Rodgers Gets it Right

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T.J. Rodgers, founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, has penned an op-ed that frames the War on Terror and its impact on civil liberties correctly. Namely, that there are worse things in the world than another 9/11, a 24/7 police state for one:

What's the worst thing that Al-Qaida can do to America? We have probably already seen it. Of course, the government can talk about bigger things, like the use of weapons of mass destruction, to justify its use of totalitarian tactics.

I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaida attack than I would as a serf, spied on by an oppressive government that can jail me secretly, without charges. If the Patriot Act defines the term "patriot," then I am certainly not one.

By far, our own government is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al-Qaida.

The architects of the maximum security state do not think this way. In fact, they probably do not understand Rodgers' argument in the slightest and assume he is making some sort of moral equivalence claim about the American government and al Qaida. Or perhaps that Rodgers would not say such things if he understood the wholesome motives behind the security measures he fears.

But Rodgers gets it. We get it. A lot of us get it. More people need to start saying it out loud, though.

There are worse things than another 9/11.

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  1. 1) Amen.

    2) Be careful, however, with the “I’d rather take my chances” argument. Security and liberty is NOT a zero sum game. As just one example, I’d rather not live in a country where Arab immigrants live in fear of the police. I’d rather live in a country where Arab immigrants have a friendly relationship with the police, just in case one of them notices something troublesome.

    3) Dude, when you use the word “serf” you’re just begging for trouble on this forum 🙂

    4) To express my gratitude for that excellent commentary, I’m going to Whole Foods to get some yummy snacks and ship them to Rodgers! 🙂

  2. you damn liberals! don’t you remember 9/11? these people want to KILL us! the government just wants to protect us. what’s a few civil liberties if it keeps us safe? the founding fathers were a bunch of pinko ass commie liberals!

  3. There are worse things than another 9/11.

    So we should just sit back and let it happen?

    A defense and foreign policy of “bring on the car bombs, they’re not really all that bad” sounds like a real winner to me.

  4. That’s not funny — I WAS A SERF!

  5. So we should just sit back and let it happen? A defense and foreign policy of “bring on the car bombs, they’re not really all that bad” sounds like a real winner to me.

    No, Stephen, but we can defend ourselves without gutting the Constitution or giving the executive branch carte blanche to do almost whatever it wants, so long as it takes the trouble to first say “We’re doing this to fight terrorists.”

  6. Terrorism should be legalized and (cough) taxed.

  7. It’s been clear to me for some time that the people running around insisting that we have to do this and that, that “we are at war!,” and submitting to every thing the government wants are just a bunch of f***ing cowards.

  8. Le Mur, nice one–got a laugh out of me.

    This reminds me of something I came across while reading CATO’s regulation magazine:

    Even with the September 11 attacks included in the count, the number of Americans killed by international terrorism since the late 1960s (which is when the State Department began counting) is about the same as the number of Americans killed over the same period by severe allergic reaction to peanuts.

    The real danger of terrorism is typically not the actual destruction caused by terrorists, but rather our overreaction to such destruction. Do we get so worked up about allergic reactions to peanuts? I recognize that terrorism is more threatening than peanuts, but most people’s fears about terrorism are borderline absurd.

  9. I’m not aware that anyone had been given or assumed to have carte blanche. Nor have I seen any evidence of any individual’s rights being trampled. Nor have I seen any evidence of anything remotely hinting at approaching a 24/7 police state.

    The sky is not falling.

  10. I’m not aware that anyone had been given or assumed to have carte blanche.

    The president says he can authorize wiretaps of Americans with absolutely no oversight, or checks and balances.

    Nor have I seen any evidence of any individual’s rights being trampled.

    Jose Padilla is the only one whose name we actually know, but there are more, and the government insists that if these prisoners are given trials to determine their guilt then somehow the terrorists will win.

    We didn’t have to ignore the Constitution to fight the Soviet Union, which had a huge army and enough nukes to wipe out the planet, but we have to ignore it to fight a few thousand religious nuts living in caves?

  11. I myself try to make everything I think more public, not less.

    But then I’m pretty tactless.

    Where you run into trouble is if you move into a town that has attracted busybodies and they start legislating soap opera.

    Stay out where the farmers are, is my advice. Vote no to township incorporation.

    If anybody suggests the need to upgrade the local airport with covered walkways, move far away.

    There’s the threats to liberty.

    Muslims are just another kind of busybody.

    Looked at that way, the patriot act is a blow for freedom.

  12. So we should just sit back and let it happen?

    That is an awful argument. Finding fault with an overzealous reaction to a terrorist attack does not mean people are willing to sit on their hands.

    An open society seems incapable of stopping terrorism completely.

    Would you prefer a “closed society” with no terrorism? I wouldn’t.

  13. The check and balance is every four years, the loser of the election actually does lose. That was the Gore threat ; talk about losing liberty. Keep recounting until I win would do it.

    I think it’s likely that most people support the President’s activity, and if there’s a mismash going on about whether he’s allowed to do it, the no’s are likely to lose.

    The question has been raised and probably answered already.

    If he’s wiretapping his political enemies, it would go the other way.

    There’s no slippery slope. 50% of the voters is where it stops.

    It’s not a bad thing to keep the legality open, for that reason.

    Some sharp operator would game the constitution otherwise, and we couldn’t vote on it.

  14. Can’t we invoke Godwin’s Law for claiming Orwell/Big Brother/1984?

    There are legitimate concerns over what the government is doing and has done, but overblown claims about police states aren’t going to taken seriously by anyone that’s not already convinced.

  15. The president says he can authorize wiretaps of Americans with absolutely no oversight, or checks and balances.

    You left out the part about the wiretaps being targeted at people who had been identified by other intelligence as hiving ties to terrorists. You left out the fact that all of this was done with the knowledge of the Department of Justice, the FISA Court, and Congressional leadership.

    Jose Padilla is the only one whose name we actually know, but there are more, and the government insists that if these prisoners are given trials to determine their guilt then somehow the terrorists will win.

    I guess you are referring to captured terrorists and other identified enemy combatants. I believe the governments argument is that these are not criminal matters but military ones. Also that a trial in open court would necessitate the divulgence of classified information that might aid the enemy. (But I guess the New York Times and Washington Post sort of make that a moot point)

    We didn’t have to ignore the Constitution to fight the Soviet Union, which had a huge army and enough nukes to wipe out the planet, but we have to ignore it to fight a few thousand religious nuts living in caves?Since thus far there has been no determination made on the Constitutionality of the NSA program it is not clear that it has been ignored. And since we have been using wiretaps to gain intelligence for decades (basically since there have been wires to tap) what makes you think the exact same thing wasn’t done in fighting the Soviet Union? And refresh my memory, how many civilians did the Soviet Union kill in their attacks on U.S. Soil?

  16. “There’s no slippery slope. 50% of the voters is where it stops.”

    Well, the scary part is that the scenario of 50+% of voters agreeing with the government’s tactics or at least being unaware (and voting them back in) is not unlikely. Most people are either too stupid to recognize authoritarianism or too authoritarian-minded to care.

  17. Can’t we invoke Godwin’s Law for claiming Orwell/Big Brother/1984?

    Orwell meant 1984 to serve as a warning, not a source of comfort. And he would probably be sick, if he were still alive and saw people waving his book around as a justification for government dishonesty: “There are no telescreens, so any comparison to 1984 must be completely untrue!”

  18. You left out the part about the wiretaps being targeted at people who had been identified by other intelligence as hiving ties to terrorists.

    So they say. You’re willing to take their word on it?

    You left out the fact that all of this was done with the knowledge of the Department of Justice, the FISA Court, and Congressional leadership.

    You, apparently, are unaware that Bush is claiming he does not NEED to go through FISA to get these wiretaps. That’s the problem–not that he is wiretapping, but that he is ignoring the laws pertaining to it.

  19. Daniel,

    When someone says there are worse things than another 9/11 what are we supposed to think?

    I am not arguing for a closed society nor I do I think anyone anywhere is.

    But to assert that the threshold for how much we should do is another attack that kills 3,000 people is appalling.

  20. Do you hear anybody railing against me on a daily basis?

    Didn’t think so. This is nothing like 1984. So what are you guys so worried about?

  21. I did not write my book as a warning of what a bad government can lead to; I wrote it to set limits on what constitutes a bad government. So long as there are no telescreens or Ministry of Love, you have absolutely nothing to fear.

  22. The real danger of terrorism is typically not the actual destruction caused by terrorists, but rather our overreaction to such destruction.

    I made a similar statement on Usenet a couple of days after 9-11, and one guy reported me to the FBI and another one wanted to have a fistfight (he chickened out when I took him up on it).

    Do we get so worked up about allergic reactions to peanuts?

    Just give ’em some time…in the meantime I’ll start a rumor about Them putting radioactive peanuts in the water supply.

    The sky is not falling.

    Only because, in my humble opinion, it already fell years ago – no more airlines (or even busses) for me.

  23. re: peanuts – if you’ve been in a school/institutional setting since 1995, you know the wave of peanut terror has already come to our shores.
    So they don’t sell anything with trace amoounts of nuts any more.

  24. So we should just sit back and let it happen?

    Talk about a “failure of imagination.”

    The single most productive thing we did to prevent another 9/11 was to armor the cockpit doors on airplanes, and we had to abdicate approximately zero rights to do so.

  25. It was Nately’s whore’s grandfather who said, “It is better to live on your knees than to die on your feet.”

    Many Americans would actually prefer living with crimped privacy to dying on their feet.

    Those who feel that the chance of, say, their phone calls turning up on government headsets, might wish to define this as living on their knees, though. If the absence of eavesdropping meant some loony muslim made them die on their feet, I guess they’d go happily.

    Or maybe they’ll prefer to die on their feet trying to overthrow the government.

    Most likely, we’ll get what we got after the last two presidential elections — empty promises to move out of the country to someplace ‘freer.’

  26. idiot wrote:
    you damn liberals! don’t you remember 9/11? these people want to KILL us! the government just wants to protect us. what’s a few civil liberties if it keeps us safe? the founding fathers were a bunch of pinko ass commie liberals!

    LMAO… You are kidding right??? Because if you are serious, then at least your pseudonym is accurate.

  27. “By far, our own government is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al-Qaida.”

  28. I can’t think of a single civil liberty I’ve lost since the Patriot Act was first passed. I can’t think of any that Rogers has lost either.

    McCain-Feingold is a far bigger assault on our liberties than the Patriot Act.

  29. I can’t think of a single civil liberty I’ve lost since the Patriot Act was first passed. I can’t think of any that Rogers has lost either.

    Ever hear of the Fourth Ammendment?

  30. I can’t think of a single civil liberty I’ve lost since the Patriot Act was first passed.

    If Jerry’s fine, so too is the country.

  31. Reggie Rivers wrote a very similar column in the Denver Post back on *November 1, 2001*. I can’t find a link to a version on-line, so here it is reposted from LexisNexis:

    November 1, 2001 Thursday 2D EDITION

    SECTION: DENVER & THE WEST; Pg. B-07

    HEADLINE: Value of freedom immeasurable

    BYLINE: Reggie Rivers,

    My father served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years. I have four siblings who are career Air Force enlistees and, in the event of war, each of them knows that he or she may have to risk his or her life to defend the freedoms we have in this country.

    Many men and women have died to protect our constitutional rights. The willingness to die is required of everyone in the military. Freedom is more valuable than a particular soldier’s life, or even tens of thousands of soldiers’ lives. Shouldn’t freedom be worth thousands of civilian lives, too?

    Our national focus is on security. We want to be safe at home, safe in our cars, safe at work, safe on airplanes, safe at the mall and safe at the ball game. So acute is our need for security that we’re willing to give up our freedom to get it.

    Imagine if our men and women in uniform had the same attitude. Their commander gives the order to charge a hill, and they sit back and say, ‘Dang, Sarge, that looks kind of dangerous. I’m not sure this freedom we’re defending is really worth the risk. What good is it to me if I get killed? Why don’t we just give up some of the freedom and stay back here where it’s safe?’

    Our military doesn’t do that. They put themselves in harm’s way. They get shot, bombed, gassed, captured and tortured, because freedom is worth the price.

    Where is our commitment as regular citizens? Shouldn’t we be willing to risk our lives for freedom? As many as 6,000 civilians were killed on Sept. 11, and we’re so terrified that we allow our legislators to strip away our freedoms and ratchet us down into a maximum-security prison of sorts.

    A few weeks ago, President Bush urged us to live normal lives. He wanted us to get on airplanes, go to work and do all the things we’d normally do.

    Part of that is to shore up our economy, but the real point is that by continuing to live according to our normal routines, we’re defending freedom.

    We’re saying, ‘Yes, terrorists may kill a few thousand of us at a time, but that threat it not enough to make us cower in fear.’

    Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we’re doing – cowering. We’re allowing our lawmakers to strip away our freedoms and we’re not even putting up a fight. We’re refusing to charge the hill, because we’re afraid that some of us may get hurt or killed.

    Is freedom real or is it just a silly idea that can be indulged only when we’re not under attack?

    One of the many critical e-mails I’ve received during the past few weeks summed up my position more succinctly than I ever could. The writer, ‘Steve,’ wrote: ‘Reggie, your problem is that you fear the government more than you fear criminals and terrorists.’

    I smiled. Finally, someone who understands me. Our founding fathers also feared the dangerous, expansive, coercive tyranny of government far more than the threat of criminals or terrorists.

    As we’ve seen by dramatic example, terrorists have a certain amount of power. They can scare us, hurt us and even kill us. But ultimately, they can’t take away our freedoms; only we can do that.

    If a criminal breaks into my house, I can defend myself and/or call the police. But if the government breaks into my house there’s nothing I can do but stand and watch.

    Yes, I fear the government more than I fear criminals. I’m not willing to let my concern about terrorists eclipse my commitment to freedom.

    Are you?

    Former Denver Broncos player Reggie Rivers (reggierivers@clearchannel.com) writes Thursdays on The Post op-ed page and is a talk host on KHOW Radio (630 AM, weekdays from 3 to 5 p.m.).
    —————————————-

  32. Click on Stephen Macklin’s name to see his troll confession of today and what he thinks of the people who post here.

  33. what is so hilarious about this whole line of argument is that the state, at all levels, is and has been abusing our civil liberties in a number of ways for years. but the only time the left complains is when the state targets an infinitessimally small number of terrorist sympathizers, in a time of war. and the paltry remains of the libertarian movement march lockstep with their new marxist buddies.

    that is not to say that concern is not justified. the potential for abuse is clear. we should oppose many provisions of the patriot act, and many other measures as well(although anyone opposing incarcerating people who have taken up military action against us must be either insane or secretly cheering for al qaeda). but this “US=totalitarianism” argument is ridiculous. my civil liberties are violated more every day by ordinary cops and bureaucrats than by the “war on terror.”

    and there are worse things than another 9/11. a nuclear terrorist attack, for example. so when i hear about people inside this country communicating with al qaeda members in the aftermath of 9/11…if it’s true…i don’t want to tap their phones. i want to bash their heads in.

  34. so when i hear about people inside this country communicating with al qaeda members in the aftermath of 9/11…if it’s true…i don’t want to tap their phones. i want to bash their heads in.

    As do I. And if that is all they are doing I have no problem with it. But here’s a question – if they are tapping the phones of only people who communicate with Al Qaeda members, why do they feel the need to circumvent the courts? Surely they could easily get the necessary legal approval to do this.

    There must be a reason why the executive branch is ignoring guidelines and refusing oversight – aren’t you at all curious why?

  35. although anyone opposing incarcerating people who have taken up military action against us must be either insane or secretly cheering for al qaeda

    I have absolutely no objection to incarcerating terrorists. If there is evidence that somebody has been involved in terrorism, simply present it in a trial. If the evidence stands up, then I have no problem incarcerating the person.

    Even the Nazis got trials. If the agents of a major industrial power that ravaged a continent and murdered millions can stand trial, surely a handful of fanatics can be safely tried as well.

  36. There are so many problems with the “if the government is wathcing them, they must be doing something illegal” argument that I hardly know where to begin, but let’s start with this one: it doesn’t generally work.

