Oh Good Grief

Via Radley Balko, the most obscene thing I’ve read in a while:

On Aug. 18, Ms. Moore and her boyfriend went to Police Headquarters to file a complaint with Internal Affairs about the officer who had talked to her alone. Ms. Moore said the officer had fondled her and left his personal telephone number, which she handed over to the investigators.

Ms. Moore said the investigators tried to talk her out of filing a complaint, saying the officer had a good record and that they could “guarantee” that he would not bother her again.

“They keep giving her the run-around, basically trying to discourage her from making a report,” Mr. Johnson said. “Finally, she decides to record them on her cellphone to show how they’re not helping her.”

The investigators discovered that she was recording them and she was arrested and charged with two counts of eavesdropping, Mr. Johnson said. But he added that the law contains a crucial exception. If citizens have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is about to be committed against them, they may obtain evidence by recording it.

“I contend that the Internal Affairs investigators were committing the crime of official misconduct in preventing her from filing a complaint,” Mr. Johnson said. “She’s young. She had no idea what she was getting into when she went in there to make a simple complaint. It’s just a shame when the people watching the cops aren’t up to it.”

Days later, accompanied by Mr. Johnson, Ms. Moore returned to Internal Affairs and was able to file a full complaint. There is a continuing investigation of Ms. Moore’s charges against the officer, a Police Department spokesman said.

One of the things that shocks me the most about this kind of thing is how willing everyone seems to be to bend over and just take it. We’ll carry guns to rallies and have a genuine freak-out if someone suggests raising the top marginal rate a point, but there are honest to goodness abuses of authority and prosecutorial misconduct every single day, and only a few people really speak up about it. Hell, even at this website, where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left, when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch about the blogger who mentioned it, or to simply swallow the government line. It’s insane. Wikileaks is a perfect case in point- I know when I find out that my government is lying to me, my first reaction is to get really mad at Julian Assange and Bradley Manning and Glenn Greenwald, and to spend several months talking about whether or not Assange’s ego is too big or if Glenn uses too many words.

Just craziness.

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112 replies
  1. 1
    Mark S. says:

    Hell, even at this website, where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left, when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch about the blogger who mentioned it, or to simply swallow the government line.

    Freakout to commence in 3, 2, 1 . . .

  2. 2
    cleek says:

    shit man, if you had thrown in some stuff the public option and abortion, you’d hit the troll-your-commenters jackpot!

  3. 3
    Jane2 says:

    Hell, even at this website, where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left, when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch about the blogger who mentioned it, or to simply swallow the government line.

    And the reaction from you is to get your panties in a bunch about how we react to a publicity-seeking blogger.

    I hardly consider being “detained” or “turned away” from Quantico and the ensuring publicity to oneself (all publicity is good publicity) to be on the level of official abuse you describe in this post.

  4. 4
    Nick says:

    One of the things that shocks me the most about this kind of thing is how willing everyone seems to be to bend over and just take it.

    Why would that shock you? Whores like to bend over and take it.

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    This sort of thing is just so infuriating. This girl didn’t do anything wrong.

    Why are there not laws on the books saying it is legal for members of the public to record public officials as they carry out their duties and responsibilities? Over and over again people who are recording cops, while the cops are doing their jobs, get in trouble for recording. That seems ridiculous to me.

    I get not recording them during their private lives, but as they do their job? They’re working for us! They should be happy to show us how well they do their job. It shouldn’t be against the law to record them.

  6. 6
    cervantes says:

    It’s true. I remember I practically had apoplexy when The Nation editorialized endorsing the acquittal of the cops who murdered Amadou Dialou.

    Those guys went out hunting human beings for sport, and they riddled a guy with bullets who was just standing out on his front steps taking in the evening air after a hard day at work. And Katrina vanden Heuvel and Victor Navasky praised the jury for allowing us to move on.

    It was bizarre.

  7. 7
    Joseph Nobles says:

    It’s the only way to stay center or center-left.

  8. 8
    c u n d gulag says:

    There’s been a slow drip, drip, drip, of our human and civil righs in this country – and sometimes a wholesale flush or two, like when Little Boots was President.

    Things like this, Taser’s, etc., are a symbolic to me that we are slowly and steadily accepting authoritarianism. And the real kind, not the fictional Teabagger BS that they moan and whine about.

  9. 9
    Don says:

    Accountability: critically important for teachers. For cops? Meh.

  10. 10
    Nick says:

    @Violet:

    Why are there not laws on the books saying it is legal for members of the public to record public officials as they carry out their duties and responsibilities? Over and over again people who are recording cops, while the cops are doing their jobs, get in trouble for recording. That seems ridiculous to me.

    You can videotape, you can’t audiotape, because they can see the camera.

