Thursday, June 09, 2011

SWAT Teams Taking on Student Loan Default?

It's bad enough that recent college graduates and the African-American population face an unemployment rate nearly double that of the rest of the population. It's bad enough that the cost of a college degree is at an all-time high, up 3,400% since 1972.   But, as Kenneth Wright, who woke up to hear SWAT team members kicking in his front door, can tell you, it's even worse than that.  Why was the elite of the municipal police force  kicking in his door?  To collect on his ex-wife's defaulted student loan, who didn't even live at the address. Who ordered the raid? The Department of Education, who ordered 27 shotguns, last year.

After the SWAT team broke down Wright's door, he was handcuffed and locked into a hot police car for over six hours. This terrorized his 3, 7, and 11-year-old children, of course, who were held at gunpoint, and then locked into the car with their father.

Wright is not alone. SWAT teams raid over 100 homes per day, many times, for non-violent crimes ranging from possession of marijuana, to student loan collections or fraud, depending on who you believe. There are over 150 cases of nightmarish SWAT teams waking innocent families, who then violently search them at gunpoint. There are other cases of SWAT teams apprehending the medical marijuana of patients, many of whom are bedridden.

Why is this happening? Two reasons:  One, the "War on Drugs" that started in the 1980s, in which, the U.S. has seen a 1,300% increase in the number of SWAT team deployments, from 3,000 per year in 1981, to more than 40,000 per year in 2001 (the number is likely even higher today). Two, the militarization of law enforcement by The Homeland Security Act of 2002 signed by President George W. Bush. This "SWAT team" finds its home at the federal Office of Inspector General, who was granted law enforcement powers.  And, let's not forget the draconian student loan laws* .

"The HSA of 2002 first authorized IG special agents in large offices to carry firearms, make arrests, and execute search warrants on their own. The Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 – enacted one month before the election – reaffirmed that IGs must be appointed based on competence and without regard to political affiliation. It established new pay levels, required the President to give Congress 30 days’ notice before trying to remove or transfer any IG, and created a new unified Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. All IG offices now will get certain law enforcement powers."
Now, the DOE claims the raid was ordered due to an ongoing probe into alleged financial aid fraud, but then refused to discuss the case any further.  Let's just say that this is true. Does it call for a visit from the terror squad? It's a non-violent crime! It was the wrong address! If police state intimidation tactics are the new normal...please, let us start with the real criminals:  banksters, hedge fund managers...people who have plundered  billions, perhaps, trillions of dollars.

Overall, the substantial increase in SWAT raids on non-violent American citizens is alarming, to say the least. Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Crime on June 21, 2007 concerning militarized police forces (using military-style weapons, tactics, training, uniforms, and even heavy equipment by civilian police departments) claimed that the dramatic rise in paramilitary SWAT teams since the 1980s can largely be attributed to acts passed by the U.S. Congress, at the time...basically, thanks to the War on Drugs.

Links:

*
Administrative Wage Garnishment
As the agency responsible for administering the programs that provide this Federal loan financing, the U. S. Department of Education (ED) pursues collection of student loans aggressively through debtor contact, credit reporting, litigation, collection agencies and offset against Federal payments, such as Federal income tax refunds. ED also uses another tool for collection of defaulted student loans— garnishment of wages of defaulted borrowers. Section 488A of the Higher Education Act authorizes ED and student loan guarantors to collect defaulted Federally-financed student loans by means of an administrative garnishment order to the employer, without the need for a court order. This order requires the employer to withhold and pay over to ED a portion of the debtor’s disposable pay. Federal law authorizing this action supersedes any state law that might limit or prohibit wage garnishment, or would require a creditor to obtain a judgment or use specific procedures for wage garnishment. Beginning in 2003, ED will issue garnishment orders to employers to withhold 15% of wages from student aid debtors, in reliance on a newer law, part of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996.
[...]
34 CFR Part 34: These regulations implement for the Department of Education the provisions for administrative wage garnishment in the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). The DCIA authorizes Federal agencies to garnish administratively, that is, without court order, the disposable pay of an individual who is not a Federal employee to collect a delinquent nontax debt owed to the United States. These regulations implement this authority for a debt owed to the United States under a program administered by the Department of Education.

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