed to supply marijuana by a yet-unspecified number.

To read more click here. 

DEA Has Seized More Than $203M in Cash at Airports, But Rarely Makes Arrests

money-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA has seized more than $203 million in cash at 15 major airports as part of an effort to stop narcotics traffickers between 2005 and mid-2015.

But the USA Today found that the DEA rarely uses information to make arrests or build criminal cases.

In most cases, the DEA seized the money and gave the suspected drug couriers a receipt for cash without filing charges. At times, more than $50,000 has been confiscated.

Trouble is, it’s difficult for travelers to get their money back. Much of the cash is sent to local police departments to assist in the drug crackdown.

Other Stories of Interest

Weekend Series on Crime History: Mobster ‘Jimmy Gent Burke’

Ex-ATF Agent Agrees to Pay $40,000 After Falsely Claiming He Had Cancer to Collect Sick Leave Pay

Icon_scam11

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former ATF agent who faked having cancer to collect sick leave pay, has agreed to pay the federal government $40,000 to resolve the matter, the Justice Department announced this week.

The Justice Department’s Civil Division alleged that Douglas daCosta of Livermore, Calif.  agreed to pay $40,000 to resolve allegations that he falsely claimed more than 80 days paid sick leave while working as a criminal investigator for the ATF’s San Francisco field division from January 2009 until his retirement in June 2009.

Specifically, the government alleged that  daCosta falsely told his supervisors that he was undergoing extensive treatment for cancer and went as far as to provide a forged letter from a physician to back his claim, the government said in a press release, noting that he did not have cancer.

“When a law enforcement officer misuses taxpayer funds, he does a disservice to his colleagues who serve with professionalism and distinction,”  Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a statement. “This settlement shows that we will not hesitate to hold individuals accountable if they misuse taxpayer funds.”

DaCosta had worked for ATF for 28 years.

His Linkedin page states that he currently works for an international security and investigations firm.

 

DEA Keeps Marijuana on List of Most Dangerous Drugs But Allows More Research

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Proponents of marijuana legalization were delivered a blow this week when the DEA said there’s “no currently accepted medical use treatment in the United States.”

DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg went further, saying marijuana can lead to abuse and should remain a Schedule 1 drug like heroin and LSD, NPR reports.

“This decision isn’t based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine,” he said, “and it’s not.”

Trouble is, the federal government has only allowed one research institution – the University of Mississippi – examine the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

But the DEA said this week it’s willing to increase the number of institutions that can research the benefits of marijuana.

DEA’s Credibility Questioned After Refusing to Loosen Restrictions

marijuana-istockBy Editorial Board
Sacramento Bee

Reading the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s report on marijuana, on how it should remain one of the nation’s most dangerous drugs and has no medical value, we can’t help but wonder what rock the agency’s leaders have been living under. Or what they’ve been smoking.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have legalized weed for medical use, starting with California way back in 1996. Three more states – Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota – will decide whether to follow suit this November.

Yet, according the DEA on Thursday, “there is no evidence that there is a consensus among qualified experts that marijuana is safe and effective for use in treating a specific, recognized disorder.”

In a long-awaited report, the agency doubled down on years of illogical policy. Pot, it said, will remain as it has been since 1970 – a Schedule I drug, on par with heroin. It will not be, as many expected, bumped to even a Schedule II drug, like the deadly opioid fentanyl.

“This decision isn’t based on danger,” DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg told NPR. “This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine, and it’s not.”

This is the same circular argument that the agency has been making for years, even as states, with approval from the U.S. Justice Department, have steadily moved toward decriminalizing it. The drug remains in a legal gray area, though. The DEA, for example, spent $18 million last year destroying marijuana plants while people in three states were legally using it for fun.

To read more click here.