Tuesday, July 30, 2002

In the war on terrorism, we have to rely on law enforcement authority to exercise proper discretion in performance of their duties. Just like we do in the war on drugs:

On the morning of July 23, 1999, law enforcement officers fanned out and arrested more than 10 percent of Tulia's tiny African-American population. Also arrested were a handful of whites who had relationships with blacks.


The entire operation was the work of a single police officer who claimed to have conducted an 18-month undercover operation. The arrests were made solely on the word of this officer, Tom Coleman, a white man with a wretched work history, who routinely referred to black people as "niggers" and who frequently found himself in trouble with the law.

Mr. Coleman's alleged undercover operation was ridiculous. There were no other police officers to corroborate his activities. He did not wear a wire or conduct any video surveillance. And he did not keep detailed records of his alleged drug buys. He said he sometimes wrote such important information as the names of suspects and the dates of transactions on his leg.

In trial after trial, prosecutors put Mr. Coleman on the witness stand and his uncorroborated, unsubstantiated testimony was enough to send people to prison for decades.

And if our civil authorities say that an American citizen is really an al-Qaeda terrorist, and can be imprisoned indefinitely for that with no trial whatever, who are we to question?


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