…And Twenty Years for Revealing a State Secret


Is it utterly impossible to give the Bush Administration any extraordinary power to strengthen its hand against terrorism without having that power used instead for political advantage? There seems to be reason to doubt it. It turns out * that Bush & Co. — in this case, the Transportation Security Agency, over which Bush insisted he needed extraordinary personnel powers — will even threaten to use powers it doesn’t have to punish those who displease it.

The Administration threatening to employ the extraordinarily intrusive investigations permitted under the Patriot Act to figure out which Air marshals complained to the press about leaving key flights unprotected. (No, it turns out that the Patriot Act doesn’t permit such investigations in these circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that the threat is without its intimidating effect.) This is the very same administration that seems so strangely uninterested in finding out which of its senior officials burned a covert CIA operative. *

Remember the fight last fall about whether to strip Homeland Security employees of civil service protection in the name of efficiency? Remember how the chickenhawks successfully questioned Max Cleland’s courage because he stood up to them on that issue? This is why that battle was worth fighting.

[Thanks to The Likely Story for the lead.]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com