Education Out Of Control

Is it just me or does anyone else find it extremely disturbing that the U.S. Department of Education has their own heavily armed entry teams breaking down the doors of private residences and conducting S.W.A.T. style police raids?

Education Department S.W.A.T. team raids California home

A S.W.A.T. team with orders from the U.S. Department of Education broke into a California home at 6 a.m. Tuesday and reportedly roughed up a man because of a student aid issue involving his estranged wife. His wife was not present.

In 2010, the Post’s Valerie Strauss reported that the Education Department was purchasing 27 Remington Brand Model 870 police 12-gauge shotguns to replace old firearms used by Education’s Office of Inspector General, which is the law enforcement arm of the department. DoE said the guns were necessary to help enforce “waste, fraud, abuse, and other criminal activity involving Federal education funds, programs, and operations.”

Kenneth Wright says his house was raided because of his wife’s unpaid loans. One blogger speculated that we finally know what those guns are being used for.

But the Department of Education told Reason Magazine Wednesday that the SWAT team raided the house because of a criminal investigation, not a student loan.

See also:
Failure to pay student loan brings SWAT team kicking in debtor’s door
SWAT Team Raids Man’s Home Over Student Loans
Federal agents search Stockton home
‘Unpaid Student Loan’ Raid Claim Refuted as Feds Target California Couple in Fraud Probe
Feds defend Department of Education raid on a home
OK, Education Dept. raid is not a hallmark of liberty
These Are the Charges That Require the Department of Education to Send a Dozen Armed Agents to Kick Through Your Front Door
DoE Releases Partial Search Warrant Related to Yesterday’s Raid
Update on Department of Education SWAT raid in Stockton
Reading, Writing, Breaking, Entering
Office of Inspector General

You know, I don’t really care why a U.S. Department of Education S.W.A.T. team is breaking down doors and conducting raids. What I care about is that the U.S. Department of Education has a S.W.A.T. team and law enforcement arm in the first place. Seriously, what the hell, isn’t conducting raids and making arrests like this why we already have the FBI?

This is totally out of control and way beyond the pale, is this what legislators had in mind when they set up the Department of Education in 1979, military style police raids on private residences? The U.S. Department of Education is operating well beyond it’s original mandate. The DoE should be abolished, we’d save billions of dollars annually and it wouldn’t even be missed.

/when I graduated from high school, there was no Federal Department of Education and we all survived and made it through school just the same, and arguably with a better education too

An Election Worthy Of Tammany Hall

This weekend’s parliamentary election in Afghanistan would make Boss Tweed blush. You can try and put lipstick on the pig, but it’s quite obvious that the election results are overwhelmingly fraudulent and illegitimate.

Election Complaints Overwhelm Afghan Voter Commission

Afghanistan’s U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission says it has received nearly 3,000 formal complaints about Saturday’s parliamentary elections, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the vote.

The commission says it received more than 1,300 of those complaints since election day, while the rest came before the vote. Tuesday was the official deadline for Afghans to file complaints.

Shortly after the polls closed Saturday, the ECC said it received allegations of fraud and misconduct that included late-opening polling centers, ballot shortages and voter registration fraud.

Ahmad Nader Nadery is the head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, which was one of the monitors of the vote.

“Frauds did happen in different forms. We have seen ballot stuffing, proxy votes, underage voting and also multiple voting,” said Nadery. “The most serious one is the ballot stuffing, our observers have observed in around 280 centers, in 28 provinces where the ballot stuffing did occur.”

Some election observers also voiced concerns that local warlords intimidated or coerced voters in some instances.

Afghan election commission reports new evidence of serious fraud

Internal reports from Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission on Tuesday provide new evidence of serious fraud in Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections, including turnouts that exceeded 100 percent in many southeastern districts under the control of the Taliban or other militants.

One district in Paktika province recorded 626 percent voter turnout, according to reports obtained by McClatchy Newspapers.

