That Other War

Reagan-era drug war rhetoric is still with us, and so is the accompanying collateral damage.

In a 1982 speech, President Ronald Reagan declared illicit drugs a threat to America's national security, putting a too-literal gloss on the phrase "war on drugs." Reagan went on to liken America’s drug war determination to the obstinacy of the French army at the World War I Battle of Verdun, quoting a French soldier who implored, "There are no impossible situations. There are only people who think they're impossible." It was a telling analogy, though in a way Reagan probably didn't intend. Verdun was a bloody, brutal battle of attrition. A quarter million soldiers lost their lives; another 700,000 were wounded in the months-long battle for a tract of land that offered little practical advantage to either army. In the years since the war, Verdun has come to symbolize the futility of war—the way politicians and generals are willing to write off the mass loss of human life as mere collateral damage in pursuit of some symbolic but ultimately empty goal.

Three drug war deaths in recent headlines show that the Verdun mentality continues to thrive in America's century-old effort to protect its citizens from themselves. Today, actual war weaponry, armor, and tactics are as much a part of the war on drugs as Reagan's rhetoric implied back when the drug war was young. And law enforcement officials shrug off the deaths of innocents as if they were the same sort of collateral damage you'd find on a battlefield.

Last month, the family of the late Tarika Wilson won a $2.5 million settlement from the city of Lima, Ohio. In 2008, as a tactical narcotics unit raided the home of her boyfriend Anthony Terry, the 26-year-old Wilson dropped to her knees in an upstairs bedroom, one arm over her head, the other clutching her infant son Sincere. As the officers stormed the home, one opened fire on Terry's dogs. Another officer, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, mistook those shots for hostile gunfire, and himself opened up his weapon into the room where Wilson was kneeling. Wilson was killed. Her son lost a hand. Chavalia was acquitted of manslaughter last year at a trial in which one former police officer, who now testifies as a specialist in the use of force, declared that Chavalia should have opened fire on the unarmed mother and child sooner. Though these highly volatile raids are often justified on the premise that drug dealers are heavily armed, a subsequent survey of no-knock raids by the Lima News last year found that most raids in that city failed to yield any weapons at all. In fact, a third of the raids conducted by the Lima police department between 2001 and 2008 turned up no contraband—drugs or guns. The settlement included no admission of wrongdoing on the part of the city.

The family of Jonathan Ayers has also filed a lawsuit against the police agency that killed him. Ayers, a pastor survived by a pregnant wife, was killed by a drug task force in Taccoa, Georgia last September. The police were targeting Johanna Kayla Jones Barrett, a suspected prostitute and low-level drug dealer. On the day of his death, Ayers—who had been counseling Barrett, and had given her some financial help to avoid eviction—dropped her off at the motel where she was staying with her boyfriend, then drove to a gas station to get cash from an ATM. According to surveillance video and a subsequent investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the task force officers followed Ayers to the gas station and, though they had no warrant for him and weren't targeting him, nevertheless confronted him as if he were a heavily armed kingpin. The narcotics agents jumped out of a black, unmarked SUV, guns drawn, and approached Ayers' car. Ayers, who just before he died would tell emergency room attendants he thought he was being robbed, threw his car into reverse in an attempt to escape, grazing one of the agents in the process. That agent then fired at Ayers' car, hitting Ayers twice. Ayers continued down the road, wrecked his car, and later died at the hospital. Last last month, a grand jury found that the shooting of Ayers was justified.

Finally, there's Gonzalo Guizan, killed last May during a drug raid in Easton, Connecticut. Guizan was visiting the home of Ronald Terebesi Jr., the target of the raid. A stripper had earlier told police that Terebesi and Guizan were using, not distributing, cocaine in Terebesi's home. The police responded with a full-on SWAT raid, complete with flash grenades, that ended in Guizan's death. Police found no weapons in Terebesi's home, and only enough drugs to charge him with a misdemeanor. Nearly 10 months later, the office of the Connecticut attorney general finally released its report on the raid. The report concluded that Guizan, who was unarmed and had no prior criminal record, attempted to wrest a gun from one of the officers, at which point he was shot. The report, however, relied only on the shooting officer's statements, and neither Guizan's DNA nor his fingerprints were found on the weapon. The attorney general's report states that it makes no judgment on the appropriateness of the raid tactics, only on whether the officer's actions were legal. A subsequent video of the raid released to an attorney for Guizan's family casts some doubt on the narrative; it shows that just seconds transpired between the officers' entry and the sound of gunshots.

