To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail

Or, to be more precise but less poetic: “To the law-enforcement agency with GPS devices, every car looks like a terrorist’s.”

Recently, the US Supreme Court ruled against the warrantless use of GPS devices to track a driver’s movements. And now, that noted megaphone of peacenik propaganda, the Wall Street Journal, reports that following the decision, the FBI has had to turn off about 3,000 GPS units that were in use without warrants.

Three. Thousand.

Now, I realize this is a big country with lots of people. But 3,000 seems like an awfully damn big number. I see two possible explanations:

1. We’ve got a plague of domestic terrorism, and Armageddon is just around the corner.

2. We gave the FBI a hammer, and they decided everything was a nail.  

Given the relative absence of things going boom on our shores, I opt for #2. This is why I am skeptical of the War on Terror, why I think the excesses of the Patriot Act are significant threats to our freedoms, and why one of my biggest disappointments with the Obama Presidency is its validation of many of Bush’s worst excesses in fighting terrorism. And why I’m convinced that  it’s a dangerous waste of money to be giving weapons of war to local police departments who don’t need them. And why I’m not a big fan of giving Tasers to the cops.

Because when they get a weapon in their hands, they find reasons to use it. Just ask the UC-Davis Campus Police.

I have a hard time believing that there are enough serious threats to justify 3,000 warrantless GPS tracking devices. It sounds more like a case of spraying everything in sight and asking questions later.  

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