This chapter goes into the details of the new and/or seriously overhauled Offices and Services discussed in Government 2.0. It's laid out in a reference-style format for those inclined to review the details of the functions the Alliance Party proposes, especially the Government Accountability Agency, National Health Service, Corporate Affairs Service and the Alliance Party's intent to decriminalize Marijuana and dramatically reform the War on Drugs. As such, feel free to read ahead and come back to this chapter for future reference.
Within the Office of Citizen Services
Government Accountability Agency. The Government Accountability Agency is the lynchpin of the Alliance Party’s plan to investigate government misconduct and hold it accountable. This agency’s creation would be mandated by the 4th constitutional addition the Alliance Party proposes and would be established as an act of Congress. It would have jurisdiction over every function of government in the United States, local, state and federal (including the military), and only functions of government.
The Government Accountability Agency would be chaired by the Secretary of Citizen Advocacy, an individual that is elected every midterm election cycle and refrains from listing party affiliation on the ballot in furtherance of political neutrality. The Secretary of Citizen Advocacy would serve four-year terms with a maximum limit of two and may only be removed from office through impeachment by Congress.
As the GAA is as a citizen-advocacy agency, it exists within the Office of Citizen Services, as opposed to the Office of Law and Justice. This is for two reasons:
The first is to establish the Government Accountability Agency’s internal means of accountability, which comes from the Department of Justice and the FBI, which would have authority in this model to investigate the GAA just as the GAA has the authority to investigate government.
The second is to establish the GAA as a citizen advocacy agency. It does not answer to the government – it holds government accountable, and it works to ensure that government is truly working for our best interests and respecting our rights. In concept, the GAA would serve four primary functions:
Issue and control of Public Service Licenses. The Alliance Party would propose legislation establishing a licensing system for public service, requiring an active license to be a non-elected public employee. Today, you need a license to work in many professions: law, medicine, even hairstyling and nail polishing. These licenses establish that a person is both competent and held to a standard of ethics. If they act outside of those ethics, their license is suspended or revoked.
The same should be true for employees of government, coming to the Public Service License. A Public Service License would be required to work in any function of non-elected public service at local, state and federal levels, and would be issued free of charge and be valid for life. Should a government employee act improperly or unethically, their license can be suspended or revoked by the GAA as necessary.
As an active Public Service License would be required for any non-elected job in government, a suspended license would prevent employment in public service outright, which, for example, would prevent a bureaucrat removed for unethical actions from being hired within another government function. Once an individual has proven unworthy of working for the public, their privilege to do so is denied until the Government Accountability Agency says otherwise – if it ever does.
Additionally, the GAA would have the authority to strip public officials of qualified immunity in the event they act improperly toward individuals – exposing them to civil liability in court from people they’ve harmed. If you’re a public official and you abuse a person’s rights or commit a crime, your position should not protect you from accountability. You should face the same consequences as anyone else.
Issue reports on government spending and enforce transparent accounting standards. As the Domestic Finance Service would mandate a universally standardized accounting process for all government services, the GAA would review their books and analyze their financial efficiency over a recurring time period. From this analysis, the GAA would issue annual financial reports on each Office of government at the federal level.
These reports would detail how public money is spent, how close it was to its stated budget and performance assessments on effectiveness. Much like you have an annual performance review at your job, the GAA would conduct this review and provide its results to the public. This information, in turn, would help people make more informed decisions when voting and would aid the press in investigative reports by providing clear and concise figures about how public money is spent – or wasted.
Investigate corruption and waste of public funds in a law enforcement capacity. As an internal affairs entity, the Government Accountability Agency would have the authority to investigate any function of government at any level, with three exceptions: 1) the functions of the FBI that investigate the GAA, 2) information specifically restricted by the Attorney General and 3) information specifically restricted by the President.
