March 08, 2013

Lunatics and Idiots

This Florida bill requiring a search warrant for police use of surveillance drones has a gaping hole in it, to wit, an exception for "imminent danger to a life or serious danger to a property."

In a world where words mean what they say, that might be good enough, but these days, there's a lot of wiggle room in the word "imminent." The White House, in its own generous interpretation, has essentially redefined it as "not necessarily all that imminent," and there's no reason to assume Florida police will conduct themselves differently. And courts, ever deferential to executive conduct, will mostly likely back them up.

But never mind, anyway: the bill's committee is working with the Police Chiefs to eliminate the word "imminent" entirely.

"[Officers] don’t ever want to be in a situation where they’re more concerned about getting sued when they would prefer to be searching for a missing person, responding to a natural disaster, etc.” the Florida Police Chief's organization spokesman says. I guess the devil is in the "etc." there. And I bet they don't ever want to be in that situation. They never are, and probably never will be.

It seems like a pretty good idea to me, nevertheless.

Predictions are hard, especially about the future, but here's a safe bet: we're going to be up to our eyeballs in warrantless surveillance that no court will ever see as Fourth Amendment searches, though they obviously are. The world gets more and more Phildickian with each passing day.

Meanwhile, the readers of Mother Jones can't seem to find one good thing to say about Rand Paul's challenge to executive over-reach or the "lunatics and idiots" who are concerned about it. Pretty depressing. But I learned a new word: fauxlibuster.

(via Reason.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at March 8, 2013 09:48 PM