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Hullabaloo


Saturday, September 11, 2010

 
If We Build It They Will Use It

by digby

Notice how there's no limit to how much money we can spend on this sort of thing:

In line with its "enforcement only" approach to immigration, the Obama administration has increased the number of border patrol agents, most recently as part of a $600 million border bill that passed without much ado this summer. But the rapid expansion appears to have come at a cost. The Los Angeles Times reports that there's been a surge in sexual misconduct and assault cases against Border Patrol agents—a development that some attribute to the increased militarization of the border and greater numbers of inexperienced officers.

..."They see themselves as a quasi-military body defending the country," one political scientist at the University of Texas at El Paso tells the Times reporter. "Add to that the fact that they are expanding rapidly, and you have thousands of rookies who have very little experience."


That's just great. No need to be cool under pressure in this overheated environment. Just hire a bunch of yahoos, give them a gun and immunity and let 'em loose.

The story also points out that the Border Patrol is the second largest police agency in the country after the New York City Police Department, having grown by 9,000 agents from 2005 to 2009 and currently employing 21,000. But there's far less transparency than in most major police departments: unlike most big cities, Border Patrol does not reveal how often it uses force and under what circumstances. And there's very little accountability, because "agents are loath to report peers and juries are reluctant to convict those standing guard along the country's borders."


I've been worried about the encroaching police state --- for which unlimited government spending is untouchable for some time. This, for instance, is from 2006:

I'm personally horrified by the excesses of this administration and terribly worried that the huge bureaucratic domestic surveillance apparatus they are building is going to be impossible to control. I hear tales from all over the country of wads of DHS pork going to local and state police departments to use to spy on their own citizens and we know that at the national level they've pretty much discarded the fourth amendment and have enabled both the foreign and military spy agencies to work within our borders. There's a lot of money and power involved, it's secret and it's fundamentally anti-democratic. We are building a police state and I firmly believe that, politics aside, if you build it they will use it.

That all this has been done by the alleged libertarian small government Republicans is no surprise to me. They have always been about big bucks and authoritarianism over all else.


And sadly, on this issue most starkly, the Democrats have shown that they are no different. In fact, it's something that Obama can point to as the great success of his administration: he solidified a fully bipartisan consensus on the police state. (Not that there had ever been much daylight --- but there was a moment of hope for change for a while there.)




*I also argued in that old post that the Democrats should make a pitch for privacy and populism with consumer protection arguments. It wasn't a bad idea. Too bad they never tried it.

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