Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Which is more dangerous?

Guns or cold medicine? Which should be regulated in an anti-terrorism bill? If you're like me, you think the Patriot Act extension should fail and be pared way down.

And before you start calling this crazy liberal talk, this is a point that originated Instapundit, not known for his liberalism.

The Patriot Act is a bloated mess, and it always was. There may be some gems buried in there, but there's a lot of dreck that does no one any good, not even law enforcement.

Furthermore, at a time when people are recognizing the inherent problems with the death penalty, maybe we should hold off on expanding the list of death-eligible offenses.

And as more municipalities are abandoning the drug war (at least the marijuana front of that war), it's just petty to redefine drug dealing as "narco-terrorism."

Using a counter-terrorism measure to investigate marijuana smuggling in the Pacific Northwest is nonsense. There's enough skepticism about, and outright opposition to, sneak and peek warrants that they should be used sparingly. I'm sure it's handy not to have to notify people you've searched their place, but convenience isn't what this is about.

The same goes for "national security letters." As far as I'm concerned, these are warrantless searches. The point of requiring investigators to get a warrant is that there's some chance that a judge will exercise some sort of check and balance on police powers. If the FBI can issue letters to itself authorizing a search for materials or documents, it looks a lot like an end-run around the system of checks and balances that has worked for a couple hundred years.

And if the FBI wasn't stretching these provisions to their limits, maybe I'd be more inclined to give them leeway, but that's not how it's gone down.

Rather than a big omnibus bill that no one can process, the Senate should break it down into logical units and debate each part and either approve or disapprove different sections on their individual merits. Until then, I hope that Senators who respect freedom and liberty will vote against the bill and will join Senator Feingold's filibuster.

We'll see what Roberts and Brownback stand for soon, I guess.