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Byron York writes in the Washington Examine regarding liberal Portland’s politically correct refusal to cooperate with the FBI on antiterrorism:

In 2005, leaders in Portland, Oregon, angry at the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror, voted not to allow city law enforcement officers to participate in a key anti-terror initiative, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.  On Friday, that task force helped prevent what could have been a horrific terrorist attack in Portland.  Now city officials say they might re-think their participation in the task force — because Barack Obama is in the White House. . . .

What is ironic is that the operation that found and stopped Mohamud is precisely the kind of law enforcement work that Portland’s leaders, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, rejected during the Bush years.  In April 2005, the Portland city council voted 4 to 1 to withdraw Portland city police officers from participating in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Mayor Tom Potter said the FBI refused to give him a top-secret security clearance so he could make sure the officers weren’t violating state anti-discrimination laws that bar law enforcement from targeting suspects on the basis of their religious or political beliefs.

Other city leaders agreed.  “Here in Portland, we are not willing to give up individual liberties in order to have a perception of safety,” said city commissioner Randy Leonard.  “It’s important for cities to know how their police officers are being used.”

Bush was wrong, terrorists don’t hate us because our freedom.

And Obama (and his liberal followers) are wrong, in that terrorists don’t hate us because we’re mistreating certain Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, though that is their contemporary pretext for attacking the United States and Europe.

Muslims hate us because we’re not Muslim.

The more radical (i.e., pious) ones believe this justifies terrorism.  The less radical believe that they must conquer us through persuasion, coupled with the ongoing demographic and moral collapse of the West.  They hate the West because, historically, the West was Christendom, the great anti-Muslim force in history.  It was other things, of course, the land of Michaelangelo and Kant and Issac Newton.  That is, our identity was not solely anti-Muslim, though it was primarily Christian.  And this Christianity required it to be anti-Muslim in self defense, which the West accomplished with great energy at Lepanto, Tours, and Vienna, as well as the Crusades.

After the Enlightenment, the West lost its way a bit; it stopped being self-consciously Christendom, but it never stopped being the dominant, attractive, wealthy, accomplished, anti-Muslim citadel to which the entire non-Muslim world looked to for leadership, technology, and also a bit of envy. We outshone the Muslim world, and this was unbearable to a people whose political, economic, and social system was supposedly divinely ordained, allegedly a formula not only for other-worldly happiness but also for worldly success.

Portland thought it was safe from this kind of thing because it felt so guilty for being Western and so consciously and publicly distanced itself from Bush’s wars to inculcate western freedoms to illiberal Muslim lands.  But Portland’s deracinated leadership forgot one thing:  that sometimes hate and injustice and aggressive rage arise naturally and predictably from the Others whom they hold so high on a pedestal.  Appeasement does not work to appease the uneappeaseable, world-historical program of Islam, which demands complete submission by every person on Earth.

It’s not clear if an event like this, even if successful, can remove the politically correct scales from the eyes of Portland’s leaders.  Theirs is a web of deception that will likely detect, even in this, a clarion call to redouble their efforts of outreach, tolerance, and the like.  Liberalism like that of Portland’s mayor renders intelligent people stupid and blind to basic reality.  It also can render whole societies dead if they do not have a revival of clear thinking and an affirmation of their right to continue to exist in their traditional form.

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FBI agent, Samuel Hicks, was killed this week in Pittsburghwhile serving an arrest warrant in a botched drug raid.  He was 33.  After the agent knocked on the suspect’s door and announced his intention, the suspect apparently proceeded to flush his stash of cocaine down the toilet.  After the suspect didn’t answer, they were shot by the suspect’s wife when they came through the threshold.  The arrest went down using the “knock and announce” tactics and non-SWAT gear that libertarians have long asked for.

