Failures

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
atf, entrapment, own plots, stash houses



Research Shows ATF's Bogus Stash House Stings Target Poor Minorities, Do Almost Nothing To Slow Flow Of Drugs And Guns

from the wasting-taxpayer-money-and-federal-time dept

The ATF's sting operations have already drawn plenty of criticism. Not from law enforcement agencies who partner up with the ATF for easy busts or the DOJ which oversees them, but from almost everyone else, including federal judges. These stings result in government-made criminals who are led by undercover agents towards robbing fake stash houses of nonexistent drugs, cash, and weapons. The fun thing about the nonexistent drugs is it can be whatever amount ATF agents say it is. And that amount of drugs -- that exists nowhere but in the imagination of federal agents -- is used to determine lengths of sentences.

Judge Gerald McHugh trimmed back a sentence given a defendant caught in an ATF stash house sting, pointing out the crooked system allows prosecutors to play judge, jury and executioner -- all before the case even lands in court. As the judge notes, he has never run into a sting prosecution where the imaginary drug stash was below the statutory guideline triggering the longest sentences.

From my review of reported cases nationwide, I have not identified any investigation where the specified amount of cocaine in the fictional stash house was less than 5 kilograms. By statute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), 5 kilograms is the amount that triggers exposure to a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.

Judge Otis Wright was even less kind, pointing out the government's standard operating procedure of goading desperate people into committing fake crimes that result in lengthy sentences. The feds then dangle plea bargains above their heads, hoping defendants will take the less onerous offer and skip the courtroom proceedings where the details of the stash house sting might be examined by skeptical judges and juries.

The end result of these stings? Nothing but people being locked up.

Zero. That’s the amount of drugs that the Government has taken off the streets as the result of this case and the hundreds of other fake stash-house cases around the country. That’s the problem with creating crime: the Government is not making the country any safer or reducing the actual flow of drugs. But for the Government’s action, the fake stash house would still be fake, the nonexistent drugs would still be nonexistent, and the fictional armed guards would still be fictional.... Instead, the Government comes close to imprisoning people solely because of their thoughts and economic circumstances rather than their criminal actions.

The other ugly truth about these sting operations is their consistent targeting of minorities.

A recently unsealed study by a nationally renowned expert concluded that ATF showed a clear pattern of racial bias in picking its targets for the drug stings. The disparity between minority and white defendants was so large that there was "a zero percent likelihood" it happened by chance, the study found.

The vast majority of those swept up in the stings in Chicago were minorities, and a close examination of the criminal backgrounds of some of those targeted raises questions about whether they were truly the most dangerous gun offenders whom ATF was aiming to remove from the street.

The ATF should be in the business of removing dangerous individuals from circulation. Instead, it preys on the less fortunate. Much like the FBI's continued material support of handcrafted terrorists, the ATF frequently has to provide the means, motive, plan, and pretty much everything else that might be required to rob a stash house.

Some had trouble even coming up with guns to do the job — including one crew that after months of preparation managed to find only one World War I-era pistol with a broken handle that could barely fire a round. Others had no history of carrying out high-risk armed robberies — a key provision in the ATF playbook designed to make sure targets were legitimate, defense lawyers argued in recent court filings.

Drugs aren't being taken off the streets. The only weapons being seized are the ATF's. And plenty of truly dangerous people are still walking around while the ATF pushes minorities with money problems into plans composed of pure bullshit.

This poses more problems for the DOJ. It will at least have to defend itself against some new lawsuits in the future. Trump's DOJ may be less concerned about civil liberties violations than his predecessor, but his DOJ still has to answer for past violations.

This new report echoes Brad Heath's 2014 research into stash house stings.

At least 91% of the people agents have locked up using those stings were racial or ethnic minorities, USA TODAY found after reviewing court files and prison records from across the United States. Nearly all were either black or Hispanic. That rate is far higher than among people arrested for big-city violent crimes, or for other federal robbery, drug and gun offenses.

The ATF operations raise particular concerns because they seek to enlist suspected criminals in new crimes rather than merely solving old ones, giving agents and their underworld informants unusually wide latitude to select who will be targeted. In some cases, informants said they identified targets for the stings after simply meeting them on the street.

The sad fact is it takes the private sector to put this damning information together. The ATF likes its easy busts and it likely knows its practices reek of racial bias. That's the only reasonable explanation for its deliberate avoidance of any sort of record keeping.

The ATF said it could not confirm those figures because the agency does not track the demographics of the people it arrests in stash-house cases.

Despite its lack of tracking, the ATF insists it's not participating in discriminatory behavior. It has nothing to offer in its defense, but it continues to insist it's doing the Lord's work with its stash house stings.

Current and former ATF officials insist that race plays no part in the operations. Instead, they said, agents seek to identify people already committing violent robberies in crime-ridden areas, usually focusing on those who have amassed long and violent rap sheets.

"There is no profiling going on here," said Melvin King, ATF's deputy assistant director for field operations, who has supervised some of the investigations. "We're targeting the worst of the worst, and we're looking for violent criminals that are using firearms in furtherance of other illegal activities."

The research available directly contradicts these statements. It's not just independent researchers who have noticed the profiling and the general uselessness of the sting operations. As was noted above, federal judges have arrived at the same conclusions. And federal judges have access to documents the DOJ refuses to release to FOIA requesters as well as the contents of cases still under seal.

More information continues to be pried from the DOJ's grip, thanks to discovery requests in stash house prosecutions. Everything that's been uncovered points to the conclusions drawn two years ago by USA Today and Brad Heath. The federal government is engaged in seriously troubling behavior, targeting poor minorities and fitting them for decades of imprisonment. And it can't even argue the end justifies the means. The drugs and weapons being "robbed" are imaginary. A stash house sting removes no drugs, no guns, and very few dangerous criminals from the streets. The ends are an illusion, meaning nothing about the means is truly justified.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 3:38am

    Someone asks me to rob a stash house and i say no. The government can't make me into a criminal.

