by Lucy Steigerwald
July 18, 2014

As we’ve been told since 9/11, the government needs certain special powers in order to keep us safe from terrorism. The PATRIOT Act, FISA Courts, telecom immunity, the NSA looking at your naked pictures – all of this is made or enhanced in the name of fighting the type of monsters who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. Certainly the Fourth Amendment can be weakened in the name of that most noble of goals.

And man, has it! But as I have previously mentioned in this space, the convenient thing for the security state fanatics is that so much of the anti-terrorism work has been done for them already in the name of another cause all together. Frequently, that would be the war on drugs.

Earlier this month, the Administrative Office of the US Courts released their report on 2013 state and federal wiretaps. A great deal of ventures were excluded from the report, most prominently ones which go through the FISA Court. So, this isn’t a terrorism report. But at the same time, it confirms the fact that government powers – assuming they were well used, effective, reasonable, moral, etc., etc. until the end of time – are not for worst case scenarios. They are not for would-be murderers or terrorists. They are for the current panic of the moment. And the panic that has had legs for decades is the one over narcotics. Eighty-seven percent of the 3,115 wiretaps that took place last year were over drugs. Homicide came in at number three at “less than 4 percent of applications.”

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