For years now libertarians have complained about “excessive force” in drug raids, including SWAT teams’ use of AR-15s and full body armor.  Even now, libertarians pretend that drug dealers’ sordid lives are equal in social value as those of FBI agents, blaming the FBI agents for their raid tactics rather than looking at the long string of criminal, illegal choices that led to the suspect’s position on the wrong end of a raid in the first place.  I wrote in an earlier entry–an adaptation of which was published in the Washington Post–that not only are police using less force today than in the past, but that the displays of potential force in a typical SWAT raid actually reduce violence compared to alternatives by encouraging submissive behavior by suspects.

The moral compass of libertarians is more than a little off course, and that is why they remain a fringe movement in America’s public life.  Even people that recognize police and the state need to be restrained by generous protections for civil liberties do not typically believe that the lifestyles of drug dealers are the reason why; instead, these rights are protected because criminals as a whole act as surrogates for other members of society who may have encounters with police.  Undeniable criminals’ civil liberties are respected because innocent people too may be arrested, not because accommodating crooks and allowing them to run wild is an end in itself.  The libertarians’ silence on the Hicks’ case as the facts have come out is noteworthy.  The pro-drug-dealer libertarians of the CATO Institute make a big show of every mistaken drug raid, while ignoring the many cases of brutal drug dealer violence against police and one another. Libertarians ultimately have a maudlin view of drug dealers, whose “natural rights” to deal crack are somehow being infringed.  This is of course a ridiculous position, that makes little account of the rule of law, and ends in the absurd equation of the moral status of violent, greedy drug dealers with that of sworn FBI agents enforcing our democratically enacted laws.

Update and Response:  Radley responded at length to my past, as have many commentators below. 

One line of argument raised by Radley and many commentators below is that these raids are unnecessary and suspects could be taken on the streets.  That may be true and safer in some instances, but I think this sets up a false dichotomy, and I believe some deference is owed to the experienced folks who have to make these decisions under conditions of uncertainty. 

Further, the question is not “no knock” raids versus “no raids at all.”  It’s “no knock raids” versus “knock and announce raids.” The older tradition of police work was one where suspects had a great deal more fear and thus respect for the police often involved knocking on the door and arresting them without much resistance.  This has changed; it’s not controversial to say criminals in general are somewhat more violent and less respectful of police than they were in, say, the 1950s.  Where a search warrant is involved, the home is where the evidence is.  If the suspect and home are not secured simultaneously, a conviction of someone even for a very violent offense may not happen. 

The safety tradeoffs of public arrests versus arrests at home are not obvious either.  Felony stops and high speed chases are both notoriously dangerous and endanger the community at large rather than limiting the collateral damage to the drug dealers and their associates (as well as the police, who must take some risks by necessity).   

It’s also been suggested that somehow this drug dealer’s wife was some innocent babe in the woods who only cared about protecting her children, as evidenced by the 9-11 call.  This paints a “snapshot” distorted picture of the suspect and his family.  Setting aside the possibility that the 9-11 call that Radley was so moved by was a ruse to drum up an alibi, news reports make it clear that she had expensive tastes and was arm-and-arm with her husband in his drug-dealing enterprise.  There is a chain of choices that led to this incident.  She could have left her man. She could have made an ultimatum and told him to stop dealing drugs.  But instead together they took the major risk that they would someday be raided over their drug dealing gig.  I’ll even concede that drug dealers run higher risks of “home invasion” robberies, but at the same time they also run the higher risk of police running warrants.  If someone busts into my house, I can be 99% sure it’s not the cops.  For a drug dealer, maybe it’s a 50-50 proposition.  So she can’t just claim complete innocence and surprise that people are busting through her door, and it says a lot about her that she’d put these kids in that position.  Home invasions of one sort or another are a risk of the “profession,” and if you tag a cop you should expect to go away a long time. 

This line of argument also risks absurdities.  It’s not clear why these concerns for suspects’ families should not apply in the case of super-violent criminals.  After all, the wives and kids aren’t the serial rapists or bank robbers, right?  I guess the people on the freeway or 7-11 parking lot should be put at risk instead. 

