Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Searches and more searches

Et tu, Wall Street Journal? Last week it joined with other conservatives in criticizing the ACLU's opposition to the NYC subway searches.
The Other War
The ACLU thinks cops are a bigger threat than terrorists.


BY DOROTHY RABINOWITZ
Thursday, August 11, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

... A solemn handful of plaintiffs surrounded New York Civil Liberties Union head Donna Lieberman last week as she announced the agency's latest lawsuit--this one targeted at new procedures allowing for the random inspection of bags carried onto the subways. This will not come as a surprise--the agency has had an exceptionally busy few years, since 9/11, campaigning against expanding police powers, increased surveillance and other antiterror measures, all of which, the NYCLU and likeminded watchdogs regularly inform us, pose a greater danger than any that might come from the terrorists themselves. How Americans of normal intelligence respond to this reasoning should make entertaining reading someday.

Most of those entering the subways these days are, it seems, unperturbed by the prospect of a bag check, and not a few have made clear their approval of such precautions. Indeed, in its latest war on the security search, the NYCLU has entered on decidedly iffy terrain: one close to home, psychologically, for masses of Americans (and not just those who take city trains and buses), all in a good position to weigh the sort of argument which holds that government security methods are a greater threat to them than terrorism.
I agree with and support the NYCLU's opposition to the random subway searches. My posts on the subject are here, here, here and here.

The WSJ op-ed seems to mock the NYCLU for fearing the searches will turn into racial profiling, but that's the NYCLU's politically correct liberalism showing through. Many of us don't worry about searches becoming profiling, because our sole points are that the searches are unconstitutional and ineffective. I've previously said that I support a form of racial profiling, when a crime has been committed, and there is a good definition of someone suspected of committing it -- but not a vague threat when the suspect's appearance is uncertain.

Yes, the 9/11 hijackers were generally Middle Eastern-looking. But isn't it logical that terrorists are extremely smart and adaptable, and that in the advent of heightened security procedures in New York and London, they'll send operatives who don't have a Middle Eastern look? Take my "Spot the Terrorist" quiz again, and be honest: who can truly say that, as an NYPD who has only a couple of seconds to scrutinize each face, he'd stop any of those men for looking Middle Eastern?

I haven't read that the NYCLU says government searches are worse than terrorists, nor would I agree. But I will say, again, that Islamofascists seeking to conquer the West will settle for the next best thing if they can't win outright: frightening us into permitting our own governments to degenerate into police states.

Security cameras are proliferating in Manhattan, and I confess I have mixed feelings about them. Are they a violation of the Fourth Amendment? I don't know that they would constitute a search, let alone an unreasonable one. Identification, yes, and therein lies the rub: it's too "Big Brother" for a society supposed to be free.

However, a great deal of evidence abounds that they deter crime, particularly in subways, and they have helped identify suspects. This is in sharp contrast to the subway searches which any half-witted terrorist could avoid and bypass. It's true that security cameras will not stop terrorists -- nor will random searches, we must remember -- but they do deter standard criminals who wish to get away and not blow themselves up. This is something to ask Solomon.

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