As the broad arm of the police state continues to expand across the United States many of these agencies are finding themselves under scrutiny from a wary public. With many recent headlines concerning raids being conducted on faulty intel and resulting in the harassment of innocent citizens, and in the worst cases their deaths, it would seem important to keep them accountable to the public whose safety they claim to defend.
A report released by the ACLU this morning showed some startling statistics. Less than 10 percent of the raids were conducted against armed citizenry or in situations where the criminals had barricaded themselves. The rest of them were conducted against private citizens who were unaware — and most on the presumption that drugs were on the scene.
Leaving aside the issue that War on Drugs is an epic failure and needs to be ended – these stats show that the increasing militarization of our police state seems to be targeted at non-violent offenders, and in some cases innocent victims altogether.
So what are we to do? Why, hold these government agencies accountable, of course!
Therein lies the problem. When the Freethought Project submitted a request for information via the Freedom of Information Act, a bill that was passed into law in 1996 which requires all government agencies to release information to the public upon request – so long as its release does not bring harm or danger to the public good, they received little to no information on the SWAT division of the police force.
Their reasoning? According to authorities SWAT is not subject to FOIA requests because they are a private organization!
Now hold on a sec! The government would like to state that an entity of that government which receives funding from our tax dollars and grants from the state and federal government, and whose employees are public servants, is now a private organization not governed by the federal laws of the United States!?!
This sounds like a scary Orwellian plotline, except that it’s happening right here in the “land of the free.”
The ACLU is filing suit to ensure that transparency remains one of the core tenets of our nation’s government.