Civil Liberties

Does Concern About Warrantless Searches and Detention Without Trial Mark You As a Right-Winger?

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Because I waded all the way through David Barstow's feature story on the Tea Party movement, which consumed two full pages in Monday's New York Times, I feel a need to justify that effort by posting a few comments. The short version of the story is that Tea Party activists are a diverse group, ranging all the way from harmless cranks to racist conspiracy theorists. Yet Barstow is repeatedly confounded by details that do not fit his easy portrait of right-wing weirdos. He notes that Oath Keepers, one of the groups attracted by the Tea Party movement, "recruits military and law enforcement officials who are asked to disobey orders the group deems unconstitutional," such as "orders to conduct warrantless searches, arrest Americans as unlawful enemy combatants, or force civilians into 'any form of detention camps.'" Although Barstow seems to consider these scenarios outlandish, all three are actual policies that were implemented or at least contemplated by the Bush and/or Obama administrations. And it is hard to see why concern about them is an especially right-wing phenomenon, as the headline on the story proclaims. If anyhing, such civil liberty anxieties are more associated with the left, as Barstow semi-acknowledges:

In some ways…their main answer [to overweening government]—strict adherence to the Constitution—would comfort every card-carrying A.C.L.U. member.

But their vision of the federal government is frequently at odds with the one that both parties have constructed. Tea Party gatherings are full of people who say they would do away with the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax and countless agencies, not to mention bailouts and stimulus packages. Nor is it unusual to hear calls to eliminate Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A remarkable number say this despite having recently lost jobs or health coverage.

Why "but"? Democrats and Republicans both violate the Constitution, though in somewhat different ways, when they're in power. Even the ACLU's agenda is not the same as either major party's. And once you go beyond that group's focus on certain provisions in the Bill of Rights and contemplate the implications of the enumerated powers doctrine, why would you be agree with either party's platform? Also note Barstow's surprise that people could have political principles that they follow even when it is not in their immediate self-interest to do so. 

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  1. Does Concern About Warrantless Searches and Detention Without Trial Mark You As a Right-Winger?

    Depends on whether the current president is a democrat or a republican.

    1. So those of us who worried about this under Bush should NOT worry about this under Obama? Or those of us who worry about it under Obama should NOT have worried about it under Bush?

      1. You don’t need to worry when the right people are in charge.

      2. You don’t need to worry when the right people are in charge.

      3. You don’t need to worry when the right people are in charge.

      4. You do need to worry when the left people are in charge.

        1. You don’t need to worry when crab people are in charge.

          1. You don’t need to worry when crab people are in cars.

            1. You don’t need to whinny when crab people are in bars.

        2. You DO need to worry, because the Lizard People are in charge.

  2. Filthy, tea-baggin, constitutionalistas – Crazy Bill is gunna get you.

  3. Also note Barstow’s surprise that people could have political principles that they follow even when it is not in their immediate self-interest to do so.

    New York Times people are continually astonished that others seriously disagree with them on anything.

    1. Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

    2. Barstow is surprised that some people aren’t whores, easily bought for a few dollars from Sugar Daddy Uncle Sam? Sheese….Barstow, you’re a whore who would sell your soul for a handout. Some of us aren’t for sale.

    3. It’s the darnedest thing. Some of them are poor, but don’t want a handout.

      /puzzled look

  4. Democrats and Republicans both violate the Constitution, though in somewhat different ways, when they’re in power.

    From here it doesn’t look all that different.

  5. Tea Party gatherings are full of people who say they would do away with the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax and countless agencies, not to mention bailouts and stimulus packages. Nor is it unusual to hear calls to eliminate Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A remarkable number say this despite having recently lost jobs or health coverage.

    NIHILISTS!

    1. Say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism. Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

  6. Does Concern About Warrantless Searches and Detention Without Trial Mark You As a Right-Winger?

    Last I checked it marked you as a loony terrorist sympathizing lefty who hates America and believes the Constitution is a death pact and wants the terrorists to win.

    And it is hard to see why concern about them is an especially right-wing phenomenon,

    What right-wing concern do you speak of? Most Right wingers and conservatives don’t seem the least bit bothered by indefinite detention of suspected terrorists.

    Remind me again who was freaking out about the fact that the Xmas bomber was mirandized and not tortured?

    Overall, both parties suck on civil liberties, but let’s not try and pretend like the right hasn’t embraced warrant-less searches, indefinite detention and torture post 9/11.

