I’ve been thinking a bit about the recent terror raid in New York City. Obviously it’s difficult to form a good opinion or talk too much about this episode because of the limited information we have, but I thought I’d try to post on it anyway just to express a couple of concerns.
It turned out that no weapons or bomb-making materials were found in the raid, and no arrests were reported. According to NPR, some FBI agents felt that the raid was premature, and had actually wanted to wait to conduct the searches. There has been speculation that Obama’s visit to New York may have contributed to an inflated sense of urgency and what turned out to be, apparently, unwarranted fears about an imminent threat from the suspects.
As we have discussed here before, Obama has turned out to be a lot less liberal on national security/ human rights issues than some of us might have hoped, and has expressed support for some of the more controversial emergency measures adopted during the Post-9/11 Bush Administration. He has supported the additional law enforcement and domestic monitoring tools created by the ominously named “Patriot Act”, recently calling for an extension of some of the law’s provisions that are set to expire at the end of this year. The United States continues to employ mercenaries. Most troubling, perhaps, has been Obama’s refusal to disavow the practice of rendition- that is, turning suspects over to foreign dictatorships and the like for the purpose of interrogation.
In any event, I was somewhat concerned by the fact that, although nobody apprehended in the NYC raid appears to have been subject to the legal process of arrest, media reports have suggested that individuals may have been detained without there being any available information about their status:
Several men were reportedly taken away in handcuffs, but, although authorities seized cell phones and computers, no arrests were reported.
Since there seems to have been no physical evidence of wrongdoing or planned wrongdoing, I would hope that all those who were taken into custody were released, and that all suspects’ rights to due process are being preserved. Since Obama has preserved so many of Bush’s extraordinary and extraconstitutional powers (particularly rendition), I realize it is possible that some of those captured in the raid may have simply been “disappeared”, possibly to reappear at some future time after confessions have been extracted.
I’m not saying this is necessarily what happened, I’m just saying that Obama has shown me little evidence that he views these types of covert actions as morally or legally impermissible. Like Dick Cheney before him, Obama seems to have embraced the dark side.
Does anyone else have any thoughts on this situation, or on Obama’s defense of the Patriot Act and other controversial powers? Perhaps it’s all been said already.