TSA, Protector of Civil Liberties and Other Fodder for Madness

Janet Napolitano reveals that the DHS and TSA “don’t do anything without kind of running it through our own civil rights and privacy office.” Thank God Janet is always on the case looking out for our civil liberties. I have asked before and I will ask again: whither reasonable suspicion, if not warrants? Or does the desire to contract with private airlines (or what passed as private before the federal government sunk its cash/tendrils into them years ago) meet the criterion in the eyes of my former governor?

Credit to Radley Balko: Grieving mom crusades to ban grain alcohol after son’s death. All of us have had righteous rage inspire us to action at some point. Some of us campaign, some lobby, some blog. What we must always remember is that the best of intentions and a dedicated insistence on what we believe to be just and good often leads to horrendous suffering and loss. Perhaps the producers of grain alcohol have been negligent in marketing their product as something other than 95% alcohol; if so, demonstrate it and take them to court. As painful as it might be for grieving relatives to admit, perhaps we should also recognize that people make foolish choices, some of which cost them their lives. Grain alcohol is dangerous, yes, and it is far from alone in this regard among consumer items. The question is whether we, as a free society, recognize the right of the individual to endanger his own life through negligence or ignorance or whether we will ignore the historical failures of prohibition and continue down the same sorry path we’re on.

On the topic of postmodern prohibition and also via Balko (my dealer of choice for my daily dose of outrage), perhaps the most telling condemnation of the Patriot Act that you’ll never, ever hear about again: 92% of sneak-and-peek warrants permitted by the Patriot Act are used in the War on Drugs. Less than 1% of such warrants are used in investigations of terrorism, the expressed purpose of the Patriot Act. Good intentions, etc.

The ACLU combats yet another attempt to ban reading material from local jails, this time in Shawnee, Kansas. At first I thought it was happening in Pawnee, but I knew that Ron Swanson would never permit such a travesty to go unpunished.

The NYTimes examines American civil liberties in the decade following 9/11. If you have liberal/libertarian leanings, don’t give up after the first page; it’s worth the read.

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