  11. 11
    suzanne says:

    Hell, even at this website, where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left, when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch about the blogger who mentioned it, or to simply swallow the government line.

    I concur that the first reaction of many people of any political persuasion is to aide with power. Hell, yesterday I was told by a couple of commenters that I shouldn’t call Ben Roethlisberger a rapist because he wasn’t convicted in a court of law. I suspect that sexism/racism/homophobia are large factors in these abuses of authority that you mention, John. But our side is supposed to be the one that give voice and enfranchisement to the marginalized, and we all probably need to be reminded of that from time to time.

  12. 12
    Joseph Nobles says:

    @Jane2: How about the treatment of Bradley Manning?

  13. 13
    Face says:

    Wait. Recording people w/o their knowledge is a crime? And yet Buah, Rumsfeld, and Cheney walk free?

  14. 14
    Zifnab25 says:

    It’s less roll-over-and-take-it and more learned helplessness. People aren’t happy when they hear of this kind of abuse, but they don’t know how to respond.

  15. 15
    Jan says:

    What absolutely amazes me is that we live in a country that can pick any one of us up off the street and put us in prison without charge, indefinitely — and we aren’t up in arms about that.

    We’ve lost one of our most basic rights, one that has utterly defined us and our country, and we’re quite docile and inattentive!

    What’s wrong with us??

  16. 16
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Violet:

    Why are there not laws on the books saying it is legal for members of the public to record public officials as they carry out their duties and responsibilities?

    I think the question answers itself…

    This blog’s been rather punchy today. Bordering on self-parody at times, but plowing right ahead before anybody can take much notice. I like it. And that’s not even getting into the ongoing Palestinian peace fraud racket story that broke today.

  17. 17
    Jack Bauer says:

    Strong authoritarian streak in this country, to say the least.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    Maybe I’m jaded because I am the grandson and nephew of cops, but this is completely unsurprising to me. Outrageous, but unsurprising.

    A good working hypothesis is that cops always lie, and they always cover for each other.

  19. 19
    RossInDetroit says:

    when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch

    Here’s why: if we’re forced to admit that people in power are not trustworthy then we’re in a whole lot of trouble. Government and law enforcement impact our lives in so many ways. If we can’t trust them then life gets very complicated. And most of us would rather stay in denial than have to look out for ourselves every minute.

  20. 20
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I’m gonna withhold judgment about the Balko piece until Firedoglake sez something about it that will allow me to hate on ’em.

  21. 21
    Richard S says:

    I found out the hard way 25 years ago that cops lie, lie under oath and judges know it tolerate it because I guess they feel they need the cops. Too bad – that’s how travesties become common place – authorities allow themselves to break the rules.

  22. 22
    quaint irene says:

    That is a depressing story. And here I thought, by the article title, it was going to be something about Charlie Brown!

  23. 23

    Hasn’t this kind of case already been highlighted on BJ? http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/302844

  24. 24
    John Cole says:

    @suzanne: The reason you shouldn’t call Ben a rapist is that he has never even been charged with, much less convicted, of rape. This is not hard.

    Asshole, yes. Potential sexual predator, sure. Rapist? You’re out of line.

  25. 25
    MikeJ says:

    When it came to the case with Jane, what government line was there to swallow? The only thing I saw was people saying they weren’t going to blindly believe what she had to say without hearing details from anyone else.

  26. 26
    lacp says:

    Huh? You mean you actually thought They Live was fiction?

  27. 27
    cleek says:

    @Jack Bauer:
    not just this country. it’s a human thing.

  28. 28
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @John Cole:

    The reason you shouldn’t call Ben a rapist is that he has never even been charged with, much less convicted, of rape. This is not hard.

    Likewise for those accused of murder, wouldn’t you agree?

  29. 29

    I know when I find out that my government is lying to me, my first reaction is to get really mad at Julian Assange and Bradley Manning and Glenn Greenwald, and to spend several months talking about whether or not Assange’s ego is too big or if Glenn uses too many words.

    Actually, John, your first reaction seems to be to get really mad that there are people who have a problem with Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Glenn Greenwald.

    Have you ever compared the number of posts you’ve written about the travails of Manning and Assange through the legal system (and the way-too-meta debate about what people on the internet say about it), to the number of posts you’ve written about the contents of the Afghan and State cables?

  30. 30
    Mike M says:

    Some level of misconduct happens in nearly every organization from local schools and auto mechanics to large corporations and the federal government. Some organizations have a few bad apples, while others are rotten through and through. It is not always easy to know which is which. The particular experience that Ms. Moore suffered, according to this report, is just outrageous, and I hope that the people responsible face appropriate discipline. In my mind, none of these people are fit for law enforcement.