The new indications of fraud appear to strengthen allegations of widespread intimidation, vote rigging and violence that independent Afghan poll monitors began making almost immediately after the polls closed on Saturday and cast new doubts on the commission’s assertion that it knew of no instances in which commission staff members stuffed ballots.

See also:
Voter fraud claims abound after Afghan elections
Observers cite ‘serious concerns about quality’ of Afghan elections
After Afghan Vote, Complaints of Fraud Surface
Afghan election watchdog amasses evidence of fraud
Fraud, violence tarnished Afghan vote, watchdog group says
Karzai Hails Afghan Election as ‘Serious’ Flaws Found
Karzai praises Afghan balloting, but monitors say election was rigged
Low bar
Are Afghanistan elections hurting democracy?
Afghan Elections: Corruption Could Again Thwart Democracy
Bodies of 3 Afghan election workers found

Welcome to “”democracy”, Afghan style, smells like “nation building” gone wrong and behaving badly.

/and our brave troops are right in the middle of this fiasco, fighting and dying for something or other, does anyone really know anymore?

It’s No Longer Illegal To Be A Lying Lowlife Scumbag

You still can’t legally yell fire in a crowded theater, but thanks to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it’s now your Constitutional right to pretend that you’re a member of the military and fraudulently wear fake medals in public.

Court again strikes down Stolen Valor Act

A federal appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that people have a right to lie about receiving military medals, the second federal court decision in a month to go against the Stolen Valor Act.

Xavier Alvarez, who falsely claimed in 2007 to have received the Medal of Honor, challenged the law on appeal after he was charged with violating the act, which makes it a crime to falsely claim to have won a military medal.

Alvarez said the act is a violation of free-speech rights.

A panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Alvarez in a 2-1 decision.

The majority said there was no evidence that such lies harm anybody, and there is no compelling reason for the government to ban such lies.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said it is deciding whether to appeal the ruling.

See also:
Appeals court: Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional
Court: Lying about Medal of Honor is no crime
9th Circuit finds a right to lie
Ninth Circuit Declares Stolen Valor Act Unconstitutional
Public Law 109–437
Stolen Valor Act of 2005

No evidence that such lies harm anybody, how about the psychological harm to all the real veterans who actually served and were awarded real medals for their real sacrifices and real wounds? And what about the pain felt by the families of those medal recipients who gave the ultimate sacrifice?

/this ruling is such bull[expletive deleted], why does it not surprise me that it came out of California and the 9th Circus?

In One Door And Out The Other

Your tax dollars, hard at work, heading for the airport, getting out of town.

Afghanistan: $4.2 billion in mysterious cash flown out of Kabul since 2007

THE “blizzard of banknotes” leaving Kabul airport is worse than originally feared, The Scotsman has learned, with at least $4.2 billion (around £2.8 billion) exported in cash over the last three-and-a-half years.

Congressmen in the United States voted to suspend $4bn in aid to the Afghan government last week, after media reports showed $3bn in cash has been flown out of the country since 2007.

US and British fraud investigators fear that most of the money leaving Kabul has been siphoned-off from international aid contracts, or made from the country’s rapidly expanding opium trade.

Documents seen by The Scotsman show that the Afghan Ministry of Finance puts the real figure at $4.2bn – at least $1.2 billion higher than previously feared.

“Our records show that $4.2bn has been transferred in cash through Kabul International Airport alone during the last three-and-a-half years,” Afghanistan’s finance minister, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, wrote in a letter to US Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

Ms Lowey, chairwoman of the aid appropriations sub-committee in Congress, has vowed not to send another dime to Afghanistan until she was confident “that US taxpayer money is not being abused to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan government officials, drug lords and terrorists”.

Dr Zakhilwal’s letter acknowledges allegations that Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s government is “assisting or partaking in this fraud” but the minister hits back by pointing out that most of the money America spends in Afghanistan circumvents the Afghan government.