It's possible that all three officers in these cases were justified in discharging their weapons. This method of drug war policing—bringing paramilitary-style units to bear on suspects in a highly volatile, confrontational manner—creates dangerous, high-stakes scenarios where both cop and suspect have to make split-second decisions under unimaginable circumstances (though it's unfortunate that people on the receiving end of these tactics aren't given the same consideration and leniency the cops are). There's no margin for error.

It's the tactics that are the problem. Neither Ayers, Wilson, nor Guizan were violent people. Nor were any of them the target of a criminal investigation. Had the police used less violent methods in each incident, all three would still be alive today. If the individual police officers who fired the fatal shots in these cases were all following the proper procedures, then we need to question the procedures. But even in response to tragedies like these, procedures and tactics almost never change. Or if they do, they tend to change in the direction of more force, more weaponry, and more confrontation. The family of Tarika Wilson will be paid, and it's possible the families of Jonathan Ayers and Gonzalo Guizan will, too. Taxpayers will foot the bill. The individual officers who pulled the trigger are rarely punished, and are often rewarded. But the hyper-aggressive raids and military mindset will continue. And so will the deaths.

Nearly a quarter century after Reagan's Verdun speech, deployments of SWAT-teams and similar paramilitary police units into the homes of American citizens have increased from about 3,000 per year during Reagan's first term to around 50,000 annually today. The vast majority of these are to serve drug warrants, though we're now seeing them used for white collar crimes and to raid poker games, as well. America's police departments now sport military-grade weapons, vehicles, and armor. Each year, we get about a dozen cases like the three described above, plus a few dead cops and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of drug-war deaths involving less sympathetic victims.

And it's as easy to obtain illicit drugs today as it was in 1982.

Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Nearly a quarter century after Reagan's Verdun speech, deployments of SWAT-teams and similar paramilitary police units into the homes of American citizens have increased from about 3,000 per year during Reagan's first term to around 50,000 annually today.

    And we are soooo much closer to eliminating the scourge of people putting what they want to in their own bodies.

  • ||

    One other thing -

  • ||

    That was not how any 92 year old woman should leave this earth.

  • Joe M||

    Okay, that first story almost brought me to tears. It's unconscionable that these stories don't seem to sway the vast majority of people, or perhaps it's just that the media doesn't seem to find them awful enough to really report on properly.

  • Mad Elf||

    Joe M, someone here posted a link to a newspaper article about the investigation of the shooting of the pastor in Georgia. In the article there was no mention of the fact that the police were in plain clothes and didn't identify themselves. Instead the focus was on the allegation that the pastor was having an affair with the woman that the police were tailing, which is basically character assassination that has little relevance to the shooting. When the press is spinning stories like this for the police, it's no wonder there is not more outrage. Most people still think the papers are a trusted source of unbiased information.

  • Joe M||

    Yes, I remember reading that. Absolutely sickening. I guess it's more fun to hype up imaginary, salacious details about a pastor and a prostitute than it is to, I dunno, try to do actual reporting.

  • ||

    I heard a theory one time...newspapers get the majority of their stories from police if they paint the departments in a bad light because of the one cop who goes on a murderous rampage through someone's home, then they lose their main source for the regular generic news. They'd sell some papers that one day, but then they'd have no news to report any other day. All about the money.

