more evidence IRS covered up association with DEA

More evidence of IRS cover-up, not that they’re the only ones.

The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defence lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.

As I stated previously, I’m both intrigued and apprehensive about this sort of program. It has the potential to fight crime in a more cost effective way, but the program itself will catch innocent people in the dragnet. Further, covering up the source of investigative leads might itself be illegal and unconstitutional (“parallel construction” is used to obfuscate the original source of tips).

My primary concern is that, as crime rates have fall in the US and law enforcement numbers have risen, while at the same time both politicians and judges (sometimes elected rather than appointed, depending on the state) are unwilling to be seen as “soft on crime,” law enforcement itself will need to sustain its prominence by charging people with less severe crimes. Less “real” crime, more police, means more prosecution of petty crime. While this might have very good side effects in some cases, it will have disastrous side effects in others.

Society at large is more liberal-minded in regard to smoking pot, for example, but police might not be so understanding if you or your son or daughter is caught in possession of the drug. And of course you can have your car or home confiscated by police for even small amounts of marijuana possession, even if the charges are dropped.

Intelligent perspectives such as that of Bruce Schneier bemoan the surveillance state, and I agree with him. But the real threat isn’t surveillance per se, but the system itself, typified by the less-than-swift appeals process, the guilt-until-proven-otherwise nature of asset forfeiture, and the bias towards convictions and zero-tolerance rules. We shouldn’t be incarcerating people for non-crimes or giving lengthy sentences for petty drug crimes, and yet, that is becoming the norm.

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