    That said, I don’t take every report of abuse and misconduct at face value. Many people lie, mislead, or spin the facts to fit their own agenda. Not everyone who claims to be a victim is treated unjustly. I try to reserve judgment until I’ve learned all the facts, not just a partial report from one side.

    I get irked reading the comments at DKOS and the Huffington Post because some of the people just as freely ignore the facts as the crazies I so deplore on the hard right.

    I applaud anyone who has the courage to stand up for what is right, and especially those who defend the most vulnerable among us against powerful interests. Even so, I believe it is important to use your brain as well as your guy, especially when you are far removed from a situation, rather than act impulsively.

  31. 31
    burnspbesq says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    “the ongoing Palestinian peace fraud racket story that broke today.”

    That’s a truly bizarre way to describe the story that broke today. Your mental processes are incomprehensible. What planet do you come from?

  32. 32
    Tim says:

    where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left, when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch about the blogger who mentioned it, or to simply swallow the government line.

    Thank you for at least acknowledging this aspect of BJ’s commentariat.

    They hate Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange far more than they distrust Authoritarianism.

  33. 33
    licensed to kill time says:

    Sounds like Ms. Moore crossed paths with the Bad Lieutenant.

  34. 34
    elmo says:

    None of this is new. There has never been a golden age in this or any other country when the cops, as a whole, were anything other than a lawless band of thugs.

    The main difference now is the existence of cell phone cameras and Youtube. Hence the new emphasis on arresting, beating, and harassing people who threaten to expose the lawlessless to public view.

  35. 35
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    The police are the right kind of people. The woman is the wrong kind of people. So really, what is the problem here? Laws and rules only apply to the little people.

  36. 36
    Tim says:

    @John Cole:

    @suzanne: The reason you shouldn’t call Ben a rapist is that he has never even been charged with, much less convicted, of rape. This is not hard.

    Asshole, yes. Potential sexual predator, sure. Rapist? You’re out of line.

    God, yes, JOhn. I never get what’s so hard to understand about this general concept.

    Man, you are kicking ass today. You know, because you’re agreeing with me today, so you must be dead on right.

  37. 37
    Tony J says:

    @Violet:

    This sort of thing is just so infuriating. This girl didn’t do anything wrong.

    Sure she did. She tried to make an official complaint against a police officer who had assaulted her. Then she tried to gather evidence that the police officers who should have been taking her statement and passing the complaint on for investigation were actually trying to get her to go away and shut the hell up.

    Oh, you meant ‘wrong’ as in – something illegal or bad, and not ‘wrong’ as in – something that the police officers in question didn’t want her to do, because what they were doing was both illegal and bad? In that case, yeah, you have a valid point.

    It shouldn’t be against the law to record them.

    But recording what the police do might make it harder for them to do things they shouldn’t be doing, and since they so often do what they shouldn’t be doing, your crazy ideas would inevitably lead to a situation where their vibe would be majorly harshed.

    I know I wouldn’t want to join any police force if I couldn’t rely on my buddies to cover up a little bit of illicit groping. ‘Protect’ comes before ‘Serve’ for a reason.

  38. 38
    cathyx says:

    Thank you John.

  39. 39
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @burnspbesq:

    So you would somehow decide that the public portrayal of the autonomy and competency of the Palestinian Authority to negotiate anything with anybody wasn’t fraudulent?

  40. 40
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, trying to talk people out of filing complaints is SOP. My friend got randomly beat up by a guy on Hennepin Avenue. She had to repeatedly insist on filing a report despite their discouragement.

    Interestingly, the next day I heard how Minneapolis is experiencing a drop in violent crime. With my new knowledge, I realize that it may only mean that Minneapolis is now accepting fewer reports of violent crime.

  41. 41
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Face: Well, to be accurate, it is only a crime if you can’t get Congress to make it retroactively legal.

  42. 42
    David in NY says:

    So, I suppose it’s part of the Illinois Libertarian Party platform that these laws against recording cops should be repealed. Right? Right???

    Anyway, they ought to be. Right away.

  43. 43
    Jan says:

    @burnspbesq:

    That’s a truly bizarre way to describe the story that broke today. Your mental processes are incomprehensible. What planet do you come from?

    To me at least, Mr. Loblaw’s reference to “the ongoing Palestinian peace fraud racket story that broke today” makes perfect sense. The PA was selling its citizens out and Israel was acting in reprehensibly bad faith.

  44. 44
    Ash Can says:

    One of the things that shocks me the most about this kind of thing is how willing everyone seems to be to bend over and just take it…there are honest to goodness abuses of authority and prosecutorial misconduct every single day, and only a few people really speak up about it.