  • Drug Warrior||

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
    -H.L. Mencken

  • ||

    Historically, in the United Socialist States of Amerika, the following illustrations apply:

    King Phillip
    Sitting Bull
    Crazy Horse
    Chief Joseph
    Black Kettle
    Ten Bears
    Roman Nose
    Red Cloud
    Remember the Maine
    The Kaiser
    Bonus Marchers
    Cheech and Chong
    vertically challenged persian strongmen

    To the extent that one throws hosanahs to the US, one is a lover of the state and an enemy of liberty.

  • ||

    Here, once again, we are reminded that the absolute path is the only one for free people.

    1. No drug laws.
    2. No cops.
    3. Those that don't like 1 and 2, become collateral damage.

  • Big John||

    "no cops..."

    That would last for say, 5 hrs, and then you would be begging for their return.

  • Burrow Owl||

    Not bloody likely.

  • ||

    Go get another donut, Big John.

  • ||

    Typical cop-loving apologist/fascist.

  • ||

    The issue isn't so black and white. I hate a bad cop as much as everyone else. That doesn't mean I hate all cops.

    A cop who does his job, which is to protect and serve the public, is no fascist and needs no apologist.

    When police work returns to being about "keeping the peace" instead of "enforcing the law", then no one will have a problem with cops.

  • ||

    Randy's reference to Reagan's Verdun speech should serve as another reminder to those who have become intoxicated by the Reagan Rhetoric that the Gipper was first, last and always about the state and making it bigger.

  • HeadTater||

    But he was creating a larger, more authoritarian government to fight the USSR (a large authoritarian government). He was fighting fire with fire. That's what makes it okay.

    There is no way I was being facetious in the previous statement.

  • ||

    Quite so. And the fact that Reagan -- due to some of his "Government is the problem" rhetoric, and his reading materials -- seemed to actually know better makes it much worse.

  • ||

    Mike, that isn't really true. While Reagan was mistaken about the drug war, his focus was mainly to limit government and governmental intrusion. Nobody is 100% right about everything.

    At any rate, I blame the media and all politicians pushing for that "get tough on crime" stance wherein people are swayed by sound bites rather than reality.

  • ||

    Again, what did he do to eliminate the incomne tax? What did he do to abolish the IRS?

    Although the academic elites exhibited nothing but disdain for the idea that the USSR was going to collapse, let's not get swept away by the urgings of revisionists who want their narrative to carry the day, i.e., it was only through reagan's vision and insight and bold action that the soviets were licked.

    Remember, its not as if the soviets had seen some kind of awesome military performance from the US. What evidence the russians had was that we (1)occupied Grenada after having been (2)humiliated in Lebanon and (3) we had shot down some Libyan fighters in the Mediterrean.

    The military buildup? Reagan actually spent less than what the Carter administration had projected for defense spending for FY 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985. Of course, perhaps Reagan's secret military spending was more than what Carter's would have been. I don't know.

    But this idea that Reagan "stared down the Red Army" bullshit is getting insufferable. Its not like Reagan had the personal courage of say, Yeltsin or the kid in fron of the tank in Tianamen square.

  • Big John||

    Actually, I believe it was because of Reagan's action that the USSR fell. I think the only 'revisionism' going on is yours.

  • robc||

    Read Mises. He predicted the path of the Soviet Union while Reagan was a wee lad. It was going to happen anyway. Did Reagan advance the course by a decade? Probably not. By a year? Maybe.

  • Big John||

    I will check that out. Thanks.

  • ExLoony||

    It is quite possible that Reagan delayed the fall. All that stupid money spent on Star Wars which any rocket physicist in the USSR could have had a good laugh about - that was weakening the USA, not upping the ante for the USSR to match. No. I'm old enough to have watched it and it first seemed obvious the USSR was crumbling in the late 70's. People were getting killed trying to leave, all their hi-tech was poor copies, their environment was horribly polluted, their nomenklatura nasty and isolated. It was just a matter of time. Probably the best thing Reagan did was encourage Gorbachev and build a chummy relationship (or the appearance of one) which was likely influential on a man with increasingly few supporters back home. The one thing the USSR built no defense against was its own leader.

