Bill West on The Counterterrorism Blog explains why random subway searches are a bad idea, if not downright stupid.
The likes of me, a 29-year law enforcement veteran who spent half his career working organized crime and national security cases, has found common ground with the ACLU. I’m talking about the random police searches of bags conducted in the New York subway system recently implemented as a result of the twin terrorist attacks against the London transit system in July.
...mass intrusion, for security, into our individual liberties by government, even if it’s slow and subtle, that should concern all of us. We do live in the 21st century, and the founders of our country never envisioned the possibility of mass destruction, but this is still America and we live under that remarkable document known as the Constitution. Unfortunately, so many Americans have so little understanding of a document which perhaps means more to all of us than any other. Americans must demand security and protection from their government, at all levels. That is the most primary and basic duty and function of government. However, that security and protection must not be done at the expense of individual liberties provided by our Constitution, and Americans should remember that while there are many good people in government service, in America, government itself exists to serve the people, not the other way around, and unfortunately sometimes even some of those good people in government forget that.
...Do most Americans really want police and security officers watching them on a TV camera as they walk down every street in every city in the country? As they walk into every building, get into every stairwell and elevator? What happens when the innocent college student running late for an exam nervously fumbles in his backpack and wires from his i-Pod show up on the street CCTV as he looks for a book on his way to school? The student just happens to fit a general description of a general suicide bomber alert issued the day before, yet he’s been attending that school for several years and walking the same route all that time.
...I wish more Americans truly understood how much personal freedom they are guaranteed under the Constitution. Terrorism threats argue in favor of more government and security. Some would argue that is part of the victory the terrorists seek against us. Ironically, the true American spirit has always argued in favor of less government and reliance on individual citizens to be responsible for their own lives.
This is a remarkably well written piece, and I recommend reading it in entirety. I know, the argument is not new, but then why are so many Americans forgetting such a basic principle that makes this country such a grat place to live and work? Also watch or listen to a serious debate on the issue at Democracy Now. Read also Adam Shostack on Emergent Chaos.