    For the public at large, it takes stories like these to even find out about these laws. The people directly involved are pretty obviously not bending over and just taking it, of course, but what recourse do the rest of us have? As the article says, the police and the state’s attorney are in favor of the law. It goes without saying that any elected officials would be on the side of this law as well. That doesn’t leave very many avenues of recourse. The ACLU is fighting the good fight here, but who else can do that?

    From the article:

    [Moore’s lawyer] added that the law contains a crucial exception. If citizens have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is about to be committed against them, they may obtain evidence by recording it.

    I’m wondering whether the ACLU could ultimately use this loophole in the law to take some of the teeth out of it, especially regarding the imbalance between cops and other authorities and civilians. Regardless, I’m betting the only realistic, practical alternative any of us would have to “bending over and just taking it” is to support the ACLU in this and all of its endeavors.

  45. 45
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Unfortunately advocating for the right to video tape cops doing their job is easy to portray as being anti-cop/pro criminal. I have no idea why people buy that argument, but they certainly do.

  46. 46
    quickly says:

    right on John. This in particular:

    “Wikileaks is a perfect case in point- I know when I find out that my government is lying to me, my first reaction is to get really mad at Julian Assange and Bradley Manning and Glenn Greenwald, and to spend several months talking about whether or not Assange’s ego is too big or if Glenn uses too many words.”

    thank you.

  47. 47
    drkrick says:

    @John Cole:

    The reason you shouldn’t call Ben a rapist is that he has never even been charged with, much less convicted, of rape. This is not hard.

    No, the reason you shouldn’t put Roethlisberger in jail is because he hasn’t been convicted of rape. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a legal concept. Joe or Jane Citizen aren’t bound by the same burden of proof to refrain from saying whay they believe. Which is just as true for O.J. Simpson or Dick Cheney.

  48. 48
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex):

    You juke the stats and majors become colonels, and mayors become governors…

  49. 49
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Ash Can:

    Regardless, I’m betting the only realistic, practical alternative any of us would have to “bending over and just taking it” is to support the ACLU in this and all of its endeavors.

    Which is why the last time they called and asked me to increase my monthly contribution I did it despite having other good uses for the money. Someone has to stay on the job against this kind of abuse.

  50. 50
    RossInDetroit says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Unfortunately advocating for the right to video tape cops doing their job is easy to portray as being anti-cop/pro criminal. I have no idea why people buy that argument, but they certainly do.

    Hey, if they haven’t done anything wrong then they have nothing to hide. What’s the problem?

    The TSA jailed a traveler for videoing them and he just won in court, at considerable expense.

  51. 51
    Nick says:

    @John Cole:

    The reason you shouldn’t call Ben a rapist is that he has never even been charged with, much less convicted, of rape. This is not hard.

    The NFL doesn’t just suspend star quarterbacks for 1/4 of the season for shits and giggles.

  52. 52
    suzanne says:

    @John Cole:

    Asshole, yes. Potential sexual predator, sure. Rapist? You’re out of line.

    I don’t buy that for a minute. I find it incredibly easy to believe that multiple women are telling the truth about an incredibly common crime that by its very nature is due to power imbalance, and that a powerful person was able to utilize that power (money, fame) to avoid punishment.

    Not to mention, it’s pretty much an article of faith on this blog that Clarence Thomas is a sexual harasser, or that Dick Cheney is a war criminal, yet neither of them were ever convicted of a damn thing. What makes it different?

  53. 53
    drkrick says:

    @Nick:

    The NFL doesn’t just suspend star quarterbacks for 1/4 of the season for shits and giggles.

    Or for being assholes. Cutler was eligible for all 16 games.

  54. 54
    eemom says:

    ferfucksake John Cole. If anybody needed any further evidence that you deliberately stir this shit up here it is.

    You could have just posted about the case and what an outrage it is. Using it as a stick to poke those of us who don’t mindlessly fellate Hamsher and Greenwald as heroes is just asking for trouble — and in particular, to deflect attention from the outrage you claim to be protesting.

    You know, sorta like driving a car with expired plates and no proof of insurance onto a military base when you’re supposedly trying to help out a guy being held in solitary.

  55. 55

    @John Cole:

    The reason you shouldn’t call Ben a rapist is that he has never even been charged with, much less convicted, of rape. This is not hard.

    Is that the same reason we shouldn’t call Cheney a torturer?

  56. 56
    El Cruzado says:

    But they happen, mostly, to “other” people, who are therefore kept in “their place.”

    Hence, it’s cool.

  57. 57
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Violet:

    Why are there not laws on the books saying it is legal for members of the public to record public officials as they carry out their duties and responsibilities? Over and over again people who are recording cops, while the cops are doing their jobs, get in trouble for recording. That seems ridiculous to me.

