My thanks to Frank, of San Jose, California, for his recent contributions.
My thanks to Sir Donald the Elusive for paying the production costs of this newsletter.
My thanks to Lady Jan the Voluptuous for her ongoing editorial assistance and for her countless other efforts in support of this newsletter and of its editor.
My thanks to Elliot, of N. Merrick, New York for his recent letter. It is too long to print here, but he made some excellent and thought-provoking observations. Copies of the letter are available upon request.
Sir Thomas Gresham English financier [1519-1579]
(quotation provided by Sir James the Bold)
|Armed And Dangerous
Federal agencies expanding use of firepower
"They started screaming, 'Put your hands where we can see them.' They unzipped my sleeping bag. I had to get face down on the floor and they handcuffed me," the teenager said. She recalled the intruders wore ski masks and carried machine guns. They kept her handcuffed for two hours.
The target of the raid? A 6,500 acre bow-and-arrow hunting ranch, the last bastion of private property on the island. The raid resulted in three arrests volunteer Rick Berg, 35, and caretakers Dave Mills, 34, and Brian Krantz, 33 on suspicion of robbing Chumash Indian graves and taking human remains and artifacts, charges they denied.
The agency responsible for all this was not the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, nor the FBI, nor any other agency typically associated with such "dynamic entries." This raid was the work of the National Park Service.
Surprised? So were local residents. Though no lives were lost, the raid inspired a firestorm of protest. "It saddens me that the Park Service has resorted to Ruby Ridge tactics," said Marla Daily, president of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation, referring to the September 1992 standoff between the FBI and Randy Weaver that resulted in the death of Weaver's wife [and son editor]. "This incident clearly crosses the line," Daily said.
If the use of the Park Service in commando-style operations seems strange, it shouldn't. At a time when elected legislative bodies from city councils to Congress have been passing laws that restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, federal agencies within the executive branch have been quietly authorizing dramatically increased numbers of armed personnel often heavily armed with military-style assault weapons.
Today, there are nearly 60,000 federal agents trained and authorized to enforce the over 3,000 criminal laws Congress has passed over the years, plus the hundreds of thousands of regulations which now carry criminal penalties ....
But beyond the flat figures loom questions of how agencies are using, or abusing, the powers they have in everyday law enforcement. Sting operations and other entrapment tactics, hidden-camera surveillance, phone tapping these have become commonplace practices in the name of investigation. So, too, the use of dynamic entry teams the kind witnessed at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
David Kopel, director of the free-market Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado, is an outspoken critic of the usurpation of local and state police authority by the Federal government and the growing use of violence in law enforcement. According to Kopel, the FBI has 56 SWAT teams that "specialize in confrontation rather than investigation, even though investigation is, after all, the very purpose of the bureau."
"Whereas (J. Edgar) Hoover's agents wore suits and typically had a background in law or accounting, SWAT teams wear camouflage or black ninja clothing and come from a military background," he said. "They are trained killers, not trained investigators."
Even worse, other agencies are trying to match "FBI swashbucklers." BATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, even the National Park Service and Department of Health and Human Services all have their own SWAT teams.
Contacted by telephone, Kopel said he was "not shocked" at the growing size of the community of federal law enforcement personnel as reported by the GAO, "in light of the trends over the past 20 years." "Of course," he added, "it would have astonished and frightened the authors of our Constitution." ....
Kopel sees the federalization of law enforcement and the growth of the FBI as parts of a larger effort to establish a national police force. He cites in particular the involvement of the FBI in local law enforcement. "Besides traffic tickets, there aren't many crimes where the FBI isn't involved in the prosecution," he said.
Eventually, he predicts, federal law enforcement agencies will be merged beginning by moving the Treasury agencies under the control of the Justice Department, as Al Gore has recommended. "But a separation of powers is at least a small check on the movement towards total police power consolidation and keeps them from going completely overboard," said Kopel ....
The raid at Santa Cruz ... wasn't the first for the Park Service. It wasn't even the most horrific in terms of outcome. Just one month after the Weaver debacle at Ruby Ridge, Malibu millionaire Donald Scott was gunned down in his home in a mid-morning assault involving 14 agencies, including NASA, Immigration and Naturalization Services and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. The alleged reason for the attack was that Scott was suspected of growing marijuana. None was found. There, as at Santa Cruz Island, the lead agency was the NPS; and there, too, the real reason was to acquire Scott's estate for the Park Service.
At Santa Cruz, the National Park Service had been trying to obtain the 6,500 acre ranch which covers 10 percent of the island. The Nature Conservancy owns the other 90 percent. The three arrests occurred as the National Park Service had obtained orders from Congress to seize the ranch.
|Letters to the Editor:
You asked for some feedback regarding your newsletter. I may not be motivated to dislodge myself from the system as you have. I think that's something that gives "them" satisfaction: to make people suffer for opposing them. Perhaps I'm also too wimpy.
However, I do look forward to reading your newsletter. It's about the two or three things per month that I really salivate to see in the mailbox. It encourages me, and makes me feel I'm not alone. Does it encourage me to take steps to oppose government? In a small way it has.... It may be one of many factors pushing me to keep active in the L.P. Little things like that.
I can't advise you to continue publishing the newsletter, though, if it's helping drive you to the poorhouse. One thing you might want to consider is to prominently ask for an annual donation of $10. I'd pay it ....
By the way, I've been meaning to ask you: Somewhere around February 1996 you wrote an article on occupational licensing and the nobility ....
