In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. When Robert Harte answered, SWAT agents flooded the home.
The family was then held at gunpoint for more than two hours while the police searched their home. Though they claimed to be looking for evidence of a major marijuana growing operation, they later stated that they knew within about 20 minutes that they wouldn’t find any such operation. So they switched to search for evidence of “personal use.” They found no evidence of any criminal activity.
It started when Robert Harte and his son went to a gardening store to purchase supplies to grow hydroponic tomatoes for a school project. A state trooper in the store parking lot had the job of collecting license plate numbers of customers, compiling them into a spreadsheet, and sending the spreadsheets to local sheriff’s departments for further investigation.
They were looking for folks who grow marijuana.
Yes, buying gardening supplies could make you the target of a drug investigation in Kansas. Naturally, the family was cleared of any wrongdoing. The Hartes wanted to know why they were targeted. What probable cause did the police have for sending a SWAT team into their home? But that information was difficult to obtain.
Under Kansas law, the sheriff’s department wasn’t obligated to turn over any information related to the raid. They spent more than $25,000 in legal fees to learn why the sheriff had sent a SWAT team into their home. Once they finally had that information, the Hartes filed a lawsuit.
And they lost the case. Last week, US District Court Judge John W. Lungstrum dismissed all of the Hartes’s claims. Lungstrum found that sending a SWAT team into a home first thing in the morning based on no more than a positive reading by an unreliable field test and spotting someone at a gardening store was not a violation of the Hartes’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Think about this:
The Hartes are a white, financially sound couple who both used to work for the CIA. Most people on the receiving end of these raids aren’t white, aren’t middle-class, didn’t once work for a federal intelligence agency and don’t have $25,000 to fund a fight in court…you can imagine the long odds faced by the typical victim of a botched raid.
Another brick is removed from the wall of Constitutional rights that protects you from your government. By the way, the people who support this kind of thing also like to talk a lot about freedom and liberty.
News you can’t use, Trump edition:
Trump says US wages are too high. (Business Insider)
Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke says that Donald Trump speaks “a lot more radically” than he does. (Reader Supported News) David Duke is now a GOP “squish”, since Trump has gone even further right than the KKK.
Today is the Wrongologist’s birthday. He remembers a time when to be a liberal was to be heroic. It seems that time has returned. Wrongo’s wish for 2016 is an election that provides Americans with the opportunity to debate US policies. However, our politics also provides entertainment to voters along the way to the election.
My prediction is we will see/hear far more ludicrous posturing than serious policy conversations in 2016.
Yet, think about the rest of the world’s politics compared to ours: We peacefully change presidents, elect new congresses, and 50 new state governments.
We do it via the ballot box, not with guns and tanks. This is the strength of our society.
So, PLEASE VOTE IN 2016!
And remember that your vote in a primary election has huge value. That is where the candidate choices are made.
Best wishes for a healthy New Year.