  • arbiter elegantiarum||

    I doubt anyone is shocked by that Big John. Obviously it's the level of detail and specificity in your argument that makes it so convincing. Oh wait...

  • ||

    It's the America that "tought on crime" citizens created.

  • kinnath||

    I just don't have the strength to read a Radley article today . . .

  • ||

    Gird your loins and read it!

  • ||

    The 1980s were all about the state getting bigger, fatter and more intrusive.

    Lots of simpletons will point to the income tax reductions as a great blow for liberty. The facts are that the IRS got nastier and more powerful in the 1980s.

    Dinesh D'Sousa has many times pointed out that RWR was no libertarian. What D'Sousa and his ilk fail to state is that Reagan, above all, was a statist who did not do a thing to eliminate the IRS, the income tax and the administrative state.

  • ||

    Reagan didn't grow the government--his successor did.

  • ||

    So, what about the drug war?

    What about the failure to abolish both the income tax and the IRS?

    what about his failure to end the death tax?

    what about his administration's war on porn and the multibillion dollar effort made by his big government loving henchman, Ed "I have more chins than a chinese phonebook" Meese?

    What about his failure to reduce, on an absolute level, Education Dept. spending? BTW, one of his top campaign positions in 1980 was the abolotion of the Education Department.

  • darjen||

    You are in denial. Federal outlays from 1981-1989:


  • Old Mexican||

    three decades of battlefield rhetoric have enabled authorities to write off tragedies like these as mere collateral damage in the continuing war to stop people from getting high.

    "You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs."

    Though these highly volatile raids are often justified on the premise that drug dealers are heavily armed, a subsequent survey of no-knock raids by the Lima News last year found that most raids in that city failed to yield any weapons at all.

    Which proves that the ban on weapons is working - people can now be killed by the State with almost total impunity. Hooray for the State!

  • ||

    "It's possible that all three officers in these cases were justified in discharging their weapons."

    I really don't think it is.

  • bob the pig||

    We kill you before you can kill yourselves with that demon weed! You see, we do this for your safety.

  • Jeffersonian||

    We saved this village by burning it to the ground.

  • Big John||


  • log jam||


  • Old Mexican||

    Last last month, a grand jury found that the shooting of Ayers was justified.

    All massacres committed by the State are justified - isn't the State's actions legitimate because people vote for their executioners? At least, that's what the Statists argue all the time . . .

  • Old Mexican||

    Chavalia was acquitted of manslaughter last year at a trial in which one former police officer, who now testifies as a specialist in the use of force, declared that Chavalia should have opened fire on the unarmed mother and child sooner.

    Yes, that is standard procedure. You shoot everybody in sight immediately upon entering the residence, before they can place themselves in a position where justifying their killing is no longer possible, like (for instance) kneeling in the floor, clutching your child, defenseless . . .

  • Big John||

    Old Mex,

    Get real. No policeman wants to "shoot everybody in sight'.

    This 'hate the police thread' is getting tiresome.

  • ||

    You're right, they also want to shoot everyone out of sight as well, as evidenced by their shooting unarmed people through doors and walls.

    What's amazing is thatthese so-called professionals are unable to distinguish between the sounds of their own flashbangs and gunfire and/or completely unaware of where the other members of the team are and what they're doing that they mistake the sounds of activity of their own team as gunfire and fire through doors and walls.

    The only plus about this is that eventually this will lead to a sort of feedback loop where one cop deploys a flashbang and one or more trigger happy cowards fires towards it, at which point the rest of the team may fire at the first or second groups.

  • ||

    At which point the homeowner will probably be charged with the injuries to the cops, regardless of whether he had done anything to necessitate the raid in the first place.

  • kodiac1221||

    allowing police to use para-military gear and tech perhaps creates a mindset of a wartime scenario with all the heightened tension. Perhaps Big John, if the cops simply knocked on the door in the old school blue uniforms no one would be in a state of mind where shooting everything in sight does occur. But no, they love their camies now they get to feel important and strong!

  • Big John||

    Egads, do all libertarians cringe at the sight of authority figures.