    You have to be willing to commit the crime. I don't have a lot of pity for anyone willing to commit the crime even if it is a set up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 4:55am

      Re:

      Clearly you've never been poor and/or desperate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:18am

        Re: Re:

        No, just because you're poor and/or desperate that doesn't automatically mean that you're more inclined to be criminal.
        This also explains why the poorest whites commit less violent crimes per capita than the richest blacks.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:38am

        Re: Re:

        Wisdom reveals that poor or desperate conditions have very little to do with people's willingness to steal or commit a serious crime.

        According to your logic rich people would never steal, and they are some of the biggest thieves around.

        Those getting caught are traditionally just low brow thugs.

        That said, I do appreciate having a certain level of distaste for 'law enforcement' wasting time cajoling people into a crime when they otherwise would likely 'not' have committed them. It is a double waste of tax payer money. It clearly 'creates more crime' and takes money to pay the wasters salary and subsequently the cost of jailing the idiots that get caught.

        The only people I truly feel sorry for are those that have mental disabilities that these disgusting pigs use for their little criminal games.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 7:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          According to your logic rich people would never steal, and they are some of the biggest thieves around.

          Steal a loaf of bread and go to prison. Steal a pension fund's bread and retire rich.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 5:50am

      Re:

      They are targeting a group that after months of trying could only come up with one busted up WWII pistol. Think about what that tells you. Sure pistols are not super cheap, but they can be found for a few hundred dollars.

      If a "crew" couldn't find more than one broken pistol, then obviously 1)they are not hard core criminals and 2) they are poor as hell.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 7:42am

      Re:

      You have to be willing to commit the crime.

      Being willing to commit a crime at the behest of an authority figure telling you to do it (and that IS the situation of these people) is something around 60% of the population would do. This was shown by the famous Milgram experiment.

      Do you really want to lock up 60% of the population?

      OK that is impossible.

      Do you want to lock up a random sample of that 60%?

      Hang on that is not what is happening.

      Do you want to lock up a random sample taken disproportionately from the poor and minority groups?

      What kind of morals do YOU have if you want to do that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 16 Mar 2017 @ 6:33am

        Re: Re:

        "Do you want to lock up a random sample taken disproportionately from the poor and minority groups?"

        Seriously? They're targeting the group(s) MOST LIKELY TO COMMIT THE CRIME.

        It'd be kind of pointless to run these "stings" on groups that would keep NOT doing them, eh?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 6:45am

        Re: Re:

        When setting up sobriety checkpoints, should cops set up outside bars and other places that serve alcohol on weekend nights or should they set up a checkpoint in front of kindergarten schools at 11am on Tuesdays?

        You target the areas because they are problematic and most likely to find criminals.

        I doubt looking for criminals in low crime areas would be very productive, since they are low crime areas.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 7:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          When setting up sobriety checkpoints, should cops set up outside bars and other places that serve alcohol on weekend nights or should they set up a checkpoint in front of kindergarten schools at 11am on Tuesdays?

          You know, I've never seen one of those check points setup outside an expensive country club.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:18am

      Man, I got another idea!

      Let's hire doctors to falsely tell their patients that they are pregnant and offer an illegal abortion to them.

      When they agree, bam, instant prosecution.

      Maybe we can combine this with asset forfeiture? They were planning on using their body to commit a crime, so they forfeit a few organs?

      That would help the organ donor crisis we have here and could help government officials with a stressful life style while fighting for the common good to live longer.

      Let's not have a lot of pity for anyone willing to commit the crime even it is a set up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 16 Mar 2017 @ 6:47am

        Re: Man, I got another idea!

        RE: Milgram http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html

        Remember when Dylann Roof shot up a black church and a load of people declared he had done a good thing? There's your problem. Once more, with feeling, it's entirely possible to cajole even the most morally upright people into committing a crime if you can convince them that it's not a crime.

        This tends to work on the echo chamber dwellers, hence that pizza/Clinton incident. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/pizzagate-what-is-it-explained-hillary -clinton-paedophile-conspiracy-gunman-fake-news-a7456681.html

        Unless you don't consider that incident a crime. Which proves my point.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 6:51am

          Re: Re: Man, I got another idea!

          Dylann Roof was nuts and should not be walking the streets. I think we all agree on this one, no?

          How do you know the people caught up in these stings are any different and also shouldn't be walking around?

          If your point is that there are people that shouldn't be walking our streets, I agree.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 7:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Man, I got another idea!

            > How do you know the people caught up in these stings are any different and also shouldn't be walking around?

            For that matter, how do you the people Dylann Roof killed weren't also criminals that "shouldn't be walking around"? I mean, they were black, right?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 1:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Man, I got another idea!

              I don't know, you could look into it. Seems to me the Roof victims were highlighted on the news and I didn't see anything that would vindicate their shooting.

              How about the people arrested in the sting? Were they nice people that were just wanting to come together with their community and worship?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 7:07am

        Re: Man, I got another idea!

        Sounds like a modest proposal.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 17 Mar 2017 @ 10:25am

          Re: Re: Man, I got another idea!

          No, "A Modest Proposal" would be forfeiting the child (once it is ready for harvesting) rather than your organs.

          According to bible belt logic, this would actually be rewarding the filthy she-devil.

          Except that there was no fetus to start with in the premise.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 10:32am

      Re:

      You have to be willing to commit the crime. I don't have a lot of pity for anyone willing to commit the crime even if it is a set up.