    While I haven’t checked the caselaw on this (check with your favorite lawyer for legal advice), it seems to me that recording public officials’ performance of their public functions is a form of journalism that should be protected by the 1st Amendment. I mean, isn’t finding out what public officials are doing — and holding them accountable for it — the very core of self-government?

  58. 58
    Flugelhorn says:

    Center to Center-Left… You truly are a loon, Cole.

  59. 59
    kdaug says:

    @Violet:

    It shouldn’t be against the law to record them

    It should be required.

  60. 60
    Poopyman says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    While I haven’t checked the caselaw on this, it seems to me that recording public officials’ performance of their public function is a form of journalism that should be protected by the 1st Amendment.

    Ah, well there’s that word “should” again. A lot of things should be the way they now aren’t.

    And here we are. Used to be I was a moderate Democrat. My politics haven’t changed that much since 1974, but now I’m a far left loony in this country.

  61. 61
    ET says:

    Well I am from NOLA and considering the fabulous history of police murdering people filing IA complaints and even their fellow officers, I almost never take their side.

  62. 62
    adolphus says:

    @John Cole:

    @suzanne: The reason you shouldn’t call Ben a rapist is that he has never even been charged with, much less convicted, of rape. This is not hard.

    Asshole, yes. Potential sexual predator, sure. Rapist? You’re out of line.

    SO we can look forward to no more talk of Ray Lewis as a murderer? And you will defend his good name in the comments as well?

  63. 63
    RP says:

    Hell, even at this website, where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left, when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch about the blogger who mentioned it, or to simply swallow the government line. It’s insane.

    I don’t see what’s so insane about withholding judgement until we see more facts. I thought that’s what liberals were supposed to do. None of us know exactly what happened with Hamsher, and I’m not going to blindly accept her version just because.

  64. 64

    @ET:

    Well I am from NOLA…

    I can’t even imagine. The NOPD has been notorious for decades.

    I’m so lucky to be from Lowell.

  65. 65

    Yeah, well, she must have had it coming. If she hadn’t done anything wrong, then why did that cop fondle her? Don’t you know cops only fondle criminals? Why do you hate America?

  66. 66
    moe99 says:

    Guess you didn’t read this series or listen to it on This American Life:

    http://www.villagevoice.com/20.....-precinct/

  67. 67
    Violet says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    While I haven’t checked the caselaw on this (check with your favorite lawyer for legal advice), it seems to me that recording public officials’ performance of their public functions is a form of journalism that should be protected by the 1st Amendment. I mean, isn’t finding out what public officials are doing—and holding them accountable for it—the very core of self-government?

    But it’s not legal. Remember the guy riding his motorcycle who recorded the cop with his helmet cam?

    As it turned out, the gun-wielding individual was a Maryland state trooper, though he took his sweet time letting Graber know that little piece of information. Here’s where things go from bad to worse. Graber gets his citation and heads home, only to have the state police show up a few days later with a warrant for four computers, two laptops and his camera. Why? Turns out there’s a law against audibly recording someone without their consent. It’s a felony.

    @kdaug:

    It should be required.

    Agreed. In the UK some of the cops now wear “head cams” to record what they do at all times. They’ve found them to be really useful in “he said, she said” type situations. Why don’t our cops do the same thing?

  68. 68
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @J.W. Hamner: Why do they lose the “if you aren’t doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about” argument so easily?

  69. 69
    mario says:

    where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left

    Why are you surprised at the reactions of the mushy middle?

    That’s make makes them mush.

  70. 70
    phil says:

    @Jane2:

    I’d say it counts exactly. The important thing isn’t that someone was turned away or inconvenienced for some time at Quantico, but that a soldier in held in solitary confinement by his own country without charges was denied his only visitor.

  71. 71
    phil says:

    @suzanne:
    And I can believe that that also true, but ask what the hell does it have to do with the murder of civilians in Iraq?

  72. 72
    Lee says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    Apparently. I would guess it goes for all of the issues with the Bush/Cheney Administration since they have never been convicted of anything.

  73. 73
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Nick: Also, I remember reading that the girl didn’t want to press charges because of the nightmare that would be making her name public while accusing a popular NFL player of rape. Now, why would he settle so easily without charges being brought?

    Listen, all I’m saying is Ben has two SB rings and two sexual assaults. That’s reason enough for me to root for the Packers. Just in case that champagne isn’t Ben’s preferred celebratory activity.

  74. 74
    Lee says:

    This isn’t a very satisfying answer, but “Public Choice Theory” explains this very well.

    For those who have never studied it, politicians have their own incentives and constraints just like ordinary citizens do.

    Those on the Left often have idealistic visions of what Government should do to work for citizens, but then are shocked when the the institutions often create the exact opposite result.