    These posts go beyond juvenile.

    Come on libertarians, 'man up'!

  • ||

    What a load of shit. A spec-ops wannabe with a double-digit IQ storms your house while you sleep, and you say "man up." Yeah, die with a gun in your hand so they don't even worry about prosecuting the real criminals.

  • ||

    Your blind love for the Boys in Blue is tiresome.
    At this point, people hate cops for a good reason.

  • ||

    They are often justified because all cops are heros, and you're bad if you want to prosecute a hero. When a hero makes a misjudgment, you treat them differently.

  • ||

    TrickyVic, "...are heros, and you're bad if you want to prosecute a hero. When a hero makes a misjudgment, you treat them differently."
    Kinda like doctors are worshipped as Gods?

  • TP||

  • ||

    It's possible that all three officers in these cases were justified in discharging their weapons.

    Nope. Don't fire unless you're fired upon, and if you "panic" or make a mistake, you should be subject to criminal charges. If that makes fewer people want to be cops, that's just gravy.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Last last month, a grand jury found that the shooting of Ayers was justified.

    The rot runs deep.

  • Big John||

    It was found that he was justified.

    You weren't there. Deal with it.

  • LoopFiasco||

    Are these the same type of grand juries that decide whether a person should be indicted? With all the evidence being one-sided and by the prosecution? A prosecution in the same jurisdiction which advised the cops on how to properly file an application for a no-knock warrant and likely approved the probable cause necessary to do so? That works with these cops on an ongoing basis?

    Sooooooo convincing.

  • ||

    Are you mentally ill or do you find in cops a replacement for the authority figure you lacked in your dad?
    We get it. You like donuts and billy clubs. Tasers turn you on. You'd like to open fire on civilians with impunity.
    Good for you. Not that many people find it fashionable to wear brownshirts. Especially when they comem with the nifty red/back/white armbands.

  • hmm||

    It's getting to the point of shoot first and then shoot some more.

  • In Time Of War||

    I wonder if Reagan was enough of a student of history to know that a year after Verdun, the French Army mutinied...

  • hmm||

    Heard a few people around here talk about similar incidents with CCW. Most officers follow a you don't show me yours I won't show you mine approach and actually take the permit as a sign of responsibility. At least from what I've heard. A few on the other hand think they are Dirty Harry.

  • ||

    Reading how juries exonerated the cops brings to question their right of nullification. Do you suppose if juries knew of that right fewer enthusiastic cops would get off?

  • ||

    Our record in "wars on stuff" is not very good.
    I realize that it's not very libertarian to say so, but if they spent as much in the war on poverty as they did on conventional warfare, they probably would have eliminated poverty. One of the few "wars on" that should mathematically benefit almost 1 to 1 from spending ratios.

  • hmm||

    Na, they would have killed half of the poor people, and subjected the other half to some type of servitude.

  • Gibby||

    "if they spent as much in the war on poverty as they did on conventional warfare"

    I beleive they have.

  • Zeb||

    I very much doubt that. They will never spend as much on anything as they do on conventional warfare, or preparation for it.

  • Big John||

    The "War On Poverty" was lost. Money down the sewer.

  • ||

    radley, are you working on a book? you should be.

  • hmm||

    I have a feeling that's like asking an LA waitress if she's an actress.

  • ||

    Isolated Incidents: Volume 1

  • Joe M||

    Brilliant idea for a title.

  • robc||

    Nope. The title is "Yet Another Isolated Incident". Ive already told him Im buying multiple copies (as gifts) under that title and none under any other title.

  • ||

    Not sure you can go with the "volume" theme on this subject. I mean, once you get past 100 you really start running out of space on the spine for the title.

  • ||

    But remember, the police are to be revered as heroes, selflessly risking their lives to protect all of us; nobility and integrity their defining characteristics.
    Anyone who dares suggest otherwise is a shiftless deadbeat, criminal who got caught, a bad driver who got ticketed, or just flat out crazy.