      What's the crime? There were never any drugs. Is being willing to commit a crime itself a crime?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 3:13am

        Re: Re:

        >Is being willing to commit a crime itself a crime?
        Yes, according to the law it is.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 16 Mar 2017 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re:

        Oh come on. Once you are willing to overlook thought crime, people will start saying loud what they think without having to face the music. Do you want to remain free or be brave? Take your pick.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Champion, 15 Mar 2017 @ 3:45am

    "Someone asks me to rob a stash house and i say no. The government can't make me into a criminal.

    You have to be willing to commit the crime. I don't have a lot of pity for anyone willing to commit the crime even if it is a set up."


    then you have neer been poor or hungry.YOU are half the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 5:50am

      Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

      I have shoveled horse shit (the real manure) for a while to be sble to survive. I hsve workef in a bodega in a high crime neighborhood.

      I worked when the only job wasn't good i didntvlook for short cuts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:32am

        Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

        It sounds like lot of these people didn't "look for short cuts" but instead had one presented to them. I would also like to point out the type of crime being presented to them, that of robbing a stash house.

        So they are poor and down on their luck, then a guy says hey, got a great job that will make all your troubles go away. Then he explains it is stealing from bunch of criminals.

        Now sure, you can say you would still take the high road, but if I'm struggling to keep my family fed and someone offers me a job like that, I am likely to take it. Especially considering that while "illegal" I don't have any moral hangups about robbing criminals.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:43am

          Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

          that just means you are a stupid criminal.

          I have a bridge to sell you. Pick your favorite desert... I have them EVERYWHERE!

          There is no amount of desperate that would get me to tell my family, it is worth it to try and feed you for a few days while you lose me for years at a time in jail... cause fuck my family.

          Yes... you have a great set of priorities there! Step back and think rationally, why would you trust someone to tell you who is a criminal or not? And why would you do that to your own family?

          something tells me you need the media to tell me how you need to vote because you need someone to be telling you what you need to do in life.

          Follower!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 7:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

            Experiments have shown that in fact there is a 60% probability that YOU would do that (or something morally similar) yourself. See my comment above and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Richard (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 7:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

              Also see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heist_(Derren_Brown_special)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:24am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

                I don't disagree with the 60% probability. I am just saying that only a stupid criminal would allow someone to tell them when, where, and how to commit a crime. This goes whether a crime is to be committed or not.

                I hold the belief that most people are evil, which fits into the 60% probability. Regardless of that, when you decide to use your families disposition as a crutch to justify wrong doing then you need to consider if you really care more about your family vs your 'public appearance' of taking care of them.

                A person being able to remain with their family, in a capacity that allows them to take care of them, needs to be able to outweigh their 'desire' to provide for them. In most cases there is no way for a person to support their family from a jail cell, and to put oneself in that position speaks volumes.

                Too many people are just attributing this to being poor and desperate when that is mostly a false narrative. Do you think any of the bankers cared about the house bubble they helped create? Only the ones that lost in the gamble. They sure broke a lot of laws to do it too, but they are more difficult to prosecute for multiple reasons. It it just simply easier to pick on the little criminals, and that is all this has always been about.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:33am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

                  Most criminals are stupid, that is why they are criminals.

                  You think most people are evil? That is really sad. Not sad in an insulting way, but sad in a sad way.

                  Bankers wouldn't have been difficult to prosecute if those in government actually wanted to prosecute them. Hell, a big bank was convicted of laundering money for a drug cartel, no one went to jail because the govt. decided that could disrupt our economy. It would just take will to put Wall Street types in jail.

                  Hell, you talk about the financial crash, but nothing has changed, sub primes are back and people are still selling CDO's.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:47am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

                    "Most criminals are stupid, that is why they are criminals."
                    Don't disagree there, but when there are plenty of dumb criminals to go after.. well dumb cops like the low hanging fruit after all.

                    "You think most people are evil? That is really sad. Not sad in an insulting way, but sad in a sad way."

                    Broad are the gates that lead down the path of destruction and many there shall be that go by it, and narrow is the path that leads to salvation and few there be than finds it.

                    I agree, it is sad, but I can only affect how good or evil I am, I cannot force the rest of humanity to be good or evil so that my mind can be changed.

                    "Bankers wouldn't have been difficult to prosecute if those in government actually wanted to prosecute them."

                    No they are factually more difficult to prosecute, its not some big secret. Money buys power, liberty, and justice... it's just a fact and bankers have more money and respect than minorities.

                    "Hell, you talk about the financial crash, but nothing has changed, sub primes are back and people are still selling CDO's."

                    Yep, like I said... rich people are just as willing to steal as the poor, so destitution is not a primary factor.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 7:15am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

                  I don't disagree with the 60% probability. I am just saying that only a stupid criminal would allow someone to tell them when, where, and how to commit a crime. This goes whether a crime is to be committed or not.

                  Ah, so the real crime is being "stupid". Maybe we should just give everyone an "intelligence test" and cull the lowest 60%. Make America great!

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:29am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

              I think Milgram is a false analogy, as what claim of "authority" does the fake government set up have over the people they dupe into robbing a stash house?

              You shouldn't use an analogy to convince, only to explain, because if you use it to convince, then people just argue over the analogy, not the actual point.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 8:18pm

        Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

        Careful with that moral high horse there. You don't want the Techdirt staff to start posting anonymously, do you?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2017 @ 6:33am

          Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Champion on Mar 15th, 2017 @ 3:45am

          Wouldn't do them any good. The government already knows who all the Techdirt staff are. There's no telling how many "lists" they're on by now.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:07am

      Re:

      I was laid off and out of work for 18 months. Had a wife and 2 young kids to care for. Cashed out my 401K, borrowed money from family. Was getting to the point of having to sell the house and move into an apartment. Worked part time jobs when I could get them.