. . .

The sheer volume of cash couriered out of the country’s main airport is huge relative to Afghanistan’s gross domestic product which was just $13.5bn last year, and it easily dwarfs the amount of tax revenue collected by the government.

The figure doesn’t include cash exported from any of Afghanistan’s other international airports, which include Kandahar International, Mazar-e Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, and the main US base at Bagram, north of Kabul.

. . .

Afghanistan relies on a cash economy and there is no limit to how much money can be exported, as long as it is declared to customs. Official records show most of the money that was declared leaving Kabul since 2007 formed part of the traditional Islamic hawala system, in transfers to Dubai. The often informal nature of the hawala contracts, based on trust, honour and lender’s reputation, make the transactions almost impossible for financial investigators to track.

See also:
4.2 billion dollars have left Kabul airport: report
4.2 billion dollar worth ‘blizzard of banknotes’ have flown out of Kabul since 2007
Afghanistan minister rejects US corruption allegations
Afghan leader: Foreign contracts fuel corruption
Finance Minister Calls for Probe of Afghan Money Network
US freezes $4b of aid to Afghans
US cuts $5.6b Afghan aid amid graft charges
Afghanistan: US lawmakers block $4 bln in aid
Over $4 bn in cash flies out of Kabul

It looks like Karzai and his cronies have put together quite the U.S. financed retirement fund.

/no wonder it seems that Karzai doesn’t really care which side wins in Afghanistan, as long as he can make it to the airport to don his golden parachute

Dowsing For Live Explosives With A Magic Wand, Without Any Magic

Ever wonder how so many bombs keep getting through Iraqi security?

Widely Used Bomb Detectors Deemed Useless

If you think the pictures in a promotional video are dramatic, just look at the claims made for the device it promotes.

The “ADE-651” is a metal antenna on a plastic handle, sold as a bomb detector that uses no batteries or electronics, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Roth. According to its British distributor, it can point to hidden drugs, guns or explosives and it’ll work underwater, underground or in the air.

According to the U.S. military, it’s completely useless.

“I can think of no practical application for this beyond party entertainment,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack.

Yet the Iraqi government has spent at least $85 million for about 2,000 of the so-called bomb detectors, and a training program that teaches troops to shuffle their feet to generate static electricity to make the things work.

Now Britain has just banned export of the devices – and arrested the businessman who’s made a fortune selling them.

Jim McCormick, a former policeman, is accused of fraud.

But the “ADE-651s” are defended by Iraqi officials who backed their purchase. And they’re still in use.

“They’re fine for fooling a 4-year-old at a birthday party, but they’re immoral if they’re trying to save lives at a checkpoint,” said Lt. Col. Bidlack.

Iraq Keeps Banned Bomb-Detecting Devices in Use

An Iraqi security official on Monday defended a bomb-detecting device that Britain banned for export to Iraq because of questions about whether it works, saying it would be a “big mistake” to withdraw it from checkpoints.

The ADE651, made by the British company ATSC, is used at security points across Iraq, including outside the protected Green Zone that includes the Iraqi Parliament and the U.S. and British embassies. Britain halted the export of the machine to Iraq and Afghanistan after a BBC report challenged its effectiveness.

But Col. Hato al-Hashemi, a senior explosives expert at the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said the estimated 2,000 devices used by Iraqi security forces wouldn’t be taken out of service.

“We have great confidence in this device,” Mr. al-Hashemi said. “They have proven their effectiveness in discovering and seizing many car bombs and cars that were loaded with explosives and weapons.”

The hand-held device consists of a swiveling antenna mounted on a hand grip. Mr. al-Hashemi said about 5,000 Iraqi security personnel have been trained on the device since early 2007. He wouldn’t comment on the device’s price or details about Iraq’s deal with ATSC.