Finally, there is a persistent attempt to connect these raids exclusively with the drug war.  But this is not the case.  Warrants pre-exist the Nixon-era “War on Drugs.” Warrants are mentioned in the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.   In fact, in the recent past, these raids were undertaken with fewer civil liberties’ protections in a milieu of much higher police-on-citizen deadly violence.  Police tactics evolve, and the SWAT raid has the benefit of overwhelming a suspect and making him psychologically ill disposed to shoot at the cops in a desperate Alamo-style showdown. 

The real precipitating driver for the birth of SWAT teams and SWAT tactics were incidents like Charles Whitman’s murders at UT in the 60s and the persistent problem of barricaded suspects in armed robberies.  Once that capability is there, however, there is no reason it shouldn’t be used when practical. It’s obviously quite a bit safer for everyone involved to raid a house using a SWAT team as opposed to two plain clothes Narcotics officers using a Remington shotgun.  (Watch Serpico sometime to get a sense of the 70s warrant-service flavor.) 

I do think a lot of this may come down to optics.  After all, the statistics are not on Radley’s side.  He says, “And even if all of these raids went down exactly as planned, there’s the broader question of whether the image of armed men dressed as soldiers battering down American citizens’ doors some 40-50,000 per year, mostly for consensual crimes, is one that’s consistent with a free society.”  Pace Radley’s point, I find this imagery less disturbing than the imagery of police officers’ funerals.  It is appropriate that some risks are taken by police to preserve evidence while also protecting themselves, and in achieving those goals, we should be generous in our grant of means, equipment, and tactical discretion.

It seems elementary, but highly controversial among libertarians, that so long as a law exists, it should be enforced.  It would not be appropriate for police to decide not to enforce the drug laws, and, most important of all, there is not a hermetical seal between drug dealers and other criminals.  Recidivist drug dealers commit other crimes.  Other types of criminals deal and use drugs.  On balance, drug crimes permit violent and anti-social people to be locked up for a long time on a relatively easy-to-prove charge.  I don’t buy all these guys would be getting masters degrees if drugs were not criminalized.  There have always been rackets, and there have always been greedy, law-breaking people.  I’d rather they be convicted of an easily proved crime than run around pimping prostitutes or robbing banks or doing God knows what else that would be much harder to obtain convictions on if drugs were legal.

That said, I’ll concede that some good arguments exist to decriminalize certain drugs and reduce mandatory minimums.  But the issue of the law’s substance and the tactics used in its enforcement are distinct.  Other criminals whether thieves or child porn possessors or vandals could and should be subject to “no knock” warrants when necessary to preserve evidence and when, as here, it’s the safest way to protect the community at large in the arrest of the suspect.

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This is an amazing story about how the FBI and other law enforcement agencies spent months looking for a white rape-murder suspect in Baton Rouge, Louisiana until DNA evidence conclusively established that the killer had black ancestry. The real killer was found months later. Five women were raped and killed during the wild goose chase for the imaginary white suspect. Discredited folk wisdom that inter-racial rape is rare and that most serial killers are white undoubtedly contributed to this fiasco.

One disturbing example of willful blindness emerged in the article. The original nationwide DNA testing and database system used by law enforcement deliberately did not track ethnic information, even though such information is obviously very useful for law enforcement to clear suspects and also to keep their focus on whoever the real offender is. After years of being told that “race is a social construct,” even police and administrators forgot something most people learn in ninth grade biology:  that our skin color, appearance, and ancestry all correlates strongly with identifiable genetic markers. The article reports:

Tony Frudakis first heard about the Baton Rouge serial killer just like everyone else outside of Louisiana — on cable news. As months went by, the body count climbed, Frudakis followed the case, thinking “why on earth can’t they catch this guy?”

Several years earlier, Frudakis’ father was shot when he confronted a would-be car thief in the driveway of his Long Beach, California, home. The thief escaped but dropped his driver’s license at the scene and was apprehended quickly. The serial killer had also left behind his identification in his DNA but, unlike a driver’s license, his genetic ID revealed nothing about his physical characteristics — or at least it revealed nothing the police could use.