      Considered many things, including suicide. Never committed a crime though (except for taking money under the table for part time work.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:38am

        Re: Re:

        Well, you killed your compassion. That is a rather high price to pay. It might have been what enabled you to keep afloat, but that doesn't make it a good thing.

        This "thank God that I am not like that scum over there" stance comes natural enough that it has been made a point in the scriptures thousands of years ago already.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Your response if faulty thinking, or dishonest discourse, one of the two.

          I don't agree with the actual program in the article, but to say that if poor, you commit crimes is wrong, immoral and probably racist.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            They say that because it "helps" the racist narrative because it is racism that keeps them poor and therefore justifies the criminal elements.

            They don't actually care about racism, only for hijacking it to serve their own narratives. They love racism in reality because as long as it is around, it is a useful tool to set us against each other. So what do they do to ensure it does stay around? They make racist narratives about racism to keep the fires stoked and keep everyone at each others necks in hopes that they don't realize what is going on.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              David, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Are you sure you are following up to the right posting?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:17am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Yes, was there something unclear about what I posted?

                The typical response to racism is to create more of it. Kind like how the cycle of revenge just creates more revenge. Get it yet? So the solution to make sure that racism stays around... so that certain people can "play that card", is to create laws, rules, or narratives that are likely to evoke a response from someone that can be labeled as racism, even when it is not a racist response at all. Kinda like how people got labeled a terrorist for talking bad about the water supply in a certain city. Never underestimate how low people can stoop to get their way.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:21am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  But it isn't just racism, but that is used quite a bit. It is the morality judging, it is the need to try and feel morally superior.

                  Just forget all that and focus on the actual arguments, because that is all that matters.

                  If someone calls me a racist or an immoral person, I don't argue that, I just call (or think of them) an asshole.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:31am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Most people are not functionally capable of rational thought. The proof is in the history of humanity where people are more than willing to consider a person guilty of crime on accusation alone. It is rare to find a culture where guilt must be proven, instead most cultures as for innocence to be proven... which is a far more difficult task.

                    People have an irresistible desire to believe themselves to be better or superior than another, which leads to conflict in the first place. If we really could stop this, then wars would never break out because everyone would sit down and ask... how did this get started and lets solve the original problem before telling thousands of people to go and kill thousands of people.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  David, 15 Mar 2017 @ 3:02pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Are you sure you are following up to the right posting? Yes, was there something unclear about what I posted?

                  The typical response to racism [...]

                  I have met a whole lot less confused people among all combinations of skin color, gender, and sexual persuasion I ever had the pleasure to encounter.

                  It would appear that it is not just compassion you lost.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JustMe (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 5:47am

    Re: A/C's comment

    You don't understand how the Feds work. In some cases they aren't telling the victims to commit a "crime". Instead, they probably aren't saying they are Feds and are just normal people who are asking for help get guns off the street in order to protect neighborhood children. Or to steal drugs because they need help solving the local drug problem, saying the drugs can be disposed of properly.

    But even if none of that is true, they are locking people up for decades for nothing worse than thinking of a crime. That is often longer than actual drug dealers and murderers who go before a judge and jury. How is this helping society?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:19am

      Re: Re: A/C's comment

      I am pretty sure that the government isn't going up to people telling them that they are DEA agents and want them to rob a stash house.

      Not 100 percent on that, but representing as a Fed probably won't get many buyers. Now that may work for the CIA, but that is another story, and only works for Arnold.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 5:49am

    "The evidence that we don't keep clearly contradicts the evidence that you do have."

    Current and former ATF officials insist that race plays no part in the operations. Instead, they said, agents seek to identify people already committing violent robberies in crime-ridden areas, usually focusing on those who have amassed long and violent rap sheets.

    Which of course is completely believable given the following:

    The ATF said it could not confirm those figures because the agency does not track the demographics of the people it arrests in stash-house cases.

    'We don't engage in racial profiling. True, we don't actually track those numbers such that we can show that we don't, so you're just going to have to take us at our words, but really, we pinky swear that we don't.'

    Unfortunately for their ability to lie their way out of racial discrimination someone else did track the numbers.

    At least 91% of the people agents have locked up using those stings were racial or ethnic minorities, USA TODAY found after reviewing court files and prison records from across the United States. Nearly all were either black or Hispanic. That rate is far higher than among people arrested for big-city violent crimes, or for other federal robbery, drug and gun offenses.

    A friendly tip to ATF agents that might want to talk to the press in the future: If you're going to lie, it helps if you do so in a way that's at least somewhat believable, and isn't directly contradicted by the evidence on display such that it's immediately obvious that you are lying.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:16am

      Re: "The evidence that we don't keep clearly contradicts the evidence that you do have."

      You know, the fact that 91% of those convicted belong to certain race or ethnic background is more an indication that the race or ethnic background in question is breeding more criminals than that the police targets them purposely - if they wouldn't have been there to begin with there would be nothing to target, isn't it?

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 16 Mar 2017 @ 6:23am

        "You don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect."

        Can't tell if poe, retired Attorney General or ATF agent, but assuming you're serious...

        Did you only read until the end of that sentence? Because not two sentences past that one they point out that that rate is not proportional to the general crime statistics 'for big-city violent crimes, or for other federal robbery, drug and gun offenses.

        The numbers for their stings do not match the general numbers, so no, the fact that they are targeting almost entirely minorities is not an indication of those groups somehow being 'worse', it's simply because they like to target minorities.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:33am

    totally nuts

    A conviction for break-in, yes. But how could a judge convict someone for stealing nothing? That would be like you're arrested because the mall manager told the police that you didn't took anying without paying for it, but that he's absolutely sure that you wanted to.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:55am

      Re: totally nuts

      totally nuts is right.

