The Sensible Knave

"I do not see that we are further along today than where Hume left us. The Humean predicament is the human predicament." - W.V.O. Quine

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Killbot Factory Alert

From Talkleft:
[Section 605 of the House version of the Patriot Act renewal legislation] calls for the creation of a Federal Police Force. Your imperial presidency at work.
"A permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division,'" empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence" ... "or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."

Well, do they mean "warrant", or "a warrant"? I don't know how arresting someone who has committed or is committing a crime in the presence of an official could be unwarranted. So let's be charitable and presume that they mean "a warrant." It has never been required, or even advised, for law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant under such circumstances. Probable cause has long been a sufficient condition for making an arrest outside of a suspect's home.

Reasonable people can disagree about whether we should strengthen individual rights in this context, but this potential development hardly threatens a sea change in civil liberties. Civil libertarians who would like to be taken seriously in the event of an actual authoritarian crisis should take note of this.