    The purpose of the warrant requirement is not to muck up law enforcement, it’s to make sure the cops have a good reason to be listening to this particular person. This serves two purposes: ensuring that the police don’t disturb people who aren’t doing anything wrong, and to make sure the cops don’t waste their time on said innocent people. It’s possible the cops could find something by listening to every conversation the country, but it’s much more likely they’ll miss the detailed plans to blow up Wall Street because they’re sifting through thousands of hours of taped arguments over whether to watch “Friends” reruns or “Emeril Live.” If they’re doing the latter, they are not investigating the former.

    Also, wiretaps and snooping have not, historically, been important in foiling plots. I am a prosecutor and have worked on some large white-collar crime type cases. (Highly and tediously technical, no need to Google my name, none of ’em got much in the way of media attention, which we liked.) We found these out not through cop show antics or Le Carre shadowy snooping, but through the banal, ordinary, and routine method of tips. People who trust the police will call when they see something suspicious. Remember the Millenium Plot? That was foiled because the Clinton FBI listened when a customs agent called about one guy’s highly suspicious shipments. The Olympic Park bombing? Only one person died from anything like injuries from the bomb because of an alert security guard. In all these cases, citizens and low-level officials trusted the feds enough to make reports and the feds listened.

    The Bush administration attitude goes directly counter to this attitude. They make people more wary of talking to the government and less cooperative when they do, and the government agents spend lots of time wading through mountains of random, quotidian garbage looking for that one key. Forcing them to be more focused is both efficient and proper. We’re safer and saner following the rules.

  37. what is so hilarious about this whole line of argument is that the state, at all levels, is and has been abusing our civil liberties in a number of ways for years.

    the libertarian movement march lockstep with their new marxist buddies.

    that is not to say that concern is not justified. the potential for abuse is clear. we should oppose many provisions of the patriot act, and many other measures as well

    i don’t want to tap their phones. i want to bash their heads in.

    And here we find another manifestation of Orwell’s 1984; doublethink.

  38. Apparently, I must have imagined all of the lawsuits the ACLU has filed agains police departments and state and federal agencies over the last four decades.

    jimmy assures us that “the left” only makes noise about civil liberties when terrorists are caught, and that’s good enough for me.

  39. People who trust the police will call when they see something suspicious

    Exactly.

    In college I knew a girl from the former Soviet Union. There was a …situation… that she knew of. I encouraged her to contact university authorities. She didn’t want to. There were a number of factors, but one of them was that growing up she developed an instinctive distrust of the authorities, and anybody who contacted them was regarded as suspicious. Even though she knew that university authorities were not at all like the KGB, it was still totally against her nature to contact the authorities.

  40. The single most productive thing we did to prevent another 9/11 was to armor the cockpit doors on airplanes, and we had to abdicate approximately zero rights to do so.

    I would suggest that the “single most productive thing we did to prevent another 9/11” was to cancel the policy that “if a hijacker wants the airplane, give him the airplane” in favor of everyone stomp the sucker into the carpet. In the attempted hijacks since 9/11 no hijacker has gotten anywhere near the cockpit door.

    OTOH a stronger door is a great idea. And as you say neither change involved giving up rights.

  41. Larry A,

    What attempted hijackings since 9/11?

  42. Successful politicians have a natural instinct for exploiting the emotioinal reactions of people.
    Security hysteria is the most exploitable mood and politicians are adept at exacerbating and utilizing security hysteria to further their own agendas, usually to increase their power/authority.

    The main difference between the 9/11 attacks and the earlier attempt during the Clinton administration was that the former was successful.
    Had the earlier attempt succeeded, it would have been at least as spectacular and aroused a similar level of seecurity hysteria as did the 9/11 attacks. However, the intent of the perpetrators was pretty much the same in both cases. So the reason the second attack led to invasion while the earlier attempt did not was in the amount of security hysteria that was aroused in the populace.

    I suggest that the justification for invasion was the same in both cases, but the ability to manipulate the populace was lacking in the earlier attempt to bring down the trade center.

    Those that go along with the administrations case are still suffering from security hysteria.

  43. The only people who complain about wiretapping are the people with something to hide. Me? I have nothing to hide. I’m not a terrorist. They can spy on me all they want, no skin off my civil liberties.

    Oh — but just don’t tell the boss about my porn downloads and my dogeared copy of Atlas Shrugged.

  44. Since it seems to be somewhat official H&R policy that the security/freedom tradeoff is a false dichotomy, it seems odd to praise the author of the article who plays into that just because he makes that tradeoff in a way you find favorable.

  45. We may recall that the hijackers were allowed to take over the jets because it was official government policy that hijackers were not to be interfered with.

    Post 9/11, no one will be able to take over a plane without arousing a significant response in fellow passengers.

    At the same time, the U.S. government’s continuous, and expedient, interference in many other countries has not made us more secure.
    The CIA got the shah into power in Iran, we ended up with the Ayatollah.
    The U.S. has long curried the favor of that gang of thugs, the house of Saud. Hello bin Laden.
    This could go on and on.

    Yes, let’s trust the poiticians. They obviously know what they are doing.

  46. Very good point, dead elvis.

  47. Be careful, however, with the “I’d rather take my chances” argument. Security and liberty is NOT a zero sum game.

    We’ve gone back and forth on this a few times, I think, thoreau. …and I understand what you’re saying–it’s not a zero sum game.

    …but that’s not the way people think. We have to reach people where they are. Even those who think that liberty and security is a zero sum game understand making sacrifices for a worthy cause.

    Many of them understand that it’s better to take our chances with getting shot by a handgun if that’s what it takes to keep our Second Amendment rights. Many of them understand that it’s better to suffer more crime and keep probable cause, etc. alive. …That’s not to say that the Second Amendment vs. crime or probable cause vs. crime are zero sum games. …but even if they were, many Americans would choose liberty over better security.

    A better leader would have made that argument about the War on Terror rather than playing fear monger to the cowards in our midst. This isn’t London during the Blitz, but even if it was, many of us wouldn’t choose the illusion of absolute security. …Many, many Americans understand these trade offs in these terms. If only we had better leadership… …it would have encouraged and galvanized that oh so American impulse.

    …Even among those who think liberty and security a zero sum game. I don’t think there’s anything more patriotic than saying I’d rather take my chances than lose probable cause. …and if the government is making the argument in those terms to the American people, making the argument that those are the choices, then those of us who prefer liberty should answer in kind. …’cause that’s the way people think.

  48. What attempted hijackings since 9/11?

    I remember a half-dozen or so, including the guy with bombs in his shoe heels. None of them were true “terrorists.” Mostly the loser types who did hijacking previously.

    But no one takes that chance any more.

  49. So we should just sit back and let it happen?

    Straw Man Alert!

    A defense and foreign policy of “bring on the car bombs, they’re not really all that bad” sounds like a real winner to me.

    Really, I’d like to discuss this with you further, but…

    Is it possible to be in favor of both the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War and still be against the President’s policies regarding civil liberties here at home?

    …I can feel for you buddy, but I can’t reach you if you’re not even there.

  50. I view Mr. Macklin’s trolling like I would view an impeachment trial for Bush: as an opportunity to educate.

  51. . I don’t think there’s anything more patriotic than saying I’d rather take my chances than lose probable cause.

    I Imagine someone might make the argument, are *you* willing to be the next victim of a murderer because the police couldn’t get a warrant on someone they just knew was guilty? Or someone who was obviously guilty but got off because a search was illegal?

    For some reason, in public perception, taking a bullet here at home to preserve freedom by keeping the protections of the Constitution intact is not viewed as patriotic, but going half-way around the world to get shot by a foreigner is. I don’t think that’s right.

  52. I am willing to be the next victim of any circumstance which arises from my willingness to adhere to my principles.

    Everyone should.

  53. “I remember a half-dozen or so, including the guy with bombs in his shoe heels. None of them were true “terrorists.” Mostly the loser types who did hijacking previously.”

    Actually, the guy with bomb-shoes was a terrorist, at least a wannabe. He trained at one of the lunatic mosques in England. He was also a loser type, and pretty inept, but he was a terrorist.

  54. I Imagine someone might make the argument, are *you* willing to be the next victim of a murderer because the police couldn’t get a warrant on someone they just knew was guilty? Or someone who was obviously guilty but got off because a search was illegal?

    Does give me liberty or give me death have a patriotic ring in your ear? Patrick Henry’s speech wasn’t given on the gallows; it was a call to arms on the battlefield. When people go to battle, I’m not so sure they’re willing to die for their principles, their country, whatever–but it’s clear to me that, at the very least, they’re willing to take that chance!

    Nathan Hale’s statement on the gallows was as patriotic as patriotic can be, but he did make it from the gallows. I don’t know if I’d be willing to die for my principles–I’m not sure any of us can know for certain unless we’ve been in that situation. …but as I sit here typing on my keyboard, I know I’d be willing to risk my life for them. There’s a difference, I think.

  55. I’m also with T J Rodgers. The American People should have a say in whether or not they would give up their liberties to an administration which failed to protect the people of New Orleans from pending disaster, let the dead float in the streets, the survivors brave floodwaters in their homes, or corralled under surveillance with no food, water or basic necessities, while Blackwater mercenaries threatened to pick off Walmart looters, many of whom were only searching for food/water/dry clothing to survive.

    It brought to life “Les Miserables”, Victor Hugo’s legend of Jean Valjean, who went to prison for 20 years for trying to steal a loaf of bread to feed his starving family.

    I’m sure that the poor people of New Orleans weren’t worried in the least about Al Quaida and seriously doubt that Al Quaida was anywhere about.

    The tragedy of 9-11 was truly horrifying. All in America were riveted to TV and radio stations as the drama clenched/drenched a Nation in fear.

    That was over three years ago and we’ll never forget it. But we must get back on track.

    The population of the US is approaching 300 million people (298 million as of today). I couldn’t find the figures yet for 2005, but in 2004, about 145,000 people died by homicide or accidental injury. If we extrapolate that over the 4 year period since 9-11, that’s roughly 580 thousand people who’ve died through accidental or intentional means not involving terrorism. Five percent of the deaths were ruled as accidental, another one percent homicide.

    In other words:

    We’re more likely to be struck by lightening than by a terrorist. We’re more likely to die in a traffic accident than be hit by a terrorist. We’re more likely to be murdered by a common thug than by a terrorist.

    Get a Grip, America! Don’t let this Misbegotten Administration turn American into a Police State. They won’t protect you any more than they protected the Poor People of New Orleans.

  56. Ken-

    I agree that people who believe in liberty should be willing to say that a certain sacrifice of security is acceptable in exchange for liberty. I would only observe the following points, which I think we would agree on:

    1) A police state can be detrimental to security. In addition to the way that it may turn off people who would otherwise cooperate (nobody’s going to go inform if they see the cops as bad guys, little better than the KGB), a police state is also hopelessly inefficient. If cops are required to justify their searches and wiretaps, even if only before a relatively permissive FISA court, they are more likely to use resources effectively.

    2) Many of Big Government’s worst ideas indirectly aid terrorism: Anything that creates a black market tends to help terrorists (e.g. the Taliban sold heroin). And while I have no illusions that an armed populace will be able to thwart every imaginable terrorist attack, I would say that certain types of terrorist plans (e.g. anything that involves taking hostages) are more likely to run into trouble if We The People can carry concealed weapons.

    3) A look around the world provides little evidence that free countries are more vulnerable to terrorism. Free and open societies may possess certain unique vulnerabilities, but less free societies also have corrupt and inefficient police forces and less civilian cooperation.

    In the past few years there have been news reports of pitched gun battles in the streets of Syria and Saudi Arabia. Russia has become steadily less liberal over the past decade without seeing any noticeable decline in terrorist activity by the Chechens. And the dictator of Pakistan has had noticeably little luck in controlling Al Qaeda sympathizers among both the Pushtun tribesmen and his own intelligence services.

    I say give me liberty so that I may be more secure from all enemies: Foreign, domestic, and public sector.

  57. I’ve, occasionally, understated the obvious in my time, but only by accident. ; )

    Nathan Hale’s alleged statement and Patrick Henry’s speech are examples of what I was talkin’ about, thoreau. …The American people still know what was said, and what was supposedly said, because people responded to it.

    The American people still respond to it. …Even if liberty vs. death is a false dichotomy.

    …and I do agree with you thoreau. I think we’re just talkin’ strategy and appeal. I wish I could get more libertarians to watch some of the better ministers out there–the ones with the best deliveries. …just to see what works.

    Keep the libertarian logic, but if we’re huntin’ flies, let’s use some liberty/honey. …The other side’s usin’ fear/vinegar. …and, for some bad reason, we’ve let them embezzle our patriotism.

  58. Does give me liberty or give me death have a patriotic ring in your ear? Patrick Henry’s speech wasn’t given on the gallows; it was a call to arms on the battlefield.

    It certainly does to my ear. But it’s on the battlefield. I would like to see the public’s imagination to be taken with a patriotic call that doesn’t involve war, but simply being willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to preserve the constitution and the bill of rights.

    When a criminal gets off on a “technicality”, and then offends again, you don’t hear people quoting Patrick Henry or doing imitations of Mel Gibson yelling “I’m willing to die for Freeeeedom!”. We should though. What we need are peace-time Patrick Henrys.

  59. I’m glad other people see the point that a closed police state doesn’t make society much safer than openness does. The black market point is a good one. Providing profit to criminals is always a bad idea, as is making otherwise law-abiding types deal with criminals routinely. (I’ve always thought pot was a gateway drug because people buy it from drug dealers, who treat it like Best Buy does $25 DVD players. There are lots of things to which this analysis doesn’t apply, but minor-league drugs make a really good example.)

    Perhaps the most dangerous thing about the PATRIOT act and the warrantless searches, though is the built-in inefficiency. Forcing the NSA to write an application for a search forces them to think through whether they need it or not. I’ve done enough motion practice in my time to know that if you can’t write the motion, you don’t need the information. I’ve also worked with enough cop-types to know that it’s very easy in that line of work to think that all requests are urgent and all information vital and all people simply unconfined criminals. They have to think that way, otherwise they fall apart. That’s why there are people like me to give some kind of check to their enthusiasm. Without that check, the cops will be wasting their time listening to every phone call by every Pakistani or Indonesian grad student in North America. I don’t think I want our few competent Arabic or Pashto interpreters spending their time on Achmed’s Mom’s request to send home an X-box for little Abdullah for Eid al-Fitr. Remember the poor Lebanese engineer who got arrested for having computer cable in his suitcase after the Oklahoma City bombing? Remember also that Timothy McVeigh was arrested because of a traffic violation and the feds listened to the local guys? Generally, there is a boring, practical argument behind every civil liberty. We need to use ’em.

  60. Reason writers and blog commenters = cowards or liars

    For all this talk of a police state, “maximum security state” or however close we are to a police state on any particular day, I don’t imagine that anyone here is really doing anything about it except complaining and/or not voting for George Bush. Which leads me to believe that many of the folks at Reason and the people who post comments on Hit & Run are either liars because they bitch and moan about a police state they know doesn’t exist and is nowhere in sight, or they’re cowards because they truly believe they live in a police state and choose to do nothing effective about it.

    Or of course, you simply may not like things like the PATRIOT Act, etc., which is fine, except you ought to keep in mind that a lot more people might be willing to take their complaints seriously if you didn’t yell and scream “police state” or “maximum security state” every time the government decides to do something that doesn’t appeal to you.

  61. And when the next 9-11 comes and the public demands even more restrictions on liberty? Assuming people will respond with calm, dispassionate thinking in the aftermath of a tragedy is delusional. How many congressman voted against the patriot act back in 2001? And how many would do so after a second, or a third….

  62. The terrorists have already won.
    There… I said it again.

    All of us, even the Bush Dynasty, are so fortunate to have this Rodgers guy around.

  63. Annoyed,
    On what do you base your assmumption that nobody is doing anything about the police state? Just because the darned thing’s increasing doesn’t mean there isn’t resistance. It just means that powerful forces are advancing the police state while simultaneously squelching dissent in any way they can.

    I know what I and others are doing about it.

    What are you doing?

    What would you have us do?

