Annie Dookhan, The Nightmare Employee

Funny---she doesn't LOOK evil.

Funny—she doesn’t LOOK evil.

Every organization dreads the falsely competent employee who is secretly cutting corners and covering their tracks. Sometimes, they are embezzlers. Sometimes they are plagiarists, or journalists who fabricate quotes and only pretend to check sources.  Sometimes they are managers, CEOs, generals and leaders who are faking it, not providing oversight and diligently making sure that others are doing their jobs. These people are thieves, essentially: they are stealing their salaries under the false pretense that they know what they are doing and can be trusted. Often they are worse than thieves, because they sap their organizations of efficiency and momentum, secretly, stealthily. Needless to say, government bureaucracies are crawling with them, and they cost all of us money, security, hope and happiness.

Annie Doohkan is one of the worst of this breed I have ever encountered.  She was a state chemist in Massachusetts who intentionally mishandled evidence in drug cases, rushing results, falsifying them, certifying that she did tests when she really didn’t. Finally the lies became too much to hide, and she was exposed, but not before her perfidy forced the release of hundreds of convicts, raised new questions about thousands of other cases, and forced the state to spend millions of dollars. Apparently she had no greater motive for inflicting this carnage than her desire to give police and prosecutors what they wanted, and to appear to be fast, efficient and reliable. Continue reading

Drug War Ethics: THIS Is Excessive Force…

Radley Balko, a senior editor at Reason Magazine, has been following the law enforcement tactic of paramilitary raids on American homes, some of which go horrible wrong, and many of which raise questions of propriety and proportion. One of the worst of these, a February raid on a family’s home in Missouri that featured the invading authorities shooting the family dog in front of a young child, is immortalized on this frightening video. The father was charged with marijuana possession and child endangerment, presumably because he used drugs in the presence of his.

Balko, who, like everyone at Reason, is a libertarian, uses the incident to press his opposition to the illegal status of recreational drugs. “This is the blunt-end result of all the war imagery and militaristic rhetoric politicians have been spewing for the last 30 years,” he writes… Continue reading