      First, they profile their next victims, there is a reason that certain minorities are chosen because they already have a culture of "it's okay to take from others" just look at the politics. Theft by taxes for 'illusory' wealth redistribution is just the beginning of it. Then, they are told that rich whitey is keeping them down and that they need to fight back. Then they are told that whitey hates them and is racist and if they ever expect to get a leg up, they better do something.

      This is all a game for authorities, create criminals to pad their success. They are not targeting minorities because they hate them... they target them because they have a human culture that facilitates this type of crime. If the police started stings for bank fraud instead of break-in burglary, they would be targeting a very different demographic now wouldn't they?

      These minorities needs to stop making themselves a target rich environment for dirty law enforcement activities.

      And they need to stop signing away their rights to a trial by jury. A judge has no reason to feel sorry for an innocent, their stature and career is advanced by putting them in jail. Society seriously does not want an honest Judge, despite claims to the contrary.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re: totally nuts

        When you find yourself saying "these minorities need to..." Just stop. Stop and think. Why am I a racist asshole? What made me say this? How can I fix myself?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:34am

          Re: Re: Re: totally nuts

          race card huh? yea, you already lost the argument and you know it.

          facts are facts, if you don't like them you "can" try to hide them behind a political deck of cards and it will even work sometimes, but anyone looking for truth will figure you out for the fraud that you are.

          I have direct experience of what I speak. I know what it is like to be poor and hungry. The longest time I have been without food is 10 days straight. You remember shit like that because it is hard to forget. I even have a criminal juvenile past as well. Thankfully those are under lock and key, because people like you are too fucking judgemental of others and like to ruin lives the moment you run across someone you don't like or said something you disagreed with.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:11am

      Re: totally nuts

      How about a child porn suspect who thought they were talking to a 13 year old girl but were actually talking with a 50 year old white Sherriff, received pictures and then traveled to meet up? Has no crime been committed?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re: totally nuts

        It depends on the pictures, the craziness of local laws, and conditions not specified. Were the pictures notably different from what you could find in a G-rated magazine, school yearbook, etc.? In your hypothetical, can the government demonstrate that the person arrested at the meet-up reasonably expected to engage in a criminal act upon arrival? For example, did the fictitious child say or clearly imply that the meet-up was for a purpose that the arrestee reasonably should have known was criminal? (To give the government plenty of rope, we can even go with the courts' favorite "reasonable" definition that "a reasonable person has memorized all laws nationwide and knows to obey them at all times" rather than the far more practical "reasonable" definition that the average person ought to know the conduct is illegal, even if the average person cannot cite the chapter, subchapter, and exact triggering conditions under which the conduct is criminal.) Did the arrestee at any point (but preferably in a logged chat) say anything suggesting the meet-up was for unethical purposes? Although wildly improbable, it ought not be a crime to meet offline a stranger from over the Internet if there is no intent to commit a crime.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:00am

          Re: Re: Re: totally nuts

          Agreed, but in terms of robbing a stash house, how is there no intent to commit a crime?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: totally nuts

            Agreed, but in terms of robbing a stash house, how is there no intent to commit a crime?

            The criticism of these sting operations is built in large part on other points:

            • The arrestee is not adequately demonstrated as being someone likely to commit the crime, absent the trivially easy opportunity presented by the undercover agent. Per the article, official assertions are that the targeted individuals have a history of severe crimes and are likely to commit another high stakes crime, so it is better for everyone if they commit this high stakes fake crime where the sting can protect the public. The records reviewed by the judges and by the public indicate that the stings are targeting people about whom that assertion is not obviously true. Demonstrating that the arrestee will commit an easy crime where showing up is enough to win big is different from demonstrating that this person inevitably would have committed a crime on their own, and that the sting operation merely moved up the time table.
            • The undercover agents contribute most or all of the required elements of the crime. The arrestee's sole contribution is showing up, and in some cases even that required getting a ride from an undercover agent. While this does not necessarily mean the person ought not be found guilty of a conspiracy crime, it raises substantial questions about whether this is a good use of resources - agent time, agent resources, and prison capacity. Is it a good use of taxpayer resources to imprison for 20+ years people who, when presented a low-risk high-reward ready-to-go crime, did not walk away?
            • In some cases (but not all) the undercover agents gave the target reason to believe that walking away would be punished. I have much more sympathy for the suspects who thought their choice was between:
              • commit this ready-to-go crime
              • be assaulted/murdered by this bloodthirsty (undercover) accomplice

            I agree that they should have walked away regardless of whether it looked like a sting. But if they thought walking away was likely to get them killed (or reported to the police by their jilted accomplice (irony!)), and going through with it was actually the safer option, can you blame them for going forward?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 10:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: totally nuts

              I agree with most of your points and things the stings are probably a waste of time, my point about the child porn and the stash house sting is that both are imaginary crimes (sort of.)

              I would also contend that if a gun is needed in committing a crime, then it is not low risk at all. If a kid tells me he needs a gun to go to a nightclub, I would tell the kid not to go to that nightclub, something someone should have told a former Giants receiver.

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  • icon
    tom (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 7:00am

    IMO, ATF/DOJ lost all credibility when they screwed up the "Fast and Furious" gun sales sting by loosing track of thousands of high power weapons that ATF told gun stores to sell to known criminals. Many murders and injuries have been traced to these weapons. The harshest penalty that any of the employees involved received was re-assignment to a different job at the same or higher pay. I have no doubt that if a gun maker had conspired with a gun store to sell to known criminals, that CEO and other corporate officials would be serving long jail terms and all of the assets would have been seized.