  64. Rodgers gets it.

    He does indeed. The whole idea behind terrorism is to provoke the targeted government to overreact and turn against its own citizens. In other words, the Patriot Act etc. play right into the hands of the bin Ladens of the world.

    (BTW: I think idiot should get his own talk show. Christ, he’s no worse than some of the guys already on the air…)

  65. “And when the next 9-11 comes and the public demands even more restrictions on liberty? Assuming people will respond with calm, dispassionate thinking in the aftermath of a tragedy is delusional. How many congressman voted against the patriot act back in 2001? And how many would do so after a second, or a third….”

    And your point is? More terrorist attacks (by somebody) will happen eventually anyway, so the ratchet effect will also happen anyway. The “we must destroy some freedom now, or we’ll have to destroy more freedom later” argument is bullshit and you know it.

  66. Ken-

    OK, I see your point. “Give me win-win solutions that use liberty to thwart terrorists” isn’t as rousing as an absolutist refrain like “Give me liberty or give me death.” Reminding people of the inherent value of liberty is certainly a good thing.

    And it’s nice to have a prosecutor on this forum to take our side. We have somebody on this forum who claims to be a military lawyer, and he spends most of his time making excuses for whatever Big Government bullshit is coming down the pike. We have somebody who claims deep expertise in matters of national security, but her argument boils down to “If terrorists attack again we’ll lose even more freedom, so don’t tie the government’s hands!”

    Karen, you are a refreshing change. Welcome aboard.

  67. And I got post #69!

    Happy New Year, everybody.

  68. For all this talk of a police state, “maximum security state” or however close we are to a police state on any particular day, I don’t imagine that anyone here is really doing anything about it except complaining and/or not voting for George Bush.

    Well I was gonna seize control of the government, but I’ve just been so busy. …I needed a haircut, I’ve got taxes to do now, there were the holidays with all the shopping, etc. …and I still have to work on top of everything else. I mean, I’d like to save us all, and re-write the Constitution to my liking, but who has the time?

    Which leads me to believe that many of the folks at Reason and the people who post comments on Hit & Run are either liars because they bitch and moan about a police state they know doesn’t exist and is nowhere in sight, or they’re cowards because they truly believe they live in a police state and choose to do nothing effective about it.

    Like I said, busy, busy, busy.

    Or of course, you simply may not like things like the PATRIOT Act, etc., which is fine, except you ought to keep in mind that a lot more people might be willing to take their complaints seriously if you didn’t yell and scream “police state” or “maximum security state” every time the government decides to do something that doesn’t appeal to you.

    You know, I was doin’ that just the other day too.

    …This guy I work with says to me, “Hey, what do you wanna do for lunch today?” “Want to get some sushi?”

    “I dunno”, I said. “…police state.”

    He just kinda looked at me kinda funny, and then he says, “Well we could go to that Peruvian restraunt down by…”

    And I went, “Maximum security state”.

  69. “We must destroy freedom now….” argument is bullshit and you know it.

    First of all that was not my argument. It would be more accurate to say that we must limit freedom now or destroy it later. Noticd the difference?

    And yes, attacks will come, whether we do anything to stop them or not. But unless you make the extremely unlikely assumption that absolutely none of these security efforts has any effect, then not trying will mean more and bloodier attacks, ane more panicked responses,

  70. It would be more accurate to say that we must limit freedom now or destroy it later. Noticd the difference?

    Just for kicks, when does the freedom come back? Is it after we no longer have to worry about terrorism? …’cause that day, my friend, will never, ever come.

    But unless you make the extremely unlikely assumption that absolutely none of these security efforts has any effect, then not trying will mean more and bloodier attacks, ane more panicked responses

    Why do you assume that preventing attacks is the most important thing? There are some, rather, there are many, who think that, as important as security is, some things, like probable cause and the rule of law, are even more important.

    …That, by the way, isn’t a panicked response. Selling the Constitution out with fear mongering is a panicked response. …For goodness sake, it’s an appeal to cowards!

  71. …and, indeed, Karen Cox, by all means, on behalf of myself and likeminded commenters here, welcome. Please stick around.

    We have a lot of smart commenters here, but every once in a while someone links to this site and we get a bunch of propaganda victims stormin’ the gates, but that’s fun too. …sometimes. Naw, everybody’s welcome.

    I’ve seen the point made here a couple of times lately that this is one of the few, well written blogs where they allow comments, the staff reads the comments and, indeed, often responds to comments. …I usually skip sayin’ all that though and just say that this may be the best written culture/politics blog around.

  72. As per Annoyed comments, I have decided to begin recruiting for my newly created Libertarian Weather Underground. We will use bombs and stuff to stop the police state, instead of sitting around and analyzing the legality and morality of certain authoritarian actions. That is, after all, merely fruitless hand wringing, it would seem.

    Bring your own football helmet and dynamite. Dig it?

  73. But perspective folks. Calling the USA circa 2006 a “police state” is a gross insult to those people unfortunate enough to live in one whether it was in the past or it is in the present.

    In a police state, for example, a blog talking about ways to organize and put a stop to the governments plans invariably gets shut down by said government.

    No one is going to take libertarians seriously if they don’t drop the shrieking hysterics and start at least pretending to be serious about governance. Political philosophy is fairly easy, the actual implementation of sound policy based on that philosophy is far more complicated.

    I’m in full agreement about the latest wiretapping snafu, but let’s have some perspective. It is, at worst, the government expanding the definition of “probable cause” significantly beyond where it ought to be. But it ain’t “Kristallnacht” and it ain’t close, and screaming otherwise does little to get the general public to listen to your views.

  74. Selling out the constitution is precisely what a large majority of this country will demand if we suffer another 9-11, or a third, or a 4th. You’ll be looking back to the days of the patriot act as the good old days.

  75. Currence,
    Speaking as the anarchist on duty here (peaceful variety), I urge you to cease and desist with such comments.
    ‘Tain’t funny, McGhee.

  76. Selling out the constitution is precisely what a large majority of this country will demand if we suffer another 9-11, or a third, or a 4th.

    So if we really want to prevent a repeat, we should attempt to learn from the past. The 9/11 Commission report gave quite a few suggestions for making us safer and preventing another attack. Our government has mostly ignored them. It seems they’d rather spy on us than protect us.

  77. But perspective folks. Calling the USA circa 2006 a “police state” is a gross insult to those people unfortunate enough to live in one whether it was in the past or it is in the present.

    Help me out with the comment you’re referring to here. Who called the USA circa 2006 a police state?

  78. “The 9/11 Commission report gave quite a few suggestions for making us safer and preventing another attack. Our government has mostly ignored them. It seems they’d rather spy on us than protect us.”

    And again. Way overboard rhetoric.

    People should dial it back and talk about the problems with the policy, and offer alternatives that address security concerns with less intrusion into the privacy of it’s citizens.

    But I guess it’s just more emotionally satisfying to go right for the Orwell.

  79. Selling out the constitution is precisely what a large majority of this country will demand if we suffer another 9-11, or a third, or a 4th. You’ll be looking back to the days of the patriot act as the good old days.

    Speaking of Chicken Little…

    So you’re saying that if we don’t sell out the Constitution now, we’ll suffer acts of terrorism and be forced to sell out the Constitution later?

    I made a New Year’s Resolution about responding to those who trumpet the Constitution-as-Death-Pact memem, and, buddy, you’re dancin’ on it!

    You ignored my question about when we get our Constitutional rights back. So when is it? After we sell out probable cause, etc., how long till we get ’em back?

    Is it when there are no more terrorists? ’cause I’m not willing to wait that long. (Actually, I’m not willing to wait at all.)

  80. People should dial it back and talk about the problems with the policy, and offer alternatives that address security concerns with less intrusion into the privacy of it’s citizens.

    You want suggestions and alternatives – they are in the 9/11 Commission Report. That’s why I mentioned it.

  81. “He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.”

    Was Patrick Henry confusing laws with liberty?
    More likely he was just a William Jennings Bryant type of speech-maker.

    Laws suck.
    I can’t believe I’m living here.
    Medieval Iceland, here I come!

  82. But it ain’t “Kristallnacht” and it ain’t close, and screaming otherwise does little to get the general public to listen to your views.

    I keep going back and forth between straw man and hyperbole. …I think it’s the straw man that’s doin’ the hyperbole, so I’m goin’ with straw man.

  83. “Help me out with the comment you’re referring to here. Who called the USA circa 2006 a police state?”

    Okay. I’m pretty good at reading comprehension:

    “Namely, that there are worse things in the world than another 9/11, a 24/7 police state for one:

    ‘What’s the worst thing that Al-Qaida can do to America? We have probably already seen it. Of course, the government can talk about bigger things, like the use of weapons of mass destruction, to justify its use of totalitarian tactics.'”

    JAT says Rodgers “gets it right” for starters when Rodgers says the worst thing Al Qaida can do we’ve “already seen.” JAT has said there’s worse things than another 9/11 a “police state” being one of them.

    Even if you can wiggle through that traffic and try and argue that neither was arguing the US currently is a “police state,” certainly the rhetoric in that regard is so plentiful that it basically amounts to the same thing.

    “No, Stephen, but we can defend ourselves without gutting the Constitution or giving the executive branch carte blanche to do almost whatever it wants”

    “Most people are either too stupid to recognize authoritarianism or too authoritarian-minded to care.”

    What am I supposed to infer from these sorts of comments? (and generally “everyone is too stupid or else they’d be as smart as me” comments are ignorable regardless of specific content).

    Being crazed shouters gets you ignored. And being ignored is pretty much the fundamental challenge facing libertarians today.

  84. I listen to you guys–I’m sorry–crap on the Bill of Rights, and I think about the Declaration of Independence and what it meant in its historical context, and I find myself wondering…

    Do y’all think of yourselves as patriotic? …and if you do, in what sense? I mean, it’s not as defenders of the Constitution, is it? I’m not tryin’ to be confrontational with this; I’m just havin’ a hard time circlin’ that square.

  85. Even if you can wiggle through that traffic and try and argue that neither was arguing the US currently is a “police state,” certainly the rhetoric in that regard is so plentiful that it basically amounts to the same thing.

    That’s an interesting wiggle you came up with there.

    …Indeed, it’s not entirely obvious to me that anyone was describing the USA circa 2006 as a police state. There do seem to be a lot of people who think that the degradation of probable cause, etc. sorta move us in that direction.

    It’s also interesting, your comment, about the rhetoric regarding probable cause, etc. being similar to talk about a police state. Maybe I do have problems with reading comprehension. When people write about not needing probable cause to tap American citizens, to my eye, it kinda reads like they’re talking about a police state.

    Maybe you could give me an example? …write something that criticizes a government that chooses to ignore probable cause and doesn’t sound like it’s criticizing a police state.

    …but you’re right, I don’t see much in the way of evidence to suggest that anyone argued that in 2006, we’re living in a police state.

  86. Jefferson warned of the gradual encroachment of government upon the liberty of people.
    We are complaining about trends because we can see the ends. The difficulty is in helping others perceive the ends. It is thought that resisting the trends will help to avoid the ends.
    It may be that things will have to get worse.

  87. By the way, I’d hate to think that any of you are from that originalist camp that blows so hard and then turns around and…

    …Naw, none of you would do that!

  88. Ken Shultz,
    First have a flute or two of New Years champagne up your snoot.

    If you want to get back to basics, governments are the inciters of terrorists. Governments create the “we” versus “they.” That wouldn’t be so bad, but governments go on to say “they’s” momma wears combat boots, and “they’s” daddy takes bubble baths.

    Families ought to be sovereign, not governments. Some families would go on to duke it out, but they would be even rarer than terrorist violence (as Rodgers points out). Come to think of it, terrorist violence would cease entirely in favor of just “a few weird families duking it out.”

    Peace and love in 2006.

  89. “I listen to you guys–I’m sorry–crap on the Bill of Rights”

    I don’t think you’re getting my point, so let me make it clearer:

    Stop acting like such a jackass about things.

    Being right about something doesn’t give you “carte blanche” to be dismissive and insulting towards those that happen to disagree with you. People who have a different view over whether what is being done constitutes probable cause or not are not “crapping on the constitution” any more than people who oppose the Patriot Act are “siding with the terrorists.”

    It’s that kind of overblown jackass rhetoric that accomplishes nothing but entrenched positions and stutlitfied debate.

    I agree with you on the topic, but understand that someone who makes the following argument:

    An American citizen who makes repreated contacts with an out of country party with solid ties to terror organizations is subject to search because such contacts constitute “probable cause” to conduct said search.

    A person making that argument is not “crapping on the constitution.” I believe they’re wrong anyway, but insinuating that anyone who believes different than you is evil, careless, stupid or (usually) all three does not sound like any debate that falls under the category of “reason” to me.

  90. So why would the GB team want unreviewable power to detain, secretly, anyone it says has something to do with terrorists?
    Who wants a government with such power and authority?

  91. We aren’t a police state right now.

    The problem is that there isn’t a sharp dividing line. There’s the USA of the late 20th century, then there’s this. Then there’s Singapore. Then there’s Putin’s Russia. Then there’s China. Then there’s Stalin. And lots of other regimes that fall somewhere between the ones listed.

    Each step gets worse and worse, and it’s not clear that any of those steps actually make us safer.

    I become very worried when our leaders want to move in a more authoritarian direction without any clear security benefits to be had. The President isn’t simply asking for the power to tap the phones of suspected terrorists. We already have laws allowing that. No, what he’s demanding is the authority to do that without any oversight from the FISA court, which has generally been very deferential in granting warrant requests.

    And the President isn’t asking for the power to lock up terrorists. We already have laws for that. No, the President wants the power to do that without a trial and conviction.

    History shows that the executive branch becomes very dangerous without meaningful checks and balances from the judicial branch. We aren’t there yet, but the President is asking us to take significant steps in that direction.

    And…aw, hell, I give up. I can’t believe that this case needs to be made. I’ve said all I have to say, and Karen Cox has provided an even better perspective on the matter. Anybody who doesn’t get it after reading this thread is simply too scared to care about freedom. Fuck it.

  92. “By the way, I’d hate to think that any of you are from that originalist camp that blows so hard and then turns around and…

    …Naw, none of you would do that!”

    And again. You still think is about “root, root for the home team” then about trying to get our points across to people currently unreceptive. Stop trying to paint people who disagree with you as hypocrites and morons and start making fair, cogent arguments to counter what they are arguing.

    No one listens to people they don’t like.

  93. Interesting take on the same topic by Eric Margolis over at Lew Rockwell.

  94. “Best advice you will ever hear: In all things, fly under the radar, Be invisible. Avoid the gaze or the rich and powerful as well as the poor and desperate.”

    futilitarian,
    Welcome to the slap-happy flock of cowbirds among the H&R bovines. There are some tasty, nourishing nuggets mixed with the flapdoodle pies. Life is good.

    Every nature’s niche is important, except for that damned owl Al Gore is trying to protect. It’s okay to wipe your ass with its feathers.

    Finally, be assured that the Vestal Virgins were the inspiration of St. Francis of Assisi.

    In conclusion: chirp.

  95. “Who will follow vegetarians and animal activists onto state security?s watch lists? Rosicrucians, Christian Scientists, bird watchers or liberal Democrats?”

    layer3addict,
    Thanks for the tip.
    I’m a Rosicrucian. That’s right. That’s the ticket! We all be kick-ass buff. See the carpet-humper up there? Beware!
    Bird watcher me? Fuggedaboutit!
    Heard the one about the 300 pound canary?

  96. First have a flute or two of New Years champagne up your snoot.

    Well if you insist!

    I’ve got some misgivings about your anarchy, Ruthless. …but I suspect that many of the problems due to the absence of government would be better in their own way than some of the problems associated with having a government. In a better world, anarchy would be better…

    …’til then, I’m really concerned about the Constitution. I look at what the government gets away with in spite of the Constitution; it makes me shudder to think how things would be without it. When the government’s so small that it doesn’t matter anymore, well, I guess it won’t matter. …we can talk about gettin’ rid of the Constitution then. ’til then, we’ve gotta use what we’ve got to defend ourselves from government.