I'm finishing a book on professional licensing, and I've included and want to properly reference your quote. But I lost the newsletter I found it in. Could you please provide me with a complete reference? The book is practically unpublishable, but I want to have a thick, heavily annotated response ready to give people in my profession who are zealously pushing licensing and ask me where I stand on the issue ....
Frank; San Jose, California
The paragraph about titles of nobility was printed in the December, 1995 issue. Copies of that issue are available upon request.
I can not say what the full effect of your writing is. Does it change my behavior? I would have to say I use it along with other stuff to help me not cross over the lines I draw to live by. I do know that the express you find in producing & distributing such a paper is valuable to you as a being. Is it worth what it cost you? I can't answer that one. But self expression is one of our most basic needs and you are true to yourself in what you do with your writings.
Millie; El Granada, California
Regarding your September 1997 newsletter ...
A few years back I was applying for a position with a major Defense Department related corporation. Part of the application process was the requirement to take a drug test. I refused (with a written letter to the corporate recruiter) on the grounds that drug testing was a violation of my rights as a human being. Needless to say, I did not get the job--and I doubt if I will ever work for corporate America again. But it was worthwhile to make a stand for freedom.
As long as I have the word processor cranked up, I wanted to comment on the role of corporate America in the destruction of freedom in America.
There is an odd hallucination prevalent among many libertarians that somehow the great corporations are the bearers of freedom against the depredations of government. Of course, this is nonsense.
Consider that Steve Forbes (once touted as a small "l" libertarian) has come out in favor of the war on drugs and has, in his magazine, stated his opposition to medical marijuana. Consider that the Advertising Council and the Partnership for a Drug Free America (the latter being funded largely by corporate America) have engaged in a massive propaganda campaign against drug legalization. Consider the widespread corporate use of drug testing against employees.
How much more clear does it have to be? The corporate sector is opposed to individual liberty.
Yet despite this clear evidence, libertarians both as individuals and in their foundations routinely support the power of corporate America. Libertarians have written many a tome defending abusive corporate practices such as downsizing, exportation of jobs, and even drug testing. At every gathering where libertarians are present, there will be at least one agitator waving a copy of some Ayn Rand book proclaiming the right of corporations to deprive people of their livelihood (i.e., the fiction that the relationship between employer and employee is a voluntary one). Really, it is absurd to ask why freedom is being stamped out in this country when the very activists who claim to be the carriers of the torch of liberty waste their time writing pro-corporate propaganda.
And what does the libertarian movement get in return from the corporations they so stoutly defend? Nothing. Corporate money flows into the coffers of the big government political parties. Corporate lobbyists demand, and get, statist legislation that enhances corporate economic interests. The corporate media ignores libertarian political candidates during election years. And then we ask why it is that libertarians can not get 5% of the vote!
So as not to end this on a negative note, I just want to point out that fighting for freedom is a lonely job. After all (so I tell myself) when we look back on Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, we consider the people (like myself, like yourself) who stood up and said "No" as the heroes, not those who marched along with the state. That is why you have to hang in there.
Joseph; Burbank, California
[to the editor]
... reference to your last newsletter [September], I would like to inform you that I no longer pay for groceries with a check, I always use cash. In fact, I try to use cash for everything except utilities and rent. I also had my social security number taken off my driver's license, which, incidentally I am not using anymore, because I never drive. I am more aware of the political scene than I used to be (though I admit, not as aware as perhaps I should be) and I make an effort to protest when people say ignorant things, and I try to get them to think about the oppression they are encouraging. If it weren't for you and your newsletter, I might not have reached this level of awareness for years. I still have a ways to go I'm sure, but you have influenced me. We have some major fundamental disagreements, but you have taught me. I don't know if this will give you justification to continue your efforts in this area, but I wanted you to know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed ....
Nancy; Cleveland Heights, Ohio
In California, they will refuse to give you a driver's license if you withhold your Social Security number. This may be true in other states. I don't know. Maybe some of the other readers in other states can tell us.
Buck Hunter Shoots Off His Mouth
Dear Mr. Hunter
I have been greatly distressed recently by the liberties being taken at the expense of our fine language. I particularly despise the excessive use of slang, colloquialisms, and cliquish jargon. I believe we must devise a standard form of the language, replete with rules of grammar, spelling, punctuation, word definition, and so forth. We must then mandate its correct use in all cases. As much as I regret the necessity, I do believe that government involvement in the enforcement of such correct usage will be necessary. I am attempting to enlist the aid of media personalities in this worthy endeavor. Will you please advise your audience of the necessity of these actions?
Edward P. Smyth-Higgins IV, Esq.
By cracky! Them lowdown sidewinders is a burr under my saddle too, blamed if they don't give me conniptions, consarn their dad-burned hides! I'm right pleased ya wrote ta me! I didn't think none o' y'all young whippersnappers gave a hoot about how folks is a-jawbonin' nowadays, but I'm with ya, pardner! You just mosey on over sometime an' give me a visit an' we'll sashay on down yonder a piece to my place in the holler an' cobble up some way ta git Okie Bill ta issue one of them thar explicative orders! That outa really drop a clod in their churn! Between us, we can bamboozle them ornery bushwhackin' forked-tongued owlhoots inta talkin' strait, so's honest-injun fellers like us kin figger out what in tha blue blazes an' tarnation they's a'aimin' at, anyway!
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Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor