November 29th, 2006


The Real Threat to Our Freedom

As a thought experiment let's look at how the Bush Administration could easily deal with political opponents if it chose:
1. Recruit a cop on a "narcotics task force" to carry out the assassination (this can be someone in the DEA, state police, or one of several police forces in the region).
2. Have an informant make a drug purchase on the porch of the target's house (or just claim that one did).
3. Request a "no knock" search warrant for the house.
4. Have the assassin lead the charge into the house when the target is home.
5. Shoot the target. If target has reached for a weapon in response to intruders breaking down his door it's perfectly legal. Any motion could be interpreted as reaching for a weapon, which makes the shooting justifiable. In the extreme case (asleep, surrendering, etc.) the assassin will have to claim he accidentally fired his weapon while stumbling--but this will only cost him an administrative suspension, easily compensated from the VRWC slush fund.
6. Death of target is mentioned in back pages of Metro section of paper and doesn't make TV at all.
Now, wasn't that easier than convincing the Supreme Court and all the troops involved with holding prisoners to give a US citizen the treatment reserved for unlawful combatants?

Just in case anyone's wondering, I don't think Bush (or Clinton) has done this. Nor do I think cops are committing Murder One under cover of drug raids (though it would be easy, wouldn't it?). But we have a system set up which regularly kills innocent Americans in their homes by accident as the price of keeping the pressure on illegal drug dealers. This is exhibit one in how the War on Drugs threatens our freedom.

Some of the other exhibits include doctors jailed for giving patients pain medication, banning medicines which could be used as ingredients for meth, and confiscating savings which people keep in cash.

Of course, the WoD isn't the only threat to freedom here. Cities can take your house because they want the land to go to someone who'll pay higher taxes. Prosecutors can hound people until they're forced to plead guilty or have their loved ones sent to jail in their place. Useful medications are kept from the market while patients who need them die. Congressmen can pick their voters to assure reelection for life.

So compared to all that, what are the Patriot Act, Gitmo detainees, wiretapping cross-border calls, and the other War on Terror restrictions? Noise. Rounding errors. Nuisances. This makes it hard for me to take seriously the people who carp about the latest development in how we treat our enemies as "a threat to our freedom." That's not what is threatening our freedom.
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