    …and we’ve got the Constitution on our side. Our revolutionary forefathers would be disgusted with what the Bush Administration has done–we’ve got that too, and we should use it.

    Peace and Love in 2006.

  97. Being right about something doesn’t give you “carte blanche” to be dismissive and insulting towards those that happen to disagree with you. People who have a different view over whether what is being done constitutes probable cause or not are not “crapping on the constitution” any more than people who oppose the Patriot Act are “siding with the terrorists.”

    I’ve got a party to go to, so I’ll be brief.

    1) Proper insults, when followed by something interesting, make people notice your argument. I have found that, quite often, people set in their thoughts won’t listen to anything you say in any other way. I’ve screwed up and stupidly insulted the wrong people before, but I’ve learned from my mistakes and my instincts are pretty good now. Some people will only listen to what’s said by someone that’s stung them.

    See my comment on December 31, 2005 03:00 PM. …What was that guy that talkin’ about?

    2) The ultimate effect of much of the Patriot Act is debatable, I suppose, but the President’s contempt for probable cause goes far beyond that in my book. The President’s defenders have used the same sorts of arguments regarding cruel and unusual punishment, due process and other Constitutional concerns as well.

    Did you see my reference above to the Constitution-as-Death-Pact meme? Is this not an accurate description of the arguments of my opponenets? Do they not believe that the Constitution is just an unworkable, death pact considering the nature of our enemies? If this isn’t crapping on the Constitution, what is? Wouldn’t they treat probable cause as toilet paper? …so long as doing so–in their minds–makes us safer from terrorism?

  98. “In a better world, anarchy would be better…”

    Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds sing…

    chirp

  99. And again. You still think is about “root, root for the home team” then about trying to get our points across to people currently unreceptive.

    To me, asking an originalist to explain why he believes what he believes in regards to the Constitution and why he then turns around and supports the President’s behavior regarding due process seems an excellent strategy for getting my point across.

    In regards to politeness, once again, I think one of the problems we have is that people think that bending my rights around however it pleases them, whether in regards to due process, probable cause or tax issues, is perfectly acceptable. People talk to me about how my taxes should be higher at dinner parties in restaurants. …and expect me to smile at them afterward!

    …It’s shocking when they get a rebuke instead of a smile, but they leave without the illusion that we’re all willing to go down with a please and a thank you. This is as it should be.

  100. Click on Stephen Macklin’s name to see his troll confession of today and what he thinks of the people who post here.

    I’ve read it, and Mr. Macklin should thank whatever mythological being he worships that he and I are seperated by time, distance, and the information superhighway…

    …otherwise the right-wing pile of shit would be chewing his teeth.

  101. During the break there, we heard from cherished daughter, who lives in largely flooded downtown Napa. She is fine other than being sans elektirissily. She could barely hear us thanks to the spunky gentrifiers in the ‘hood here defying anti-fireworks laws.
    In three more hours, she will be doing same… and who knows what else.

    Alles ist in gumuetlichen orden. Gutte nacht.
    Froelichen neures Jahr.

  102. If I’m a mile from the waterfall, and I’ve just had my paddle torn from my hands, I can look at it from policestate’s blithe perspective and say, “Hell, I’m a good mile from the falls! That’s way different from being about to go over the falls.”

    Or I can look at it honestly and say, “I’m fucking going over the falls…”

    Let’s not let them yank the paddle from our hands, folks.

  103. We have a lot of smart commenters here, but every once in a while someone links to this site and we get a bunch of propaganda victims stormin’ the gates, but that’s fun too.

    You call them “propaganda victims”, I call them the lowest common denominator that was able to figure out how a mouse functions.

  104. “The Truth” Served Plain
    That’s pretty arrogant. Those who succumb to security hysteria are absolutely righteous. Hysteria makes no room for reason.

  105. policestate, I have it on good authority (by monitoring all the internet traffic entering the country) that you have one hell of a collection of german lesbian porn on your hard drive ties with Al Queda and if you don’t contribute to the republican party (we estimate you can make a sizable donation since we’re able to monitor your credit report and banking activity) we’re going to lock you up at Guantanamo.

    So do you see where this is going yet?

  106. damn html strike tag doesnt work

  107. “I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaida attack than I would as a serf, spied on by an oppressive government that can jail me secretly, without charges. If the Patriot Act defines the term “patriot,” then I am certainly not one.”…

    But Rodgers gets it. We get it. A lot of us get it. More people need to start saying it out loud, though.

    There are worse things than another 9/11.

    No, you don’t get it. If you did, you would realize how ridiculous your statement is.

    You don’t even know what an oppressive government is. If you did, you wouldn’t make such a silly statement.

    No, you’re not leading the charge of the brave rebellion. No matter how rousing you may have meant your infantile statement to be.

    You should be grateful that you are so wrong. If you were right, you would be in jail (or dead) for your paranoid statement.

    Maybe you should read just a little tiny bit about oppressive governments. You might find out how obnoxious it is to be such a titty baby about legitimate government tactics that have somehow become the news story of the day, compared to the suffering that millions have endured because they were unfortunate enough to actually experience what an oppressive government does to citizens every day of their damn lives.

    Ideology must be empowering. Why else would people allow their world view to be so distorted by sticking by a narrow vision of reality. I used to consider myself as sympathetic to Libertarianism but as much as I enjoy Hit and Run, the teenboy paranoia is getting tedious.

  108. policestate- Speaking as someone who’s been hitting the “Don’t insult people you want as your allies” meme for longer than I’d care to consider, I can see where you’re coming from. But at the same time, it only works when there’s some legitimate area for people to disagree on. I just don’t see where that exists in this case. The law is already ridiculously stacked in favor of the Executive branch, and yet they didn’t take advantage of this fact when they tapped phone lines. These actions are utterly baseless, and in this case I have a hard time getting too worked up about my ostensible allies being impolite to people who would support such infringements.

    As for the people who are insisting that this isn’t a big deal/it’s insulting to victims of totalitarian societies, etc, I have to ask, can you point me to one place in history when this sort of thing happened and matters ended well? It’s all well and good to insist that we can stop it whenever we want, but I can’t think of a single place where experience has borne this out.

  109. The thing I think that policestate and Eb don’t get is that you don’t have to be living in a police state to worry about the encroachment of one, you just need to recognize that one is forming in your midst.

    With the powers Bush has been amassing since 9/11 (secret detention with torture, exemption from judicial and legislative oversight, ubiquitous civilian surveillance) there does present the very real possibility (it might be reasonable to say very real probability, given plenty of historical examples) that those powers will be used to amass yet more power which will further exempt this executive from oversight, review, or control.

    Look back over history and ask yourself what percentage of executive power grabs ever “u-turn” and slide back up the slippery slope.

    Take a look at the technology available today to enforce executive fiat.

    The wrong time to worry about a police state is when you’re already living in one.

  110. jesu christo I just spent 2 hours arguing with othe people whether or not wiretaps without warrents are bad ideas – everyone at the party was pretty much down with the idea of warrentless searches – what’s the best defense against “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear”? Taking these decisoins to their logical conclusions didn’t work…

  111. I read somewhere a long time ago that the US has intervened in the affairs of other countries scores of times since the end of the WW2. In the process, more than 20 million people have been killed. What is 3,000 American dead compared to the 20 million the US has indirectly killed in the last 60 years?

  112. Scandra,
    inconsequential statement… while it feelse… something… to beat ourselves up for past indiscretions, the 20 million figure is absolutely ridiculous. Where did you hear that? the Godwin Times? har har har YELL LIKE A PIRATE

  113. Where is the thresh-hold at which the president is allowed to suspend civil liberties?

    It is obviouse that when tanks enter our nation it ok to suspend but when terrorists blow up the towers and hit the pentagon it is not…so when is it time?

    and how is that time determined?

    and who determins when it is time?

    all good questions and libertarians (at least on this board, including myself) have NO ANSWERS for.

    Note: prediction for what Thoreau will say: tanks are not attacking and a friend of some guy who knows a terrorist maybe is being watched without a warrent.

    great fucking great…tell me something I don’t know.

  114. joshua,
    Bad ventriloquism job with thoreau there.

    Good job telling yourself something you already knew.

    Precisely who are you adressing when you say, “tell me something I don’t know?” Is it thoreau, or rather are you asking yourself to put more words in thoreau’s mouth so you can disagree with them/with yourself?

  115. More nasty details of the administration’s view of the duration of the War on Terror:

    From:

    http://www.sfgate.com
    /cgi-bin/article.cgi
    ?file=/news/archive
    /2003/10/25/national1257EDT0540.DTL
    &type=printable

    ———-
    Given the chance to talk to the defense secretary, one solider from the 101st Airborne Division asked what was on the minds of many: When will the worldwide fight against terrorism be over? “I mean, should I get my 3-year-old ready for air assault school?” the soldier asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during an Iraq tour last month.

    “I wish I could give you a date, but I can’t,” Rumsfeld said. That would be like estimating when a town will no longer need firefighters or police, he told the soldier.

    Privately, administration officials have said for months that they see the anti-terrorism fight as a decades-long struggle similar to the Cold War that dominated the second half of the 20th century.
    ———-

    The answer is that it’s forever, chumps.

    For the same duration as the need for firefighters or police.

    Is anyone else a bit reluctant to give Bush these powers for as long as we’ll need firefighters and police?

  116. I don’t like vadville,

    actually i was trying to get a response…last time i tried his reply was similar to the one i mimiced.

  117. Where is the thresh-hold at which the president is allowed to suspend civil liberties?

    That is an excellent question, but it doesn’t address the issue at hand. The president didn’t “suspend civil liberties”, and that phrasing implies that some sort of announcement had been made. Generally, martial law is declared.

    This was done in secret, without the oversight of the yes men of the FISA court, and the president convinced reporters to keep it from us for a year. He tried to get them not to tell us at all, but for whatever reason, that did not work.

  118. Where is the thresh-hold at which the president is allowed to suspend civil liberties?

    Excellent response Obryzan. I’d always thought that the President could do, pretty much, whatever he pleased, so long as he declared a State of Emergency. I’d always thought that the courts would hold that if congress or the American people didn’t like what the President did under a State of Emergency, they could a) impeach him or b) vote him out of office.

    …but, recently, I came across Ex Parte Milligan, which seems to suggest that I was wrong about that. Quoting from the link:

    “The Supreme Court decided that the [Lincoln’s] suspension of habeas corpus was unconstitutional because civilian courts were still operating, and the Constitution of the United States only provided for suspension of habeas corpus if these courts are actually forced closed.”

    Perhaps one of our resident lawyers will weigh in on this, but it seems to me that this principle might apply to probable cause as well as habeas corpus.

  119. To echo Ken’s response to joshua, as long as we can have a civilian court system we should have one.

    The late William Rehnquist said something similar in one of his books.

    And I like what Waterfall said. I don’t know, maybe we will be able to swim to shore before we get to the waterfall. But that only happens if people try to swim to shore while the waterfall is still in the distance. If everybody is just like “Oh, no big deal” until they can actually see the waterfall, they won’t act until it’s too late.

    Finally, what scares me most is not the particulars of the spying, or the particulars of who is getting locked up without trial. I have no doubt that most (all?) of the targets are guilty.

    No, what bothers me is that the people doing this are insisting that nobody else has the right to review or question what they do. Let’s turn the tables around: If the executive branch isn’t doing anything wrong, then what do they have to fear from a little judicial oversight?

    The question is not whether a phone should be tapped, or whether a terrorist should be detained. The question is whether these actions should be undertaken unilaterally by the executive branch. Nobody has given a good reason why unilateral action will make us safer.

    So, I ask you, if these actions don’t make us safer but do take us in a very wrong direction, why the hell shouldn’t we be scared?

  120. Click on Stephen Macklin’s name to see his troll confession of today and what he thinks of the people who post here.

    I read it too. It seems to me that the guy’s just so far gone… …that he can’t even hear what we’re saying over all the voices in his head.

    He comes back at Taylor’s “There are worse things than another 9/11.” with “So I guess if we had another 9/11 that wouldn’t be really all that bad?”

    Macklin finishes off with, “So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.”

    …Help me out, policestate. How should we answer someone who twists reality so? …Should we be civil?

  121. Ken, you’re asking the wrong question, I fear. What you should be asking is: how much time should you spend trying to reason with the unreasonable? Anyone who interprets “there are worse things than another 9-11” as “Bring on the bombs!” is either dishonest or incapable of honest debate. It’s just another version of those people who interpret “Maybe the Iraq War was a bad idea” as “I love Saddam Hussein! Iraq was a paradise when he ran it!”

  122. So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.

    Well, the uber-hawks have been excusing every misdeed under the sun by saying that Saddam was much worse, and the Taliban were much worse, and Kerry would be much worse. You’d think that they’d be more impressed by an argument like “There are worse things than another 9/11.”

  123. I wish Orwell had written a prequel to 1984, explaining how postwar britain and America turned into Oceania. I imagine that when telescreens were first put in homes, there were debates like this one:

    REASONOIDS: We can’t allow telescreens in homes. That is an invasion of privacy.

    APOLOGISTS: If you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about. And do you have any idea how many innocent women and children are abused by their husbands and fathers in the privacy of their own homes? You selfish bastard–you’d let little girls be raped by their fathers just so YOU can pick your nose at home without anybody seeing you.

  124. What you should be asking is: how much time should you spend trying to reason with the unreasonable?

    Little if any, I suppose.

    …but he linked his site here. There may be likeminded people who will come and read these comments and, theoretically, they could come to realize that he’s full of hot air. …someday.

  125. Excellent idea, Jennifer. We could call it 2005 or something.

  126. Regarding the “leak” of classified information to the press and the Bush Administration’s admonition to not release said information. I have one question.

    Since when does the press have a security clearance and doesn’t that leave the press open to misinformation and manipulation, or is that the Administration’s cunning plan?

  127. “Do we get so worked up about allergic reactions to peanuts?”

    My Mom is a Kindergarten teacher. The schools around here no longer allow kids to bring PB&J sandwiches for lunch.

    Draw your own conclusion.

  128. “So why would the GB team want unreviewable power to detain, secretly, anyone it says has something to do with terrorists?
    Who wants a government with such power and authority?”

    Well…I do.

  129. Some context that seems to be forgotten in much of this discussion.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    It isn’t that complicated. The rule of law is supposed to be the US contribution to world society, yeah?

  130. Right John, it’s that “probable cause” thing, among others. …seems a little problematic to me. …along with the whole rule of law thing too. See, we’ve got this law that… Wait! You already know about that.

    Forrest? Check. …Trees? Check. Am I missing something?

  131. Didn’t the U.S. invade Iraq to convert it from a maximum security state to a free nation? Then why is Bush going into the other direction in the U.S. itself?

  132. John-

    You might want to use a different handle, maybe change it to “Not that John”. We have another poster who goes by the name John and usually explains to us that the Bill of Rights doesn’t mean anything.

  133. Ken,

    the tree that’s being missed is this last part…

    “supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    any claim of constitutional power by the President must remain in line with this requirement. As must any law passed by the congress. Any circumvention is outside of the constitution.

  134. Didn’t the U.S. invade Iraq to convert it from a maximum security state to a free nation? Then why is Bush going into the other direction in the U.S. itself?

    My personal theory is that freedom can neither be created nor destroyed, so a free-er Iraq leads to a less free US. Now I just need to get published.

  135. The point being,

    That this requirement must be met whether or not we are in danger from a terrorist attack– unless and until the constitutions is changed. It is in this sense that I believe the principle behind the rule of law is important. You can pass an illegal law, but the system that self-corrects that error requires that things be done in the open according to constitutional protections and procedures (which include checks and balances between the various branches). Arguments surrounding this issue that forget that fundamental principle are not arguing about our system of government (as designed or implemented). Bush is one of those making this error, as are any that discuss the idea of balancing liberty against security.

  136. Because it can’t be overquoted:

    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    -Benjamin Franklin

    Happy Fucking New Year everybody!!

  137. Wow.

    This is actually the first time I’ve been threatened with bodily harm! I guess I struck a nerve.

    Good.

