When I was a kid, the FBI was the agency of countless heroes of television and film. As a kid who loved both, the FBI represented the good guys in my mind. It stayed that way for ages, too, because while the ATF or DEA might have done some shady stuff to make arrests, I could trust the FBI would do the right thing.
God, I was stupid.
By now, we know some of the hinky stuff the FBI has done recently, but it seems there’s more.
It seems the bureau misled a judge in order to seize $86 million worth of private property from a private vault in Los Angeles
The privacy invasion was vast when FBI agents drilled and pried their way into 1,400 safe-deposit boxes at the U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills.
They rummaged through personal belongings of a jazz saxophone player, an interior designer, a retired doctor, a flooring contractor, two Century City lawyers and hundreds of others.
Agents took photos and videos of pay stubs, password lists, credit cards, a prenuptial agreement, immigration and vaccination records, bank statements, heirlooms and a will, court records show. In one box, agents found cremated human remains.
Eighteen months later, newly unsealed court documents show that the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles got their warrant for that raid by misleading the judge who approved it.
They omitted from their warrant request a central part of the FBI’s plan: Permanent confiscation of everything inside every box containing at least $5,000 in cash or goods, a senior FBI agent recently testified.
The FBI’s justification for the dragnet forfeiture was its presumption that hundreds of unknown box holders were all storing assets somehow tied to unknown crimes, court records show.
So they just assumed everyone who used what amounted to a safe deposit box was doing so for illicit reasons? They thought the private vault company was shady and suspect it of being involved in criminal undertakings, but it’s clear they acted as if literally everyone who used it was criminal as well.
“But Tom, this is a Second Amendment site. What does that have to do with guns, gun rights, or gun control?” you might ask; quite fairly, to be honest.
My point in bringing this up is simple. If the FBI honestly thought they could get away with something like this by apparently and essentially lying to the judge, why would anyone believe law enforcement wouldn’t lie to a judge to, say, get a red flag order issued?
Similar to how the order in this case was issued, red flag orders don’t require the judge to talk to the individual. All police really have to do is tell the judge that you’re a threat for whatever reason and poof! There go your gun rights.
Oh, you might get them back, but how long will you have to wait? Why should you have to wait?
Look, I still remain convinced that most law enforcement just wants to catch actual bad guys. However, sometimes they get fixated on the wrong things, and sometimes those who go into law enforcement are the bad guys. They’re human, with all that entails.
If they’ll lie to essentially steal $86 million in private property and claim they just might be involved in some unknown criminal activity, why should anyone trust any of their rights to a system that could yank them away just as easily?