Do you have a student loan? Are you up-to-date with your payments? I sure hope so. Because if not, the US Department of Education may be literally breaking down your door. Did you know the DOE has the power to issue search warrants? Neither did I…
The militarization of what used to be routine police work has been accelerating for years. And with it has come wrong house raids, dead pets and, at times, dead people. At the wrong address. Innocent people who reacted to someone blasting through their door and attempted to defend themselves.
But this adds a whole new wrinkle, doesn’t it? A federal agency with its own SWAT team executing its warrants. And it’s not the DEA we’re talking about here. No, this is the Department of Education. And the warrant was issues for a past due student loan.
We knew the DOE had shotguns. TTAG blogged their re-supply contract back in March of 2010. The Agency emailed us with bullet pointed justification. Missing from the list: debt-related SWAT-style raids.
I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories and warnings of black helicopters. I don’t wear tin foil hats to keep the guvmint from reading my thoughts. And I haven’t checked my fillings for transmitters in…months now. But something like this is almost enough to make me dust off my Wookie suit.
It’s hard to imagine the amount owed even justifies the cost of mobilizing a SWAT unit. I guess the old fashioned method of having a sheriff or even a DOE agent simply knock on the door and ask for the woman who was delinquent didn’t occur to them.
UPDATED: According to this piece at reason.com, the DOE has said that, despite initial media reports, the SWAT raid was not carried out in order to collect on a delinquent loan, but as part of a criminal investigation.
According to the DOE flack:
While it was reported in local media that the search was related to a defaulted student loan, that is incorrect. This is related to a criminal investigation. The Inspector General’s Office does not execute search warrants for late loan payments.
Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we can’t comment on the specifics of the case. We can say that the OIG’s office conducts about 30-35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.
Gee, that’s nice, but it doesn’t answer the central question – why does the department of education needs its own paramilitary force? Doesn’t the .gov have other folks who have some experience dealing with criminal investigations?
Are the tacticool boys at the FBI too busy trying to figure out who put the Canadian quarters in the coffee machine to execute these warrants? The US Marshall service is still looking for The Fugitive?
No, the fact is the DOE has been empire building. Why use another agency’s resources when you can grab some more federal budget resources (also known as our tax dollars) to re-create the wheel? It’s just another (frightening) example of agency mission creep that’s crying out for Congressional oversight.