  138. See, Akira, when you talk like that it undermines our point.

  139. In fact, Stephen’s response to Akira’s angry threat is Today’s Libertarian Lesson:

    Coercion or the threat of coercion cannot make people less statist.

  140. “This is actually the first time I’ve been threatened with bodily harm! I guess I struck a nerve.”

    Not here. Anyone who links to Michelle Malkin for any reason other than satire is automatically filed in my mental “Looney Kool-Aid Drinker” file.

    Incidentally, Stephen, when was the last time you read the Bill of Rights?

  141. Whoops.

    Shoulda changed the name back before tapping my reserve of ennui.

  142. I would respond that I am hardly a statist and I can provide the links to back up that statement.

    I agree with a lot of what is being said about the dangers of too powerful a government, particularly the executive. I just don’t see that happening in this case.

    Based on every fact know about the NSA program to date I don’t see this as a massive assault on civil liberties. There is no requirement for a warrant to tap a phone call in another country to gather intelligence. If the terrorist on the foreign end calls someone in the U.S. I don’t think it unreasonable for the government to keep listening.

  143. Based on every fact know about the NSA program to date I don’t see this as a massive assault on civil liberties. There is no requirement for a warrant to tap a phone call in another country to gather intelligence. If the terrorist on the foreign end calls someone in the U.S. I don’t think it unreasonable for the government to keep listening.

    May I ask why you are not bothered by Bush’s ignoring the FISA rules, and basically insisting that, where warrantless wiretaps are concerned, the principle of “checks and balances” should not apply to him?

  144. Mediageek,

    Guilt by association. Yet another strong well reasoned argument.

    I won’t place any bets on how the Supreme Court might interpret the unreasonable search provision of the 4th amendment. After all they ruled in favor of McCain/Fiengold and the City of New London.

    In my view “There is no requirement for a warrant to tap a phone call in another country to gather intelligence. If the terrorist on the foreign end calls someone in the U.S. I don’t think it unreasonable for the government to keep listening.” I would add that if someone from the U.S calls a terrorist overseas who’s phone we have tapped the same standard would apply.

  145. Jennifer,

    If the wiretaps are made outside of the US FISA does not apply.

  146. “Guilt by association. Yet another strong well reasoned argument.”

    I’m not the one who claimed this board was as nutty as Democratic Underground, hence I feel no particular compulsion to engage you on any sort of intellectual grounds.

    You have clearly stated on your blog that you consider us all to be idiots. Since you’ve already pre-judged me to be a lunatic idiot*, there’s no point in attempting to be rational with you, and I’ll just skip to the part where I call you a douchewit.

    That’s the most fun part, anyway.

    *“The goal and the effect is the same it’s just a different brand of idiocy. At Hit and Run you can explore the twisted reasoning of the Libertarian lunatic fringe. The would be no need to create a Libertarian underground. Reason has already done that.”

  147. If the wiretaps are made outside of the US FISA does not apply.

    He has been wiretapping people IN the United States. With no oversight, or checks and balances.

  148. But, Jennifer…turrists…9|11…children!

  149. Mediageek, lay off the guy. Don’t scare him away before he has a chance to answer my question, which I will repeat here: why you [Stephen] are not bothered by Bush’s ignoring the FISA rules, and basically insisting that, where warrantless wiretaps are concerned, the principle of “checks and balances” should not apply to him?

  150. Here is an excerpt from an article in today’s new York Times; I have the address below but the site requires registration:

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 – President Bush today continued to defend both the legality and necessity of the National Security Agency’s domestic* eavesdropping program, and he denied that he had misled the public last year when he asserted that any government wiretap required a court order. . . .

    Mr. Bush’s strong defense of the N.S.A. program, which he authorized in 2002 to allow some domestic* eavesdropping without court warrants, came as Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the administration to make available current and former high-level officials to explain the evolution of the secret program.

    * “Domestic” in this context means “within the United States.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/02/politics/01cnd-spy.html?hp&ex=1136178000&en=9ff551c41e38344a&ei=5094&partner=homepage

  151. …turrists…9|11…children!

    Jennifer, to be completely honest, there’s a thread on another forum that has gone on for five pages, and not one the people slavishly defending Bush’s actions have been able to answer your question, or even more specific versions of it.

  152. Jennifer, to be completely honest, there’s a thread on another forum that has gone on for five pages, and not one the people slavishly defending Bush’s actions have been able to answer your question, or even more specific versions of it.

    I don’t doubt that at all. But there is at least a chance that, in Stephen’s case, he really didn’t realize that some of these wiretaps were domestic. (Depending on which sources he gets his news from, it is quite possible.)

    On the chance that this is the case, I would like to hear what he has to say.

  153. Jennifer,

    According to the reporting of the NY Times any wiretapping done in the US was done in accordance with FISA. There were people in the US who’s communications were monitored via taps on the other end.

    I am not bothered by by Bush ignoring FISA because I have seen no evidence that he has done so. The Times is reporting today that when the DOJ expressed concerns during one of the regular reviews of the program, it was shut down while those concerns were addressed. Here’s the key part of the story:

    A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate. The concerns appear to have played a part in the temporary suspension of the secret program.
    The concerns prompted two of President Bush’s most senior aides – Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general – to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program’s future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery, the officials said.

    The unusual meeting was prompted because Mr. Ashcroft’s top deputy, James B. Comey, who was acting as attorney general in his absence, had indicated he was unwilling to give his approval to certifying central aspects of the program, as required under the White House procedures set up to oversee it. …

    What is known is that in early 2004, about the time of the hospital visit, the White House suspended parts of the program for several months and moved ahead with more stringent requirements on the security agency on how the program was used, in part to guard against abuses.

    The concerns within the Justice Department appear to have led, at least in part, to the decision to suspend and revamp the program, officials said. The Justice Department then oversaw a secret audit of the surveillance program.

    And don’t worry about Mediageek scaring me off If Akira’s threats couldn’t do it Mediageek’s sillly taunts certainly wont!

  154. I guess I may have missed something in the news or something (though I doubt it), but could some more well-informed person answer me this:

    What reason did GW give for needing to circumvent FISA?

    I mean, when an action is taken, it usually corresponds to the status quo. The sq was FISA. Now GW is acting differently… isn’t the burden of proof on *him*, to show *why* things need to be done differently?

    Was getting wire-tap approval (read: rubber stamp) so difficult from FISA (answer: no)? I mean, for the love of all things liberty, FISA allows for 72 hour retroactive approval!!!

    Or is there no burden of proof when it comes to the executive?

    I think thoreau hit the nail on the head: if the “why are you worried if you have nothing to hide” argument works against citizen inquiries, then why doesn’t the same logic apply to the government? I fear the answer will be: to those who understand, no answer is necessary, to those who do not, no answer is possible.

    And about the 9/11 thing, certain persons do not realize that politics rides on this thing called “principle”. You see, it’s not as if the drug war, by itself, or the constant encroachment on civil liberties over the past 10 years, or the increase of government activity in both the economic and personal (as if there is a difference) spheres, or the homogenization of two-party politics, or any other thing, *by itself*, represents a police-state. See, there are these things called “steps”, and they all exist on this staircase structured on the principle of “statism” (stay with me here). And that is how you go from a “free state” to an “un-free state”. See?

    And one last question. Assume the freedom-security dichotomy is true (which it is not)… why is it that people are always willing to try security for the sake of security… doesn’t anyone want liberty for the sake of liberty anymore? Oh wait, I forgot 3,000 people died… and this government is definitely competent enough to prevent 3,000 more from dying, ERGO, we need security. Ah, I see.

    Curious Currence

  155. Stephen, in your article I did not find anything requiring FISA approval; instead what I found is this:

    But even after the imposition of the new restrictions last year, the agency maintained the authority to choose its eavesdropping targets and did not have to get specific approval from the Justice Department or other Bush officials before it began surveillance on phone calls or e-mail messages. The decision on whether someone is believed to be linked to Al Qaeda and should be monitored is left to a shift supervisor at the agency, the White House has said.

  156. Jennifer,

    To the extent that intelligence gathering lead to domestic surveillance outside of the 5.600+ FISA warrants they requested since 2001, I would once again place that under the language of the 4th amendment protection formunreasonable searches.

    Now reasonable people may disagree as to what constitutes unreasonable. And it’s anyone’s guess how the how the current SCOTUS would apply that standard. And I guess until someone with proper standing to sue comes forward we’ll never know.

  157. I think it’s reasonable to have warrantless eavesdropping in the U.S. How else can we catch the bad guys?

    This isn’t the first time this has been done. It was used to catch Aldrich Ames. It’s not as if they could have used conventional means, like driving past Ames’ cash-bought $550K home with the new Jaguar in the driveway.

  158. The fourth amendment doesn’t give the executive branch the authority to to spy on Americans without a warrant, Stephen. And you still haven’t explained why you are so comfortable with the Executive branch’s not only breaking the law, but caliming unchecked authority to decide whose communications are tapped.

  159. If the executive branch isn’t doing anything wrong, then what do they have to fear from a little judicial oversight?

    Activist courts don’t understand the need for immediate action. 😉

  160. My personal theory is that freedom can neither be created nor destroyed, so a free-er Iraq leads to a less free US. Now I just need to get published.

    Freedom is a zero-sum came over the universe?

    Crud.

  161. Jennifer,

    He’s a Republican (not little ‘r’), he’s a party hack, he’s one of the LCD.

    Let him bray and whinny on his blog. At least it keeps him busy, preventing him from actually reaching people with his puerile understanding of constitutional law.

    The best thing about the LCD is that they think the constitution is a set of protections set out for the people, rather than it’s a very specific set of limitations set on the government. Everything else in that document is left to the people.

  162. OK.

    ONE .LAST. TIME.

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against UNREASONABLE searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

    EMPHASIS MINE.

    Given the 5,600+ FISA warrant requests filed since 2001 – the judicial and DOJ oversight and the dozen or so congressional briefings (to leaders of both parties) I don’t see this as a rogue imperial executive running roughshod over civil liberties.

    Yes I am giving the administration the benefit of a more expansive wartime definition of unreasonable. Because you know – there is a war on.

  163. I don’t have a particular problem with agencies listening in on “enemies” of the people, except as a part of a broader pattern of the tendency of agencies charged with security to take themselves too seriously and with little humility.

    People who “trust the government” have a marked tendency to forget that “the government” is people exercising political authority. The idea of “trusting the government” only has credence in an idealized world where humans entrusted with political power exercise it objectively with wisdom and humility. Unfortunately, we do not, indeed cannot, live in an idealized world. Politicians are human beings of a particular sort. They are people who desire and sought to gain power over other people. In order to get elected, they must be willing to compromise moral principles to gain the support of disparate groups with conflicting interests.

    Such people are NEVER to be trusted too much.

  164. ‘unreasonable’ is generally a judicial determination. You know, by an independant body. Else the exception swallows the rule as long as an executive officer is willing to say “but I really need it now.

  165. Pooh,

    Jennifer was not asking me for a judicial opinion but a personal one. She asked why I am “so comfortable with the Executive branch’s not only breaking the law.”

    The fullest answer I can give is that I am not in the least comfortable with the administration breaking the law. In this case, I am not convinced that they have.

  166. Stephan, you seem to think our entire argument is hinged on the word “unreasonable”. It is not. as pooh pointed out, it is not for the president to decide whether a search is unreasonable.

  167. BTW, I’ve been trying to argue with Stephan over at his blog. He isn’t answering any questions there to my satisfaction either, but I’m sure I’ve helped him break his record for most comments on a post 🙂

    (I’m sure I’m factually wrong Stephan. This is another joke. Okay?)

  168. To Mr. Paine’s Goiter,

    I am most certainly not a Republican. And certainly not a hack for this administration. The list of things that they have done with which I strongly disagree is quite long and I have never been hesitant to say so.

    I fully understand that the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights in particular is a limiting document. I fully understand that the foundation of this country rests on the idea that individuals have rights and that it is the role of the government to protect those rights. And it is the role of the Constitution to protect those rights from the government.

    Based on my interpretation of the standard of “unreasonable search” I don’t think the government has exceeded the limits on its power contained in the 4th amendment.

  169. Do any of you honestly believe you have any privacy in the Information age? Every email you send is copied in many many servers and anyone that wants to can read them, your phone calls private I don’t think so especially cell phones and what about cookies and spyware? Lets talk tax records, voting records or public records in general, how about the DMV selling your INFO to telemarketers, credit cards think your buying habits are private? And last but not least RFID which is coming soon to a store near you then all they have to do is drive by your house with a scanner and they will know everything you have in there. Please spare me the cats are out of the bag already. This is much Ado about nothing and for those of you who say Bush has broken the law really show me one endictment one charge or better yet one single case of abuse of this program go ahead and try. I recommend you try try the extra thick tin foil hat it fits all of you well.

  170. Because you know – there is a war on.

    Really? When did Congress decide that?

    Once upon a time a war wasn’t a war unless Congress declared it so. I miss those days.

  171. I guess I struck a nerve. Good.

    We’d have to ask Akira, but I think your statement, “So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.” provoked his reaction. Are you proud of your statement?

    I don’t see how your statement is indicative of Jeff Taylor’s post, but you seem to present it as if it is. …I don’t think your statement is in any way indicative of any of the statements I’ve read by anyone associated with Reason ever.

    In fact, I suspect your statement to be willfully dishonest, which wouldn’t bother me one way or the other usually. Usually, I’d just write you off as another troll. …but then you actually use the slogan, “The Truth Served Plain”–you put it up there on your site like a headline, like a boast.

    …Hide behind Akira’s statement all you like; that won’t change any of your apparent spin. Do you really believe Taylor’s post can be reduced to your ridiculous statement? Did you, in fact, willfully misrepresent it so?

    Of course, I might have completely misunderstood your statement. I’ve misread things before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again. So enlighten me, please. In what way does, “So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.” relate to Jeff Taylor’s post?

    I’m all ears.

  172. Yes I am giving the administration the benefit of a more expansive wartime definition of unreasonable.

    Oooooh, blogging AND HTML tags! Good for you!

    You seem to forget that “unreasonable” is to be determined by a judge, NOT “the administration”.

  173. Please spare me the cats are out of the bag already.

    Is there any other part of the Bill of Rights that’s been obliterated by technology, or is the Fourth Amendment the only one?

    This is much Ado about nothing and for those of you who say Bush has broken the law really show me one endictment one charge or better yet one single case of abuse of this program go ahead and try.

    Are you suggesting that we shouldn’t criticize the President’s contempt of FISA because we don’t have a security clearance?

  174. Shem,
    I miss them to however, congress by enacting the war powers act and ratifying several treaties made that against the law so you get an AUMF which many courts have ruled is the same thing. So to answer your question I believe a war was declared SEPT 11 01 by AQ and congress soon followed suite. You know that whole Twin Towers thing in New York where 3000 of your fellow citizens died. YOU MAY HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT SINCE WE HAVE NOT BEEN ATTACKED SINCE THEN BUT THAT IS OK PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY DO THINGS BESIDES PISS AND MOAN HAVE NOT.

  175. Based on my interpretation of the standard of “unreasonable search” I don’t think the government has exceeded the limits on its power contained in the 4th amendment.

    I’d ask about your interpretation of “probable cause” and “warrant”, but judging by your other posts, I suspect your answer would probably be ludicrous.

  176. I recommend you try try the extra thick tin foil hat it fits all of you well.

    I’m glad we have you to tell us that, old crow. Given your reasoning, my guess is you have a Frequent Buyer Card at the local Conspiracy Megamart.

    Just because we live in a developing police state doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight the trend. Bush’s lack of scruples only acccelarates the process.

  177. And I don’t remember a state of war being declared by anyone. Not by the lawful representatives of my government, nor by AQ, who have been trying to destroy the Twin Towers since 1993. Only Congress has that power, and absent that the “war” is nothing more than George W Caesar’s attempt to create a permanent emergency.

    BTW, my money is on some catastrophe conveniently ocurring in mid-2008 to justify an “emergency” extension of Bush’s term as president…indefinitely. Farfetched? We already know about rigged voting machines, missing ballots, domestic illegal wiretaps, suspension of habeas corpus to US citizens as “enemy combatants”, lies to promote an unnecessary war…I don’t think there’s anything this administration won’t do to perpetuate their hold on power.

