Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Gibson Raid: Much to Fret About

“In two cases we had a SWAT team, treating us like drug guys, come in
and shut us down with no notice,” lamented Gibson chairman and CEO
Henry Juszkiewicz. “That’s just wrong. We’re a business. We’re making
guitars.” Juszkiewicz says the raid, seizures, and resulting plant
closure cost Gibson more than $1 million.

This abusive treatment of a legitimate business like Gibson is not an
isolated incident. Small businesses have been similarly raided, and
their officers imprisoned, for such minor offenses as importing
lobster tails in plastic rather than cardboard (three men were given
eight-year prison sentences) and sloppy labeling on imported orchids
(the accused was given a 17-month sentence).

The Gibson assaults are further evidence that America’s
criminal-justice system has strayed far from its central purpose:
stopping the bad guys from harming us. SWAT-team raids were designed
to arrest notoriously violent gangsters, and stop them from destroying
evidence. Now, the police powers of the state are being used to attack
businesses. (Were the feds afraid that the Gibson workers would flush
the guitars down the toilet?)