    If Trump wants to "Drain the Swamp", ATF would be a good agency to completely flush out of existence.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 7:10am

      Re:

      "Drain the Swamp" is just a euphemism for "Creating my type of Swamp". Like most other political rhetoric, it just means I want to get rid of the corruption that works against me and, instead, institution the corruption that works for me.

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  • identicon
    Moving Companies, 15 Mar 2017 @ 8:57am

    It is the will of the individual to do wrong. No one makes you go out and steal or break the law. There are many poor people who would beg before committing a crime.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 16 Mar 2017 @ 6:54am

      Re:

      You may find that begging is a) demeaning and b) only lucractive for people with great people skills. As a result, you may find that people who beg may turn to low-level crime to stay afloat.

      I've been down on my luck, borrowing from friends, etc., but the old social safety net kept me out of trouble until I got back on my feet. It really does help to maintain an orderly society.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:07am

    "From my review of reported cases nationwide, I have not identified any investigation where the specified amount of cocaine in the fictional stash house was less than 5 kilograms. By statute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), 5 kilograms is the amount that triggers exposure to a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence."

    If its fictional why would you stop at 4 kgs? Lets be real here, if a criminal breaks into a house expecting to net $100 and finds a million dollars, do they only take $100? Maybe if they think they don't want to steal money from someone that would have a million dollars laying around, but not because of the law and the punishment.

    "I came for the TV and left the cash and diamonds lying around" was never said by the average thief.

    That being said, law enforcement should be going after the real people who are a danger to society, but then again, I would like to look at the historical record of people caught up in these stings. Is it habitual criminals or is it first time offenders? If it is habitual, maybe it is a good thing that they are not walking our streets.

    Was it wrong that Capone was taken down for Tax Evasion and not murder? Hey, at least he was off the streets.

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    • identicon
      David, 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      I would like to look at the historical record of people caught up in these stings. Is it habitual criminals or is it first time offenders?

      It's a safe bet that habitual criminals would not indulge in spoon-fed crimes. Far too risky to leave that amount of control to somebody else.

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      • identicon
        Socrates, 16 Mar 2017 @ 11:16am

        Re: Re:

        It's a safe bet that habitual criminals would not indulge in spoon-fed crimes. Far too risky to leave that amount of control to somebody else.

        And that is a really important point.

        Real criminals would not as easily be recruited by the agents, nor would the agents easily be recruited by the criminals. And it would pose actual risks to the agents.

        Hoodwinking desperate patsies is much safer and easier.

        They might become hardened criminals in jail though. And hateful.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 11:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That is a valid point, but is it a valid point?

          Is someone that has robbed multiple houses a "hardened" criminal or just some jackoff that likes to break into houses?

          Sometimes we give way too much credit to people, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:16am

    The government really needs to look at two things in everything it does.

    The first point is effectiveness. Does policy and tactics get done what we want done? This is most important, because if something doesn't work, we shouldn't do it.

    Second is cost, are we doing the things that pass the first point worthwhile for the cost? Is it beneficial?

    Everything else is bullshit.

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  • icon
    Dr. David T. Macknet (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 9:47am

    Remember: single-digit number of cases make it past plea-bargain

    The thing to also remember, here, is that this is a case that made it to court. So, an actual judge got to hear the case on its merits, and express an opinion. How many cases actually make it this far? Yeah, that's right, somewhere between 3 and 5 percent. So, here's the deal: call it 95 percent of all of these cases don't even make it this far, so for every one like this there are 19 others who have just sucked it up and gone to jail, rather than risk their judge being an idiot.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 8:32am

      Re: Remember: single-digit number of cases make it past plea-bargain

      What percentage of all criminal trials actually make it to court where an actual judge got to hear the case?

      According to Robert Burns, professor of law at Northwestern, he wrote in a 2009 article that in 2002, less than 5% of criminal cases went to trial.

      That is everyone, so it doesn't seem to me that this is limited to cases actually going to trial.

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  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 10:06am

    The ends justify the means?

    It depends on what "the end" actually is. They claim it's to get violent offenders off the street. It's REALLY all about making themselves look good so they at least keep their job/funding, or even better, get a raise/promotion. So to them, the ends DO justify the means.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 10:30am

      Re: The ends justify the means?

      So should their be a review of the past history of these defendants? If in fact, it is getting historically violent offenders off the street, would it be justified?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 2:02pm

        Re: Re: The ends justify the means?

        Probably, but remember, they don't keep track of that info. Of course, what they mean by that is they never had that info in the first place and they're just making shit up to cover their asses.

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  • identicon
    AC, 15 Mar 2017 @ 11:18am

    Pretty Amazing

    Somehow, though ALL of this behavior by the government took place during the previous administration, the author and many commenters on this story still blame Trump - proactively no less.

    Pretty amazing how Obama's name is never mentioned, even though his Justice department did all this, and spent $36 million fighting FOIA requests to hide their activities, but Trump's is, and disparagingly at that.

    Way to show your bias.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 12:29pm

      Re: Pretty Amazing

      Pointing out that it is unlikely to change under Trumpy is accurate.

      After all, he's said many times he's going to be a law & order/tough on crime president.

      There's nothing biased in saying that a bad policy will continue under someone who has said those things, amirite?

      For it to continue doesn't it imply that it was that way before?

      Or are you just pissed that Trump was mentioned in a negative light?

      Because that would be bias.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 12:41pm

        Re: Re: Pretty Amazing

        I agree, this article does not qualify as biased Trump bashing in the least and I am quick to hop on that shit because TD usually does like to bash trump in a biased manor.

        Trump has made it more than clear he is a fan of the police state. Obama loves the police state too, he was just smart enough not to say that into a microphone, earning the blind admiration of his voters.

