Terrorists and Drug Dealers

I missed the Veterans Forum held at SUNY IT last night. A few Mike Arcuri volunteers and I spent the evening at the last night of Jazz Fest in Utica. As much as watching political debate and dialogue is a very fun way to spend an evening, I couldn't complain about spending an evening with fellow Democrats, listening to great music (if you ever get a chance to listen to Blue Streak with Al Nathan, don't miss it!), eating great Japanese food the Geisha, and be outdoors on a beautiful warm night.

But, Utica Insider (not to be confused with other insiders) did get to the debate and posted his/her comments here. From the description there, it sounds like a replay of the first debate.

I wrote earlier about Terror Plot: England, and today, District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor agreed with many of us that Shrub's Invation of Privacy Program is indeed unconstitutional.

Only someone with criminal activity in mind opposes law enforcement's tool of surveillance and wiretapping. Like any other tool, it can be used to create or to destroy. Used well, criminals get put away. Used poorly, it gets those criminals back out on the streets among us. That's why there's a judge in the process.

As a Counselor, I was required to tell clients that though what they told me was for the most part protected and confidential, there were times that I could break confidentiality. When someone was at risk of being hurt, I could tell. The other instance I had to tell (usually) was when someone handed me a subpoena. But I'd offer and have the reassurance that I would be ordered to talk publicly about private issues only after a judge reviewed the need for breaching privacy.

That was the safe use of a tool. There was a level of protection that ensured as best as it could that the tool was being used correctly. Oversight. Checks and Balances. Radical notions, but as American as the Constitution.

Ray Meier, at the first debate, said that there was a difference between drug pushers and terrorists. Hey, it's your team, Ray, that's calling it a War on Terror... not War on Only Some Levels of Terror That Changes Depending on What We Want to Scare People With Today.

Yes, there is a difference. But England stopped the potential threat with many of the same tools that the Drug Raid in Oneida County stopped the drugs and pushers. And the good guys stayed on the Good Side.

We can't fight our fears by becoming them. We can't fight evil be becoming evil.


Anonymous said...

I think there's a huge difference. War on Drugs is war on something tangible. You recognize drugs when you see them and they aren't tied to your emotions and personal vendettas. "War on terror" is used a lot. It is a war on an idea or a feeling. It has no specific target, is tied to religion, politics and philosophy and can therefore not be won. Actually one thing America's War On's all have in common is they are never winnable because the "enemy" is always reproduced indefinitely. It's like having a war on dirt. You can never win it. Maybe that's the idea. "Terror" is a feeling. It means severe fear. How on earth can you shoot at and win a war on all fear? So the whole concept of this war is touchy feely. If we call it "war on terrorism", it is just as hazey. If somebody agrees with me, they are a peacemaker. If they disagree with me, they are a terrorist. Basically the entire concept is designed to keep people in fear at all times, without knowing exactly what to fear. Machiavelli isn't lacking among this bunch. The other thing all our War On's have in common is people make lots of money participating in the "war".

maimun said...

I agree with what you said about the goals of the War on Terror. It is unwinable and will continue forever because there is always something that will cause terror.

But fighting common criminals (someone else figure out how to define that one!) or fanatic terrorists still involves legal, logical and fair law enforcement techniques. Otherwise, we're no different than what we say we want to fight.