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Friday, June 10, 2011

Student Loans and DOE S.W.A.T. Teams by Wendy McElroy

Student Loans and DOE S.W.A.T. Teams
by Wendy McElroy, June 10, 2011

On March 11, 2010, Washington Post blogger Valerie Strauss asked an intriguing question: “Why is the Education Department purchasing 27 Remington Brand Model 870 police 12-gauge shotguns?”


"On June 7, 2011, the answer became clear. At 6 a.m. a S.W.A.T.-style team of 15 officers from the U.S. Department of Education's (DOE) Office of Inspector General broke down a door in Stockton, California. (The OIG is the semi-independent law-enforcement branch of the DOE which pursues criminal offenses such as student aid fraud.) The agents had a no-knock warrant that had been issued by the DOE. On the other side of the door were Kenneth Wright and his three children ages 3, 7, and 11. None of them had violated any law. Nevertheless, an officer grabbed the underwear-clad Wright by the neck and dragged him onto the front lawn, pinning him down with a knee in the back. Eventually, the handcuffed Kenneth and his children were placed in the back of a patrol car for six hours while the police searched his house."


"The DOE's flexing of power comes in the wake of an extreme expansion of its authority. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 essentially nationalized the process of granting and administering student loans, so that the ...DOE provides such loans directly rather than reimbursing banks. In short, the government no longer backs student loans in the private sector. (The provisions are slated to go into full effect in 2014.) Critics point out that the DOE's monopoly on government-backed loans gives it an unprecedented power to determine who receives assistance, which careers are encouraged, and the curriculum offered by colleges."


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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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