    Politicians are elected by promising lower taxes. So expect a lot of noise about taxes.
    Politicians win elections by making back-room deals too. Recording those back-room deals may result in incumbents losing elections. SHOCKER! Laws that discourage the recording of backroom deals don’t get repealed.

  75. 75
    adolphus says:

    @Violet:

    But it’s not legal. Remember the guy riding his motorcycle who recorded the cop with his helmet cam?

    In Maryland it is certainly legal, which is why the case against Graber was dismissed. In fact this is what makes the arrest and prosecution of Graber so outrageous. They enforced a law that didn’t exist even in the face of an official advisory report from the State Attorney General that police cannot interpret themselves as having an expectation of privacy when doing their job. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for a citizen, but it appears to be ample excuse for cops and county prosecutors.

  76. 76
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Violet: The Maryland ACLU kicked police ass on this case, getting the circuit judge to dismiss the “illegal recording” charges on the basis that police have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the performance of their public duties. http://www.aclu-md.org/aPress/.....092710.pdf . The judge also threw out the illegal filming of traffic violation charge on 1st Amendment grounds. Id. The judge concluded by noting that

    Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. “Sed quis custodiet ipsos cu[s]todes”….

  77. 77
    Keith G says:

    @suzanne:

    What makes it different?

    The Stillers?

    The man is a predatory abuser of females.

  78. 78
    Violet says:

    @adolphus:
    I knew it had gone in the motorcyclist’s favor but didn’t know the details. Glad to know it was so clear cut and that the right law was in place.

    @Tonal Crow:
    Good for the ACLU. All states should have laws as clear cut as this and a judge who enforces them. With the proliferation of cell phones equipped with cameras and videoing capability it’s ridiculous to think this kind of thing isn’t going to happen. And it should happen and it’s a good thing when it does. The cops work for us. We should have the right to keep an eye on how well they perform their duties.

  79. 79
    Burkeman111 says:

    I keep trying to think the last time I was part of a challenge to authority- united with other people against a common foe- and all I come up with is school- where even elementary school kids have a solidarity of silence when it comes to teachers and authority. Somewhere along the way- that reflexive natural solidarity with our peers against authority is just bred out of us and we become “good Americans”- ever ready to side with arbitrary authority against our fellow citizens- ever ready to believe the absurd lies and excuses of authority.

    Case in point- Chuck Turner- a Boston City Councilman- was recently convicted of taking a 1000 dollar bribe over a liquor license. The FBI informant who snared him- was paid 30 grand to get the goods on Turner- a man by the way- deeply in debt and without two nickels to rub together. And the first reaction among the “good liberals” of the city of Boston? To side with the FBI of course. Question what the fuck the FBI is doing investigating a black city councilman who lives the low life- who drives a 20 year old car? Ask why an informant had to be paid 30 grand to get this man for a one grand bribe over a fucking liquor license for a bar? Nope. Just accept the good will of the FBI without question- and viciously denounce anyone who questions this crap as a “conspiracy theorist” (never mind that Turner’s entire neighborhood is in the grips of well justified paranoia after this).

    When it comes to mass American culture- I see a country of cowards and ass lickers towards authority- and it has little to do with “right” or “left”.

  80. 80
    water balloon says:

    The problem with Assange isn’t that his ego is too big, it’s that it appears that he sexually assaulted a woman, having sex with her while she was asleep and without a condom against her express wishes, an actual worse crime than what is alleged against this officer. It’s a separate matter from the larger question of Wikileaks. At least pretend like you understand what criticisms are being made.

  81. 81
    john b says:

    i think the actual laws regarding what is legal recording varies from state to state.

    my younger brother had some of his property stolen by an acquaintance of a friend. He didn’t have verifiable proof of this. But he was pretty sure. He spoke with a police officer about this and the officer said that in his state (NC) that it is legal to record a phone conversation as long as one of the parties is aware of the recording (in this case, my brother).

    I looked into it a little more at the time and found that these laws vary from state to state. And maybe phone conversations are different than in person conversations. But I don’t really know why that would be. Does anyone have any specific knowledge of this here? It seems like a lot of people are tossing out examples from all over assuming that the law is the same (or even similar) from state to state. I don’t think that’s the case.

  82. 82
    Alice says:

    Re: Cheney, Thomas and Roethlisberger: All three are men who have avoided the full force of the law through amassing institutional support, power and wealth that none of us unwashed plebes have access to.

    Which was sort of the original point of this post, actually.

  83. 83
    Alan in SF says:

    @Jane2: So this American citizen who hasn’t been convicted of a crime is officially in solitary confinement and is allowed only one visitor. Then, after Amnesty International protests his treatment, his treatment is made even worse — he’s denied that one visitor. That’s not presidential drone murders, but it’s not chopped liver.