    The police stopped being peace officers several decades ago and quickly transitioned into police officers which quickly transitioned into law enforcement officers.

    The difference? There's nothing noble or courageous per se about enforcing rules. The idea that the police can be so far from Andy Griffith style behaviors, yet not lose any of the recognition, praise, or leniency that came with it is absolutely absurd.

    The police have gotten rid of the last remnants of the mindset that says that you serve the community, using your brain as much as you use only the force that is necessary to protect yourself from harm.
    This would be tempered with the idea that you don't needlessly put yourself in situations where you are in danger and must use force against those you server IF there is another way to perform your duty.

    The new mindset seems to be that the police should be able to do anything that is legal. Yes, it's legal and true that they should not be punished criminally for it. But, it's not the mark of a hero or noble self-sacrificing warrior. In practice, it's no differnce than simply doing whatever you can get away with. In fact, I'd suggest that the courage, integrity, and/or nobility would come from the things you can do, but don't.

    Next we're going to hear that high school principals deserve to be lauded for their courage and sacrifice after ordering strip-searches of 13 year olds for ibuprofen, expelling 11 year olds for possessing empty shotgun shells, 16 year olds be arrested for having steak knifes in the trunk of their car.

    Fuck the police and their false sense of hero worship entitlement and their harmful, deadly, cowardly behavior.

  • ||

    Cops might have been heros when they were willing to take a bullet for a citzen and not the other way around.

  • ||

    Pretty much.

    If firefighters behaved the way the police do now, they wouldn't enter a building that possibly contained flammable material, much less was actually on fire. Instead, they would demolish the building and soak the rubble for hours with their houses in order to avoid even the slightest injury or exposure to smoke.
    They would then claim that they are entitled to a little respect/leniency/understanding because they "put their lives on the line" for all of us.

    I don't expect the police to be like Secret Service agents diving in front of every threat that presents itself to me; but I also don't expect them to shoot everything in sight simply because that's the best way to neutralize any threat without risking injury to themselves.

  • ||

    *hours with their hoses
    not houses.

  • ExLoony||

    There are places here where the firemen wear bulletproof vests to put out fires... And Seattle is not in general reckoned to be a violent city. Just some neighborhoods have had folks who thought it fun to torch a rival and then shoot at the team who show up to put it out.

    In general here cops are treated as heroes but also I doubt the cops would trust a jury to give them a free pass. Indeed the juries have on occasion given the police serious grief for triggerhappy behavior. And on the whole we seem to have good police and, for a big city, low crime. So maybe it is the juries who make the democracy, as far as getting the police the community deserves.

  • ||

    The war on drugs is nothing more than a continuation of 1920's Prohibition. And we all know how well that went.

  • ||

    Not really...cops didn't arrest people for being under the influence of a tiny bit of alcohol back then. They also weren't unreasonable as they are now. But they don't pick the right people to become police today. They pick cowboys who think their gun or nightstick is an extension of their manhood and they abuse their power against anyone they feel like doing it to. Police are NOT the same kind of men they were when my grandpa was an officer.

  • ||

    Its deeper than that.

    The very idea of joining a state sponsored military or para-military organization is an abomination for a free man. It is the quintessence of being a slave, a tool for totalitarians though wrapped in Caesar's false embrace and a sinecure.

  • monkeys||

    Hey, hey, hey! That's not nice to cowboys.

  • Jackson Kuhl||

    Re: Gonzalo Guizan:

    The video released by the Connecticut Post of the raid in Easton can be seen here.

    The sound of the door breaking occurs at the 1:18 mark. The bullets stop at 1:20.

  • ||

    That's f'n chilling. Yeah, the kid had a chance...

  • ||

    Cowardly scumbags. He had what, 10-15 seconds to figure out what going on?

    The cops had minutes to hours to plan it and they fire on someone who wasn't even permitted the time to identify them, much less surrender.

    What's the difference between:
    A.)a raid where the police kill a suspect because he had a gun, they thought he had a gun, he made a movement like he had a gun, they thought their flashbangs were guns, etc.
    B.)a police execution without trial?
    The answer depends on what the cop says. They can kill people on the other side of doors, retreating animals, unarmed people woken in a daze and get away with it by simply saying they were in danger.

