DOJ's arrest policies

When Merrick Garland was questioned about why excessive force was used in the arrest of Mark Houck, an anti-abortion activist who had offered to turn himself in, the attorney general evaded responsibility for the policy by saying,

The determinations of how to make arrests under arrest warrants are made based by the tactical operators in the district.  They made the decision on the ground as to what was safest and easiest.

Garland did not comment on the enormous expense of sending a SWAT team to arrest a father of seven.  Also not mentioned was the fact that this early-morning raid tactic, first developed by the Soviet KGB, is frequently used to arrest non-violent targets.

Early-morning or pre-dawn raids are designed for maximum humiliation and intimidation.  Dozens of federal agents with automatic weapons, armored vehicles, and sometimes a helicopter and amphibious watercraft are used to intimidate the target, as was the case with Roger Stone.  In the raid on Thomas Caldwell's home, Caldwell's 61-year-old wife was covered in red dots from the weapons aimed at her.  She begged to put on her socks before they forced her outside in the cold.  Caldwell himself, clad only in his underwear, was dragged through the grass.  James O'Keefe claims he was partially clothed in front of his neighbors when he was dragged out of his apartment.

The federal government has a constitutional right to arrest people for certain offenses.  When it goes to enormous expense to arrest cooperating subjects, there is another motive to its actions.  Intimidation and humiliation are not proper components of an arrest.

There is also the factor that SWAT raids can go terribly wrong.  Innocent people have been killed in their homes.  The federal government has a history of heavy-handed attacks.  It paid Randy Weaver $3.1 million for the murder of this wife and son.  There was also the Waco siege resulting in 75 deaths, including 25 children.

The Justice Department may be overzealous in some areas while in other areas it is reluctant to enforce the law.  Merrick Garland claimed he was not aware of guidelines given to the U.S. Marshals Service to "avoid" arresting protesters outside the homes of Supreme Court justices.  These protesters were in violation of 18 USC §1507, which prohibits picketing with the intent of influencing any judge.  Pro-abortion protesters have publicized the justices' home addresses, the schools attended by their children, and their houses of worship.  The protesters posed a serious threat to the justices and their families.  Nicholas John Roske was arrested because he had traveled to D.C. to assassinate Judge Kavanaugh.  Garland's response to these protests seems to contradict his claim that "threats against public servants are not only illegal; they run counter to our nation's core values."

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing).  He has a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from St. Mary's University.  He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.  He is featured on the BBC's program Things We Forgot to Remember.

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