Is ‘Seize Now, Kind It Later’ Itself an Assault on Liberty?


Yves right here. Lambert was early to determine what he referred to as “authoritarian followership” amongst Crew Dem. It’s now going to its logical conclusion because the Democrats and even many supposedly lefties are tremendous with the trashing of civil rights and liberty if that expedites bringing down Hair Furore.

By Thomas Neuburger. Initially revealed at God’s Spies

“In Trump-related circumstances, the DOJ has pushed the tactical envelope in all the identical methods it has with different forms of unpopular defendants over time, solely it’s executed so with a disturbing … presumption that the general public desires them to paint outdoors the traces greater than ever, and deal much more cruelly with targets. The DOJ has political winds at its again[that] it lacked even within the early Struggle on Terror days.”
—Matt Taibbi, writing concerning the growing energy of the prosecutorial state

“The FBI has all the time been a instrument of repression of left-wing actions.”
—Alex Vitale, writer of The Finish of Policing

“The CIA shouldn’t be your pal.”
—Edward Snowden, here

Two issues might be true on the similar time:

• Donald Trump might be an indefensible excuse for a president and characterize a hazard to the Republic (the formal establishment of our authorities).

• On the similar time, the Nationwide Safety State might be exercising an influence seize the likes of which can finish each our democracy and our republican model of it.

In fact, each issues will also be false, or only one true. If I have been a novelist, I’d make each issues true. However that’s only a novelist’s view. Let’s see what we discover once we take a real-world view.

The As soon as and Future Hazard

I take it as a provided that Trump is a harmful president. You may give your causes, when you’ve got them, as simply as I may give mine. Our lists would possibly even match.

The purpose is to not argue our lists. The purpose is to surprise what made liberals — individuals who used to hate “spook state” brokers just like the FBI and CIA — abruptly love them, assist their penetration of media through “unaffiliated” spokespeople, and blind themselves to the conversion of J. Edgar Hoover’s criminal, blackmail enterprise into trendy angels of democratic deliverance within the current American thoughts?

A latest democratic angel of such deliverance is George W. Bush, he of torture and war crimes fame. One other is from the Cheney household, Trump-hating Liz Cheney, enemy of all that progressives maintain expensive save her animosity towards the Earlier Occupant.

Are both of them pals of freedom? Not when you take a look at them — or retain the appearance of a reminiscence — however they’re actually praised as such, nowadays that’s. Some Democrats would possibly even finance her run for the presidency, ought to she select to make one.

The lovable Mr. Bush, welcomed again to the fold

Who’s the as soon as and future hazard? Is it solely Trump?

Hoover’s FBI, in fact, has been credibly linked to the murder of Malcolm Xand less credibly linked to the murder of Martin Luther King. And the misdeeds of the Nationwide Safety State writ giant are quite a few and indefensible. From the murder of Americans by the CIA drone operation(2010), to spying on the Supreme Court by the FBI (2012), to outright and unpunished lying under oath to Congress by Director of Nationwide Intelligence James Clapper (2017) — it’s stunning to me that fervent defenders of democracy, of us to the left of the Proper, your pals and mine, have change into their quick pals as nicely, some even their defenders.

So surprisingly sturdy is the protection of the FBI by its former attackers that even the venerable of us at Democracy Now are looking. Describing a latest broadcast, they wrote (all bolded emphasis mine):

“There Are Good Causes to Defund the FBI. They Have Nothing to Do with Trump” “Defund the FBI” is the rising name by Republicans after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. We get response from Alex Vitale, writer of “The Finish of Policing,” who lays out causes to defund the FBI that don’t have anything to do with Trump. Vitale evaluations the historical past of the FBI, which he says has “all the time been a instrument of repression of left-wing actions,” and calls the FBI investigation into Trump a “shortsighted” try and shut down a number of the most excessive elements of the correct wing. He uplifts efforts to “scale back the facility and scope of the FBI in ways in which restrict their capability to demonize and criminalize these on the left.”

Has Trump made us blind, or has the prosecutorial state reformed itself?

Is that query even being requested?

The DOJ’s Trojan Horse

All this leads me to advocate a full learn of a collection that appeared lately at Matt Taibbi’s Substack website. In a bit referred to as “What Happened to America’s Civil Libertarians?” Taibbi particulars how disturbing it’s for readers to even see these doubts expressed:

Over the weekend I revealed a characteristic on Justice Division use of bullying ways and unfair practices, referred to as “The Justice Department Was Dangerous Before Trump. It’s Out of Control Now.” Although the majority of the article centered on targets broadly sympathetic to the left, just like the late radical lawyer Lynne Stewart and a civil rights agency in Baltimore raided for the crime of representing one other lawyer, a flood of emails and social media posts ensued, most on the predictable theme that this piece [—] filled with details and testimonials by individuals apart from myself [—] was right-wing grift: “What occurred to you, man?”

However the piece he refers to is stable and solidly researched. I strongly advocate studying all of it.

In it he examines the usage of “taint groups” by the FBI, a apply whereby they go right into a goal’s workplace, typically a lawyer defending somebody underneath investigation, and scoop up all the pieces they will discover, with the intention of assigning one among their very own (however “not a part of the investigation”) to take a look at all the pieces and type it out later. They’ve been doing this lengthy earlier than Trump took heart stage.