The GAA would have the authority to challenge these restrictions in court, allowing for an impartial arbiter to determine if any information was restricted improperly and overrule them if warranted. Outside of these exceptions, any activity of government is fair game and the GAA would have automatic clearance to access information of any security classification - including TS/SCI Special Access Programs.
If during an investigation it finds unlawful action has occurred, the GAA would have the authority to collect evidence and make a determination on action. It could respond administratively and suspend/revoke Public Service Licenses or if the matter was serious enough, make arrests and bring criminal charges. In this latter function, the GAA would maintain a staff contingent of special U.S. Attorneys from the Department of Justice that would seek indictments and prosecute all cases in federal court.
As this agency would function only within government and public service, it would not need a warrant to investigate or search a public facility – it could do so at any time. Considering the extraordinary power of this agency, in this model it would only have the jurisdiction to investigate employees and functions of government. If it came across a contract from a private company that seemed criminally improper, it would not have the authority to investigate, arrest and charge that contractor with a crime – it must submit evidence to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or Federal Security Service which would handle subsequent criminal investigations if warranted. This prevents the Government Accountability Agency from exceeding its mandate.
Within its functions, the primary focus of the GAA is the investigation of the waste of public funds, corruption and abuse of office. Presently, the people have no real mechanisms to combat these actions (outside of limited enforcement by the FBI), and the GAA would not only provide it, it would actively serve as a mechanism that the people can access to report abuses or the violation of their rights. If a government employee acts inappropriately or a public official abuses an individual, the GAA can step in and perform any investigation they choose, which as a federal agency, is immune to stonewalling from local authorities. In doing so, the GAA would work within a series of new laws that the Alliance Party would seek to pass on the federal level:
Reasoning: It is unacceptable for a government employee to lie to cover up a crime. Yet at the same time, many employees of government today find themselves facing professional sanctions for reporting the crimes of their colleagues, so they lie to cover them. Making that action carry career-ending or criminal penalties would provide sufficient cover to keep government employees truthful in their official reporting. It’s worth noting that it’s a already federal crime for a civilian to lie to a federal employee.
II. Laws that criminalize any employee of the government in a supervisory capacity that forces a subordinate to lie to cover up illegal actions.
Reasoning: Of the sanctions government employees unjustly face for blowing the whistle, many come from their superiors. This law would impose harsher penalties if a cover-up came from a supervisor, ensuring that those holding higher positions understand that they will be held accountable if they attempt to force an employee to lie or not report crimes they’re aware of to the GAA.
III. Laws that criminalize intentional violations of rights.
Reasoning: Our rights are not guidelines or suggestions – they are guarantees and they do not wane or wax to the whims of public employees. Our rights should be the primary consideration of public officials and public services must operate in deference to them. “Sorry” isn’t good enough for when our rights are violated. If it were, then they become violated as a commonplace occurrence (see: today). This provision would provide necessary penalties to officials that violate our rights, especially if through force or violence, for our rights mean nothing if they can be so easily violated without sanction. Therefore, appropriate sanctions must be established.
IV. Laws that criminalize intentionally classifying information as secret to hide known violations of the rights of American citizens.
Reasoning: Classifying information as secret is sometimes necessary to conduct affairs of state in the world we live in today. However, as we have seen frequently the government often classifies information as secret to cover up wrongdoing. This is not acceptable. The state secrets privilege should not be used to obscure information from the public that the public has a right to know about, especially if that information concerns the violations of our rights. If this occurs, then the public official responsible for doing so should face consequences reflecting the severity of that action.
V. Laws that maintain the right for any person to report unlawful conduct to the Government Accountability Agency without sanction, including information about secret programs, and may be compensated for risks taken to expose such conduct.
Reasoning: Whistleblowers today enjoy little legal protection for revealing government misconduct. This law would change that and provide protection for people, government employee or not, who bring information to the Government Accountability Agency. If reporting a crime is treated the same as committing a crime, then we are being ruled by criminals. Through this law, the GAA would ensure that we are not.
