Friday, August 17, 2007

Spies In The Sky (And A Mistaken Cartoon Identity)

By Cernig

I'm very flattered that Chris Muir of the conservative-leaning cartoon Day By Day has decided to namedrop not only Newshoggers but myself in his cartoon strip today.

However, to be fair and honest I have to point out that my co-blogger Libby is responsible for the great post I believe Chris is referring to in his strip.

It seems, though, that Libby is in agreement with some very prominent conservative bloggers on this one. Here's Captain Ed:
The Bush administration wants to allow law-enforcement agencies to use military and intelligence satellites as a resource for investigations. Real-time imagery and technology than can look inside buildings and even bunkers could be used to pursue criminal investigations, a boon for law enforcement officials -- but a nightmare for civil libertarians.

While some conservatives undoubtedly would argue that they see nothing wrong with giving law-enforcement agencies access to existing technology, others will rightly object on two grounds. First, the obvious application for the sneak-peek technology would be to avoid search warrants. If probable cause existed for a warrant, law enforcement wouldn't need the satellite technology; they'd simply enter. That's the way it's supposed to work, and has worked well for over 200 years. Civil liberty is based in part on judicial oversight of law enforcement encroachment on private property, which the sneak-peek technology would obliterate.

Second and perhaps more importantly, American legal tradition has separated military and foreign-intel collection from domestic law enforcement, and for good reasons. The Posse Comitatus Act forbids the military (except the Coast Guard, for certain purposes) from acting in a law-enforcement role, except under emergencies specifically requiring martial law. This law keeps the federal government from usurping power from local and state authorities. Since these satellites were launched with strictly military and foreign-intel missions in mind, using them as tools for law enforcement may not entirely cross the PCA, but it gets too close for comfort.

Unless the use of the satellites is strictly limited to national-security applications, such as a counterterrorist operation or immigration enforcement (both of which are legitimate national-security concerns under federal jurisdiction), satellites should not be used as law-enforcement tools. We did not put those military assets in orbit to be deployed against the people of the United States.
Could it be that the Bush administration hates our freedoms, as we "paranoid" lefties have been saying all along?

Update Jules Crittenden continues to be clever about blog names and indicates he thinks "Newshoggers" is an insult to pigs everywhere. I keep wanting to reply in kind by calling him "Jules Cretinhead", but it's something I'm going to swear off from. My wife keeps reminding me: "Who's evolved?"

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