Judges have been particularly upset with prosecutors who have been profiting from technological adjustments to grab plenty of digital information — often computer systems or cell telephones containing non-public data outdoors the scope of the warrant request — and, in defiance of courts, retaining that data. In a case involving seizure of emails from a protection contractor suspected of a kickback scheme, a D.C. Justice of the Peace named John Facciola expressed concern that the federal government would “maintain information indefinitely” even supposing it’s “unlawful” to refuse to return “seized paperwork not described in a warrant.” Facciola, who’d handled this challenge greater than as soon as, blew his top … [but he was] overturned by a choose, Richard Roberts, who stated the federal government’s take-everything, construct-probable-cause-later methodology was okay as long as there was “ample probability of discovering some needles within the laptop haystack.” This was the sort of judicial recommendation the feds appreciated: seize now, fear later.

Of 1 such raid of the regulation workplace of Joshua Treem, “the lawyer of the lawyer of a suspect,” Taibbi writes:

The U.S. Lawyer’s workplace in Maryland had lengthy been pursuing a lawyer named Ken Ravenell, one of many high prison attorneys in Baltimore, believing he was primarily a part of the prison operation of a Jamaican marijuana kingpin named Richard Byrd. That the feds raided Ravenell’s workplace in 2014 was one factor. The actual shocker got here in 2019, when the U.S. Lawyer and the I.R.S. raided the regulation workplace of Ravenell’s lawyer, Joshua Treem. If the Lynne Stewart case was about intimidating the lawyer of a suspect, this case was about intimidating the lawyer of the lawyer of a suspect. The DOJ didn’t simply take Treem’s information. It took large quantities of information and information from the agency the place Treem was and is a associate, Brown, Goldstein, and Levy. This group of legal professionals had been repeatedly acknowledged as a high agency by U.S. Information and World Report and Finest Legal professionals in America, with a number of attorneys successful annual “Baltimore Lawyer of the Yr” awards, together with Treem himself. Regardless of their standing, the Justice Division handled Treem’s agency like terror suspects, delivering a shock search replete with armed, kevlar-clad brokers, on the idea of a warrant issued in an ex parte listening to with a district choose, which means the agency had no probability to contest the raid. The Brown, Goldstein, and Levy legal professionals have been in a state of shock. “For a civil rights regulation workplace, mid-morning on a enterprise day, in the midst of Baltimore, they felt the necessity to get totally armed,” says Treem, laughing in amazement as he recollects the scene. “They by no means even despatched a subpoena,” says fellow associate Kobie Flowers. “That was a part of our argument later within the Fourth Circuit. We’re all officers of the courtroom. All of us have moral duties to observe. We are able to’t destroy proof. Had you simply despatched a subpoena for these items, we’d have given it over to you.

Why do all this?

One consequence of changing into a prison suspect was that Treem, who’d obtained a goal letter six months earlier than, had a battle of curiosity that prevented him from defending Ravenell, which in fact might need been a part of the purpose. “I needed to withdraw from representing my shopper,” says Treem. “As soon as I received the goal letter, I needed to advise my present shoppers and any individuals who have been calling me to ask for illustration.” Requested if such ways may very well be interpreted as a message, that any legal professional who desires to remain in enterprise ought to assume twice about representing somebody the federal government is critical about pursuing, Flowers stated the intimidation issue goes additional than that. “On the one hand, it’s a method transfer. They get to kick Josh off the case,” he stated. “However the subsequent step, or a corollary to that thought, is: for a lot of prison protection attorneys, it causes them to query whether or not they wish to be on this career?

The FBI and DOJ additionally get a peek — and probability to repeat and use with out revealing their sources to the protection — all the communication and information of all the different legal professionals on the agency. What’s the good thing about that? Taibbi solutions:

The authorities took 37,000 emails from Treem’s inbox alone, of which solely 62 have been from Ravenell or contained his title. Treem’s agency had over twenty legal professionals, information about whom have been taken into the custody of a separate workplace of the Maryland U.S. Lawyer’s workplace. As a choose within the case later wrote, referencing Treem and Ravenell as Lawyer A and Consumer A: An “intensive” portion of the seized emails have been “from different [Law Firm] attorneys regarding . . . different attorneys’ shoppers that don’t have any reference to th[e] investigation[s]” of Lawyer A and Consumer A. Notably, a few of these Regulation Agency shoppers “are being investigated by, or are being prosecuted by, the US Lawyer’s Workplace [for the District of Maryland] for unrelated crimes.” In different phrases, the U.S. Lawyer’s workplace in Maryland determined to cruise by way of the protection information of shoppers that very same workplace was already investigating and/or prosecuting.

Is the Justice Division uncontrolled with regards to its prosecutorial powers and skills? Has the Nationwide Safety State, of which the FBI and the DOJ are half, slipped its leash because of 9/11 and our new-found love of creating life depressing for terrorists?

The completely detained and never-to-be-tried at Guantánamo Bay
Has the FBI, within the phrases of one among its liberal defenders, “reformed and modernized”? Or is it, in Taibbi’s phrases, “a Trojan Horse, inside which the Justice Division has assembled a military for a grand assault on civil liberties”?

Left and Proper vs. Proper and Fallacious

These questions are at the moment dealt with by way of a left vs. proper framework. I’d argue they need to be dealt with by way of a proper vs. incorrect framework. “Is the criticism true or not?” is a special query than “Does it assist Trump or not?”

If the nation turns into an authoritarian hellhole, it will not be the Proper that’s in cost. The nationwide safety state, with bipartisan assist, is already a candidate.

In fact, a lonely author and some thousand loyal readers aren’t going to determine this matter for the nation. The nation will determine for itself which spinning wheels it desires to be dazzled by.

I wait with bated breath for the day it decides. I’ll launch that breath once I see what flows from the outcome.

And I hope to God that the outcome shouldn’t be presaged by the traces of the well-known poem “First they came…”, whose center verse would possibly quickly be revised to say: “Then they got here for Trump, however I hated the bastard, so f-ck him.”

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