Wednesday, November 29, 2006

No-knock warrants cause more harm than the crime

The response to the SWAT team raid just keeps growing. It's being addressed in every corner of Blogtopia. McQ weighs in with another excellent post. He opens with this. "The War on Drugs is a war on liberty and that simple truth is demonstrated almost daily on the streets and in homes around our nation." A lot of his commenters don't get it but he defended his point well. I may have misjudged that blog. He's more libertarian than I thought.

Also weighing in from Rightopia is Glenn Reynolds writing for Popular Mechanics with strong post against paramilitary tactics. Interestingly, he echoes the points I've been making about the nexus between civil forfeiture and the growing prevalence of SWAT teams. As often as he pisses me off, he's always had good creds on drug policy reform and it's good to see him take up the issue. His star may be falling a bit in the blogosphere, but he's still an enormously influential voice and he'll reach a lot of conservative ears. Great closing line on this piece. "Our homes are supposed to be our castles. The police shouldn't treat them like enemy camps."

Blogging from the left, Glenn Greenwald, in a mixed post -- scroll past the Webb stuff -- examines why ending the WOsD is such a tough sell. As he rightly notes, "...what does seem clear is that the greatest impediment, by far, to being able even to discuss the issue of drug prohibition is the moralistic opposition to drug usage coming from the 'religious conservatives' on whom the Republican Party depends." I also see arguing drug use on moral grounds as the biggest obstacle to sensible debate but frankly I don't think it's limited to the GOP or conservatives in general. I've heard similar arguments from non-consumers on all sides of the fence.

Most heartening though, to a jaded reformer like myself, is that the Christian Science Monitor picked up the story and takes the SWAT team and no-knock warrants to task. They offer up this interesting factoid. "The number of no-knock raids has increased from 3,000 in 1981 to more than 50,000 last year." They also have a photo of the victim's home in Atlanta.

I think it's a really good sign that people outside the reform community are finally recognizing that the excesses of the WOsD threaten the civil liberties of everyone. When SWAT teams become the customary avenue for the service of warrants, rather than the rare occurrence it formerly was, it's a sure sign that our police are becoming way too militarized. Today they break down doors over a few grams of marijuana. What's next -- unpaid parking tickets?


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