The DNA forensic products available at the time could only be used to match DNA specimens in the CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System, database which contains about 5 million DNA profiles. If investigators have a crime scene sample but no suspect, they run it against those in the database to see if it matches a sample already on file.

But while CODIS is good at linking the criminals who are already catalogued from other crimes, the system is useless in identifying physical characteristics. It says nothing about race. It has been specifically set up to reveal no racial information whatsoever, in part so that the test would be consistently accurate irrespective of race.

But non-scientific considerations also factored into how the system was established. When the national DNA Advisory Board selected the gene markers, or DNA sequences which have a known location on a chromosome, for CODIS, they deliberately chose not to include markers associated with ancestral geographic origins to avoid any political maelstrom.

We’ve overcompensated, moving from a time when law enforcement often employed crude stereotypes against minorities to one where verifiable negative facts about minorities are ignored and suppressed, even when they will aid in the discovery of active serial killers.  Oh well, as the SDS, Lenin, and the other authors of political correctness said so often:  “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”

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Bush’s defense of his more controversial stands in the war on terror has been Clintonian. First, he denies that something is taking place. Then, when that something–in this case, the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” is exposed–he simply denies without explanation a reasonable characterization by critics: these techniques constitute torture. Now, I do not support torture. And, more precisely, I do not support official policies that sanction torture. There may be times to forgive ultra vires actions after the fact; this is different from allowing them in advance. These techniques and policies may be defensible. But Bush does not show respect to his critics or the citizens who elected him by providing such a defense. He never says, for instance, these are regrettable incidents of war, truly dirty deeds that are absolutely necessary. Instead, he just repeats: this is necessary, and also this is not torture. No one is fooled, not even his supporters. This kind of rhetoric has been his hallmark in other contexts; for example, he denied that his nation-destroying amnesty proposal was in fact amnesty.

Framing policies is important. There is nothing wrong with describing them in a manner that reasonably describes them in a way that is favorable. But simply denying reality and ignoring critics and proffering labels instead of reasoned arguments is a sign of decline. It’s a sign of decline in the Presidency and also in the citizens who accept this descent into unreason. Reagan, in describing his various controversial policies–the arms race or cutting taxes and spending, for example–did not deny reality, but instead explained how these policies were necessary and likely to work towards the common good. He acknowledged their essence and did not, for lack of a better word, lie.

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Ace reports an extraordinary story that I’d like to hear the disciples of judicial process and civil liberties for terrorists in the Democratic Party respond to:

Last May, Iraqi terrorists kidnapped three American soldiers.

American intelligence officials searched for cyber-signals about the kidnapping… and actually found them. They found the kidnappers talking to each other on-line.

However, they had to stop listening because the signals were passing through an American-based server and under the law that meant there could be no eavesdropping without a warrant.

So they stopped listening in on foreign terrorists holding kidnapped American soldiers.

For ten hours, officials worked to get “emergency authorization” to resume eavesdropping.

His post, and the evidence in support, is worth reading in full. In an earlier post entitled Wishful Thinking and Terrorism and another here, I’ve discussed some of the issues surrounding this issue.  In short, my view is that combating terrorists located overseas during a time of war, when combined with emerging communications technologies, demands flexibility and less judicial process than the fight against peacetime, domestic criminality. It would be nice if the Democratic Party would grow up and quit acting like this war to protect America from terrorism (and also the exigencies of protecting our troops fighting it overseas) can be carried on effectively without some flexibility in the executive branch and its agencies. Process is not free. We accept this domestically because we, American citizens, might be caught in the law enforcement net. But for terrorists communicating overseas with one another or their agents in America, there are few valuable interests at stake. If any American is talking to Khalid Sheik Mohammad, I want someone in the CIA listening as a matter of course.

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