Sunday, September 03, 2006


How many people will say "well if your not doing anything illegal you haven't any thing to worry about"

Sorry folks this is happening to LAW ABIDING citizens. WAke up drink your coffee and get a clue. LAND OF THE FREE!!! INDEED!!!! HAHA yes we have more freedoms then MOST countries, however in the past 30 years or so they have been evaporating quite quickly.


Wrong Door
September 2, 2006; Page A9

The Supreme Court ruled this June that evidence seized in an illegally performed "no-knock" police raid can still be used against a defendant. Though disturbing in its own right, Hudson v. Michigan touched on only a small part of a larger problem -- the trend toward paramilitary tactics in domestic policing.

Criminologist Peter Kraska estimates that the number of SWAT team "call-outs" soared past 40,000 in 2001 (the latest year for which figures are available) from about 3,000 in 1981. The vast majority are employed for routine police work -- such as serving drug warrants -- not the types of situations for which SWAT teams were originally established. And because drug policing often involves tips from confidential informants -- many of whom are drug dealers themselves, or convicts looking for leniency -- it's rife with bad information. As a result, hundreds of innocent families and civilians have been wrongly subjected to violent, forced-entry raids.

Last year, for example, New York City police mistakenly handcuffed Mini Matos, a deaf, asthmatic Coney Island woman during a pre-dawn raid. While her young son and daughter burst into tears, Ms. Matos's plea to use her asthma pump was ignored until an officer realized they entered the wrong apartment.

Home invasions can also provoke deadly violence because forced-entry raids offer very little margin for error. Since SWAT teams began proliferating in the late 1980s, at least 40 innocent people have been killed in botched raids. There are dozens more cases where low-level, nonviolent offenders and police officers themselves have been killed.

Last summer a SWAT team in Sunrise, Fla., shot and killed 23-year-old Anthony Diotaiuto -- a bartender and part-time student with no history of violence -- during an early-morning raid on his home. Police found all of an ounce of marijuana. This January a member of the Fairfax, Va. SWAT team accidentally shot and killed Salvatore Culosi, a local optometrist with no criminal record, no history of violence and no weapons in his home. Police were investigating Culosi for wagering on sporting events with friends.

Public officials are rarely held accountable when mistakes happen. The Culosi family has yet to be given access to documents related to the investigation of his death, including why a SWAT team was sent to apprehend him in the first place. More than a year after Diotaiuto's death, his family too has been denied access to any of the documents it needs to move forward with a lawsuit.

New York City provides perhaps the most egregious example of public officials' reluctance to rein in the excessive use of paramilitary tactics. Throughout the 1990s, the city's newspapers reported a troubling, continuing pattern of "wrong door" drug raids. In many cases, tactical teams raided homes based solely on uncorroborated tips from unproven informants.

Members of the city's Civilian Complaint Review Board cautioned that they were seeing increasing complaints of botched raids, but limited jurisdiction and bureaucratic turf wars prevented them from doing anything about it. The principal result of the CCRB's warnings was the creation of a special police unit for the sole purpose of fixing locks, doors and windows in cases where forced-entry searches were performed on the wrong premises. Civil rights attorneys warned that without more substantial changes, it was only a matter of time before an innocent person would be killed in a botched drug raid.

They were right. In 2003, acting on a bad tip from an informant, police mistakenly raided the Harlem home of Alberta Spruill, a 57-year-old city worker. The violence of the incursion literally scared Spruill to death; she died of a heart attack at the scene. The raid spurred public outrage, calls for reform, and promises from the city to change its ways. The NYPD published new guidelines calling for more reliability when taking tips from informants. The city also promised greater vigilance in conducting surveillance and double-checking addresses before a SWAT team was sent in.

But later, during the course of a lawsuit stemming from another, mistaken raid -- in 1992, on corrections officer Edward Garrison, his elderly mother and two young daughters -- the city declared that all of the post-Spruill reforms it had promised were merely discretionary, not enforceable in court, and could be revoked at will by any future mayor or police commissioner.

In any case, botched raids have not stopped. In 2004, police arrested a Brooklyn father of two in a drug raid and held him for six months at Riker's Island. In March of this year they dropped all the charges, conceding that he had been wrongly targeted. The man's lawyer called it the worst case of malicious prosecution she'd ever seen. Also in 2004, police mistakenly raided the home of Martin and Leona Goldberg, a Brooklyn couple in their 80s, when an informant provided bad information. "It was the most frightening experience of my life," Mrs. Goldberg later said. "I thought it was a terrorist attack."

The NYPD goofed again in 2005, when a SWAT team raided the Brooklyn apartment of the Williams family, instead of the targeted apartment on the same floor. Police continued to search the apartment even after it was obvious they were in the wrong home. This year, according to the CCRB, there have already been at least 15 mistaken raids.