    Let’s also not pretend that “Warrantless Searches and Detention Without Trial” is a major plank in the tea party platform.

    1. ChicagoTom,

      It is unfortunate, but you do make a good point (not unfortunate that YOU have a point, it is the point itself that’s unfortunate.)

      There does seem to be too much disposition from conservatives to readily accept the notion that people have rights by virtue of a) being a US Citizen, and b) abiding to all the laws Congress and local states pass no matter how nutty or detrimental. Otherwise, you deserve only to have your premises searched with no warrant, your dog shot, your wife and kids terrorized, your assets seized and your ass renditioned straight to Egypt.

    2. Conservatives did not want the bomber mirandized, and torture has never been a consideration. Americans do not torture. As for warrantless searches, a warrant was required for any search, eavesdropping could take place while awaiting a warrant. If the warrant was denied, no evidence gained could be used. As for indefinite detention, that is a recognized rule of warfare; prisoners may be kept until the war is over.

  7. Let’s also not pretend that oppostion to “Warrantless Searches and Detention Without Trial” is a major plank in the tea party platform.

    Fixed my above comment.

    1. “Overall, both parties suck on civil liberties, but let’s not try and pretend like the right hasn’t embraced warrant-less searches, indefinite detention and torture post 9/11.”

      Totally. That is why all that kind of stuff ended when the Left took over in 2008. Right? Right?

      The majority of the people, for better or worse, really don’t care about warrantless wiretapping or indefinite detention. That is why nothing changes. Civil libertarians have lost that argument and would do well to concentrate on things where they can win.

      1. Last I checked, the National Review has been going ape shit on the current administration for not torturing Mutallib. Dick Cheney was cheered on by people on the right for stating that he thought the Bush administration didn’t torture enough.

        1. Mutallib has been turned over to the Pakistanis. So, I doubt he is having a very good time. And Obama still has a high value target interrogation team that uses “enhanced techniques” whatever those are.

          NRO is just scoring cheap political points. And Obama is trying to have it both ways; talking a good game to keep people like Tom happy while in reality not changing much.

          Most people support torturing or shooting terrorists on site. They really don’t care. Be nice to KSM is a dead political loser and Obama knows it.

        2. The odds that Mutallib isn’t being tortured (as defined by the anti-Gitmo crowd) are rather small. Obama is just outsourcing it to the Paks. Fierce moral urgency Deniability, you know.

      2. “”The majority of the people, for better or worse, really don’t care about warrantless wiretapping or indefinite detention. “”

        You mean as long as it doesn’t happen to them.

  8. Also note Barstow’s surprise that people could have political principles that they follow even when it is not in their immediate self-interest to do so.

    If that surprises him, I hope he doesn’t want to put more power in the hands of the government. After all, what would he expect the people running the government to do with that power, if not enrich their own self-interest?

  9. …note Barstow’s surprise that people could have political principles that they follow even when it is not in their immediate self-interest to do so.

    Yeah, I’m scratching my head over that one too.

  10. You don’t need to worry when the right people are in charge.

    It doesn’t matter how many times you tell me.

    In fact, as soon as I hear this, I *start* worrying.

  11. “Nor is it unusual to hear calls to eliminate Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A remarkable number say this despite having recently lost jobs or health coverage.”

    Really? From reading the Reason comment thread I thought all Americans were lazy communists looking to suck off the government tit. I am shocked there are such people out there.

  12. Eh. Barstow is no dumber than anyone else who believes that “left” and “right” are meaningful descriptive terms into which any political belief can somehow be shoehorned.

    1. Statist would actually describe the majority of the American Liberal and Conservative movements.

  13. You don’t need to worry when the right people are in charge.

    It doesn’t matter how many times you tell me.

    In fact, as soon as I hear this, I *start* worrying.

    When I hear this, I have to work hard to NOT start crying

  14. Also note Barstow’s surprise that people could have political principles that they follow even when it is not in their immediate self-interest to do so.

    But it is in my immediate self-interest to not be a slave with full employment vs. free with an uncertain future.

  15. “”Does Concern About Warrantless Searches and Detention Without Trial Mark You As a Right-Winger?””

    If you are concerned that someone might end them, you’re a right-winger.

  16. The crazy part are the people that do support warrantless seraches and detention without trial like to wear American flag pins and think they are following American and/or christian values.

    The new line is, if being hung from a cross was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us.

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