SWAT teams claim to be private mercenaries, immune to open records laws

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2014/06/27/swat-teams-claim-to-be-private.html

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What sort of society do we live in where claiming to be a mercenary grants the claimant additional rights?


They could be playing with fire. By making this claim, they might lose some policing powers. They might lose the ability to operate in a law enforcement capacity. And if it is retroactive, they could be found culpable for past actions.


i still think it’s inredibly valuable for people to read about Brian Krebs experience with ‘swatting’ or the act of harassment in which people make phony calls to your police station and alert them to fictitious events that result in the use of SWAT. This isn’t isolated. People have been using SWAT teams as a weapon of intimidation for years. And it is not without the risk of death. Krebs himself has been swatted several times, even though he has taken care to let his local police know that his work in cybercrime investigation is likely to result in these scenarios.

ref: http://krebsonsecurity.com/tag/swatting/

so while we argue over the legality of SWAT teams and what they do, lets not forget the risks imposed by those brazenly ignoring the law to use them as menacing tools of oppression. and in that i don’t mean politicians, i mean real life honest to god criminals.


Wait, so if I say I’m a mercenary for hire I can get away with crazy ass murder violence? BRB I got… some things to sort out…


Unfortunately even when they are acting in bad faith as in this instance the courts almost always assume good faith and at worst only make judgments restricting future actions.
This is the problem, when the government is looked upon as the agent of the electorate it is rightly assigned sovereign powers, when that sovereign right to violence is captured for evil purposes by a small group or even the majority of the electorate the only relief in in the judiciary. That is unless the courts have become captured through generations of rotten tough on crime appointments and weak kneed law schools.

Pretty sure that ‘mercenary’ in the US is an occupation that enjoys exactly zero protections under the law. If the SWAT team wanted to make it crystal clear that they are a criminal gang of armed and dangerous thugs, then I can see no better way to do so than to make claims that they’re not agents of the State.


Er, slow down there, Hoss.

I believe the article is saying that because this SWAT team claims to be a private consultant, they aren’t subject to the same transparency or to a release of records via the Freedom of Information Act like your local Sheriff and Police would be.

So if you go out killing people, you better be directly hired the police doing their work in order for the judge to dismiss any charges. Making some third party A-Team like entity where you are hired by a non-government client, while awesome, would probably land you in jail.

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Oh good, does this mean SWAT teams waive sovereign immunity? Because I think a few people might be interested in suing.


Can someone please point me to the prior article profiling the “good” sheriff who is trying to do things differently? I remember one example is that he sends unarmed officers to the door of Crack houses.


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I desperately hope that the judge who gets this includes some important language in the opinion. Something like:


They were not government agencies at all, but rather private corporations

You know, I know they’re saying, “we don’t have to comply with FOIA requests”, but all I heard was, “we have no Sovereign Immunity protections and a we accept that we can now be sued into insolvency.”


Too bad this won’t end up on <a href=“http://boingboing.net/2013/05/07/prenda-law-judge-says-porno-co.html"target=”_blank">Judge Wright’s docket.

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This needs a response much stronger than just “you have to release the records.”

It can’t be granted even the implied status of legitimacy that would come if it’s not called out specifically as being not just wrong, but stupid and evil besides.


I was thinking the same thing - if this holds up, then could the police departments funding them be forced to stop hiring mercenaries to operate domestically? Or, let’s just fantasize for a moment here, charged with insurrection should they continueto do so…

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My thing is if they want to claim that they are a privately funded mercenary group… Then isn’t the government required to have a period for public bidding that other private companies can bid for the contract? I honestly don’t think that happened… so it a publicly funded agency.

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I understand not wanting to release training or tactics, that’s important for their effectiveness, whether you agree with the practice or not, and I think being law enforcement protects that information.
How they are being used should be a legal part of the case fully recorded as a court document. These could be sealed or released as per the court’s rulings. Just asking for the SWAT team ‘records’ is a bit broad and actually can fall into the court’s purview.

Now, claiming that they are a corporation is flat out stupid, and just raised a whole ton of flags. If they were treated as a corporation couldn’t they be sued and have those documents subpoenaed as part of discovery and introduced as evidence in a public lawsuit?

Or on TV.

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Thing is, it’s only going to take one person with good security and legal weapons killing an invading SWAT team in self-defense to make these gung-ho SWAT mercenaries claim “But we’re police! He’s killing cops!”

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Though if you’re enough like the A-Team, you’d just promptly escape to the Los Angeles underground, and then, still wanted by the government, survive as soldiers of fortune.

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