I’ve noted before that the level of force the government chooses to use often is determined not by the nature of the threat so much as the message the government wants to send about the law it is enforcing. Hence, SWAT raids on medical marijuana dispensaries.
It looks like we’re also exporting that philosophy.
On January 20, dozens of New Zealand police’s elite special forces broke into Kim Dotcom’s mansionwith assault helicopters, M4A3 automatic weapons, Glock pistols, dogs, sledgehammers and even a circular chainsaw, as if they were expecting a vicious narco gang waiting inside, armed to the teeth.
What they found instead was two kids—three and four years old—a 15-month old baby, some Filipino nannies, two security guards, Dotcom’s bodyguard Wayne Tempero, Dotcom’s wife and meganerd Kim Dotcom himself, hiding in the security room you are seeing in this video.
Tempero told the story on how the Kiwi cops assaulted the Megaupload founder’s home and how they captured Kim himself to Kiwi news channel 3news. It sounds pretty scary and way out of proportion, given the nature of the alleged offense and the people involved.
The operation started at 6:45, when the thunder of the assault helicopters woke up the body guard and everyone in the house. He stepped outside to see the helicopters when a policeman in a bulletproof vest asked him to surrender. He didn’t have any weapons and he complied. He also said that he couldn’t even hear them identifying themselves as police officers because of the sound, but obviously these weren’t low-rent kidnappers.
As this was happening, the elite squads and police officers were going around the house, smashing doors and looking for Kim Dotcom with dogs. In the childhood area they found the kids and the Filipino nannies. According to Tempero, the police asked the Filipino nannies—who must be famous in New Zealand for their ferocity and skills in explosives manufacturing—if they had any bombs.
They also found the wife, who tried to give them the code to open the door to Kim Dotcom’s quarters before they attempted to slam the doors down. Dotcom had run to his secure Red Room, where he stayed for 30 minutes until he was apprehended. On the way to get him, the police smashed an old elevator door thinking it was the gate to a secret room.
Nobody in the house had a history of violence. Only two shotguns, with legal licenses, were stored in a gun locker. Neither Dotcom nor the security guards had any gun on them.
Remember, they’re enforcing copyright law, here. And as Gizmodo points out, the Kiwi heavy-handedness was almost certainly influenced and encouraged by federal law enforcement officials in the U.S. (Who in the past have had no qualms about enforcing copyright law with a SWAT team.)
(Thanks to Tim Lee for the tip.)