by Nick Freiling
Update: Yesterday, I wrote about a Stockton, CA man whose home was invaded by federal agents, on orders from the Department of Education, looking for evidence that wasn’t there (his estranged wife). He was treated like a violent criminal, stripped and handcuffed and left in a car for 6 hours. His terrified pre-teen kids were also held. Here is what their neighbor had to say:
"They surrounded the house; it was like a task force or SWAT team," across the street neighbor Becky said. "They all had guns. They dragged him out in his boxer shorts, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him."
According to Becky and her two children, the raid started at 6 a.m. with agents ramming down Wright's front door.
"I watched until I went to work at 10:45 and they were still out there," Becky said. Her young daughter, Valerie, said she counted 13 agents and one Stockton police officer outside Wright's home.
"I felt really bad for those kids," said Becky about agents when they brought out Wright's three children. "They were crying really loud."
After being held for 6 hours in a government vehicle, the Stockton man was allowed to return to his home.
Now, in an attempt to explain this outrageous (and terrifying) episode, the DoE today released a partial search warrant related to the invasion. It lists “Financial Aid Fraud, Conspiracy, Theft of Government Funds, False Statement to Government Agency, Wire Fraud” as the charges (they are against his estranged wife).
These are serious charges, to be sure. But do they really warrant a break-in by armed government agents in the wee hours of the morning? Perhaps a simple knock on the door might have made more sense. Someone could have been killed, like last month in Arizona when a former Marine was shot 22 times after SWAT officers on a drug raid found him wielding a gun when they broke into his home (again...what would you be wielding if 5 armed and masked men broke down your door?).
As Matt Welch reminds us, there are now over two dozen federal agencies that can send a dozen armed agents to kick down your door, including the Deptartment of Labor, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Maybe the US Botanic Gardens will be next...
Note: this post was modified on 6/13/11 to replace the word "SWAT" with "armed federal agents" (or similar), as the DoE does not own or operate a Special-Weapons-and-Tactics team.