    This means any cop who thinks someone doesn't deserve a trail need only say he thought he saw a gun and he's clear.

    It's funny that gun control supporters always argue that allowing average non cops the ability to carry firearms will allow people to take the law into their own hands and impose justice without trial yet they have nothing at all to say about the police busting into people's houses and killing them under the lines of reasoning I talked about earlier.

    Seems to me the only people engaging in street justice are gang members and the police-if such a distinction really exists.

  • ||

    Go Radley Go! Go Radley Go!

  • ||

    Radley Balko, you're an inspiration. One that frequently depresses and horrifies me, but an inspiration none the less.

  • Zeb||

    It is better that 100 cops die in dangerous raids than one innocent person be killed in a police raid.

  • Big John||

    I think you got that backward...

  • ||

    You mean it's better that 100 innocent people get killed in police raids than that one cop die? That certainly seems to be the attitude the cops take.

  • Big John||

    Thats exactly what I meant...

  • arbiter elegantiarum||

    ...which is why you, my short-sighted friend, are part of the problem.

  • Abdul Alhazred||

    It's exactly what you said.

  • ||

    Better than 100 Big Johns get killed than one innocent cilivian catch a slug from one of his pals on the force.


  • arbiter elegantiarum||

    I would love to see the reasoning behind this one. You've certainly set the bar high with your deftly argued defense of Reagan's policies. Oh wait...

  • Big John||

    "...Oh wait..."


  • arbiter elegantiarum||

    Once again, your devastatingly effective argumentation is nothing if not entertaining.

    Alas, it seems that asking you to actually provide some kind of justification for your opinions would be akin to handing a physics textbook to a chimp.

  • SIV||

    The complete GBI report whitewash on the Ayers shooting...
    Well I was about to link it but it isn't there anymore.

  • ||

    Love reading your work. Outstanding..Question...If the Constitution allows for the ownership and use of firearms by individuals for the protection of life and property does it seems to me that it would allow for the use against police if the police did not allow enough time for the gun owner to prove to himself that they were actually police. Is there a reasonable assertion that someone could lie and holler out "police" and not be the police? Has it EVER happened? If so, the it only seems reasonable that a person might defend him/herself against an enemy invading one's home until it could be proved beyond any doubt that these people were authorized to enter...If a person can be justifiably shot and killed for merely questioning whether or not an invasion in the middle of the night is legitimate then something is wrong. If a person has the right to own and use a gun then it seems reasonable that they would have the right, the right, to use reasonable judgment as to whether or not they were using their weapon in a justifiable manner or not. Otherwise, doesn't one have to assume that all breakins in the middle of the night are lawful? Is that reasonable search?

  • Neil||

    Great reporting! The gipper gets a pass around here sometimes because of his phony rhetoric that made him SOUND like a libertarian. In reality he was quite the opposite, taking the national debt from about $ 500 billion at the start of his term to $ 3 TRILLION by the end of it is also worth mentioning.

  • Some Guy||

    Chavalia was acquitted of manslaughter last year at a trial in which one former police officer, who now testifies as a specialist in the use of force, declared that Chavalia should have opened fire on the unarmed mother and child sooner.

    If I were the judge, that would be the point at which I would instruct the bailiff to open fire on the expert witness.

  • ||

    Stop talkin', start doin'!

  • ExLoony||

    The last drug war, Prohibition, ended when the state started selling the drugs. You can still see traces of that in those states where alcohol is sold only by government stores. The same thing will end this drug war. It is simple economics. Nothing wipes out private enterprise (or drug gangs) quite as efficiently as a state monopoly. Sell cheap so there is just no illegal profit.

    Then we can argue whether you get it on prescription or get what you want on quota, whether you need to take an exam ("driving license for your body") or what level of state intrusion there should be but at least we stop fucking pouring billions into cartels and terrorist funds.

