Mark Meckler, President of Citizens for Self-Governance and co-founder of the Convention of States Project, appeared on Newsmax TV Monday to discuss the double standard often applied to government officials and how they use that double standard to abuse their power.
Brief suspensions for the DEA agents who left an innocent San Diego man in a holding cell for five days prove that government officials do not face serious punishment for abuse of their authority, lawyer and political activist Mark Meckler told Newsmax TV Monday.
The lack of accountability, coupled with a legal culture that criminalizes routine behavior, leaves ordinary citizens at the mercy of the system, Meckler, a Tea Party Patriots founder who now runs Citizens for Self-Governance, told "Newsmax Now" co-hosts John Bachman and Miranda Khan.
Meckler said the case of Daniel Chong, the San Diego college student who sat handcuffed in isolation without food or water for five days, "isn't the exception."
"Citizens face this kind of abuse every day," he said.
Chong was caught up in a drug raid at a friend's house in 2012 where he had gone to smoke marijuana. He was never charged, but was placed in a cell and left completely unattended. Five days later, authorities found him delirious and gravely ill. Chong had drunk his own urine to stay hydrated.
The DEA paid Chong $4.1 million in a settlement and changed its procedures to guard against a repeat of his ordeal.
In April, the agency issued reprimands to four agents involved in the fiasco and short suspensions of two more — light punishments that stirred fresh outrage even at the DEA's parent agency, the Justice Department, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Meckler said he was not impugning the system as a whole, just in those instances "where the system works in a way that government officials who do abuse their authority or do very bad things are protected from the consequences of their abuses."
Meanwhile, he said, citizens have to wade through an ever-wider law enforcement dragnet.
"There's a book out there that describes how each of us commits at least three federal felonies a day," said Meckler, referring to "Three Felonies a Day: How The Feds Target the Innocent," by Harvey Silverglate.
"We have no idea," he said. "We don't know what the laws are. We don't know whether we're violating the laws or not. And they're used in a discretionary manner to abuse our citizens."
The Chong case is "one of the most egregious examples we've seen," he said, "but in the end, the biggest problem is that the government officials who do these sorts of things, they are immune from personal liability.
"While the government paid Mr. Chong a substantial settlement sum," he said, "that sum comes from my pocket and your pocket and the pocket of innocent citizens who are abused by this system. It doesn't come from the government officials who are ultimately responsible."