Nobody saw this one coming: The Fourth Circuit shows some serious moxie and asks for briefs as to whether it should vacate its (awful) decision as moot; this will make the government put up or shut up as to whether it plans to waive any claim to label Padilla as an ‘enemy combatant’ in the future.
This is a story the AP screwed up in two significant ways and they will soon be releasing a revised, corrected version. First, Chief Fernandez called AP to complain that he did not say that the Miami police would be stopping and demanding identification from people. Second, [executive director of ACLU of Florida,] Howard [Simon] was not told of the alleged stop and ID plan when he was contacted. Howard has talked to the reporter and will now be quoted as saying “If the Miami police plan on stopping people and demanding identification without any reason to believe that there is criminal activity, that is unconstitutional.”
Sounds like maybe it’s all a a false alarm!
Update: Here’s how the start of that AP story reads now:
Police are planning “in-your-face” shows of force in public places, saying the random, high-profile security operations will keep terrorists guessing about where officers might be next.
As an example, uniformed and plainclothes officers might surround a bank building unannounced, contact the manager about ways to be vigilant against terrorists and hand out leaflets in three languages to customers and people passing by, said police spokesman Angel Calzadilla. He said there would be no random checks of identification.
“People are definitely going to notice it,” Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said Monday. “We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don’t want people to feel their rights are being threatened. We need them to be our eyes and ears.”
The Bill of Rights – Security Edition is a single sturdy metal card, 2.5 inches across by 3.5 inches high. Each one is shipped with a fine plastic sheet on each side to protect it from minor scratches.
Update: Did I mention it is guaranteed to set off metal detectors, especially at airports?
Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.
Leaving aside the obvious point that this won’t deter terrorists, who will obviously have some sort of fake ID, and who by implication have already braved the cameras that are always running in banks, this plan sounds like an organized series of illegal suspicionless search.
We accept the dragnet approach to stopping cars on the roads due to the legal rule (legal fiction?) that driving is a ‘privilege, and hence more regulable than, well, walking.
But that rule doesn’t apply to walking. Although the devil is always in the details, so one needs to know more before taking any firm stands, I don’t see the legal (or constitutional) justification for this dragnet approach to pedestrians.
If so, this plan is ripe for challenge, although I wonder if the 11th Circuit is likely to be the most hospitable place for such a law suit.
Writing in the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh has a must-read temporarily online. Among the main points: allegations by (CYAing?) unnamed former policy people that Bush sees Iraq as a holy war, or at any rate that he is not listening to any bad news about it. More credible stuff about how the armed forces are not reporting key statistics to the public, and how the US is dumping tons of bombs where the media isn’t looking; plus bonus info on who decides where they should be dropped today, and who may be doing that tomorrow.
The general tone is that Iraq is now a full-fledged Vietnam, complete with a case for bugout and a late Nixon in the White House. There’s even a suggestion that Syria is being treated like Cambodia, complete with covert border raids by US special forces. (If not Syria, then it would be Iran, wouldn’t it?)