Monday, May 29, 2006

David Reinhard: looking for a perp walk

For someone who declares himself a conservative that believes in small government which stays out of the lives of people--David Reinhard sure makes excuses for the FBI's efforts to obtain a random nark in Portland city government.

Reinhard plays the baffled fool brilliantly:

In asking a City Hall employee if she would pass along information about public corruption "relating to people who work for city government" after he showed her his badge and gave her his card, the agent was engaged in basic policing -- basic community policing, even. You would think a mayor who was once a police chief and remains a champion of community policing would recognize this.

Unless, of course, Potter and the city have something to hide?

After all, this is what FBI agents and presumably Portland Police officers do all the time. They head out into the community and meet people -- in banks and private businesses, in government agencies and nonprofits, in one walk of life after another. They let people know what their areas of jurisdiction are and what kinds of crimes they investigate. They tell people to give them a call if they become aware of any suspicious activity that might be worth investigating. They open up channels of communication with potential sources of information and cultivate informants. They put a human face on investigative agencies and make it easier for people to report wrong-doing, since they're not calling a number in a phone book and giving sensitive information to someone they don't know.

So according to Reinhard, the Portland Police Department is eating up man hours driving into the community and asking citizens to just randomly keep an eye on things, with absolutely no probable cause whatsoever.

Not likely.

If the FBI were caught going after the local chapter of the National Rifle Association with absolutely no probable cause, Reinhard would be outraged.

What Reinhard (and many other conservatives, from what I've read) don't get is that this expansion of Executive powers in DC along with the FBI's efforts to go after entities without probable cause can cut both ways. Once there's a Democrat in the Oval Office, they'll have a set of extremely broad powers left over from the current resident. Only then, it won't be quite as politically favorable to the likes of Mr. Reinhard. But it will be too late. The ability for that Democratic President to use the office to go after innocent Americans will be established.

And if they follow the Bush Administration pattern--it will be political enemies who get the focus.

And while Reinhard can't reasonably count himself as an influential voice in the rightwing political scene, he is nevertheless a voice. And that could make him a potential target for an FBI perp walk.

Wrong is wrong, Mr. Reinhard. No matter who is doing it. The FBI and the President are wrong on this. At least try to muster some courage of conviction here and finally shun your personal myopia.

Or at the very least have the courtesy not to paint a target on others that you don't want painted on yourself.