  178. I don’t know about the declaration of war thingy; it seems to me that congress gave sufficient authorization. …However, I would like to have seen a State of Emergency declaration. …not that I think it would have mattered regarding probable cause, etc. per my Ex Parte Milligan comment above.

    Still, it’s tough to see the President, essentially, make State of Emergency arguments retroactively. …tough for the nation and its future, I think.

  179. Lack of scruples? Do you know what the Barret report is? The NSA program discussed is the most closely scrutinized and audited program there is and the DOJ, FISA court and Congressional leadership were briefed on it many times. And again I ask anyone with any evedence to show, point out one single instance of abuse or any charges or endictments from this program besides of terrorists. I agree about fighting the trend maybe your time would be better spent fighting these: No knock warrants, Gun control, The IRS(The Gestapo only wished they had their police powers) (can you say fairtax?), Mcain/Fiengold(a blatant limit on our first amendment rights), The KELO decision (you no longer OWN your property it is only onloan to you) and I could go on and on. The point is there are much bigger fish to fry than this one.

  180. And again I ask anyone with any evedence to show, point out one single instance of abuse or any charges or endictments from this program besides of terrorists.

    So, um, once again, must I have sat in the committee in order to criticize Presidential contempt for the rule of law and the Fourth Amendment?

    The point is there are much bigger fish to fry than this one.

    I believe in the “broken windows” approach to law enforcement that Rudy Giuliani made so famous. If we let law enforcement get away with the small stuff…

    …not that government contempt for the Fourth Amendment seems like small potatoes to me.

  181. Given the 5,600+ FISA warrant requests filed since 2001 – the judicial and DOJ oversight and the dozen or so congressional briefings (to leaders of both parties) I don’t see this as a rogue imperial executive running roughshod over civil liberties.

    Yes I am giving the administration the benefit of a more expansive wartime definition of unreasonable. Because you know – there is a war on.

    1) Given that the FISA court has been so accomodating, why circumvent it?

    2) Briefing a handful of people who cannot discuss the information with other members of Congress hardly counts as a meaningful check. They can only go to their colleagues and say “There’s some stuff I don’t like, and I think we should pass a bill to end it, but under penalty of law I can’t tell you what it is that we should address in the bill.”

    And if they somehow pass a law anyway saying “No domestic wiretaps without permission from the FISA court, AND THIS TIME WE MEAN IT!”, the administration can just say (in public) “Well, we’re already in compliance with that law.” And the Congressional leaders who were briefed can’t publicly say “nuh-uh!”, because that would mean divulging the contents of a classified briefing.

    Briefing somebody with no effective means to do anything about the information hardly constitutes checks and balances.

    3) We may very well be at war, even if it is not a formally declared war. The problem with this undeclared war is that it has no easily defined endpoint. Granted, nobody can be sure when any war will end. But at least you can know what the end will look like in some wars, and once you reach that point you can put aside emergency measures.

    Here, nobody is sure what the end will look like. If emergency measures are introduced, how will we know when the emergency has passed?
    IIRC, Egypt has been in a legal “state of emergency” for a few decades now. How’s that working out?

    And before you get upset by comparisons with Egypt, I’d just like to point out that Egypt is a close ally of ours, and recipient of assistance. And apparently our intelligence services have a good relationship with Egypt, sending them suspects for questioning. So I think Egypt is a reasonable place to look for comparisons.

  182. I’m all ears Macklin. …Are you still out there?

  183. but then you actually use the slogan, “The Truth Served Plain”–you put it up there on your site like a headline, like a boast.

    And Fox News calls itself “Fair and Balanced.” Remember Shakespeare’s observation about the type of person who doth protest too much.

  184. None of them – not one, can respond to thoreau’s #1) Given that the FISA court has been so accomodating, why circumvent it?

    They instead dance around the issue of executive malfeasance and regurgitate “there’s a war on”

    A perpetual war.

    I apolgize for reposting, but all the apologists need to understand this is forever:

    From:

    http://www.sfgate.com
    /cgi-bin/article.cgi
    ?file=/news/archive
    /2003/10/25/national1257EDT0540.DTL
    &type=printable

    ———-
    Given the chance to talk to the defense secretary, one solider from the 101st Airborne Division asked what was on the minds of many: When will the worldwide fight against terrorism be over? “I mean, should I get my 3-year-old ready for air assault school?” the soldier asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during an Iraq tour last month.

    “I wish I could give you a date, but I can’t,” Rumsfeld said. That would be like estimating when a town will no longer need firefighters or police, he told the soldier.

    Privately, administration officials have said for months that they see the anti-terrorism fight as a decades-long struggle similar to the Cold War that dominated the second half of the 20th century.
    ———-

    The answer is that it’s forever, chumps.

    For the same duration as the need for firefighters or police.

    Is anyone else a bit reluctant to give Bush these powers for as long as we’ll need firefighters and police?

  185. So, um, once again, must I have sat in the committee in order to criticize Presidential contempt for the rule of law and the Fourth Amendment?
    No but you must know the facts before making a judgement and in this case you have none ergo you have no basis for your statement except a preconceived bias

    I believe in the “broken windows” approach to law enforcement that Rudy Giuliani made so famous. If we let law enforcement get away with the small stuff…
    I agree but we are not talking about law enforcement are we and we have no proof of anything yet if ever

  186. And Fox News calls itself “Fair and Balanced.” Remember Shakespeare’s observation about the type of person who doth protest too much.

    Indeed, Jennifer, he should answer for his, what I believe to be, gross mischaracterization; not just hide behind something someone may have said in anger. Mischaracterizing people’s positions can and should make people angry. …and Macklin’s, “So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.” wasn’t the only bit…

    He also wrote, “So I guess if we had another 9/11 that wouldn’t be really all that bad?”

    …and it seems to me, once again, that this was written as if it was in some way representative of Taylor’s post. …but maybe I’m misreading.

    Hey Macklin! Are you still reading this? Help us make sense of these things you wrote. …please? How, exactly, do they relate to Taylor’s post?

  187. OK, let’s stipulate that no domestic wiretaps were conducted without the permission of the FISA court. Maybe this was all just one big misunderstanding.

    Two questions:

    1) Please entertain a hypothetical: Would anybody here be OK with them conducting a domestic wiretap without the permission of the FISA court?

    2) More concrete: If there is no program of illegal wiretaps, then why is the Justice Department investigating a leak? There must be some sort of activity that got leaked. It wouldn’t really be a leak if somebody told a reporter that the federal government only conducts domestic wiretaps with the permission of the FISA court.

  188. Follow-ups:

    1) The Administration has been awfully defensive about this. Why not just come out and say that they only monitor domestic communications with permission from the FISA court? That wouldn’t be compromising any investigations if they just said that secret work is done with permission from secret courts in accordance with law.

    2) Up to a few weeks ago I was kind of bothered by the FISA court. A secret body that almost always gives the Executive Branch whatever it wants. Now I find myself in the awkward position of seeing the FISA court as a step in the right direction.

    If this Administration becomes any more evil, next year on this blog I’ll be arguing that Devil worship should merely be subsidized, not mandated.

  189. @ Oldcrow:
    I agree, there are other fish to fry. In fact, I’m much more upset about two of the things you listed (Kelo and McCain/Feingold), than I am over the domestic wiretaps. It’s just that this event is one more reprehensible action, and, honestly, we need to be passionately (and *reason*ably) opposed to each step towards authoritarianism that our government takes.

    I think that the issue of whether war was declared is an extremely important issue. Is there a set of standards required for “war” to be on? Now, there is a distinction between “war” and military action (unless of course we were in the War of Kosovo), but I think that difference needs to be made clear because of what is at stake. If the government gets more power when we are at war (and it does, we’re all reasonable people who acknowledge this), then it is in OUR best interest to have a set criteria of what constitutes war.

    Is a fight between a nation and a non-nation entity a war? What if the non-nation entity received nation support? What if it no longer does? Does the non-nation entity have to be a foreign entity (what if militia groups from Michigan rise up?)?

    Does the current state of war exist until AQ is destroyed? Until AQ is inactive? Until AQ changes its name? Haven’t we always been “at war” with terrorism? Does the prospect of “indefinite war” (or, as long as we still need police and firefighters, to quote Rummy, I believe) sit well with anyone?

    Curious Currence

  190. 1) Please entertain a hypothetical: Would anybody here be OK with them conducting a domestic wiretap without the permission of the FISA court?
    Yes if it is of an agent of a foriegn power such as an AQ affiliate for use in countering terrorist action not to be used in a court of law

    2) More concrete: If there is no program of illegal wiretaps, then why is the Justice Department investigating a leak? There must be some sort of activity that got leaked. It wouldn’t really be a leak if somebody told a reporter that the federal government only conducts domestic wiretaps with the permission of the FISA court.

    Yes their would a crime was committed that is disclosing a TOP SECRET SCI program to non cleared people that is the crime being investigated.

  191. “Really? When did Congress decide that?

    Once upon a time a war wasn’t a war unless Congress declared it so. I miss those days.”

    And again, what the hell did you think that vote on Iraq was for.

    Nowhere does it say all declarations of war must say in print “the Congress of the United States declares war.”

    Congress fully authorized the President to take military actions deemed necessary in order to enact regime change in Iraq. That’s as much a declaration of war as anybody’s ever going to need. Don’t like it, well fine neither did I, but you can’t argue war wasn’t declared.

    Do you really need Tom DeLay to jump on top of a table and scream “THIS MEANS WAR!!” before you consider it a full declaration? Authorizing our military to go overseas and start shooting at other militaries sounds like a war to me, and if you disagree the disagreement is purely semantics as the results are the same regardless of which method of congressional authorization is chosen.

  192. Currence,
    All good questions that currently there are no answers to. I hope that this will be debated now and they will get answered unfortunately I am pessemistic about just how usefull the debate will be with the partisanship of the current political climate. There is some hope the Supreme court will decide this but don’t count on it if they follow their pattern they will refuse to hear it and kick the ball to the Congress.

  193. “The Truth Served Plain”

    This fails my Fancy Ketchup test.

  194. If this Administration becomes any more evil, next year on this blog I’ll be arguing that Devil worship should merely be subsidized, not mandated.

    Someone above mentioned banning elections. I once would have thought it hilarious to suggest that the Bush Administration would try to persuade us that we shouldn’t distract ourselves with an election during war time. …but I don’t think that’s so ridiculous anymore, such are the times we live in.

    From interrogation policy to bogus justifications for the Iraq War and from the Patriot Act to Fourth Amendment concerns, this administration has burned through its goodwill with me a long time ago. …I want tangible evidence of everything…from them. And I don’t trust them to respect our civil rights any farther than I can spit.

  195. Firefighters and Police,
    None of them – not one, can respond to thoreau’s #1) Given that the FISA court has been so accomodating, why circumvent it?
    I can answer that and it has been answered maney times A: because FISA was not circumvented MORON.

    The answer is that it’s forever, chumps.

    For the same duration as the need for firefighters or police.

    Is anyone else a bit reluctant to give Bush these powers for as long as we’ll need firefighters and police?
    I have news for you every President all the way back to Washington has had these powers and the Cold War lasted what lets see since the Bolshevick revolution maybe? And is still going on evr heard of China? or Putin and his revival of the old Soviet Union? Chumps huh? Get alittle better informed before you talk that way you maybe won’t prove how stupid you are.

  196. I like my truth served on a bed of risotto and a red wine reduction.

  197. Yeah, I think “The Truth Served Plain” could easily become the new “Kerry would have been worse.”

  198. policestate-The war in Iraq isn’t a part of the war on terror, regardless of what the executive branch wants you to think. If it were, we’d be tapping the lines of Baath party sympathizers, not people with suppsed ties to Al Qaida. So again I ask, when was a “War on Terror” declared?

    Oldcrow-Maybe you addressed my point, but until your writing style includes commas and loses the run-on sentences, I don’t think I’m skilled enough with the language to understand you.

  199. “Hey Macklin! Are you still reading this? Help us make sense of these things you wrote. …please? How, exactly, do they relate to Taylor’s post?”

    “Namely, that there are worse things in the world than another 9/11, a 24/7 police state for one.”

    I do not believe that we currently live in anything even remotely approaching a police state. I do not believe that the NSA authorization in any way remotely resembles a police state. To say that the government taking the actions that it has is worse than the death of 3,000 people at the hands of terrorists is horrific. Rather we should stop it now and that would be better than not having another 9/11?

    Yes I meant what I said.

  200. stevie mack – you’re missing the point.
    Taylor isn’t saying that “the government taking the actions that it has is worse than the death of 3,000 people at the hands of terrorists,” he’s saying that willingly going down the road to (and some day arriving at) a police state is.

  201. I said:
    1) Please entertain a hypothetical: Would anybody here be OK with them conducting a domestic wiretap without the permission of the FISA court?

    Oldcrow boldly said:
    Yes if it is of an agent of a foriegn power such as an AQ affiliate for use in countering terrorist action not to be used in a court of law

    I reply:

    Would it hurt to go to the FISA court and say “This is the phone number of an Al Qaeda member, and here’s some evidence”? Do you really think they’ll deny that request?

    Also, what constitutes a foreign power, or an agent thereof? What if we’re talking about a US citizen who’s suspected of being an Al Qaeda member? Is he an agent of a foreign power? Should there be some sort of process (like a secret court, at least?) to determine whether that US citizen’s privacy rights can be violated?

    Hell, what if an executive in the US subsidiary of a foreign company is suspected of fraud, embezzlement, etc. Is he an agent of a foreign power? Can the FBI go through his business records without a warrant?

    God damn! I’m arguing in favor of secret courts! In a year, I’ll be arguing that blood sacrifices to the Prince of Darkness should be strictly optional for private citizens, but mandatory for government employees and incentivized with tax breaks for private citizens.

  202. To be clear, I want to emphasize that in my example above the US citizens was merely suspected of being an Al Qaeda member. How about we have a secret rubber stamp court evaluate the evidence supporting that suspicion within 72 hours of the wiretap? Is that OK?

  203. Would it hurt to go to the FISA court and say “This is the phone number of an Al Qaeda member, and here’s some evidence”? Do you really think they’ll deny that request?
    From what I have heard in the news and based on statements from the President they did go to FISA once they knew it was a U.S. person. Sorry about the bolds it is my way of keeping your statment and mine seperate bad habit I know but hey.

  204. Randie

    I don’t think I missed the point at all. Taylor also described the current administration as “The architects of the maximum security state.”

    I’m not really buying into the whole slippery slope argument he and you are hinting at. Particularly the way he seems to suggest that we are already halfway down the slope and picking up speed.

    I have yet to see any credible evidence that any crime was committed or that anyones rights were violated. So I don’t see any of this as a precursor to a police state. I see this as providing for the common defense and securing the blessings of our liberty.

    I don’t see this as worse than another 9/11.

  205. Hey there guys. I’m on a break right now, so I thought I’d check in. Well, actually, I’m not really on break. They banned all scientific research a few years ago, but they made an exception for certain federal projects. I was retrained in general relativity and put on the time travel project. I’m here in 2006 to do some updates on the virus that we planted on the Hit and Run server.

    Oh, you know how we always used to like saying “Kerry would be worse!”? (Well, I liked saying it.) Once we extend the capabilities of this machine to allow trips farther in the past, you won’t even know who John Kerry is.

    Anyway, my wife just got home from her job at the propaganda store (that’s what they call bookstores nowadays). I can’t tell you what year it is, but I can tell you that Mona resubscribed and then unsubscribed several more times before the feds ruined Hit and Run.

    They didn’t actually shut it down. They just banned all criticism of the US government. So now the forum is nothing but a right wing circle jerk, interrupted only by Hakluyt (American censors have no jurisdiction in France).

  206. From an update onMacklin’s site:

    Apparently some of the commentors [sic] over at Hit and Run don’t take kindly to criticism and I received my first official threat of bodily harm. Here is what Akira Mackenzie had to say:

    Ooooh Poor baby. The big bad Akira threatened “bodily harm” to the poow, wittle, wepublican. I thought you “rugged individualists” in the GOP would be beneath crying like a baby to the entire blogoshpere.

