The Rise of Political Persecution in the Age of Obama

David French has a chilling must-read at National Review  regarding the infamous "John Doe" investigations of Scott Walker and Wisconsin conservatives. In the fall of 2013, conservative activists saw their lives upended for the crime of exercising their First Amendment rights and supporting the wrong party. The political witch-hunts and subsequent home invasions that were conducted by hyper-political district attorney John Chisholm were  assisted by a corrupt, rubber-stamping judge, and a depressingly compliant police force.

In Wisconsin, citizens who thought they were doing their civic duty by getting involved in the political process found out what it feels like to live in a police state where cops show up at their doorsteps with battering rams:

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.

She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door.

“I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic.

“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”

She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.

“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”

They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off. The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.” Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.

This is but one of several horror stories highlighted by French, who described how terrified private citizens were assailed and at times verbally abused by heavily armed police early in the morning, with property taken from their homes while neighbors watched. In every case, the citizens were told they were not allowed to talk about what happened because if they did, they could go to jail.

For select conservative families across five counties, this was the terrifying moment — the moment they felt at the mercy of a truly malevolent state. Speaking both on and off the record, targets reflected on how many layers of Wisconsin government failed their fundamental constitutional duties — the prosecutors who launched the rogue investigations, the judge who gave the abuse judicial sanction, investigators who chose to taunt and intimidate during the raids, and those police who ultimately approved and executed aggressive search tactics on law-abiding, peaceful citizens. For some of the families, the trauma of the raids, combined with the stress and anxiety of lengthy criminal investigations, has led to serious emotional repercussions. “Devastating” is how Anne describes the impact on her family. “Life-changing,” she says. “All in terrible ways.”

As blogger Patterico put it -- these  raids on law-abiding citizens in Wisconsin amounted to "state sponsored swattings."

Unfortunately, in the age of Obama, Wisconsin's  "John Doe" abomination is not an isolated case of the state using brute political force to punish conservatives/Republicans.

Between 2009 and 2011, IRS audits against small businesses increased 32%. Federal warrants against businesses also increased substantially, with many of the raids conducted by SWAT teams.

Among the hundreds of businesses raided by the IRS and Department of Justice, using paramilitary, gestapo-like tactics, were Mountain Pure Water Bottling Company and Duncan Outdoors, Inc. (both situated in Arkansas) and Gibson Guitar (located in Tennessee).

Conservatives know about the raid on Gibson Guitars where armed agents from the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife raided four Gibson factories, confiscating guitars and sending hundreds of employees home. Gibson was accused of using illegal wood in violation of the century-old Lacey Act.

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson's chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.

Mountain Pure water was also targeted by government agents for a trumped-up charges pertaining to an SBA loan the owner secured through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recover tornado losses to his home, warehouse, and associated equipment. Mountain Pure Water's chief executive, John Stacks, is also a Republican who has donated to Republican candidates.

At 8:00 a.m. on January 18, 2012, 40 -50 heavily armed, hostile government agents raided Mountain Pure water, scaring the dickens out of everyone in the building.

John Stacks, the owner of Mountain Pure Water said that he was cursed at, spat on,  and bullied in such an egregious fashion, he felt like they were trying to provoke him to react violently. His son, Court Stacks, the General Manager, had a loaded gun pointed to his face. His seven and a half month pregnant wife watched news coverage of the raid at home in horror. She would later lose the baby.

“I am not a militant”, Jerry Miller the Comptroller of Mountain Pure Water said. “They’ve thrown the Constitution away!”

John Stacks and his  son Ryan, an attorney, were not allowed to enter the building. According to Miller, one of the agents told him, “we’re the federal government and we can do anything we want to.”

“They threw our liberties out the window”, Miller concluded. “They treated us like third class citizens…if people are not outraged, they need to be. This used to be America – now it’s not.”

“I never fathomed that something to this extent could take place in the United States”, said Ryan Stacks. He went on to say they were being  treated similarly to “some type of terrorists, essentially.”

Duncan Outdoors faced a similar gestapo like raid with the eerily familiar refrain from one of the officers, “we’re from the IRS and we can do anything we want.”

As if the IRS targeting scandal wasn't bad enough, one tea-party group in Texas was targeted by the IRS, the FBI, OSHA, and the ATF.

Catherine Engelbrecht’s tale has all the markings of a classic conspiracy theory: She says she thinks that because of her peaceful political activity, she and her family were targeted for scrutiny by hostile federal agencies. Yet as news emerges that the Internal Revenue Service wielded its power to obstruct conservative groups, Catherine’s story becomes credible — and chilling. It also raises questions about whether other federal agencies have used their executive powers to target those deemed political enemies.

Before the Engelbrecht family’s three-year ordeal began, Catherine says, “I had no real expectation or preparation for the blood sport that American politics is.” Sounding weary on the phone, she continues: “It’s all been a through-the-looking-glass experience.” Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who specializes in representing conservative organizations, says that the Engelbrecht family’s experience is “just the tip of the iceberg. . . . I think there’s definitely a Chicago-politics-style enemies list in this administration, and I think it permeates this branch of the federal government.”

More examples of militarized law enforcement and abuses of power during the age of Obama can be found here.

The use of SWAT teams for routine law enforcement is a dangerous trend that accelerated exponentially during the Obama years.  Because when the totalitarian hard-left has power, the gloves come off. Many law-abiding conservatives across the country have found this unfortunate truth out the hard way.