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  • icon
    OA (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 12:28pm

    "Someone asks me to rob a stash house and i say no. The government can't make me into a criminal.

    You have to be willing to commit the crime. I don't have a lot of pity for anyone willing to commit the crime even if it is a set up."

    This "First Word" seems logical, but it's, at minimum, based on ignorance. This is a sort of zero tolerance thinking (ZTT) (all problems and solutions are simple).

    1. One can't guarantee that a specific person can be turned into a criminal. However, given enough of the right power, one can turn a significant portion of ANY population into criminals.

    2. One of the hallmarks of ZTT is that it doesn't try to fix, address or identify the cause of a problem. In every situation I have analyzed, it, instead, tries to suppress a particular symptom while gaining benefits from other symptoms. In doing so, it actually nurtures and supports the problem, if not outright creating it. This article describes another logical step. Undisciplined use of logic is an attribute of ZTT.

    3. Whenever there is a zeal for "justice", the powerful (with the help of the foolish), will arbitrarily define only some actions as bad/ wrong/ evil/ criminal and make punishment increasingly severe. Meanwhile, other actions are proportionately minimized, some of which are far worse and make those who commit them immune to justice. Like the stories where some tyrant wants to create "law and order"... by subjugating everyone. This is actual self-righteousness, btw, the kind that undermines moral/ethical reasoning and distorts historical assessment. Real justice is a balanced ideal, involving struggle. There is no such thing as aggressive, enthusiastic or simple justice.

    4. Let's say you join a club. The general benefit is that the club's power derived from the collective organization of it's members helps you as an individual. The club gains from you and benefits from "whole-greater-than-parts" phenomena. You also have some (small) influence over the club. "Government" or whatever name is used is similar except that it touches, by necessity, all aspects of your life. That touch is light or heavy depending on circumstance. Government can become adept at sucking benefits from individuals while providing less and less benefits to those individuals yet a lot more to others. This incident along with others is part of this visible trend.

      • OA

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2017 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      Lot of assumptions here.

      1: Were the people "turned" into criminals or were they already criminals encouraged to commit more crimes?

      Why is it illogical to concoct situations that make it easier to catch criminals? Ineffective maybe, a waste of resources, maybe, but not illogical.

      3 It is not something only the powerful do, as our society is based on this. Our laws are written (or should be) to benefit society. I agree, it can and is subverted, but a zeal for justice is a good thing and benefits society.

      4 The government that touches all aspects of your life assumes that people are dumb or incapable of making good decisions, and it is better to leave decisions up to the government. That is fascism.

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      • icon
        OA (profile), 15 Mar 2017 @ 6:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Lot of assumptions here.

        Perhaps, I combined a sequence of thoughts and prior experience into a single statement.

        1: Were the people "turned" into criminals or were they already criminals encouraged to commit more crimes?

        This process seems similar to NYPD's stop & frisk in NY. Supposedly, since black & hispanics, they randomly searched TONS of minorities. The tiny percentage of the arrested can help pad minority crime statistics, so the next "crime fighting" techniques can be justified.

        Why is it illogical to concoct situations that make it easier to catch criminals? Ineffective maybe, a waste of resources, maybe, but not illogical.

        The point I was failing to make was that logic is absolute, therefore must be used in the correct contexts (discipline). Illogic is often used as a reason for an act when it is really a justification for an act. Lawful actions should be reasonable not based on plausible sounding justification which are usually excuses or lies.

        3 It is not something only the powerful do, as our society is based on this. Our laws are written (or should be) to benefit society. I agree, it can and is subverted, but a zeal for justice is a good thing and benefits society.

        Zeal when connected to justice will easily overshoot the mark. One should struggle with and for justice. Gung-ho justice is routinely intemperate.

        4 The government that touches all aspects of your life assumes that people are dumb or incapable of making good decisions, and it is better to leave decisions up to the government. That is fascism.

        Clearly, I did not describe this well at all. Thinking of government and the people governed as separate entities is a common and very understandable and complex error. Governments, practically speaking, routinely engage in bad behavior. The problem is not "government" it's people. If you suppress a symptom without addressing the real problem you just make things worse.

        Thanks for the response. No more time now.

        • OA

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 6:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Of course people are the problem. One reason I support a smaller government is because government in and of itself will always be bad and wasteful. We don't have a deficit problem, we have a governmental waste problem. The governments goal is to serve the people, but the goal of people that run the government is to increase in size because that means more money, for their department and themselves.

          We spend a hell of a lot of money on defense. The GAO audited the defense department and found $200 billion in waste. They found that less than half of the defense budget goes to non fighting areas. Not troops, not feeding the troops, not weapons. Mostly it was admins. Of course, the report was spiked. This is a recent report, not past history. Hell, look at the DMV, look at the federal education system, look at the healthcare system.

          I support less federal government and giving the power back to the states. The governor of my state is more responsive to me than the president is. My mayor and town council is more responsive to me than the governor is. My local school board is more responsive to me than the department of education is. My police chief is more responsive to me than the Justice Department is.

          Why anyone would want to involve feds is amazing.

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          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 16 Mar 2017 @ 6:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Okay, how's your healthcare situation? What about schools?

            While it's true that governments do waste money the idea that local governments and corporate entities won't is erroneous. This is because they're all run by humans. The answer is accountability. Sort that out first, then you'll see change.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 7:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Agreed, but I would say that it is easier for me to hold my mayor and town council accountable than it is than the federal government.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            OA (profile), 16 Mar 2017 @ 10:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Of course people are the problem. One reason I support a smaller government is because government in and of itself will always be bad and wasteful.

            Absurd. Government is not a monster under the bed. If you get rid of or weaken one government, groups of people will develop other government-like power structures to compensate even if they call it something else. This type of commentary also improperly insists on treating "government" as a monolith that is all the same internally.

