The Federal Bureau of Investigation is back in the news again with allegations of thuggery and lying to a judge.

Under the microscope is an infuriating scheme that involves the search and seizure of massive amounts of private money and assets from random safety deposit boxes last year in Beverly Hills. 

Even for those who have studied the FBI over the years, this latest episode by the Bureau appears to be little more than organized thievery. 

Do What They Want

At the beginning of last year, the FBI searched and seized a massive amount of assets at the U.S. Private Vaults in Beverly Hills. Depending on which news service you read or watch, the FBI confiscated items from 800 to 1,400 safety deposit boxes.

The items seized included $86 million in cash, jewelry, and $1.3 million in poker chips. Additionally, the FBI photographed password lists, credit cards, a prenuptial agreement, immigration, and vaccination records, bank statements, heirlooms, a will, and even cremated human remains.

What is interesting about all of this is that the FBI apparently misled the judge who issued the warrant and disobeyed the judge’s orders in executing the warrant.

A senior FBI agent testified that the key to the FBI’s plan was to permanently confiscate the contents of every box that contained at least $5,000 in cash or goods. Again, of random safety deposit boxes.

As the LA Times writes, “The FBI’s justification for the dragnet forfeiture was its presumption that hundreds of unknown box holders were all storing assets somehow tied to unknown crimes, court records show.”

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Armed Robbery

Now the FBI is facing a class action lawsuit from about 400 affected box holders. Robert Frommer, a lawyer for the 400, claims:

“…the government’s actions violated the search and seizure protections of the U.S. Constitution in the Fourth Amendment.”

As a refresh, the Fourth Amendment is supposed to protect Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures – “and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The purpose was to permanently outlaw general warrants – that is, a blank check allowing anyone or anything to be search and seized.

Mr. Frommer goes on to state:

“The government did not know what was in those boxes, who owned them, or what, if anything, those people had done.”

Most of these individuals have not received their items back from the FBI, making this, as Mr. Frommer called it, the “…largest armed robbery in U.S. history…”.

A specific example illustrates the overreach of the FBI in this case.

One of the box holders was an unemployed chef with $57,000 in cash in his box. When the man went to court to get his money back, the FBI claimed he couldn’t have made that much cash given his employment status, and that the money came from drug trafficking since their drug dogs had sniffed narcotics on the money.

(To be clear, 90% of U.S. bills have traces of cocaine on them. They could do this to almost anyone.)

Later it turned out the FBI was wrong when the man was able to provide documentation proving that the money was his and obtained through legal, legitimate activities. Will the FBI face any repercussions for this activity? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Overreacting

Sadly, that’s not the only new controversy coming from our friends at the FBI.

This last Friday, Catholic pro-life advocate Mark Houck was arrested by FBI agents for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The allegation is that while he and his son were offering counseling services to women outside an abortion clinic, Mr. Houck assaulted a volunteer.

Like most altercations, there are two sides to this story. First, the Houck family claims he was not blocking the entrance and only pushed the volunteer when he wouldn’t get out of their son’s face after slinging slurs at the young man. 

The real rub of this case is less what happened in front of the abortion center and more of what happened at the Houck home when Mr. Houck was arrested.

The Houck’s allege that a full-blown SWAT team arrived in 15 vehicles at their home.

Between 25 and 30 heavily armed FBI agents spewed from the vehicles and began pounding and yelling at the front door. Mr. Houck allegedly pleaded with the agents:

“Please, I’m going to open the door, but, please, my children are in the home. I have seven babies in the house.”

As he opened the door, the SWAT team with rifles arrested Mr. Houck. A man whose background gives no impression that a SWAT team would be necessary to bring him into custody.

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Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity?

It would appear it’s not just the former President who needs to worry about federal agents working outside the boundaries of the Constitution. The imbalance between how the FBI executes investigations seems clearly based on political affiliation and an addiction to power.

So far, there have been zero arrests in the Jane’s Revenge arson attacks that plagued anti-abortion centers across the country. Yet this one anti-abortion advocate warrants an entire SWAT unit for apprehension for, at most, simple assault?

This will be a memory for those seven children will remain fresh for decades, no doubt. 

And while U.S. Private Vaults did plead guilty to conspiracy to launder drug money, the fact remains that people who were not suspected of any crimes had their personal items searched and seized by the government. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller argued that the warrant and subsequent confiscations were:

“Based on allegations of widespread criminal wrongdoing.”

That sort of broad brush wording leads to a weaponized political police branch of the government. It won’t be long until we are all suspected of widespread criminal wrongdoing.

Who knows, who you voted for in the Presidential elections could be enough to put you in that bucket.

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