  84. 84
    water balloon says:

    @83- They had to have known they were driving a car with out of date plates. Prisons are very strict. I used to work at a book store that regularly sent mail to inmates from family members. For one thing, they had to be sent by US mail, because most prisons do not allow delivery via UPS. Secondly, it was very important to clearly spell out the inmates name, serial number, sender info etc, and display clearly the store’s info and special stamp on the package, as well as including a valid receipt. Any little smudge or illegible number etc. would be enough of an excuse for them to return to sender.

    I know I’m coming off as a toady for the powerful in these posts, but really, only a fool or someone looking for trouble goes to a prison for a visit with a high interest inmate without a valid license plate.

  85. 85
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    @Nick:
    .
    .

    Why would that shock you? Whores like to bend over and take it.

    Please do not incivilly refer to anti-FDL, anti-GG, anti-American Obamapologists as “whores.”
    .
    .

  86. 86
    cathyx says:

    @water balloon: I would like to know where the meme that Hamsher didn’t have valid plates came from. She had electronic proof of insurance and she had registration. She had the exact same proof the previous 4 times she drove House to visit Manning. This time they were detained but no one said it had anything to do with her insurance or registration.

  87. 87
    water balloon says:

    @86 That’s what the Quantico spokesman told the NY times. If he’s just making that up, then I take back what I said, but I haven’t seen anything to prove that.

  88. 88
    grandpajohn says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: But if the same event had occurred with someone named Ben Jones an ordinary underemployed black man does any one think that in the state of Georgia he would not have been charged with a crime?

  89. 89
    eemom says:

    @cathyx:

    The “meme” that Hamsher’s plates were expired was reported by the NYT piece linked on ABL’s thread earlier, which also reported that the expired plates and lack of physical proof of insurance, as required by law, were the stated basis for the actions taken.

    Perhaps you should read the available information before you make pronouncements about what “no one said.”

  90. 90
    Jane2 says:

    @Joseph Nobles:
    @phil:

    I was referring to Jane Hamsher making herself the story, not Bradley Manning, who is indeed a victim of undue process.

  91. 91
    Mona says:

    John, co-sign. But it is indisputable that Glenn uses too many words. ;)

  92. 92
    Don K says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Works for me as a hypothesis.

    Look at the incentives. The way cops get promoted is by clearing cases, by whatever means necessary. The way assistant prosecutors become prosecutors, and prosecutors become attorneys general is by getting convictions, which often means not being too fastidious about police misconduct. The way local judges become higher-level judges is by being tough on criminals, which again means not worrying too much about police misconduct (aka, “letting them loose on technicalities”). Everything points to the police having free rein to declare war on anyone they take a dislike to.

    And the average Joe in the burbs doesn’t care at all, because he figures he’s not likely to end up on the receiving end of a beatdown and his wife or daughter isn’t likely to be groped by a cop. That kind of thing only happens to the spooks in the hood (Joe’s being polite today).

  93. 93

    And speaking of shitheaded cops. Some highlights from the article, Officer Pomper is a Seattle police officer who thinks that Seattle city leaders are a “quaint, socialist cabal”. He makes $96,000 a year as an SPD officer and is a member of the Seattle Police Guild and has a public pension. Of course Officer Pomper is no socialist himself. Hell No! He refuses to live in socialist Seattle and instead lives in Snohomish county and has a website where he describes himself as “Author/Libertarian/Cop”.

    There are so many levels of fail here that I can’t even begin to describe them. I’d love to see Balko and the guys at Reason go after this guy, if anything for the fact that he’s a hypocritical asshole who describes himself as a Libertarian while enforcing our decidedly un-Libertarian drug laws and collecting a hefty, taxpayer funded government paycheck while doing so. But who am I kidding.

  94. 94
    burnspbesq says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    So you would somehow decide that the public portrayal of the autonomy and competency of the Palestinian Authority to negotiate anything with anybody wasn’t fraudulent?

    Yup. The PA is the universally recognized legitimate government of the West Bank. There can be no doubt as to its authority to negotiate.

    That it was facing a negotiating “partner” that has consistently acted in bad faith doesn’t change that. That goes to its ability to make a deal, not its authority to make one.

    Apparently you and I have very different ideas of what the words “autonomy” and “competency” mean. I also think that you have a strange idea of what the word “fraud” means.

  95. 95
    Mona says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: You truly think a guy like Balko would not go after a cop just cuz said cop claims to be a libertarian? I assure you, if that officer did something along the lines of the myriad law enforcement atrocities Balko has exposed, he would not give a shit if the man was the reincarnation of F. A. Hayek.

