Say, did you hear about the new Islamic terrorist cell? So far, they’ve killed a Christian pastor and they’ve set a baby on fire. And they’re operating right here in the United States!
Actually, I lied. It wasn’t an Islamic terror cell, it was something called the Mountain Judicial Circuit Narcotics Criminal Investigation and Suppression Team, which is led by Sheriff Joey Terrell from Habersham County, Georgia. They killed Pastor Jonathan Ayers back in 2009 because they thought he was involved in drugs, and they decided to violently confront him before they bothered to confirm the facts. Their more recent victim, the baby, was burned just a few days ago:
A 19-month-old boy critically injured when a police device was tossed into his bed has a 50 percent chance of surviving, his parents said today. But a northeast Georgia sheriff defends the officers’ actions, calling it a tragic accident.
Sheriff Terrell refuses to admit there’s a problem:
“The last thing you want is law enforcement to injure someone innocent,” Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There was no malicious act performed. It was a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen.”
Well what the fuck do you think is going to happen if you throw a flash-bang grenade through a doorway when you can’t see where it’s going to land? Those things may not be as deadly as fragmentation grenades, but they still explode with enough heat to start a fire. Plenty of people have been injured by flash-bang grenades.
“Our team captain asked the normal questions – is there children?” Terrell said. “If there’s children involved in a house, we do not use any kind of distraction devices in those houses. We just don’t take the chance on it.”
But there were no indications of children in the home.
“According to the confidential informant, there were no children,” Terrell said. “When they made the buy, they didn’t see any children or any evidence of children there, so we proceeded with our standard operation.”
Even when they don’t directly injure people, flash-bang grenades still stun and disorient people, which means they are an indiscriminate assault against anybody in the room, including people who present no threat to the entry team. In many cases, the raid teams are serving search warrants, which means there may not even be proof yet that anyone in the house committed a crime. So I’m not particularly impressed by their concern for children, since they seem to have no qualms about harming innocent adults.
While Terrell said the sheriff’s office takes ownership of its decision to enter the home, that was necessitated by the man who was selling drugs there.
No. No it wasn’t. Nobody forced the task force to try to arrest that guy, in that place, on that day.
“The person I blame in this whole thing is the person selling the drugs,” Terrell said. “Wanis Thonetheva, that’s the person I blame in all this. They are no better than a domestic terrorist, because they don’t care about families – they didn’t care about the family, the children living in that household – to be selling dope out of it, to be selling methamphetamine out of it. All they care about is making money.
“Look what they made me do.” It’s the argument of the psychopath. Every schoolyard bully uses it. Every wife beater. Every guy who knifes someone over an argument in a bar. Every cop who butts in where he doesn’t belong and hurts someone.
“They don’t care about what it does to families,” Terrell said. “It’s domestic terrorism and I think we should treat them as such. I don’t know where we can go with that, but that’s my feelings on it. It just makes me so angry! I get so mad that they don’t care about what they do, they don’t care about the families or the people they’re selling to.”
As Jacob Sullum points out, it wasn’t a drug dealer who put a baby in the hospital with critical burns. That was Sheriff Terrell and his drug warrior task force. So ask yourself, who are the real terrorists here?
About a decade ago, when the U.S. military began fighting in Afghanistan, we started hearing stories of the violence the Taliban would commit in the name of their religious beliefs. I remember in particular that they were attacking men for shaving their beards (it’s still going on in the region). It’s one thing to have sincere religious beliefs, but it takes a special kind of derangement to want to use violence to force others to conform to them.
We’re seeing another example with the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria who have kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls because its members have religious objections to the education of females, and they think they have the right to violently prevent other people from doing things that conflict with their beliefs.
Given that drug use is a consensual act and that the drug laws are more than a little arbitrary in what they allow or prohibit, Sheriff Terrell’s task force is violently enforcing conformity with what are essentially religious beliefs about the evils of drugs. They are the American version of Boko Haram and the Taliban.
(Hat tip: Radley Balko.)