January 07, 2004

Real Libertarians, Help!

from - smijer

Actually, anyone who advocates for individual rights and the rule of law, whether ye be liberal/ACLU, small government conservatives, or real libertarians... there's something I am not understanding.

While I was researching libertarian views of Boortz, I ran across a liberal/ACLU type giving Neal a real thrashing here. The author (Justin is his name) quotes extensively from a recent Boortz "Nuze" page where Boortz is decrying objection to FBI snooping at anti-war demonstrations. The quote ends with this question from Boortz: "So, who wouldn't want them investigated by the FBI?" Justin answers, "Oh, gee, I don’t know: maybe a self-described 'libertarian' who advocates strictly limited government and regards such surveillance as impermissible, in principle."

Now here is my question. It is a sincere one - not rhetorical. I really want to know. What is fundamentally wrong with the FBI snooping at anti-war rallies, or around their organizations, so long as they observe due process where it is called for?

I'm all for due process, and I'm all for civil liberties without intrusive government. But law enforcement and defense intelligence has to do its job, right? And as long as they are observing due process, we shouldn't be too upset about that, right?

I mean... the main point of Justin's article, and probably the part a liberal like me should be the most agreeable to is the only part I don't get. What am I missing here, folks?


Posted by smijer at January 7, 2004 08:19 PM

This is easy. Justin clearly identifies himself as someone who feels his rights were violated, so obviously, his opinion is wacked on this one.

Clearly, the rights that are gauranteed by the bill of rights mean nothing if, by word or deed, they are waved. We cannot invite soldiers to stay invite soldiers to stay in our houses, then the next day, sue.

If you stand on a city street and chant "Kill Bush," which many of these protesters did, then you cannot be blamed if you attract the attention proper authorities.

This is the heart of personal responsibility. If you wish to speak publically, then you must be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions. Note that the government cannot take action upon you directly, but if you are committing other crimes, they are completely free to investigate you, and to prosecute you.

Note that nowhere was any punitive action taken. These people were not thrown in jail, with the exeption of those who were disrupting traffic, or violating other laws. They just attracted the attention of our intelligence agencies.

The track record of those agenicies lately leave little to worry about, even IF you attract their attention.

univar.jpg Posted by CJG on January 7, 2004 09:59 PM
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Since you asked, it seems to me that nothing is fundamentally wrong with the FBI 'snooping' around group of demonstrators so long as due process is observed. Perspective is usually what makes the difference in how things are received. Now suppose that these protestors were standing outside Justin's home or work-place and crying, "KILL JUSTIN". Do you think Justin would then have a totally different attitude concerning the role of government and government protection?

univar.jpg Posted by Jan on January 7, 2004 10:40 PM
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Well, you did not exactly ask a non-libertarian to respond, but I am for liberty. Will that qualify me to give an answer?

univar.jpg Posted by Jan on January 7, 2004 10:49 PM
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I'm not someone who "distrusts" the government, but let me take a stab at this....

Let's take the scenario that you are in your car just driving around..a cop decides to pull you over for no reason and then searches your car and finds cocaine..what happens? Well, most likely you'll be out your cocaine, but won't get changed for anything because the cop didn't have "probable cause" to search your vehicle.

The parallel to the anti-war rallies and offices is where is the probable cause? All these people are doing is exercising their first amendment right to express their opinions. The signs were harmless..a bit strong in language and over the top, ridiculous, but for purposes of law enforcement, harmless.

univar.jpg Posted by Manish on January 8, 2004 12:50 AM
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The FBI snoops. That is its purpose. Therefore there should be nothing wrong with them infiltrating churches, family picnics and class reunions. They should also be free to tap our phones and read our mail. After all it is for our own good and we have nothing to worry about as long as we have nothing to hide. Right?

Believe me. The guys we need to be worrying about are not standing on the street corner yelling "Kill Bush"! They may be quietly learning the proper technique of the use of box cutters and how to fly but not land 747's down in Florida.

Wherever they are and whatever they are doing you can be assured that buildings will fall and people will die before the FBI is aware of them.

univar.jpg Posted by boortzlistener on January 8, 2004 09:10 AM
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"The FBI snoops. That is its purpose. Therefore there should be nothing wrong with them infiltrating churches, family picnics and class reunions. They should also be free to tap our phones and read our mail."

As long as they have probable cause, and observe due process, then yes. For a phone tap or to read our mail, etc, should require a warrant. That's part of due process. Do you think that they should not be able to investigate even with due process?

univar.jpg Posted by smijer on January 8, 2004 09:16 AM
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Due process does not worry me. The Patriot Act will take care of that little nuisance.

It is the probable cause portion that is wide open. Going 20 MPH in a 15 MPH zone is all the law needs to pull you over and hassle you to no end. Probable cause is the easiest thing in the world to come up with.

Protesting at an anti-war gathering gives "probable cause".

univar.jpg Posted by boortzlistener on January 8, 2004 09:41 AM
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Not to put too fine a point on it, but "probable cause" is a part of due process. Perhaps a lax interpretation of "probable cause" undermines due process. I'll mull that over.

univar.jpg Posted by smijer on January 8, 2004 09:52 AM
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Actually, the precedent is what scares me. Unless they suspect a real crime, they really shouldn't be there. Plus, there are enough unsolved real crimes out there they could be looking into solving instead of wasting their time looking for crime that isn't necessarily there.

univar.jpg Posted by SayUncle on January 8, 2004 10:04 AM
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Continuing on with precedent thought process, there have been a number of countries where it was very common practice for the government to pay close attention to the type of meetings that were being held, who attended the meetings, and who the people that attended the meeting associated with after the meeting. This watching process was often followed by a knock at the door in the middle of the night.

Outlined in the constitution are a couple of basic rights: freedom of speach, freedom of peaceful assembly, and probable cause for the government to arrest you.

If you are attending a legal assembly, and conducting yourself in a lawful manner, what right does the government have to take note of your name, address, and people you associate with? What is the government going to do with the information? Who is going to have access to the government records and for what purpose?

If we look back at our own history, the government used their surveillance to allege who potential communists were (often on heresay evidence), and then threatened them with public humiliation, blacklisting, loss of the ability to earn an income, and jail.

I believe what it comes down to is that by saying "it's alright to infringe on that persons rights because we don't particularly like or agree with his/her beliefs", we open the door for the government to expand its ability to trample the rights of everyone.

univar.jpg Posted by Mike on January 9, 2004 12:03 AM
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I don't usually dreg up old threads... but there is something about this to keep in mind. All I can see in the thread of links is that demonstrators were being investigated. I don't see any indication that they are being investigated for demonstrating. I see a lot of parallels between this and the investigations of eco-conferences.

The FBI had a legitimate probable cause reason that couldn't be revealed for years -- they were on the track of the Unibomber. They were on the right track, also, because Kaczynski was attending protests related with Earth First! and there is significant cross-networking between eco-protest groups and eco-terror groups.

There were a small portion of principled pacifists at the protests. There were a much more significant portion of anti-American groups, and these groups cross-network with pro-Islam groups, of which a portion are (were) bona fide fronts for terror organizations (like the Holy Land Foundation here in Texas.)

If you associate with terrorists, you are likely to be investigated. If the FBI is being fair, when it becomes obvious that your connections don't deal with terror and just the front, then they should lay off. But that doesn't mean that the lead shouldn't be followed.

univar.jpg Posted by Phelps on March 19, 2004 06:23 PM
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