Friday, August 11, 2006


I can't think of a more apt response to an absurd proposition. What am I talking about? Well it's sort of two things. First, it's the WSJ Editorial and second it's the fact that VC is turning into Instapundit.

I mean I saw it coming a mile away..."AH HA!!! See, if we respected civil liberties then we would have had planes blown up." Actually the WSJ is not much more eloquent than that. They write:
Let's emphasize that again: The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications. Which leads us to wonder if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.
This sets the tone. You can figure out where it goes from there ("He fixes the cable?"). Lest the talking points take a hold too quickly, I want to make the folloowing points.

First, IT WAS TRADITIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT THAT NETTED THESE GUYS. Are we clear? British citizens living in England captured by local law enforcement. There were no air strikes, there were no tanks rolling into Liverpool, and the UN Security Council wasn't haggling over how to end the conflict.

Second, surveilance is nothing new. Large-scale surveilance is nothing new. In fact, if the British wanted to, they could have sent Johnny Depp undercover to unfoil the plot. ("That c*******er Sonny Red"). Quite the contrary, what this illustrates is the ability of law enforcement to net the information they need without resorting to extra legal practices.

There's about a billion other things wrong with the editorial, but I'll leave some gems for the commenters.

UPDATE: At least the Guardian is reporting that the Brits may have had an inside man. Ahh, good old Donny one ever believed he was a Fed. Again, in case the point is lost, here in the US we have a long and proud history of using surveilance to take down organizations that don't like to be surveiled. The Fourth Amendment and FISA can stay well in tact while we wage a successful fight to stop those who aim to attack us.

UPDATE 2: Professor Jack Balkin has a more eloquent version of my thoughts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually welcome such editorials, because I think they're a pretty good sign of the desperation to which the conservatives have sunk -- and it bodes well for November. Crying terrorism is the last refuge of a desperate Republican. When their policies have failed, when their pols are at their knees (not to mention their polls), when the rest of America is figuring out their insanity...well, it's time to call the Democrats terrorist-lovers! (A corrolary is their increasingly screeching insistence that "the economy is great! Goddamnit, don't you know the economy is great!?" I swear to God the other day I was reading the WSJ letters section and someone, sans irony, referred to Bush's policies as "taking the economy to commanding heights never befor seen." I nearly spit out my mocha on the N-Judah.)

So, in other words, bring it on. Let's see how desperate you really can get. The Democrats abide, man. The Democrats abide.

8/11/2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. did that last post come from a time machine, circa Oct 2004?

8/11/2006 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Balkin post emphasizes the necessity of surveillance. Surveillance is not really a part of traditional law enforcement, which waits for people to do bad things before arresting them. Surveillance to prevent crime is instead the exception.

Even so, it's not clear whether the British authorities had no intelligence from non-traditional sources, as Armen implies. As those authorities and news reports have repeatedly emphasized, the particulars of the case cannot be disclosed under strict exclusion rules (what is leaked to the media cannot be used in court).

I would suggest we first try to figure out whether the tools of the war on terror aided the investigation or not before we come to partisan pronouncements (ahem, WSJ, Armen).

8/11/2006 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if everything you say is true, you are still putting a lot of trust that the US and British governments will ever tell us the truth about what happened. Doesn't it seem a bit naive to believe anything these governments tell us at this late date?

8/12/2006 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it's naive to believe anything they say--that's just a truism. And you're right: they won't disclose everything. It's a tough position because the governments need to balance several concerns: they should not jeopardize ongoing investigations, they should provide information to the public, and they should not infringe the civil rights of the suspects. And maybe some of those "shoulds" and "should nots" ought to trump others under certain circumstances.

The fact that we won't have the complete truth immediately, or not for a long time, does not excuse spreading innuendo and simply making up your own version. You wrongly equate incomplete disclosure with deliberately misleading the public.

8/12/2006 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can one tell the difference between incomplete disclosure and deliberately misleading the public? The government has been trying to pass off a lot of the latter as the former these days and has thus lost it's right to the benefit of the doubt.

8/13/2006 9:25 AM  

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