VI. Making it a crime for prosecutors to knowingly indict persons they believe to be innocent or withhold exonerating evidence from defendants.
Reasoning: in order to maintain a high conviction rate and thus advance their careers, there have been numerous cases of prosecutors withholding evidence and conducting negligent testing of evidence and DNA, leading to innocent people being wrongly convicted – even in death penalty cases. This is inexcusable. For this reason, if a prosecutor was found to have committed these actions the Government Accountability Agency would administer appropriate consequences based on the scale of misconduct and the severity of the charge the defendant was accused of. Willfully destroying an innocent person’s life is a crime whether committed by law enforcement, prosecutors or ordinary citizens. Nobody should be above that standard.
VII. Laws that both overhaul and improve the relationship between police officers and citizens nationwide.
Reasoning: today, the relationship between police and society has degraded significantly after multiple public scandals, assaults and high-profile killings by police. It’s now at the point where there is open distrust between both parties, if not outright hostility, and this unhealthy relationship risks to cause ever-more socially destructive results. This problem is made worse by the fact that both sides of this equation have valid arguments, which have pit us against each other in yet another example of our nation’s predisposition for internal conflict instead of internal catharsis.
As emotions run higher as this problem worsens, it becomes harder to find a compromise that addresses the concerns of all parties involved, but it also makes the need all the more pressing. For this reason, the Alliance Party would seek to pass the following laws to help aid police officers in their duties and the ability of the Government Accountability Agency to ensure all laws are followed as they should be:
Making it a federal crime to assault or kill a police officer.
It goes without saying that harming a police officer is unacceptable. The dangers faced by officers, contrary to popular belief, have reduced sharply from decades prior, but law enforcement is by no means a “safe” job. People try and harm cops, often with weapons, and roughly 40-60 police officers die each year, with hundreds more injured from criminal behavior. These people need to be removed from the street - period. Yet violence against an officer is not a federal crime in many cases. This needs to change.
Violence against police makes them more likely to react violently in situations against civilians, which is socially toxic. If someone truly attacks law enforcement, especially in commission of a crime, the resources of the federal government should be made available to hold that person accountable.
Making it a federal crime for a police officer to lie in an official report.
Most police officers are good and honorable people. But a startling number are not and have been able to hide behind their badge to commit antisocial behavior. As torrents of citizen video has demonstrated, there have been many cases where police officers have brutalized individuals and falsely charged their victims with “assaulting an officer” and “resisting arrest” to provide legal cover for their actions. This, as with assaulting an officer, is absolutely unacceptable.
If a person truly assaults an officer, the prosecution of that individual should be prioritized. But if this mechanism is abused to railroad innocent people for the benefit of a police officer who wants to act like a bully, that officer needs to be stripped of their badge and made answerable to federal charges.
Establishing that any state receiving federal law enforcement funds must mandate that all non-undercover police officers wear video and audio recording devices at all times while on duty.
In line with the distrust between society and police, the “he-said, she-said” dynamic of opposing viewpoints rarely paints an objective picture of circumstances. This is a problem that occurs on both sides of the law enforcement/social divide. The Alliance Party proposes we solve this problem by mandating that all police officers, uniformed or not (unless undercover), wear recording devices while on duty.
The specifics of how these devices would operate, how they could be turned off (for example, an officer should be able to temporarily disable the camera when going to the bathroom or having a private conversation with a fellow officer or superior), and how long the footage will be stored for is up for discussion. But since we are now able to provide an objective assessment of police/civilian interactions, to protect both the officer and the civilian, these interactions need to be recorded to verify both parties are behaving properly.
With the exception of imminent emergencies, the authority to deploy a SWAT team must rely on a civilian authority.
A SWAT – Special Weapons And Tactics team is a special type of police detachment that is trained in neutralizing dangerous criminal elements, usually with skills surrounding lethal force that are reminiscent of a military detachment and bearing equipment of the very same.