            We don't have a deficit problem, we have a governmental waste problem. The governments goal is to serve the people, but the goal of people that run the government is to increase in size because that means more money, for their department and themselves.

            Nice marketing, though our problems are not so simple.

            This comment is arbitrarily amplifying the importance of the waste issue and plus, have you seen Americans? We are wasteful. HOWEVER, what you call government waste some powerful "non-government" entity calls a payday. A weak government doesn't weaken that entity, it mostly gets rid of the good things government can do. The relationship between government and it's people is highly similar to the relationship amongst the citizenry. These relationships are also symbiotic. People's habits and moral/ ethical maturity do not get better by simply joining or leaving a governing body.

            We spend a hell of a lot of money on defense. The GAO audited the defense department and found $200 billion in waste. They found that less than half of the defense budget goes to non fighting areas. Not troops, not feeding the troops, not weapons. Mostly it was admins. Of course, the report was spiked. This is a recent report, not past history. Hell, look at the DMV, look at the federal education system, look at the healthcare system.

            I am going to momentarily assume everything in this paragraph is perfectly accurate, including the implications at the end.

            Government, when that word is used properly, is fundamentally a social structure that derives power from the collective organization of the governed. Broadly and purely speaking, when a community recognizes some wrong within its sphere of influence it activates "social mechanisms" that empower a fix or some pressure towards a fix. This empowerment can be connected to a sub-group or individual within the community. This empowerment can be mis-directed to serve a different purpose, by misusing moral/ ethical concepts or deliberately misidentifying a problem or its cause. Promoting ignorance is a common way to do this.

            The US government and the people have real problems. The desire to fix them is routinely misused to attack and pressure improper targets or in improper ways. It's also very useful in hiding the real reason for an attack.

            Even with the assumption of truth, this paragraph does not support the comment's conclusion. It merely tries to justify it.

            I support less federal government and giving the power back to the states.

            So, take power from a government and give it to... a different government (I suspect this was the purpose of the entire comment).

            The governor of my state is more responsive to me than the president is. My mayor and town council is more responsive to me than the governor is. My local school board is more responsive to me than the department of education is. My police chief is more responsive to me than the Justice Department is.

            Responsiveness to a specific individual is not a good basis for an assessment. Too often responsiveness to one comes at the expense of others.

            Why anyone would want to involve feds is amazing.

            The "feds" are involved due to their responsibilities, as it should be.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 10:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              And the lower you go on the food chain (local vs. Federal) increases local control, local oversight, local accountability.

              The "feds" have overreached their responsibilities. The feds only should be involved in matters that are granted them by the Constitution.

              Their are 8 prerogatives of the federal government. The 10th Amendment states that all prerogatives not explicitly given to the Federal Government, nor prohibited of the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.

              James Madison, the original author of this text, stated “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

              Think we got away from that a bit?

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 5:29pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Think we got away from that a bit?

                The southern states thought the same thing, before the civil war.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 2:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So you are arguing that the fed (the ATF in this article) is doing a good thing?

              The military spent $200 million dollars on firewood in Afghanistan last year. Firewood, it is actually a line item. That is a lot of firewood. Of course, the defense of this nation is a federal thing, but I think this highlights the dangers of big government.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 10:58am

    Responsiveness to a specific individual is not a good basis for an assessment. Too often responsiveness to one comes at the expense of others.

    Agreed, but quite a bit of regulations are tailored to the individual or small groups, and one could say that a lot of environmental law favors very small groups. The rights of fish can outweigh the rights of the people of California in their water needs. Where is the federal governments say in that?

    The more that the federal government does, the less the state can do. That is not what the Constitution wanted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OA (profile), 17 Mar 2017 @ 7:30pm

      Re:

      Responsiveness to a specific individual is not a good basis for an assessment. Too often responsiveness to one comes at the expense of others.

      Agreed,

      You don’t seem to agree. The most important word in the quoted sentences is ASSESSMENT. One cannot conclude, “This gov’t is good because it does what I say”.

      but quite a bit of regulations are tailored to the individual or small groups, and one could say that a lot of environmental law favors very small groups. The rights of fish can outweigh the rights of the people of California in their water needs. Where is the federal governments say in that?

      This isn’t relevant or coherent. I do notice you’ve added regulations and environmental law to the naughty list, though. Seems familiar…

      Regulations and environmental law are broad gov’t outputs mostly stemming from responsibilities and calculations of best interests. Regulations cannot broadly “favor” “small groups”. Specific regulation are championed by small groups. Environmental law cannot be “tailored” to individuals. Specific laws often use the expertise of individuals. Small groups do the job usually because most everyone else is indifferent, a bad actor or unqualified. Fish don’t have rights and don’t petition gov’t. Protecting fish may be a result of a calculation of best interests.

      The main issue with the use of ideology as a way to grapple with the world is that it always seems like the answer. It is worse than absolute because it creates an illusion of simplicity by forcing all of life’s circumstances into an image like itself (so to speak). Having a belief does not obviate the need to struggle with decision making or assessments. Note: a belief or a belief system is NOT the same as an ideology.

      The more that the federal government does, the less the state can do. That is not what the Constitution wanted.

      Gibberish. This is a broad Zero-Sum statement that seems like it might mean something if you squint. I think I can interpret: “The state wants to do certain specific things (probably bad) and the federal gov’t is preventing it”.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2017 @ 1:35pm

    Funny, but I find that the best conversations or debates on Techdirt are not actually about the article posted, but on offshoots of the article.

    I think everyone here agrees that these stings are a waste of time and money and just makes law enforcement look good, just like the terrorist stings, and most of homeland security.

    That being said, the interesting conversations take place over what actually follows from the article.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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