Asked if Iraq planned to pull back the devices, Mr. al-Hashemi said: “This would be a big mistake that would create frustration among the security forces and would contribute to the flow of huge amounts of explosives into Baghdad.”

The BBC took the device to a laboratory, which concluded that the key component contained technology used to prevent thefts in stores and wasn’t suitable for detecting explosives.

The findings appeared to back up the U.S. military, which has had concerns about the device for months. In June, the U.S. military distributed a study using laboratory testing and X-ray analysis that found the ADE651 ineffective.

See also:
Iraqi Military Still Hearts Bomb-Detecting Magic Wand
‘Magic Wand’ probed in Iraq
Iraq Spends $85 Million on Fake Bomb Detectors
Unival Group comments alleged fraud linked to ADE651 explosive detectors
Explosive Detector Fraud – Trading Money for Lives?
ADE-651 Magic Wand Bomb Detector Is A Fraud, Probably Killed Hundreds
Lives at airport threatened by bogus bomb detectors
Cambridge Computer Laboratory Declares The ADE 651 A Fraud
Export ban for useless ‘bomb detector’
UK ends ‘bomb detector’ exports
UK bans export of bomb detection device
Head of ATSC ‘bomb detector’ company arrested on suspicion of fraud
UK businessman arrested on charges of fraud
Police arrest MD of dowsing-rod ‘bomb detector’ firm
British Man Held for Fraud in Iraq Bomb Detectors
Iraq MPs bid to remove bomb detector

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the ADE651 doesn’t work at all, the Iraqis paid between $16,500 and $60,000 a unit and, if you watch them take one apart in the video, it’s clear that there’s maybe $20 worth of “parts” used to build them.

/Jim McCormick and anyone else in on this scam should be sent to Afghanistan, equipped with their very own ADE-651 explosive detectors, and made to walk 100 yards in front of NATO convoys

There’s A RAT In The Porkapalooza

The RAT hiding deep inside the stimulus bill

You’ve heard a lot about the astonishing spending in the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, signed into law this week by President Barack Obama. But you probably haven’t heard about a provision in the bill that threatens to politicize the way allegations of fraud and corruption are investigated — or not investigated — throughout the federal government.

The provision, which attracted virtually no attention in the debate over the 1,073-page stimulus bill, creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — the RAT Board, as it’s known by the few insiders who are aware of it. The board would oversee the in-house watchdogs, known as inspectors general, whose job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at various federal agencies, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House.

In the name of accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board the authority to ask “that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.” If the inspector general doesn’t want to follow the wishes of the RAT Board, he’ll have to write a report explaining his decision to the board, as well as to the head of his agency (from whom he is supposedly independent) and to Congress. In the end, a determined inspector general can probably get his way, but only after jumping through bureaucratic hoops that will inevitably make him hesitate to go forward.

See also:
Trouble brewing over final stimulus oversight language
A New Piece of Stimulus Bureaucracy
Smelling a RAT

So now Congress and the Federal agencies can decide whether or not they want to investigate themselves. Can you say fox guarding the hen house?

Investigations?

/we don’t need no stinkin’ investigations!

Birds Of A Feather

Accused Financier Under Federal Drug Investigation

The SEC’s fraud charges may be the least of accused financial scammer R. Allen Stanford’s worries. Federal authorities tell ABC News that the FBI and others have been investigating whether Stanford was involved in laundering drug money for Mexico’s notorious Gulf Cartel.

. . .

A video posted on the firm’s web-site shows Stanford, now sought by U.S. Marshals, being hugged by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and praised by former President Bill Clinton for helping to finance a convention-related forum and party put on by the National Democratic Institute.

See also:
Texas billionaire accused of $8-billion investment scam
Who is R. Allen Stanford?
R. Allen Stanford’s Private-Equity Connections
R. Allen Stanford and the Democrats’ Culture of Corruption
Stanford Financial Group
Gulf Cartel
National Democratic Institute
U.S. Marshals Service

/surprise, surprise!