Policing for Profit: Jeff Sessions & Co.’s
Thinly Veiled Plot to Rob Us Blind
“Laws are no longer made by a rational
process of public discussion; they are made
by a process of blackmail and intimidation,
and they are executed in the same manner.
The typical lawmaker of today is a man
wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter
in a grotesque and knavish game. If the
right pressure could be applied to him, he
would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy,
astrology or cannibalism. It is the aim of
the Bill of Rights, if it has any remaining
aim at all, to curb such prehensile gentry.
Its function is to set a limitation upon
their power to harry and oppress us to their
own private profit.”— H.L. Mencken
26, 2017 "Information
- Let’s not mince words. Jeff Sessions, the
nation’s top law enforcement official, would not
recognize the Constitution if he ran right smack
the head of the Trump Administration’s Justice
Department enjoys being the architect of a
police state or is just painfully, criminally
clueless, Sessions has done a great job thus far
of sidestepping the Constitution at every turn.
recently, under the guise of “fighting crime,”
Sessions gave police the green light to rob,
pilfer, steal, thieve, swipe, purloin, filch and
liberate American taxpayers of even more
of their hard-earned valuables (especially if it
happens to be significant amounts of cash) using
any means, fair or foul.
In this case, the foul method favored by
Sessions & Co. is civil asset forfeiture, which
allows police and prosecutors to “seize your car
or other property, sell it and use the proceeds
to fund agency budgets—all
without so much as charging you with a crime.”
federal equitable sharing program, police turn
asset forfeiture cases over to federal agents
who process seizures and then return 80% of the
proceeds to the police. (In Michigan, police
actually get to keep up to 100% of forfeited
incentive-driven excuse for stealing from the
citizenry is more accurately referred to as
“policing for profit” or “theft by cop.”
Despite the fact that 80 percent of these asset
forfeiture cases result in no charge
against the property owner, challenging these
“takings” in court can cost the owner more than
the value of the confiscated property itself. As
a result, most property owners either give up
the fight or chalk the confiscation up to
government corruption, leaving the police and
other government officials to
reap the benefits.
boy, do they reap the benefits.
Police agencies have used their ill-gotten gains
“to buy guns, armored cars and electronic
Washington Post. “They have also spent
money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown
Incredibly, these asset forfeiture scams have
become so profitable for the government that,
according to The Washington Post, “in
law enforcement took more stuff from people than
As the Post notes, “the Treasury and
Justice departments deposited more than $5
billion into their respective asset forfeiture
funds. That same year, the FBI reports that
burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.”
In 2015, the federal government seized nearly
$2.6 billion worth of airplanes, houses, cash,
jewelry, cars and other items
under the guise of civil asset forfeiture.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that allowing
departments to keep forfeiture proceeds may
tempt them to use the funds unwisely. For
example, consider a 2015 scandal in Romulus,
Michigan, where police officers used funds
forfeited from illicit drug and prostitution
stings to pay for ... illicit
drugs and prostitutes.”
the rest of my fellow indentured servants who
are living through this dark era of government
corruption, incompetence and general ineptitude:
this is not how justice in America is
supposed to work.
now ruled by a government so consumed with
squeezing every last penny out of the population
that they are completely unconcerned if
essential freedoms are trampled in the process.
freedoms aren’t just being trampled, however.
They’re being eviscerated.
every turn, “We the People” are getting
swindled, cheated, conned, robbed, raided,
pickpocketed, mugged, deceived, defrauded,
double-crossed and fleeced by governmental and
corporate shareholders of the American police
state out to make a profit at taxpayer expense.
Americans no longer have to be guilty to be
stripped of their property, rights and
liberties. All you have to be is in possession
of something the government wants. And if you
happen to have something the government wants
badly enough, trust me, their agents will go to
any lengths to get it.
government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay
claim to your property (money, land or
possessions) under government asset forfeiture
schemes, you have no true rights.
how the whole ugly business works in a nutshell.
First, government agents (usually the police)
use a broad array of tactics to profile,
identify, target and arrange to encounter (in a
on a train, in an airport,
in public, or on private property) those
individuals who might be traveling with a
significant amount of cash or possess property
of value. Second, these government
agents—empowered by the courts and the
legislatures—seize private property (cash,
jewelry, cars, homes and other valuables) they
“suspect” may be connected to criminal activity.
Then—and here’s the kicker—whether or not any
crime is actually proven to have taken place,
without any charges being levied against the
property owner, or any real due process afforded
the unlucky victim, the property is seized by
the government, which often divvies it up with
the local police who helped with the initial
Kafkaesque turn of the screw, the burden of
proof falls on the unfortunate citizenry who
must mount a long, complicated, expensive legal
campaign to prove their innocence in order to
persuade the government that it should return
the funds they stole. Not surprisingly, very few
funds ever get returned.
new, twisted form of guilt by association, only
it’s not the citizenry being accused of
wrongdoing, just their money.
Motorists have been particularly vulnerable to
this modern-day form of highway robbery.
police stole $201,000 in cash from Lisa Leonard
because the money—which Leonard planned to use
to buy a house for her son—was being transported
on a public highway also used by drug
traffickers. Despite the fact that Leonard was
innocent of wrongdoing, the U.S. Supreme Court
upheld the theft on a technicality.
stole $50,000 in cash from Amanee Busbee—which
she planned to use to complete the purchase of a
restaurant—and threatened to hand her child over
to CPS if she resisted. She’s one of the few to
win most of her money back in court.