Due to the rise of high profile hostage scenarios, terrorist attacks, bank robberies and police shootouts, the need for these teams has been well-proven.
But the problem with dedicated hammers is they tend to view everything as nails and SWAT teams have been deployed for all sorts of non-serious crimes, even investigating underage drinking and unlicensed businesses. This has become all the more precarious as our police departments have been militarized with more lethal equipment as of late.
There are people who should be arrested (or neutralized) at the barrel of an assault rifle, but non-violent and petty crime suspects are not one of them. Worse, when SWAT teams kick down doors, shoot first and ask questions later, it leads to the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of innocent people, as this map from the CATO institute shows:
Because of this, the Alliance Party would seek to pass laws mandating any state that receives federal funds to require that any use of a SWAT team, barring a clear emergency, be approved by a civilian authority. This ensures that if police departments are seeking to kick down doors or shooting to kill, that the authority to unleash measures of this harshness are accountable to the voting public.
Mandating that all police shootings be independently investigated.
Considering the distrustful dynamic between law enforcement and society today, the social backlash from police shootings is made more severe when police departments investigate the shootings of their own officers and immediately conclude them as “justified.” This sparks a backlash because this internal justification is difficult for most people to accept, especially those connected to a police shooting death, no less than any victim of violence would feel if a suspect’s grandmother or best friend were in charge of determining their guilt or innocence.
However, the thing about justifiable homicides is that they are not based on a subjective assessment. Either the officer’s life was in enough danger in either perception or reality to respond with lethal force – or it was not. Because of this, the Alliance Party would pass laws mandating that all officer-involved shootings be investigated by an authority completely independent from the officer’s department. If you kill someone, an objective police agency should investigate the circumstances to determine any impropriety. As this is true for the country as a whole, the same should be true for police officers.
All state and local law enforcement agencies must be ultimately governed by a board of either elected or appointed civilians.
Paying homage to the notion of the “blue wall of silence” and the fraternal nature of police that induces officers to cover up unlawful actions of their colleagues, the oversight of law enforcement should not be a function of the police force, but rather an electable or appointed function of society.
Police agencies are a function of the community, and the community itself should be in the position to determine how laws are enforced within its jurisdiction. If a community wants to set its own standards for appropriateness, priorities of enforcement and use of force, than that community should be able to do so (provided it complies with superseding laws). Granting the community with the power to set this standard, as well as hold accountable officers who act in violation of it, will help ensure they have final say on community policing.
VII. The Government Accountability Agency may decline to investigate cases and seek charges at its discretion.
Reasoning: no system is perfect, and sometimes, the right thing to do is technically wrong. This model is conceptual and hypothetical in application, designed in furtherance of creating a more efficient and effective government structure. This is the model’s mechanism to deal with actions that might violate a law, but punitive measures were unwarranted. The point of the Government Accountability Agency isn’t to go on a witch hunt every time someone makes a mistake, but rather, to hold accountable corruption, intentional wrongdoing and a disregard for the rights of people and our financial solvency. This measure is included for those reasons.
Oversight of classified information. The Alliance Party recognizes that information sometimes needs to be classified as secret to conduct affairs of state. But today, information is often classified that never should have been in the first place. How can a free society have both? Currently, our government has no real answer for this question, and we have tens of thousands of classified programs that are allowed to remain secret because we have no effective mechanism to determine if its secrecy is appropriate. As the scale of information classified as secret has expanded, the task to determine appropriateness has become significantly more complex.
This cannot be allowed to continue. Plainly speaking, if there is so much classified information that the government can’t review it effectively - and especially if corruption can hide behind it, then there is too much classified information in general. Information is classified as secret for the benefit of society and if society wishes to know something over the objections of a government agency, there needs to be an actually independent arbiter to make a proper determination. The Government Accountability Agency would act as this arbiter and maintain a function to review classified information and adjust its classification as it deemed necessary.
