The real shame of the NSA isn’t that they have been gathering massive amounts of data. The real shame is that somehow an idiot like Edward Snowden was in a position to dump our dirty laundry hamper into the street for everyone to see.
The government necessarily has police powers. You and I can use force in emergent circumstances. The government can sit around, think about it, then decide to use force. Usually it is legitimate, like when they decide to raid a meth lab, or pick up a guy caught on camera sticking up a liquor store.
That power can be abused, too. I do not think every idiot who wants to dodge taxes should be able to declare their work a not-for-profit. It is legitimate for the IRS to use its police power to investigate organizations and make sure they comply with the law. The problem is that the IRS clearly used its authority to hamstring the opponents of those currently in power. We may very well be saddled with the most arrogant, narcissistic, incompetent administration in modern history in part because the IRS crippled the political opposition. Continue reading The True Shame of the NSA
If an American is specifically targeted by President Obama with a missile fired from a drone, and the press ignores it, does it make a sound? The President has taken it upon himself to draft his own guidelines for when it is appropriate to target American citizens on foreign soil. During his administration, a number of American citizens – and the unlucky individuals within the blast radius – have been killed in strikes authorized by the White House.
The reality is that traitorous Americans are going to engage in activity that threatens the US. I feel no particular sympathy for a dead terrorist that just happens to be an American by birth. In World War Two, a large number of Americans went to Nazi Germany to fight, and ended up being killed by GIs, bombed by the Army Air Corps or sent to the deep by the Navy. That’s what happens when you choose sides against your countrymen – your countrymen may kill you in the heat of battle. Continue reading Drone Strikes on American Citizens
President Obama’s executive order calling for the closing of Gitmo has given elements of our political class opportunity to let the world know how much they dislike violence, particularly torture. I say good for them. Violence is bad. So is torture.
In fact I think all sorts of things are terrible. Incarceration is horrible. Handcuffs are horrible. Getting shot is horrible. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances, these horrible things are less horrible than the alternative.
Searching a car is normally unacceptable unless you have probable cause and a warrant. Blowing up a building is normally unacceptable, unless it is reasonably believed to be full of enemy combatants. Shooting a man is normally unacceptable, unless that man is pointing a gun at you.
Following this logic then, there would be a set of circumstances where digging into a human being with a number two pencil might be acceptable if you reasonably believed there was a ticking atom bomb and the dude knew where it was hidden. Continue reading Tim’s Torture Matrix