by Addison Wiggin: The
Permanent Portfolio Revisited
“I was scared
to death,” says Paul Brown. “I felt like a hostage.”
On Sept. 14,
2012, Mr. Brown was working on his own computer… in his home… in
Beach Park, Ill. Suddenly, a gang of thugs smashed in his front
door, pointed guns at him and several family members — including
his 77-year-old mother-in-law — handcuffed them and ransacked
Nah. The local
SWAT team. Yes, they were looking for drugs. But they didn’t find
any. Nor did they make any arrests.
WTF: Plywood takes the place of lead and stained glass in Paul
Brown’s front door…
had burst in immediately after a postal worker delivered a package
to the home that they said contained marijuana,” the Chicago
Tribune reports. Brown’s son-in-law accepted the package. It
was addressed to someone named “Oscar.” No one by that name lives
The cops aren’t
saying much. They believe they had the right house and the target
of their investigation wasn’t home at the time. They are not going
to repair the door… or help with the $3,000 in damages.
It was “just
another day in the war on drugs,” excuses the Trib, unwittingly
kicking off a disturbing episode of the 5 in which we try to highlight
and detail what we’ve been affectionately referring to as the War
Like the troubling
collapse of municipal services, the increased militarization of
domestic life in the U.S. is a visceral symptom of the collapse
of a wayward empire. It’s not a topic we take up lightly.
Back in 2008,
in a now infamous example in these parts, a SWAT team raided the
home of Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Md.
Wikipedia recalls, “was the culmination of an investigation that
began in Arizona, where a package containing 32 pounds of marijuana
was intercepted in a FedEx warehouse, addressed to the mayor’s
“In spite of
intercepting the package in transit, the police allowed the package
to be delivered, and once the package arrived at the house, a SWAT
team raided and held the mayor and his mother-in-law at gunpoint,
and shot and killed his two Labrador retrievers, one while it attempted
to run away.”
It turns out
drug runners frequently address packages to innocent homeowners,
figuring FedEx will leave the package on the doorstep when no one’s
home… and the traffickers can retrieve it before anyone who lives
there shows up.
out to be the case in the Calvo incident. As a result, the Prince
George’s County Sheriff’s Office fired several officers, implemented
new procedures and conducted workshops with other police agencies
from around the country to prevent innocent people from ever being
terrorized again – like Mr. Brown in Illinois.
An internal investigation found the raid was justified. No one was
punished. Prince George’s County Sheriff Michael Jackson, running
for reelection in 2010, said, “We've apologized for the incident,
but we will never apologize for taking drugs off our streets… Quite
frankly, we'd do it again. Tonight.”
They must have
been conferring with the Billings, Mont., police department Tuesday
morning of last week. During an early morning raid, a SWAT team,
looking for a meth lab, broke into the home of the Fasching family.
The cops found
no meth lab and made no arrests… but they did set off a “flash-bang”
grenade that aims to disorient the people inside before the officers
storm the house. The grenade was tossed through the window of a
bedroom where Jackie Fasching’s 12-year-old daughter was asleep.
The girl suffered first- and second-degree burns in the attack.
“A simple knock
on the door and I would’ve let them in,” says Jackie.
As in the suburban
Chicago case, the Billings Police aren’t backing down. “If we’re
wrong or made a mistake,” Chief Rich St. John says, “then we’re
going to take care of it,” he said. “But if [the department's claims
process] determines we’re not, then we’ll go with that.”
suburban D.C.… we mentioned the family in Delaware last week. There’s
another case this month in Salt Lake City.
them crashing through the door,” recalled Paul Fracasso. “There
were guns and flashlights going everywhere [and police] telling
them: ‘Get down. Get down. Get down.’”
lucky: He’s the next-door neighbor.
burst inside, the only person they saw was a 76-year-old woman.
Her son says she was asked if she had a gun or drugs. “She was petrified,”
Raymond Zaelit told the Salt Lake Tribune. “She didn’t know
what to think. This was traumatizing for her.” At least in
this case the police apologized.
By the way,
USA Today has followed up on the research we cited last week
on the number of SWAT raids that take place nationwide. From a mere
3,000 per year in the early 1980s, the number has exploded to as
many as 80,000. That’s an average of 228 per day.
Here in Maryland,
a study commissioned by the governor found that a full one-third
of those raids don’t even result in an arrest.
Reprinted with permission
from The Daily Reckoning.
Wiggin [send him mail]
is the editorial director and publisher of The Daily Reckoning.
He is the author, with Bill Bonner, of Financial
Reckoning Day: Surviving The Soft Depression of The 21st
Century and the upcoming Empire
of Debt. His
latest book is The
Demise of the Dollar...and Why It's Great for Your Investments.
© 2012 Daily Reckoning
Best of Addison Wiggin