    Macklin also sent me the following E-mail:

    “Bring it on.”

    You know, this phrase wasn’t menacing coming the authoritarian prick you voted into the Oval Office when he first uttered it. What made you think it would be effective now? Then again, I never credited conservatives with any degree of creativity or wit. You probably think the one-liners from action movies are the apotheosis of humor.

  207. Oldcrow,
    Let’s see, every president before Bush has suspended Habeus Corpus, and declared themselves immune to judicial and legislative review, and constructed secret prisons, and instituted widespread civilian surveillance, and claimed the right to kidnap, perpetually detain and torture anybody in the world, and…

    Which history class did you take, Intro to Fantasy?

    Is this the best that the watcher-state apologists can do?

    Yawn.

  208. I can’t think of a single civil liberty I’ve lost since the Patriot Act was first passed. I can’t think of any that Rogers has lost either.
    –Jerry

    Ever hear of the Fourth Ammendment?
    –layer3addict

    Ah, but you forget–the Fourth Amendment, like all other “criminal rights,” protects guilty people. Innocent people don’t need it! And who decides who’s guilty and who’s innocent? Why THE GOVERNMENT, of course!

  209. From a Die Zeit interview with former CIA operative Michael Scheuer.
    ZEIT: Who invented the system of “extraordinary renditions”?

    Scheuer: President Clinton, his security advisor Sandy Berger, and his terrorism advisor Richard Clarke tasked the CIA in Fall 1995 with destroying al-Qaida. We asked the President: what should we do with the people we’ve apprehended? Clinton: that’s your concern. The CIA objected: we aren’t prison guards. We were again told that we should solve the problem somehow. So we developed a procedure, and I was a member of this task force. We concentrated on al-Qaida members who were wanted in their home countries or who had been convicted there in absentia.

    ZEIT: How did you decide who should be apprehended?

    Scheuer: We had to present a huge amount of incriminating evidece to a group of lawyers.

    ZEIT: Lawyers? In the intelligence services?

    Scheuer: Yes, lawyers everywhere. In the CIA, in the Justice Department, in the National Security Council. We developed our list of targets under their supervision. Then we had to catch the person in a country that was prepared to cooperate with us. Finally, the person had to come from a country that was prepared to take him back. A terribly cumbersome process for a very limited group of targets. …

    ZEIT: Did the interrogations take place in the destination countries?

    Scheuer: We always submitted our questions in writing.

    ZEIT: The CIA was never present at the interrogations?

    Scheuer: Not that I ever heard. The lawyers forbade us from that.

    Lets see Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus. Roosevelt put the Japanese in internment camps.
    But that is all irrelevent since your entire statement is a false strawman to begin with. Put down the BDS CRACK PIPE and seek professional help. CHUMP

  210. To say that the government taking the actions that it has is worse than the death of 3,000 people at the hands of terrorists is horrific.

    I don’t think anyone said that the actions we’ve taken are worse than another 9/11.

    …but let’s take that line of logic if you’re so inclined. Tell me, if you had to choose between a police state and another 9/11, which would you choose?

  211. Again everyone,

    Bush has declared (in public) that the constitution gives him the right to conduct WARRANTLESS wire taps. This strictly means, wire taps WITHOUT WARRANT i.e. without permission. This is EXACTLY what the 4th restricts. Probable cause AND an affirmation are required BEFORE warrants shall issue. In other words, you need to get permission (WARRANT) by showing probable cause AND stating (affirmation) what you think you need to see. It doesn’t matter how reasonable your justifications for the search are. It is the process that provides the protection from unreasonable searches. There are no reasonable searches without warrant (and yes there is a long history of precedance to help define what provides warrant in the field, but those searches are always subject to judicial review before they are used in a court).

    As I read it, the search is unreasonable (by definition) unless it meets the procedural requirement of judicial review. Bush has declared that he does not need to meet this basic constitutional requirement. Whether or not he has done so yet, he has declared he has a power that is strictly, and clearly forbidden by the constitution. War or no, there is no basis for a claim to this power.

    It is only 54 words. Not that complicated. Read it again

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and NO WARRANTS shall issue, but upon probable cause, SUPPORTED by oath or affirmation, AND particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Why I bring this up, is that much of the above argument seems to be hinge on whether or not Bush has done anything wrong yet. The details of who was wiretapped where are unimportant. The problem is that the administration has stated on the record that they have the power to give themselves permission (WARRANT) to search anyone without review. But that is clearly forbidden by the 4th.

    Current events don’t change the presidential powers.

    You can of course, reasonably disagree with my reading here, but I don’t think you will find anything in the constitution that supports the adminstrations position on this issue. If you do, please point it out for me.

  212. Lets see Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus. Roosevelt put the Japanese in internment camps.

    Per my link above, the Supreme Court, apparently, shot down Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, and the internment of the Japanese was a national disgrace.

    What did you hope to prove by digging up these embarrassing episodes?

  213. That Bush is not the first President to claim inherent powers and act on that claim. Firefighters and Police made a statement not backed up by facts or evedence. I will give him one point though the Padilla case is a travesty. A U.S. citizen was captured on U.S. soil and put in a military prison and kept incommunicado as an illegal combatant.

  214. the travesty has just begun, oldcrow.

    who knows what wonders 2006 will hold for us?

  215. Oldcrow tells a nice story. “We went and got warrants as soon as we discovered we were tapping a U.S. Person (as defined by sec. 1801 (9?)”. Except that is not, nor has it ever been, the story – that seems like a sensible policy that might create results.

    The War on Competence is going so perfectly they can no longer lie to us convincingly.

  216. Akira,

    Your infantile threats and name calling in place of substantive debate do not worry me in the least. The update on my site is in no way me crying boo ho at your scary words, but rather me mocking them.

    It is unfortunate that we “are seperated by time, distance, and the information superhighway” as I would happily provide you with the opportunity to attempt to follow through.

  217. So, the current line of argument is that “FDR was worse.”

  218. To say that the government taking the actions that it has is worse than the death of 3,000 people at the hands of terrorists is horrific.

    I don’t think anyone said that the actions we’ve taken are worse than another 9/11.

    …but let’s take that line of logic if you’re so inclined. Tell me, if you had to choose between a police state and another 9/11, which would you choose?

    False dichotomy? …of course, it is. The president’s actions regarding FISA don’t necessarily mean we’re living in a police state, but then probable cause isn’t really a death pact either. You’re not suggesting that it is, are you?

    I think it more likely that the President’s actions regarding FISA are likely to inch us a little closer to a police state, and probable cause makes it a little more likely that we might suffer another attack. …but if the Bush Administration’s defenders present this false dichotomy, then the people who disagree with them are right to question their conclusion. ..it ain’t so foregone.

    So, once again, if you had to choose between a police state and another 9/11, which would you choose?

    You seem to have ignored the question, and I think I know why. On the one hand, if you ‘fess up to preferring a police state, you open yourself up to charges of cowardice. That’s clearly the more cowardly alternative. I don’t think Jeff, or I, would capitulate to the terrorists so easily.

    On the other hand, if you confess yourself willing to take more casualties, you’d have to retract your, what I believe to be a, gross mischaracterization.

    …You’d have to confess that just because a patriotic American prefers liberty to security, it doesn’t mean that he thinks, “So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.” or “So I guess if we had another 9/11 that wouldn’t be really all that bad?” …and if you admitted that, you’d have to change your slogan, or update your post.

    It’s a tough spot, but I think you walked right into it with your post. So, which would you choose? …a police state or another 9/11. I’m all ears–again.

  219. If I said I preferred more gun crime to scrapping the Second Amendment, Macklin, would you make statements saying “So bring on the school shootings. Kill a few hundred more children. Hey. It could be worse.” or “So I guess if we had another Columbine that wouldn’t be really all that bad?”

    …To me, that seems like what you did. …and if that is what you did, I think you should either update your post or change your slogan.

  220. I am not the person who put forth a choice between the slippery slope toward a police state and another 9/11. I am merely the person who called out the absurdity that we were being asked to make that choice.

    I have stated repeatedly that I do not believe we on the road to the “maximum security state.” That said if I had to choose between the actions that have been and are being taken and another 9/11 I would have to choose the NSA wiretaps and the Patriot Act for all of the reasons I have previously stated.

    (Truly for someone who claims to be all ears – you don’t seem too adept at listening)

    You look at the current situation and see jackbooted thugs on the near horizon. I don’t.

    So consider this question”

    Given the choice between reasonable measures to gather intelligence and provide security and another 9/11 which would you choose?

  221. BTW, Jerry, the issue of substantive restrictions on your civil liberties is secondary. The point is, the structure of the system has changed so fundamentally that whatever “civil liberties” you now exerercise are now entirely dependent on the government’s sufferance.

    An advocate of gun control might similarly ask how the average gun owner has been inhibited by the Brady Law and other legislation in doing anything he really wants to do.

    That’s not the point. Once any “right” is subject to such constant monitoring and surveillance, not to mention licensing, it becomes instead a privilege that is granted by government only so long as it continues to feel like it.

    Right now, thanks to decades of Executive Orders and police state legislation, we’ve got the full legal and administrative architecture in place for martial law, along with a physical apparatus for surveillance that would have been an A. Mitchell Palmer wet dream for rounding up dissidents. Suspending whatever privileges Jerry is so grateful for could be done by a simple stroke of the pen.

    Traditionally, rights are something the people force the government to recognize, that are exercised AGAINST the government. Rights can only exist when the people are more powerful, physically, than the government, and have the real power to resist. We’re now in the position where our rights have become privileges, granted BY the government. And it’s entirely a result of the shift in real power from people to government entailed in this kind of legislation.

  222. From Macklin’s blog:

    The goal and the effect is the same it’s just a different brand of idiocy. At Hit and Run you can explore the twisted reasoning of the Libertarian lunatic fringe.

    You go as far as to insult the intellegence, the sanity, and the character of Reason readers, and you expect us to responsed civilly to you? You didn’t think we’d take umbrage at what you posted about us?

  223. Oldcrow admits that Bush has committed a “travesty” with the dention of Jose Padilla, yet still wants to give him nearly unlimited powers.

    Huh?

  224. Akira,

    I fully expected disagreement. I fully expected forceful disagreement and heated debate.

    I don’t think “otherwise the right-wing pile of shit would be chewing his teeth” qualifies.

    Notwithstanding your ludicrous threat I haven’t been disappointed.

  225. I am not the person who put forth a choice between the slippery slope toward a police state and another 9/11. I am merely the person who called out the absurdity that we were being asked to make that choice.

    Here’s your responses to “There are worse things than another 9/11.”:

    So we should just sit back and let it happen?

    A defense and foreign policy of “bring on the car bombs, they’re not really all that bad” sounds like a real winner to me.

    —-Comment by: Stephen Macklin at December 31, 2005 09:25 AM

    You seem to put forth a choice between the slippery slope toward another 9/11 and the Presdident’s apparent disregard for probable cause.

    …and what’s worse, you downplay, perhaps willfully, the pain and dread we all feel toward our fellow Americans that suffered and died on September 11. …and for what reason?

    I’m havin’ a hard time understanding how someone could honestly characterize, “There are worse things than another 9/11.” as “We should just sit back and let it happen? or “Bring on the car bombs.”

    Given the choice between reasonable measures to gather intelligence and provide security and another 9/11 which would you choose?

    To my mind, the added risk of another attack with probable cause, etc. intact is insufficient to justify allowing the government to spy on Americans without probable cause or a warrant.

    Takin’ a hit like 9/11 is a hideous and horrible thing, but some things, like my Constitutional rights and liberties, are so important to me that…

    Does that mean that my argument can be characterized as, “So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.” or “So I guess if we had another 9/11 that wouldn’t be really all that bad?” Hell no! Those would be hideous mischaracterizations of my position.

    …not that the choice is between probable cause, etc. and suffering another attack. It isn’t. That’s another false dichotomy, isn’t it? …just like the choice between another Columbine and the Second Amendment.

  226. I thought Akira was wrong to say what he said, but you were just as wrong to respond in kind.

    …and willfully misrepresenting people’s arguments–if indeed that’s what you did–and calling them names–idiocy, lunatic–that’s just pathetic.

    You appear to misrepresent people’s arguments, call them names and then chastise them for their angry responses?

    …What’s the definition of trolling again? You seem to run a blog for trolls. …under the banner of, “The Truth Served Plain”. What a shame.

  227. Ken, you’ll also note that Stephen earlier told me that Bush didn’t break the FISA laws because FISA only applies to calls made within the US; when I pointed out that some of the wiretaps were made in the US he changed his argument again, while still insisting that no laws were broken. And the scary thing is, he may not be trolling, but entirely sincere.

    Remember in 1984, the way so many people kept forgetting things? Like for instance, last week Big Brother reduced the chocolate ration from 20 grams to 10, and this week there were spontaneous demonstrations thanking Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration up to 10 grams?

    Stephen is just pointing out that we are not showing the proper gratitude for our 10-gram chocolate ration raise.

  228. I did not misrepresent anyone’s argument. I responded to the words I read in the post. I have explained myself repeatedly and despite your claim to be all ears you seem to be unable or unwilling to listen.

    Further, I made critical comments about what I have often observed about the level of debate here. If you think anything I wrote in any way rises to level of or is responding in kind to threats of physical violence then I will sleep well tonight knowing my original estimation was on target.

  229. If you think anything I wrote in any way rises to level of or is responding in kind to threats of physical violence then I will sleep well tonight knowing my original estimation was on target.

    Yes, Stephen, one comment on this blog proves that every bad opinion you have about libertarians is correct. Same way Pat Robertson proves that all Republicans are insane religious fanatics, and Michael Moore proves that all Democrats are dishonest guys who eat too much.

  230. I did not misrepresent anyone’s argument. I responded to the words I read in the post. I have explained myself repeatedly and despite your claim to be all ears you seem to be unable or unwilling to listen.

    You haven’t explained yourself to my satisfaction. You haven’t explained how “So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.” or “So I guess if we had another 9/11 that wouldn’t be really all that bad?” relates to “There are worse things than another 9/11.”

    …I’ve pointed out your apparent mischaracterization, how many times now? Was it a mistake? Do you really think Taylor (or any of the rest of us) thinks that the terrorists should bring on the car bombs? Do you really think we want the terrorists to kill a few thousand more people? Do you really think that any of us thinks that another 9/11 wouldn’t be all that bad?

    …and if you don’t think that, then you must have made a mistake. Worse things have happened to people. I’ve made mistakes. I’ll make mistakes again. …but if you make a mistake, under the heading, “The Truth Served Plain”, then you should probably acknowledge that mistake on your blog. That’s what the Reason staff does, shouldn’t you?

    If you don’t fix it, well I think I’ll be inclined to speculate that your mischaracterization was entirely intentional. …and I suspect any reasonable person that reads this thread, and my comments at the very least, will come to the same conclusion.

    If you think anything I wrote in any way rises to level of or is responding in kind to threats of physical violence then I will sleep well tonight knowing my original estimation was on target.

    Did you or did you not send “Bring it on.” to Akira via e-mail?

  231. I have no bad opinions of libertarians, particularly since I consider myself to be one. I don’t have a particularly high opinion of how anyone with contrary opinion is treated here. With few exceptions they are not often made welcome and by a good portion of the population not treated with even a hint of civility.

    In the course of this debate I have been labeled a Republican (intended as an insult), a hack, a moron, a pile of shit, just to list a few.

    What I read in the post that started all of this, that we have a choice between the actions the government has taken (which I consider to be appropriate and legal) and another 9/11. That the NSA surveillance program puts us on a slippery slope to a 24/7 police state and it is worse than another 9/11.

    Aside from the threats and the name calling I have been asked to clarify the same positions repeatedly which I have done repeatedly. Though it seems the questioners have no interest in my response. It has gotten to the point where it seems as though the goal is to keep asking until I give up and change my thinking. That’s not going to happen.

    The last insult from Mr. Shultz is that I “seem to run a blog for trolls. …under the banner of, ‘The Truth Served Plain'”. Yet the comment thread in my post on the topic has been a largely civil discussion of the issues at hand. It’s too bad that can’t happen here.

