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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Obama's Benevolent Despotism: A little censorship, anyone? How about turning citizens into informants?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 2:45 PM
By: William Collier and Ralph Benko

The White House Web site has this very intriguing little new note:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

This White House request for citizen informants to “flag” “disinformation” would appear to derive from a policy being advocated by the White House Information Czar.

President Obama’s head of the ”White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs” is legal scholar and Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein. By all accounts, he is a brilliant, decent, and dignified man. And yet, according to a recent column by Austin Hill, published in Townhall.com:

Advance copies [are] circulating of his new book “On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done.” While we don’t know precisely what Obama and Sunstein will be doing, many of the thoughts that Mr. Sunstein expresses about the Internet seem consistent with President Obama’s proclivity to control things, generally.
Perhaps most disturbing is Mr. Sunstein’s vision for the future of Web content, as he argues for a so-called “notice and take down” law.(Click here to continue reading)

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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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