Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America

Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

This paper presents a history and overview of the issue of paramilitary drug raids, provides an extensive catalogue of abuses and mistaken raids, and offers recommendations for reform.

Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Interactive Map

Media Name: overkill.jpg

Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush

In recent judicial confirmation battles, President Bush has repeatedly — and correctly — stressed fidelity to the Constitution as the key qualification for service as a judge. It is also the key qualification for service as the nation’s chief executive. On January 20, 2005, for the second time, Mr. Bush took the presidential oath of office set out in the Constitution, swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” With five years of the Bush administration behind us, we have more than enough evidence to make an assessment about the president’s commitment to our fundamental legal charter.

Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power. In its official legal briefs and public actions, the Bush administration has advanced a view of federal power that is astonishingly broad, a view that includes:

  • a federal government empowered to regulate core political speech — and restrict it greatly when it counts the most: in the days before a federal election;
  • a president who cannot be restrained, through validly enacted statutes, from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror;
  • a president who has the inherent constitutional authority to designate American citizens suspected of terrorist activity as “enemy combatants,” strip them of any constitutional protection, and lock them up without charges for the duration of the war on terror — in other words, perhaps forever; and
  • a federal government with the power to supervise virtually every aspect of American life, from kindergarten, to marriage, to the grave.

President Bush’s constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers.

Media Name: powersurge.jpg

Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government

Buck Wild offers a scathing critique of the Republican Party and explains how its abandonment of limited government principles jeopardize the future of the Grand Old Party and the nation.

Through gripping narrative and trenchant analysis, Stephen Slivinski tells the surprising story of the GOP’s unfortunate transformation, revealing how and why Republicans have:

  • become the biggest spenders in Washington since Lyndon Johnson.
  • abandoned the keystone principles that catapulted them to power in the first place.
  • betrayed taxpayers and fiscal conservatives.
  • planted the seeds of their own undoing in the coming elections.

Buck Wild tells the story of how the Republican Party lost its head and also explores urgent questions about the fate of limited government, including whether conservatives within the GOP can save the party from itself before it’s too late.

A fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party is brewing. Buck Wild explains how the GOP reached the breaking point and what it means for the future of the party and American government.

Media Name: buckwild.jpg

CORNERSTONE OF LIBERTY: Property Rights in 21st Century America

The right to own and use private property is among the most essential human rights and the essential basis for economic growth. That’s why America’s Founders guaranteed it in the Constitution. Yet in today’s America, government tramples on this right in countless ways. Regulations forbid people to use their property as they wish, bureaucrats extort enormous fees from developers in exchange for building permits, and police departments snatch personal belongings on the suspicion that they were involved in crimes. In the case of Kelo v. New London, the Supreme Court even declared that government may seize homes and businesses and transfer the land to private developers to build stores, restaurants, or hotels. That decision was met with a firestorm of criticism across the nation.

In this, the first book on property rights to be published since the Kelo decision, Timothy Sandefur surveys the landscape of private property in America’s third century. Beginning with the role property rights play in human nature, Sandefur describes how America’s Founders wrote a Constitution that would protect this right and details the gradual erosion that began with the Progressive Era’s abandonment of the principles of individual liberty. Sandefur tells the gripping stories of people who have found their property threatened: Frank Bugryn and his Connecticut Christmas‐​tree farm; Susette Kelo and the little dream house she renovated; Wilhelmina Dery and the house she was born in, 80 years before bureaucrats decided to take it; Dorothy English and the land she wanted to leave to her children; and Kenneth Healing and his 17‐​year legal battle for permission to build a home.

Thanks to the abuse of eminent domain and asset forfeiture laws, federal, state, and local governments have now come to see property rights as mere permissions, which can be revoked at any time in the name of the “greater good.” In this book, Sandefur explains what citizens can do to restore the Constitution’s protections for this “cornerstone of liberty.”

Media Name: cornerstoneoflibertypropertyrightsin21stcenturyamerica.jpg