Police stole $22,000 in cash from
he planned to use as the down payment on a
home—simply because a drug dog had alerted
police to its presence in his car. After
challenging the seizure in court, Chennault
eventually succeeded in having most of his money
returned, although the
state refused to compensate him for his legal
and travel expenses.
Police stole $8,500 in cash and jewelry from
he planned to use to purchase a new car—and
threatened him with jail and money-laundering
charges if he didn’t sign a waiver forfeiting
Police stole $6,000 in cash from
Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson
and threatened to turn their young children over
to Child Protective Services if they resisted.
Tenaha, Texas, is a particular hotbed of highway
forfeiture activity, so much so that
police officers keep pre-signed, pre-notarized
documents on hand
so they can fill in what property they are
As the Huffington Post
police forfeiture operations have become little
more than criminal shakedowns:
Police in some
jurisdictions have run forfeiture operations
that would be
difficult to distinguish from criminal
Police can pull motorists over, find some
amount of cash or other property of value,
claim some vague connection to illegal drug
activity and then present the motorists with
a choice: If they hand over the property,
they can be on their way. Otherwise, they
face arrest, seizure of property, a drug
charge, a probable night in jail, the hassle
of multiple return trips to the state or
city where they were pulled over, and the
cost of hiring a lawyer to fight both the
seizure and the criminal charge. It isn’t
hard to see why even an innocent motorist
would opt to simply hand over the cash and
Unsurprisingly, these asset forfeiture scams
have become so profitable for the government
that they have expanded their reach beyond the
the U.S. Department of Justice received $2.01
forfeited items in 2013, and since 2008 local
and state law enforcement nationwide has raked
in some $3 billion in forfeitures through the
federal “equitable sharing” program.
it’s not just drivers who have to worry about
getting the shakedown.
American unwise enough to travel with cash is
fair game for the government pickpockets.
In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) has been colluding with the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) and local police
seize a small fortune in cash
from American travelers using the very
tools—scanners, spies and surveillance
devices—they claimed were necessary to catch
TSA agents already have a reputation for
travelers, but clearly the government is not
concerned about protecting the citizenry from
its own wolfish tendencies.
government bureaucrats aren’t looking to catch
criminals. (If so, they should be arresting
just out to rob you of your cold, hard cash.
about it for a moment. You pay a hefty fee just
to be able to walk free. It’s called income tax.
As former presidential candidate Ron Paul
recognizes, “The Founding Fathers never intended
a nation where citizens would pay nearly half of
everything they earn to the government.” And if
you refuse to pay any of that so-called income
tax, you’ll be severely fined and/or arrested
and put in jail.
more thing: you don’t really own your property.
That is, your house or your land. Even when you
pay off the mortgage, if you fail to pay your
property taxes, government agents will evict you
and take your home.
There was a time in our history when our
forebears said “enough is enough” and stopped
paying taxes (a
pittance compared to what we are forced to shell
out in taxes today)
to what they considered an illegitimate
government. They stood their ground and refused
to support a system that was slowly choking out
any attempts at self-governance, and which
refused to be held accountable for its crimes
against the people. Their resistance sowed the
seeds for the revolution that would follow.
Unfortunately, in the 200-plus years since we
established our own government, we’ve let the
corporate elite and number-crunching bureaucrats
pilfer our bank accounts to such an extent that
we’re back where we started.
again, we’ve got a despotic regime with an
imperial ruler doing as it pleases.
what if we didn’t just pull out our pocketbooks
and pony up to the federal government’s
outrageous demands for more money? What if we
didn’t just line up to drop our hard-earned
dollars into the corporate collection bucket, no
questions asked about how it will be spent? What
if, instead of meekly tolerating the
government’s ongoing efforts to rob us blind, we
did something about it?
As I make clear in my book
Battlefield America: The War on the American
the government can just take from you what they
want, when they want, and then use it however
they want, you can’t claim to be anything more
than a serf in a land they think of as theirs.
to “We the People” to demand reform.
injustices will continue as long as we remain
American journalist H.L. Mencken observed:
American of today, in fact, probably enjoys
less personal liberty than any other man of
Christendom, and even his political liberty
is fast succumbing to the new dogma that
certain theories of government are virtuous
and lawful, and others abhorrent and
felonious. Laws limiting the radius of his
free activity multiply year by year: It is
now practically impossible for him to
exhibit anything describable as genuine
individuality, either in action or in
thought, without running afoul of some harsh
and unintelligible penalty. It would
surprise no impartial observer if … the
goddess of liberty were taken off the silver
dollars to make room for a bas-relief of a
policeman in a spiked helmet. Moreover, this
gradual (and, of late, rapidly progressive)
decay of freedom goes almost without
challenge; the American has grown so
accustomed to the denial of his
constitutional rights and to the minute
regulation of his conduct by swarms of
spies, letter-openers, informers and agents
provocateurs that he no longer makes any
other words, make them hear you.
And if they won’t listen, then I suggest it’s
time for what Martin Luther King Jr. called for
when government doesn’t listen: “militant
attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder
and president of The
His new book Battlefield
America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks,
2015) is available online at www.amazon.com.
Whitehead can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
views expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Information Clearing House.