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Friday, July 24, 2015

Kingsville, TX — Last Thursday, the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled that it is suspicious for a vehicle to have air fresheners, rosaries, or pro-police bumper stickers. The ruling stems from a 2011 Texas court case in which a couple was pulled over for having rosaries hanging from the rearview mirror, as well as a few air fresheners, and a DARE sticker on the back of the vehicle. Nohemi Pena-Gonzalez was pulled over by Police Officer Mike Tamez when she was driving just 2 MPH over the speed limit. The officer did not pull her over because she was speeding, but because he suspected that she was trafficking drugs, and found the contents of her vehicle and the sticker to be suspicious. Eventually, the officer questioned her husband, Ruben Pena-Gonzalez, who agreed to allow the officer search to their vehicle. The officer did not find any drugs, but did find a large sum of cash that he confiscated, and then sent Ruben Pena-Gonzalez to jail. Recently, the case was taken to the Court of Appeals, where it was decided that Officer Tamez had reasonable suspicion to detain the family and ask to search their vehicle. The court wrote in its decision that “We do have concerns that classifying pro-law enforcement and anti-drug stickers or certain religious imagery as indicators of criminal activity risks putting drivers in a classic ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ position. But we need not decide whether these items alone, or in combination with one another, amount to reasonable suspicion because we find the more suspicious evidence to be the array of air fresheners and inconsistencies in the driver’s responses to the officer’s basic questions. We have long recognized that the presence of air fresheners, let alone four of them placed throughout an SUV, suggests a desire to mask the odor of contraband.” This ruling upholds the idea that police officers can profile and detain people who aren’t actually committing any crimes. Police already profile people according to a number of different factors, and now they have confirmation that their tactics are legally acceptable.


Patrick Howley.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is involved in a government effort to disarm America’s veterans and seniors who may lack the capacity to manage their finances.
And it’s not just veterans facing this scrutiny: now it’s anybody who gets Social Security.
New documents obtained by The Daily Caller reveal that ATF, a division of the Department of Justice, is working with the FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter veterans who get VA benefits into the government’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
TheDC first reported on a government program in which the VA sends veterans’ medical information to the FBI to disarm them. VA uses sneaky criteria to get veterans on the list for “persons prohibited under federal law from receiving or possessing firearms.” (RELATED: Daily Caller Reveals Secret VA-FBI Coordination).

If a veteran is deemed incapable of managing his or her own finances, the VA sends his or her information to the FBI to be automatically added to the criminal background check system. For some injured veterans, their incompetence was determined merely because they signed up for auto-pay on their debit cards, because their wife gives them financial advice, or because they asked for an in-house assistant to help with chores. The VA sends this list to the FBI every month. At last count, there were more than 120,000 veterans in the government’s background check system.
Now we know that the enforcement agency ATF is working with the VA and FBI to suppress information about the program.
Michael Connelly, executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, sent Freedom of Information Act requests about the program to four federal government agencies. But when it came to get a response, he got one from a fifth agency that he didn’t even request information from: ATF.
Connelly, whose research blew the lid off the program in our previous Daily Caller expose, learned that FBI sent his request to ATF, which stifled it.
The FBI sent ATF seven pages of documents pursuant to Connelly’s information request to check with them first. ATF denied Connelly’s request for information, telling him that the agency is “withholding deliberative materials” in a letter dated July 12.
ATF claims it can withhold “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency.”
So, if different agencies swap memos around to each other, then you need to sue them to get the documents under public disclosure law?
And the story is getting bigger. The Los Angeles Times reported this weekend that the Obama administration is trying to get the Social Security Administration to provide information to the FBI on Social Security beneficiaries who can be prohibited from owning a firearm for some form of incompetence. The Times cited the VA’s strategy of using veterans’ financial records against them.
“As I predicted the assault on veterans’ 2nd Amendment rights was just the beginning,” Connelly said. “Social Security recipients would be next. The LA Times has confirmed it. Sometimes I hate it when I am right.”
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