hard heads soft hearts
Friday, June 14, 2002
The pro-prosecutors / pro-civil liberties crowds have
been duking it out pretty vehemently, and it seems to
me, almost entirely needlessly.
Isn't there a pretty obvious solution? Namely when it
comes to crimes like terrorism let the FBI / Justice /
CIA do pretty much anything they damn well please, but
their expanded powers to fight terrorism cannot then
be subsequently used to collect information to
prosecute drug-dealing, tax evasion, purely technical
(i.e. careless, unintentional) violations of
anti-terrorism laws (e.g. Wen-Ho-Lee), and other less
The whole debate seems to be about how far to ratchet
down the standard of probable cause, and no one seems
to be arguing that the appropriate standard of
probable cause depends on the potential seriousness of
the crime. You probably know the history better than
I do, but it seems relevant that the Bill of Rights
was formulated at a time when petty crimes like
smuggling were rampant.
Or to put it another way, I couldn't care less if the
gummint listens to everyone of my conversations from
now until judgement day as long as the only subject
they were concerned about was whether I was seriously
plotting a terrorist attack or not, as opposed to my
consumption habits of the finer Jamaican weeds
Or at least that's how it looks from the cheap seats.
Maybe the debate's actually more nuanced than I give
it credit for.
It seems petty to even go there, but is there any
doubt now about the truth of the White House Vandalism
Also I think that Andrew Sullivan attacks on Clinton
require a more comprehensive, probably article-length
rather than TPM post, response. Probably something
that goes beyond the attacks on Clinton and examines
the general habit of blaming your opponents for
whatever's going wrong.