Here’s how that would conceptually work: Services working with sensitive information would be able to classify information as secret automatically without approval from the GAA, yet upon any investigation thereafter, the GAA would have the authority to adjust the classification, even make information public if it deemed necessary. After information had been classified for a certain time period, say 10 years, its classification would automatically go to the GAA for review, whereas from there it could make a determination of its appropriateness.
With these four functions, the GAA provides effective mechanisms to combat and hold accountable crimes against us in a politically neutral capacity. We need an advocate and watchdog in government that actually works, that actually listens and is actually effective, and this agency would do and be that. Government employees are volunteers who requested the privilege to serve our society, and if a government agency or employee doesn’t take the job to serve society first and foremost, then they shouldn’t have the job in the first place.
As such, the GAA’s rules are clear: being a government employee will not immunize you from consequences for breaking the law. If you do break the law, it will pay you a visit, and when it knocks on your door, it knocks with badges, handcuffs and guns. That is what equality under the law looks like, and the Alliance Party would see such equality implemented to every function of state.
Citizen Advocacy Service. While the First Amendment provides for the right of people to petition the government for a redress of grievances, it doesn’t provide that you be given any assistance in doing so. If you’re wronged and your rights are violated, you might have a right to sue the government (with of course the exception of convenient loopholes like the state secrets privilege and qualified immunity), but you’re on your own to hire a lawyer who will take your case.
The Alliance Party believes that everyone with a worthy claim against government wrongdoing has a right to be made whole, and moreover, to receive guidance on the law that doesn’t cost money. The Citizen Advocacy Service is the entity the Alliance Party would create to accomplish these goals.
This Service would provide general clarifications on matters of law and provide basic legal advice to people upon solicitation, as well as pursue restorative justice in legitimate claims of wrongdoing by the government on both an individual and collective basis. It would accomplish this task through four distinct functions:
- Legitimization of claim. Although this writing has identified and discussed government misconduct to significant degrees, because government is guilty in some instances doesn’t mean it’s guilty in all. Many people affected by government were affected legitimately (like convicted criminals) and might not have a legitimate case. The legitimization function of the Citizen Advocacy Service ensures that due diligence is performed to determine if a case is truly merit-worthy before it is accepted. If it determines that legitimate wrongdoing has occurred and a claim should be filed, it does so through one of three ways:
- Individual civil action. An individual case is where the Citizen Advocacy Service determines that government has made a serious mistake and adversely affected an individual without cause. It gathers evidence in the same vein as any other civil investigation, and pursues a case against the government as would a private attorney. It’s noteworthy, however, that in this model, attorney fees are not taken from plaintiffs if they win in court, nor are taxes. As a public service, this Service is funded by tax dollars and awards go to damaged parties in full.
- Collective civil action. Functioning much like the non-profit American Civil Liberties Union does today, collective civil action would be engaged if states or other areas of the federal government enacted policies that violated the rights of people on a large scale. In this function, the Citizen Advocacy Service would have legal standing to bring action in any case where the rights of citizens were violated.
- Medical malpractice claims against the National Health Service. In the context of reforming our national healthcare programs through the National Health Service, a contributing reason why our healthcare costs are sky-high is that doctors face rampant medical malpractice lawsuits, and the stratospheric insurance premiums doctors are required to pay in case they're sued by a patient are passed on to the rest of us through our own medical bills. Although some malpractice claims have merit (indeed, as medical errors are currently the third largest cause of death in the United States), others are inappropriate and geared to make a quick buck. In this model, the Citizen Advocacy Service is the only entity with authority to file malpractice claims against the National Health Service, putting an end to the tort abuse we see today.
Additionally, in this collective capacity, the Citizen Advocacy Service would also act as a guardian for the single-subject and summary amendment as proposed by the Alliance Party. In cases where laws are used beyond their intended scope (such as the Patriot Act being used for drug investigations today), the Citizen Advocacy Service would seek judicial injunction to prevent that occurrence from continuing further at the expense of our rights.