A few cities, such as New Haven, Conn., and San Jose, Calif., restrict the use of SWAT teams to cases where a suspect presents an immediate threat. Denver dramatically cut back the number of "no-knock" raids conducted after a SWAT team shot and killed an innocent man in a botched raid in 1999, and follow-up investigations revealed severe deficiencies in the how police had obtained "no-knock" warrants.

But these examples are few and far between. Most of the country is moving toward more militarization, more aggressive drug policing -- and less accountability when things go wrong.

Mr. Balko is the author of "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America," published by the Cato Institute, where he is a policy analyst. Mr. Berger is an attorney representing the Williams and Garrison families and a former New York City Law Department executive.

clear proof the voters aren't paying attention

Once more the political spin machines try to cast a light of graciousness on the issue. The Republicans would WIN in a landslide if they weren't acting like Democrats(Iraq War not included). For years the Republicans have led many to believe they are the party of FISCAL responsibilty, as the Democrats gave all the candy away in the store.
POWER has corrupted absolutely in terms of earmarks, political paybacks, footloose contributions.

Will this change once the democrats take power in the HoR? NOPE
different party same agenda

It is time to BREAK-UP the established political monopoly with other parties controling the reigns.

I'm Tom Martz Libertarian candidate for the 139th district and I would appreciate your vote come November. In the words of Barry Goldwater "I'm a voice, not an echo"
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats enter the fall campaign with a clear edge in the high-stakes fight for control of the U.S. Congress, riding a wave of momentum that has them positioned to retake the U.S. House of Representatives and make significant gains in the Senate.

President George W. Bush's low approval ratings and public dissatisfaction with the
Iraq war, gas prices and the country's direction threaten Republican leadership in Congress and put Democrats within reach of victory on November 7, analysts said.

"I don't think the question any longer is can Democrats win control of Congress, it's can Republicans do anything to stop it?" said Amy Walter, House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report newsletter. "All the factors and issues are pushing so strongly against Republicans."

All 435 House seats, 34 of 100 Senate seats and 36 governorships are at stake in November's election, with Democrats needing to pick up 15 House seats and six Senate seats to reclaim majorities.

Strategists in both parties say the glum public mood has created a strong desire for change and given Democrats a big advantage at the traditional opening of the campaign season on Monday's Labor Day holiday.

"It's too late to fix the national mood -- it's not going to be fixed," said Republican pollster Frank Luntz. "The major issues are not playing well for Republicans this year, and Republicans are not playing well with America this year."

History is also with Democrats -- the party holding the White House traditionally loses seats in a president's sixth year. The modern exception was 1998, when public unhappiness over the Republican-led impeachment of President
Bill Clinton helped Democrats gain five House seats.

"This looks like a classic sixth-year election," said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who called the president's low approval ratings, hovering at about 40 percent, "the single best indicator for any mid-term election."

A Democratic majority in even one chamber of Congress would slam the brakes on what is left of Bush's second-term legislative agenda and hasten his descent into lame-duck status in the final two years of his presidency.

It also would give Democrats an opportunity to hold hearings and investigate many of the administration's more controversial foreign, military and energy policy decisions.

Candidates around the country will spend Monday's Labor Day holiday marching in parades, shaking hands at fairs and laying the groundwork for the final two-month push to the November 7 election.


About 40 House districts and a dozen Senate seats will be the key battlegrounds, and they will be flooded in the next two months with campaign cash and appearances by party big shots.

Democrats are in the strongest position in the House, analysts said, where nearly every endangered incumbent is Republican. Independent analyst Stuart Rothenberg projects a Democratic gain of 15-20 seats, while the Cook Report lists 17 House seats as toss-ups -- all Republican.

But Republican House campaign spokesman Carl Forti shrugged off predictions of a takeover.

"We're nowhere near as bad off as the experts would have you believe," he said, adding Bush's low ratings and public dissatisfaction with the Republican-led Congress would not determine House races.

In the Senate, Democrats are expected to pick up seats. But to win control they will need to bump off at least five Republican incumbents -- difficult but not impossible even under favorable conditions.

In recent polls, Democratic challengers led Republican incumbents Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, Conrad Burns in Montana and Mike DeWine in Ohio. Jim Talent in Missouri, Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island and George Allen in Virginia also face re-election struggles.

The open Tennessee seat of retiring Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist is also on the endangered list for Republicans.

Democratic incumbents Maria Cantwell in Washington, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan and Bob Menendez in New Jersey face potentially tough races, and Democrats must defend open seats in Minnesota and Maryland.

Many voters do not start paying attention until late in the campaign and many candidates only start spending heavily in September, giving the races plenty of chances to shift before the election.

Unexpected events, like the capture of al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden or a major terrorist strike, could quickly shift the political landscape.

"I'm a political realist. Can we win? Yes, but this is 10 weeks out and a lot can happen in 10 weeks," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.