    Heck, send to dept of agriculture out to Afghanistan to organise the poppy farms. Then how do the Taliban get the allegiance of farmers, when the USA is the buyer and the price for any other channel is a pittance?

    Economics brought down the USSR. It is more powerful than war.

  • Neil||

    Best comment I've seen on here in a while! Strongly Agree!

  • zander||

    The rationale for the drug war is that we have to save the drug users. It is beyond dispute that drug users are by definition sociopaths;the idea that we should suffer the costs of trying to save them from their own actions is not only stupidity in the extreme it is harmful to innocent people. I say God save us from the holy-than-thou types who cause so much mischief trying to evidence themselves as righteous.

  • arbiter elegantiarum||

    "It is beyond dispute that drug users are by definition sociopaths" [citation definitely fucking needed]

    By your (grossly over-generalized) condemnation of drug users are sociopaths, you present yourself as one of those "holy[sic]-than-thou types" trying to purport your own righteousness.

  • ||

    You know, I only felt moderately awful when I got up this morning. thanks for fixing that.

  • ||

    We have too many local police forces who believe they are Military Strike Forces when enforcing the drug laws. No-Knock warrants are doing more damage than helping the communities where they are used.

  • ||

    Just for fun, I'd like to see the tabulated results of a study comparing the number of Americans killed each year, 1980 to 2009, by terrorists and by SWAT teams. You'd have to exclude overseas events though.

    I'd wager we're more likely to be shot by a SWAT team than a jihadi.

    SWAT teams are staffed by guys like Dim from A Clockwork Orange. They'd be armed robbers and drug dealers if they couldn't get badges.

  • ||

    If you need special training to be told not to jam a large, cumbersome object up someone else's asshole, maybe you're too fucked up to be on the police force in the first place.

    --George Carlin

  • ||

    I remember when police had tact and common sense. Nowadays the "force" is populated by tactless pussies who got beat up after school and are now getting some payback. What ever happened to 1 riot 1 ranger? I also remember when the TERRORIST was the one hiding behind a mask. We're from the government and we're here to protect you, RIGHT. Police DO NOT prevent ANY crime. They wait till the crime is committed then rush in and accuse everyone. To protect and serve what a joke. It should read To protect our interest and serve ourselves. Chicken sh!t cocksuckers. I have friends who have family members who are "officers" and they can't stand them, and concur with my assessment. We currently live in a police state and are subject to confiscation of our personal posessions if they are deemed the "fruit of crime" without exception. This policy is WRONG.
    It now seems acceptable for officers to shoot Americans in their homes, but SEALs who face hardened TERRORISTS are tried for a fat lip. What a POOR use of taxpayer money. What is wrong with this picture?
    Cheers, B!tches

  • John Galt||

    It seems obvious that the police, prosecutors, and judges involved in this war are making war on the American people, and therefore on the United States. Not only are their actions treason, they should be killed outright, without warning, at any time. Preferably by setting their homes on fire while they sleep.

    Sic semper tyrannis.

  • ATLien||

    I think the cops in these stories should be hunted by the citizens. Hunted like Nazis after WWII. Hunted like the animals they are. Balko should list the names of the cops in the GA shooting. I got a free weekend coming up...

  • ||

    Our government has got balls calling al-quada "terrorists". This isn't "law enforcement", it's homegrown terrorism. But, that's the new America, a terrorist nation. Our government can't seem to get enough killing done to satisfy their lust for inflicting harm on the world. This isn't the "land of the free", you are not "presumed innocent", America is not "great". Take a look around, America causes more harm, death, destruction, and pain around the world than any terrorist organization. We ARE the axis of evil.

  • Abdul Alhazred||

    If it's as easy today as in 1982, just IMAGINE how bad it would be if we did nothing!

    Ever see cloudy with a chance of meatballs? Just imagine that, whith DRUGS.

  • abercrombie milano||

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    President Ronald Reagan declared illicit drugs a threat to America's national security, putting a too-literal gloss on the phrase "war on drugs

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