Another American citizen has been unceremoniously stripped of his cash, despite not having any criminal charges filed against him:
Maybe he should have taken traveler’s checks.
But it’s too late for that now. All the money – $16,000 in cash – that Joseph Rivers said he had saved and relatives had given him to launch his dream in Hollywood is gone, seized during his trip out West not by thieves but by Drug Enforcement Administration agents during a stop at the Amtrak train station in Albuquerque.
An incident some might argue is still theft, just with the government’s blessing.
Rivers, 22, wasn’t detained and has not been charged with any crime since his money was taken last month.
Is it unusual for Americans to carry large sums of cash? Perhaps. But notice carefully that our currency says it is legal tender “for all debts, public and PRIVATE.” In other words, absent hard evidence of criminal activity (i.e. the kind that stands up in court), it’s none of the government’s business why you have cash nor what you intend it for. But that’s just part of a story that should make you sit up and take notice:
A DEA agent boarded the train at the Albuquerque Amtrak station and began asking various passengers, including Rivers, where they were going and why. When Rivers replied that he was headed to LA to make a music video, the agent asked to search his bags. Rivers complied.
In other words, we have reached the stage of “your papers, please,” when any government hall monitor can stop you at any time and start prying into your life.
THIS IS NOT THE KIND OF NATION THE FOUNDERS INTENDED. Nor does it comport with the clear language of the Constitution. As I first read this, I was thinking if it were me, I would simply (and politely, at first) inform the officer that I’m an American freely traveling about my own country. And leave it at that. Any request to search my possessions would be met with “am I being charged with a crime? If not, then why do you need to search my possessions?” That’s when I read this:
“We don’t have to prove that the person is guilty,” Waite said. “It’s that the money is presumed to be guilty.”
DEA agents may choose to ask the person whether his or her possessions can be searched in what is called a “consensual encounter.” If the subject refuses, the bags – but not the person – can be held until a search warrant is obtained, he said.
Waite said that he could not provide exact figures on how often seizures occur in Albuquerque but that last week the DEA had five “consensual encounters” that resulted in seizures.
What Orwellian language we have here! A uniformed (and presumably armed) officer stops you at random and asks your “consent” to dig through your baggage. Just like the TSA claims you “consent” to being scanned by millimeter wave devices at airports when you pick the lesser of two imposed evils rather than agree to be patted down by perverts.
“Consent” does not exist under the duress of the threat of force. For the DEA to use the term here is about as appropriate as the rapist claiming after the fact “no, really, she wanted it.” I don’t make such a comparison lightly, either.
We keep hearing about ISIS, Russia, China, Iran… the list of State-approved enemies is virtually limitless these days, each with their own periodic Two-Minutes Hate. But none of those groups are stopping Americans, in America, to randomly question their actions. Certainly none of them are seizing Americans’ life savings under some judicial fiction designed to give it an artificial odor of legitimacy. So I’ll conclude with the statement I made just a few days ago: when the government can simply seize your cash, with no due process at all, you are NOT free.
Maybe it’s time we figure out who our our real enemies are.