Friday, August 05, 2005


So they did it. The NYCLU has filed suit against NYC in order to stop the random searches of subway riders' bags. This is strange, considering the searches aren't mandatory. There has also been much talk of how ineffective random searches are. A few local politicians are also suggesting targeted searches, or profiling. The NYCLU would definitely oppose this. Other politicians are saying that the police record the race, religion, and nationality of everyone searched (probably to get data aiding the NYCLU's lawsuit). This is absurd on it's face.

Let's look at the effects of the policy. Random searches are a deterrent, to some extent. They are far from ideal, but today's PC crowd finds profiling to be some kind of dirty word, and no government agency has had the courage to do it. Here's my point. When the police do random searches, a potential bomber will be made more nervous and apprehensive. The hope is that this will give the police enough suspicion to single them out for search. Of course, they can just leave the subway, and blow themselves up in any crowded area above ground. That is not what we are trying to prevent, at least unless it starts happening. If we faced a rash of suicide bombing above ground, as Israel has, there would be a hugely different reaction, so let's throw out that last argument.

No policy can be 100 percent effective. The NYCLU is opposing a halting step towards protecting everyone's civil right to life. They seem to froget that the 4th Amendment guards "against unreasonable searches and seizures." The key word there is "unreasonable." Would they have us wait until someone actually blows up a subway before supporting this policy? They wouldn't even support it then, as evidenced by their opposition to airline search policies since 9/11. Let them sue, and hope that the courts find these searches "resonable" under the Constitution.

Bill O'reilly, America's leading and most powerful critic of the ACLU, had on one of their defenders, who actually said "you can't suggest what they're doing is wrong." He was referring to the NYCLU, not the police! This is the mindset we are dealing with. He kept saying that O'reilly was "framing the issue" wrongly, but he had it backwards. I don't know what's in the people at the NYCLU's hearts, but their actions are making us less secure against a very real terrorist threat. For more on this see the STOP the ACLU website; I've linked to their similar take on this.

As with any new policy, it will evolve as the situation demands. There is a profile of a suicide bomber, and it should be applied. The NYPD should not carry the policy on indefinitely, but the threat level may justify it for some time. It is also important to remember that much of their information and investigation regarding terrorism is necessarily classified, for obvious reasons (one would think). The NYCLU suit may jepoardize many NYers lives, while giving a false impression of "protecting our rights."


Kira Zalan said...

First, we must stop pretending that the terrorists so far, by-and-large, have not been of the same ethnic origin. This will reasonably narrow down the search for potential perpetrators. But, it makes ALMOST as little sense to stop every Arab or North African in NYC today as it does to stop every 5th random person. Therefore, the profiling must be even more exact than race to be effective.

Israel has been perfecting the art of profiling, and has successfully prevented El Al (national airline) hijackings since 1970. The profilers are trained to look for signs of suspicious behavior (body language), which provides effective clues of whom to question. Barring exceptional con artists, body language is a dead give away of suspicious behavior. In fact, police officers are trained to look for such clues when dealing with everyday criminals.

The results: plenty of Arabs fly El Al, and yet enough people have been turned away to prevent terrorist attacks since 1970.

So why not fly some Israelis to NYC to train New York’s finest on such tactics?

Chris said...

Great comments, Kira! You make some excellent points, and also have a great blog! I recommend all LEAVWORLD readers to go check it out.

Chris said...

...Or you can click on the link in her name. (duh!)

Scott said...

Ah, but I posit that the NYCLU is protecting citizens against violations of the rule of law.

How so, you say?

If the NYCLU loses, then the NYPD is justified, and continues the policy. However, if they win, then it gets struck down, which in your words would "jeopardize NYers rights". Therefore, we have to assume that the NYCLU would win (that the searches are in fact illegal). I also assume that you believe the searches are necessary, or else getting rid of them wouldn't be a big deal.

If the searches are both illegal and necessary, then the answer should be to change the law, not pretend it doesn't exist.

Full argument at my blog.

Z. Jackson said...

Thanks for the comment, Chris...

The NYCLU won't win this lawsuit, the searches are both legal and necessary, and I'm fairly sure the NYCLU knows this, in fact. In my mind, the NYCLU is playing the role of the "fly in the ointment" (is that the way to say it?). Simply by getting City Council to propose keeping data on the ethnicity of searched riders, they have won a small victory for themselves. I don't believe the NYCLU is in this thing to bring about a stop to the searches so much as act as a de facto "ombudsman" (a word I learned just the other day!). To me, this suit is just about one step above frivolous.

Chris said...

I just want it to be known that KIRA ZALAN is posting the same comments, lifted directly off of her blog, on a bunch of other blogs. I've done this before, so I'm not shocked. Usually, I might post an excerpt that's relevant on one or two blogs, where I am known already, and say that I'M POSTING AN EXCERPT FROM MY BLOG (as well as the link). I gave some other idiot hell about this over at LIBERALS SUCK, and he was a conservative, so I don't play favorites when it comes to this. I prefer comments that are inspired by what I write in my post, and not just someone's "pre-fab" ideas on the subject. What this young lady has done demeans my personal take on this issue, by responding to it with a "form letter" comment, the same one that she posted on many other blogs that made different points. I was suckered this time, but will be on the lookout for this in the future.

To ZRJ: Again, you hit the nail on the head; great comments. To Scott: You are spouting GOBBLEDYGOOK, and it's not worth my time to try to decipher it. STOP ASSUMING THINGS, AND STOP THE ACLU, if you have an ounce of common sense!
'NUFF SAID, but feel free to reply.