  96. 96
    xjmueller says:

    fwiw – a good turn on this post…

  97. 97
    Tim I says:

    @John Cole:

    Isn’t there some intertubes rule against trolling your own website. Many of us have sought refuge here to escape the moronic firebaggers.

    I would hate to think you are becoming one, but that seems to be the trend. You actually follow Hamsher’s tweets – on the day of the AFC Championship Game.

    For fucksakes! What is up with you, dude?

  98. 98
    xjmueller says:

    fwiw – good news about police abuses in chicago.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.....olice-cmdr

  99. 99
    jTh says:

    it bears mentioning that Bush and Cheney have admitted to much of what we serially accuse them of, including the basis for war crimes prosecutions if anyone would muster up the balls to pursue them. So that’s a bit different than Big Ben’s case, though I remain agnostic about all that.

  100. 100
    mattH says:

    This is why I keep reading you Cole. That and the rare WoW post.

  101. 101
    Jrod the Cookie Thief says:

    Funny how Cole doesn’t mention Hamsher once in this post, yet a big chunk of the commenters to the post insist on whining that Cole is too nice to her. Even though he never mentioned her and this post wasn’t about her at all.

    But no, you’re not obsessed.

  102. 102
    Jay C says:

    @Don K:

    And the average Joe in the burbs doesn’t care at all, because he figures he’s not likely to end up on the receiving end of a beatdown and his wife or daughter isn’t likely to be groped by a cop. That kind of thing only happens to the spooks in the hood (Joe’s being polite today).

    FTW.

    This, in a nutshell is the “why” behind our general toleration for police abuse/brutality/misconduct: the bad results are almost always assumed (and by a larger fraction of the population than just “suburban Joe”) to happen to a generalized “Them”, as opposed to the law-abiding “Us”.

  103. 103
    Jeff Fecke says:

    @John Cole:

    So I’m not allowed to call OJ a murderer, I guess?

    This isn’t how it works. Should Roethlisberger be jailed? Perhaps morally, yes, but legally, he wasn’t prosecuted, so he shouldn’t be. People are not guilty unless found to be so beyond a reasonable doubt. And I’m very comfortable with that.

    But not guilty does not equal innocent. And I myself am not a court, I’m a person. And this person believes that the preponderance of evidence supports the proposition that Ben Roethisberger is a rapist. And I’m going to call him that. Just like I’m going to call OJ a murderer, and Dick Cheney a war criminal, despite the fact that none of them were convicted of said crimes.

  104. 104
    Jeff Fecke says:

    @drkrick:

    Or, you know,what DrKrick said. ;)

  105. 105
    WaterGirl says:

    @suzanne: Suzanne, I saw that comment from John and had to immediately jump ahead to see if you had responded. Talk about out of line… I hope this is one of the occasions where John comes to see that he is wrong. A man who rapes women is a rapist whether he is convicted of the crime or not.

    I have to go take a shower now or do something else that will help me calm down. I’ll be back later when I’m no longer feeling enraged.

  106. 106
    Lit3Bolt says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Like doctors? Like lawyers? Like bankers? Like officers in the military? Like any other insulated, majorly white professional class?

  107. 107
    liberal says:

    @joe from Lowell:
    I think that’s a valid critique, but its proper application is broader: a lot of stuff on this blog is very “meta”. E.g., dissecting McMegan’s latest idiocy. OTOH, a lot of blogs are like that.

  108. 108
    liberal says:

    @Jay C:
    I don’t think that’s so clear. I’m a law-abiding white guy, and I’ve seen multiple instances of cops acting like abusive assholes. Just because I wasn’t on the receiving end doesn’t mean I can’t put two and two together.

  109. 109
    liberal says:

    @john b:
    I’m pretty sure it varies across states. Here in MD I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to record even if one party is aware.

  110. 110

    @suzanne: Damn right.

    By John’s logic, Bush couldn’t be called a war criminal because he hasn’t been charged at the Hague.

  111. 111
    300baud says:

    As a former Chicagoan, this does not surprise me at all.

    The cops there were regularly abusive. I took to just standing around and watching them when they had people pulled over or stopped on the street because I didn’t trust them. I’ve never felt like I had to do that anywhere else I lived. Some of them were fine, but a surprising number were entitled jerks.

    A friend there once tried to report a stolen bike to a passing patrol car. The cop not only refused to bother, but creepily hit on her. When she called up to complain, hoping that his boss would tell him to knock it off, she was told that her only option was to go physically downtown to fill out forms and make a sworn complaint of sexual harassment. She felt they were obviously doing it to give her the run-around. And it worked.

  112. 112
    300baud says:

    @cathyx:

    Looking at Hamsher’s later discussion of this, she agrees that her plates had expired, but says that they were towing her for lack of insurance. Even though she showed them the PDF of the proof, and even though they had a printer right there.

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