Mar 092011

Sting or Entrapment?  Mission Creep or Commendable?

Don’t get me wrong.  I detest creeps who prey on young children as much as anyone else, and feel society’s needs would be well served by lining them up against the wall and shooting them, whether it be in the balls or in the head.


We have to be very careful to be just as ethical and fastidiously honorable in law enforcement actions to apprehend pedophiles as we do to arrest petty criminals.  Indeed, because the stigma attached to even the slightest hint that a person may be a pedophile is so great – and, unfortunately, the rush to convict so overwhelming, law enforcement needs to be very careful before filing such charges.

And if we ever, if we ever start to reason ‘well, this sort of crime is so bad that we should be allowed to cut corners to apprehend such terrible people’ then before we know it, those same corners will be cut for every other sort of crime and misdemeanor too.

So, how should law enforcement catch pedophiles?  Should they passively sit back, eat donuts, drink coffee, and wait for someone to file a complaint?  Or should they be more pro-active and try and do some crime prevention rather than crime detection?  I think we’d probably all agree that a pro-active approach is a good approach.

And who should be doing this?  Local police forces?  State bodies?  Federal agencies?  Because pedophiles will often travel to their victims, it is appropriate to involve not just local police but state and federal bodies too, with the FBI seeming to be the logical federal level organization.

Now.  Let’s look at a recent expose revealing how the Homeland Security Department had set up a fake website selling sex tours to – no, not to Thailand or Asia, and not even to Eastern Europe.  Instead, they were selling sex tours to, of all places, Canada (sorry, Canucks!).

Two big questions here.

First, why is the Homeland Security Department involved in setting up fake websites to catch pedophiles?  Their Mission Statement, lists five areas of responsibility :

We have five Departmental missions:

  1. Prevent terrorism and enhance security;
  2. Secure and manage our borders;
  3. Enforce and administer our immigration laws;
  4. Safeguard and secure cyberspace;
  5. Ensure resilience to disasters;

Which of these missions does setting up honey-trap fake websites for pedophiles come under?  You might think ‘safeguarding and securing cyberspace’ is perhaps the closest category, and for sure, none of the other four come close.  But if you read what they say about their cyberspace mission, it is all about protecting against hackers and cyberterrorism and protecting the internet structure, not about catching bad guys privately doing personal bad things via the internet.

So, I ask again.  How and why did the DHS take it upon itself to set up this pedophile sting operation?  This would seem to be extreme mission creep, and it isn’t as though we’re short of other agencies that can (and sometimes do) carry out similar actions.

Now for the second big question.  Let’s look at the actual form of what DHS did.  They set up a website, then trolled all through the internet, posting fake recommendations about the website to encourage people predisposed to that sort of thing to go visit it.

The difference between a sting and an entrapment is never clear or easy.  One test is that a sting merely allows a person to do something they were going to do anyway, whereas an entrapment entices or lures people to do something they might not have done if it were not for the encouragement that was part of the entrapment process.

So where on the spectrum is this fake website?  Don’t you feel it is uncomfortably close to entrapment – particularly because the website makes it really easy to go to Canada rather than travel far away to eg Asia for such perversions?

Now for the other big question.  Why should we care or worry, if the bottom line is that bad guys are taken off the streets, and our children are protected?

We should worry because it is the thin end of the wedge.  Indeed, think about this.  A government organization which has no authority or tasking to do this type of work, takes it upon itself to carry out this project.  We’re past the thin end of the wedge already – we have government agencies assuming new powers and duties that were never given to them.

So the DHS is evolving from protecting our nation against terrorism and overwhelming natural threats and weapons of mass destruction to now choosing to go after pedophiles, one by one – indeed, they’re not even trying to protect our children against these creeps, they’re trying to protect Canadian children instead!

Which begs the question – yesterday it was terrorists, natural disasters and weapons of mass destruction.  Today it is sting/entrapment operations against Americans seeking to have sex with Canadian children.  What will it be tomorrow?

And that’s the really scary question.  Our government is expanding out of control.


Mar 072011

FL Turnpike sign

I don’t know when you last drove on one of the toll roads operated by the Florida Turnpike Authority, but believe you me, it can be an expensive experience.  What do they do – pave the roads with gold?

Anyway, so there you are, pulling up to the ticket collector’s box, and you’re due to pay maybe a $7 or greater toll.  The good news is that the Florida Turnpike website says

Customers can pay their toll with cash (U.S. Currency) on Turnpike facilities.

That’s kinda sorta what you’d expect, right?  Indeed, they won’t even take a credit card.  If you don’t have one of their Sun Pass transponders, your only other choice is to reach into your wallet and pull out some green.

But – wait.  You’ve got a couple of dollar bills, and then nothing smaller than a twenty.  No problem, you pass it over to the toll collector, and they tell you you’ve got to show some photo ID and refuse to let you leave the toll booth until you do.

If you object, they threaten to call the Florida Highway Patrol to presumably arrest you or force you to show ID.

And if you complain to the Turnpike management, they’ll deny it ever happens.

But a FL resident took a series of recordings to prove how widespread the practice of demanding ID before changing $20, $50 and $100 bills was, and subsquent document discovery action against the Turnpike Authority showed them scrambling to erect a facade of obfuscation and lies about the program.

Here’s a fascinating expose on what has been going on – be sure to watch the video in the top right as well as to read the article.

What is not explained by the Turnpike Authority is why they did it.  Sure – there’s an excuse – to catch counterfeiters; but in the 885 occasions when they received counterfeit bills, they never once passed the information about who presented the bill to them, to either the local authorities or the US Secret Service.  And a much simpler approach would be to do what any store does – to simply use a counterfeit detecting pen on the banknotes.

Some bully boy is on his own little power trip, just because he can.

The Authority is now anticipating being on the receiving end of a huge class action lawsuit that could run into hundreds of millions of dollars.  But where will this money come from?  From the citizens of FL – the same people who have been bullied illegally by the Turnpike Authority into unnecessarily showing ID.

How many people will lose their jobs over this?  You know the answer to this already, don’t you – no-one.  Will anyone lose their pension?  No, almost certainly not.  And that’s the real outrage.  Public service employees shamefully and shamelessly abuse their jobs, with no negative consequences whatsoever.


Mar 072011

Voting at a polling booth

Answer me this, if you can.

First, only citizens can vote, right?   Okay, so that’s a no-brainer question.  We all know the answer to that.  You have to be a citizen to vote.

Second, foreign immigrants have to pass an English language test to become a citizen, don’t they?

Yes, they do.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website that states, under eligibility requirements (to become a US citizen)

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for naturalization under section 316(a) of the INA, an applicant must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 5 years  immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
  • Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
  • Have continuous residence in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing the application
  • Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
  • Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during  all relevant periods under the law

Lots of interesting stuff there.  You can only become a citizen if you’ve had a green card for at least five years (and illegal aliens don’t have green cards), you’ve got to be able to read, write and speak English, you’ve got to be of good moral character, and you’ve got to be ‘well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States’.

So, in that case, and here’s the question – why do we need to provide voting materials in any language other than English?  See this newspaper article where the US Department of Justice is attempting to force Lorain County, OH, to provide five times more translators at polling stations than they already provide.

Oh – wait.  They already provide translators?  But apparently not enough for Eric Holder and the DoJ – even though there’s no clear indication that the present number of translators is insufficient.

Here’s an idea.  Fire the present translators.  Get rid of the bilingual signs.  If you want to vote in our country, do so in our language.  Surely that’s not only in line with the citizenship requirement to read and write English, but also the requirement to we well disposed to the good order and happiness of the US.