  232. What I read in the post that started all of this, that we have a choice between the actions the government has taken (which I consider to be appropriate and legal)

    Whether or not something is appropriate is a matter of opinion. Whether or not something is legal is not. What Bush is doing in regards to warrantless domestic wiretaps just might be appropriate, depending on who you ask, but according to the laws of this country it is NOT legal.

  233. Yes, I did respond to Akira’s threat by emailing him to “bring it on” I also wrote that I would happily give the opportunity to attempt to follow through on his words.

    I responded to his threat by noting that if he really wanted to try he could not expect me to stand passively and let him.

    Do I really need to go into a detailed explanation of the difference between a threat and a commitment to defend oneself in the face of that threat?

  234. Yet the comment thread in my post on the topic has been a largely civil discussion of the issues at hand. It’s too bad that can’t happen here.

    Your blog post suggests that we’re idiots and lunatics and seems to suggest that people who agree with Taylor’s comment that there are worse things than 9/11 want the terrorists to bring on the car bombs. …want the terrorists to kill a few thousand more people. …think that another 9/11 wouldn’t be all that bad.

    …and this you call “largely civil”?

  235. Do I really need to go into a detailed explanation of the difference between a threat and a commitment to defend oneself in the face of that threat?

    I responded to your comment, which read:

    If you think anything I wrote in any way rises to level of or is responding in kind to threats of physical violence then I will sleep well tonight knowing my original estimation was on target.

    I thought “Bring it on.” was a response in kind to a perceived threat of violence. …but maybe I misread your comment. If I did mischaracterize your comment, then I apologize.

    …See, is that so hard? You can do that on your blog, can’t you?

  236. Ken, I’m not in the habit of quoting Jesus on a regular basis, but “there are none so blind as those who will not see.” Why are you wasting your time? When Stephen backtracked on the FISA issue (“Bush doesn’t need to get FISA approval because FISA doesn’t apply in the US;” “Oh, there were wiretaps in the US? Well, I still say he doesn’t need FISA approval,”) that alone showed he either isn’t interested or isn’t capable of debating the issue.

    How can you have a meaningful debate with someone who contradicts his own self and doesn’t see it?

    Just be quiet and thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to ten grams.

  237. Some people call me stubborn, Jennifer. I prefer “tenacious”.

  238. O.K. I’ll try one last time.

    The original post likened the current actions of the government to a police state or at a minimum launching us down the slippery slope to a police state. This according to the author and the piece he quoted is a worse thing than another 9/11.

    If there were another terrorist attack even on the scale of 9/11 it would not be as bad what the government is doing now.

    I never said that any one “wants” another terrorist attack only that given a choice between current anti-terrorist activities and another attack they view the anti-terrorist activities as worse.

  239. Ken, if you’re ever planning to debate geography with members of the Flat Earth Society, please let me know so I can watch.

    And if you give me enough advance warning to catch a buzz first, then so much the better.

  240. Direct Quote from the top of this thread:

    “I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaida attack…” emphasis mine

    Highly improbably threat of another terrorist attack is not the same as another terrorist attack, in the same way that a lottery ticket is not a million dollars.

  241. I do live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another terrorist attack.

    What I would like to avoid is living as a free man with a higher probability of one.

  242. Well at least as free as I can be with McCain/Fiengold and Kelo hanging over my head.

  243. Malkin:

    You’re such a whiner if you thought my comment constituted a serious “threat.” Your comments about H&R posters made me very angry. By insulting them, you insulted me. I don’t care much for insults so I responded in the way I think you deserved. Christ, my parents threatened to do worse to me when I didn’t clean up my room. Talk about a thin skin.

    Of course, if you’re paranoid enough to think that terroism is a threat, it stands to reason that litte ole’, insignificant me is also a threat.

  244. Edit: That should be “Macklin.”

  245. Akira,

    I was never terribly afraid of what you might do to me. That’s not the point. The point is that if you didn’t like what I wrote you should have addressed what I wrote.

    A meaningless threat to knock my teeth out does nothing to advance the debate or whatever your position might be. Something you have yet to actually do.

    But given that you think considering terrorism a threat is paranoia then I doubt there’s much chance of seeing a coherent argument with your little ole’ name attached to it.

  246. Personally, I think Mothers Against Drunk Driving are as big a threat to my civil liberties as Bush and the PATRIOT Act. I would guess that MADD has launched more warrantless, and even causless, searches than PATRIOT, by orders of magnitude.

    Not to say that “homeland security” isn’t about 90% a bad joke, of course.

    But still, arguing that the recent national security activities are unnecessary or an overreaction because there hasn’t been another 9/11 strikes me as exactly the same kind of fallacy as bemoaning the fact that our incarceration rate is up while crime is down. I mean, do you think there might be a connection? Just maybe?

  247. But still, arguing that the recent national security activities are unnecessary or an overreaction because there hasn’t been another 9/11 strikes me as exactly the same kind of fallacy as bemoaning the fact that our incarceration rate is up while crime is down. I mean, do you think there might be a connection? Just maybe?

    After the 1993 World Trade Center attack we went eight years without another Al-Qaeda attack on American soil. Do you think Bill Clinton’s administration deserves the credit for that eight-year lull?

  248. But still, arguing that the recent national security activities are unnecessary or an overreaction because there hasn’t been another 9/11 strikes me as exactly the same kind of fallacy as bemoaning the fact that our incarceration rate is up while crime is down.

    Who argued this?

  249. Well gee Ken,

    Maybe the original post that argues that the current police state actions of the “architects of the maximum security state” are worse than another 9/11.

    Maybe the author of the article who wrote “What’s the worst thing that Al-Qaida can do to America? We have probably already seen it.”

    Maybe one could logically conclude that they are arguing that we should stop what we are doing – that nasty intelligence gathering that is worse than 9/11) because they probably couldn’t do it again anyway.

    And for good measure they throw in that even if they did it wouldn’t be as bad as our “24/7 police state.”

    I’d write more but you still seem to not be listening.

  250. Now that I truly don’t have an answer for.

  251. Of course, if you’re paranoid enough to think that terroism is a threat, it stands to reason that litte ole’, insignificant me is also a threat.

    Is this serious? Do you actually believe that there is no threat of terrorism? Have you not paid attention to the last 5 years? Is there a serious person alive who actually believes that there is no terrorism threat? In London? Bali? Spain? How many bombs have to go off for somebody to acknowledge simple truth?

    This is a good example that is leading me to understand that Libertarianism has its fundamentalists too. I used to think fundamentalism was limited to the left, right, religious and batman fans.

    No wonder there are never any serious Libertarian candidates.

    And by the way, the catfight with Macklin is getting stale. You pretty much jumped the shark when you started berating him for sending an email that said “bring it on” of all things.

  252. Eb,

    There is very definitely a streak of Libertarian fundamentalism. And if you want to come here and challenge it, bring a thick skin and a sense of humor. You’ll need both.

  253. And if you want to come here and challenge it, bring a thick skin and a sense of humor.

    Yeah, well, we Libertarian Fundamentalists have blue skin, thank you very much!

    🙂

  254. I fully expected disagreement. I fully expected forceful disagreement and heated debate.

    Mr Macklin,

    Fair enough. I think that your original portrayal of the view you are arguing against was an obvious straw man. Here it is:

    So we should just sit back and let it happen?

    A defense and foreign policy of “bring on the car bombs, they’re not really all that bad” sounds like a real winner to me.

    No one is claiming that nothing should be done, or that terrorism is something that should be encouraged. So I would have to say that you lit the match here.

    Your other main thrust was a false choice:

    Given the choice between reasonable measures to gather intelligence and provide security and another 9/11 which would you choose?

    Anyone with a brain would choose the latter, but the easter egg is hidden in that slippery inclusion of “reasonable.” We all want reasonable measures, but the debate is over what is “reasonable.” And for many of us here, limitless presidential power to snoop on citizens is not reasonable–no matter who the president is. And there is a very strong Constitutional argument (consisting of, basically, reading the blasted thing) against the claim that the president has such a power.

    There you go. No name-calling, no threats. I am sure that you will now amend your website accordingly?

  255. EDIT “latter” should read “former”

    Oops.

  256. Ethan,

    My use of “reasonable” is very deliberate as it is the standard for search an seizure without warrant specified in the fourth amendment.

    My view is that wiretaps on people communicating with foreign terrorists with whom we are at war is reasonable. The prevailing view here seems to be that such surveillance is worse than another 9/11.

    I am not sure I have seen anyone here, including myself, arguing for limitless presidential power. I don’t even recall the White House making that argument.

    The language of my original commentary may have been hyperbolic but the point is still valid. If the NSA counter-terrorism program is part of the “maximum security state” which is defined as worse than another 9/11 then logically another 9/11 is preferable.

    As for amending my blog post, there may well be exceptions, and you may well be one of them, but so far they are enough of an exception that I’ll hold off on that for now.

  257. I am not sure I have seen anyone here, including myself, arguing for limitless presidential power. I don’t even recall the White House making that argument.

    The language of my original commentary may have been hyperbolic but the point is still valid. If the NSA counter-terrorism program is part of the “maximum security state” which is defined as worse than another 9/11 then logically another 9/11 is preferable.

    The President claims that his investigations of American citizens require no oversight from anyone, ever. It’s all up to him. How is that not a claim to limitless power to snoop on citizens? (Which is what I said, not just “limitless power.”)

    Yes, your language was hyperbolic, and I don’t see how your explanation of it is relevant. How does…

    So we should just sit back and let it happen?

    A defense and foreign policy of “bring on the car bombs, they’re not really all that bad” sounds like a real winner to me.

    translate to…

    If the NSA counter-terrorism program is part of the “maximum security state” which is defined as worse than another 9/11 then logically another 9/11 is preferable.

    Also, regarding that last point: Just because X is part of Y and Y is worse than Z it does not “logically” follow that X is worse than Z.

  258. Ethan,

    So by that logic some police state actions – that is some actions that go beyond reasonable governance in impinging upon civil liberties – are preferable to terrorism?

    Assuming from your example that X=NSA surveillance, Y=Police state, and Z=terrorism: if you accept the premise the NSA surveillance is police state action you could still hold that it is preferable to terrorism. (I am not assuming that this is your position – just playing out the logic)

    That is certainly at odds with most of what has been written here. And I would have to disagree.

    If I believed that the NSA surveillance program rose to the level of a police state action I would be as vehemently opposed to it as any one on this site.

    As for the translation from hyperbole

    For those who do believe the NSA Surveillance is a police state action and worse than terrorism, the preferred course would have to be that we stop. And even if the result of stopping is another 9/11 it’s still not as bad as the NSA or more accurately the entire Bush administration.

  259. I like Bart Kosko’s idea. I don’t know much about that field, but I hear a lot about it. I haven’t worked on problems where it matters, or maybe I have and didn’t realize it.

  260. Oops, wrong thread.

  261. So by that logic some police state actions – that is some actions that go beyond reasonable governance in impinging upon civil liberties – are preferable to terrorism?

    Not necessarily. One could say that a certain police action is preferable to terrorism, or decide not to say that. Neither is a necessary conclusion given the XYZ stuff. I think you go on to say this in part.

    My point was only that you can’t conclude that a person considers a particular policy worse than terorism simply because (1) that policy would be an element in a police state AND (2) the person believes that a police state would be worse than a terrorist attack.

  262. Ethan,

    So a police state is worse than terrorism, but some of the policies and actions that define it as a police state aren’t?

    Meaning some police state activity is preferable to terrorism.

    This begs the question how much police state would you be willing to accept?

    I would wager that here at Hit and Run the most common answer would be none. I know that would be my answer.

  263. Ethan,

    As you point out, the issue is “reasonable”. Many here have come to the conclusion that none of this is reasonable and is in fact the beginning of a consolidation of presidential powers that is leading to a police state as well as one assertion that Bush plans to pull some trigger that allows him to evidently become president for life.

    I can understand a serious difference of opinion on these issues but I see a lot of conspiracy theorism and paranoia in some of these assertions.

    I, on the other hand do consider it reasonable. And I’m pretty confident that time will prove that. If indictments come down then I will stand corrected.

    I used to work with the NSA, before the NSA was even acknowledged to exist. A lot of what people are screaming about is not new. It seems to me that it isn’t the policy that has people so upset (otherwise they would have been equally vocal during, oh, the last 8 or so presidential administrations instead of just in the last couple of months.) but the administration that is currently overseeing the policy.

    When I use the term “fundamentalist” I mean people who cling to their narrow selection of favorite positions at the expense of all others. There is no middle ground, it is all black and white.

    One more thing, I haven’t been accused of being a troll (that I know of) but I see that thrown around. I don’t know the official definition of Troll but as a Hit and Run reader of many years, it is worrisome that the term is used here to refer to somebody who disagrees with you. Of course that label is meant to discount the person you’ve applied it to out of hand. Calling somebody a troll is not a compelling argument. It is name calling.

  264. Ethan,

    So a police state is worse than terrorism, but some of the policies and actions that define it as a police state aren’t?

    Meaning some police state activity is preferable to terrorism.

    This begs the question how much police state would you be willing to accept?

    Well, with the logic stuff I wasn’t stating what I believe about the issue. By the way, I think the issue (here) is whether a police state is better than a single 9/11-scale attack, not whether a police state is better than “terrorism” in general. I was just pointing out that a person, any person, could consider a particular policy not worse than a terrorist attack despite also thinking that a police state would be worse than a terrorist attack.

  265. Ethan,

    I don’t mean to be putting words in your mouth or ascribing particular opinions to you, I’m just disagreeing with your logic.

    Regarding the scope of the issue, since 9/11 represent the single worst act of terrorism to date, I think it is fair to assume that if a police state is worse than 9/11 it would be worse than all other terrorism we have seen before or since.

    I agree it would be possible for someone to hold a certain action as being indicative of a police state and and not worse than 9/11. But to hold that view while at the same time believing that the police state is worse than 9/11 while possible, certainly doesn’t seem logical.

    In fact, much of the thread prior to this has centered on whether or not the NSA counter-terrorism surveillance rises to level of police state activity. I have argued that it does not. This position seems to run quite counter to the conventional wisdom around here. I would also add that the people here would likely hold that a police state action would be worse than another 9/11. In fact that was the position put forth in the original post. And as far as that goes, I agree completely.

    I just don’t agree that it applies in this case.

  266. Regarding the scope of the issue, since 9/11 represent the single worst act of terrorism to date, I think it is fair to assume that if a police state is worse than 9/11 it would be worse than all other terrorism we have seen before or since.

    Ok, as long as by “terrorism” you mean “an act of terrorism” and not “terrorism in general.” Recall that the post at the top framing the thread said “There are worse things than another 9/11.”

    I agree it would be possible for someone to hold a certain action as being indicative of a police state and and not worse than 9/11. But to hold that view while at the same time believing that the police state is worse than 9/11 while possible, certainly doesn’t seem logical.

    It may not seem logical, but it is. From “A is part of B” and “B is worse than C” it simply does not follow that “A is worse than C,” so claiming that someone must (or would likely)believe the latter simply because he/she believes the former two is a misstep. Perhaps an example might help: Billy thinks that a police state would be worse than a terrorist attack (perhaps because Billy thinks that while a terrorist attack may kill a few thousand at best, a police state will harshly violate the rights of millions–and perhaps kill thousands as well). Billy also thinks, for example, that it would be bad if the government were to force people to provide residence to soldiers in peacetime. Why? Because he thinks it is wrong and that it sets a bad precedent. Nonetheless, Billy thinks that forcing people to provide shelter to soldiers is not as bad as flying airplanes into buildings that are filled with people. What’s illogical here?

    Just because Billy believes that a police state as a whole would be worse than a terrorist attack does not mean that Billy believes that each part of a police state would be worse than a terrorist attack.

    I believe that a featherbed is heavy; but this doesn’t imply that I believe that a feather is heavy.

  267. Ethan,

    I’ll grant the point of pure logic.

    In this thread however, those who see the NSA surveillance as a police state action are taking the position that this makes it worse than terrorism.

  268. That last comment should have my name on it.

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