On getting over it

Two weeks ago on a cross-country flight I checked three bags, and when I unpacked I found three printed memos from the Transportation Security Administration indicating that they’d each been searched.

Now, my bags contained nothing but used clothing, as a scan probably revealed, and I’m a Baby Boomer with no criminal past. So the traditional legal standard for police searches–probable cause–offers nothing to justify uniformed apparatchiks running their paws through my shirts, shorts, and undies. Apparently I was asleep when the Fourth Amendment was repealed.

I didn’t boil my clothes afterward, but I have to say I’m irritated by this incursion into private space. Worse, I flash to the advice of Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court associate justice, when he was asked a few years back about lingering anger over the disgraceful 2000 ruling he signed that gave the presidency to George W. Bush. “My usual response is, get over it,” Scalia said.

Now, “getting over it” can be the voice of maturity, sympathetic words to console and encourage a child. But it can also counsel acceptance of the unacceptable. And there’s entirely too much of that sort of “getting over it” going around.

Consider the refusal of the Obama administration to tell the public just what basis it uses in deciding whom to kill. That formulation is a little bald, but basically accurate. Lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times sought to force the administration to share its legal rationale for targeting and killing individuals targeted as enemies.

Included are U.S. citizens, notably U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, both killed in separate 2011 drone strikes in Yemen.

This is a big deal. Normally, when the government kills a citizen it’s called capital punishment, and happens only after criminal indictment, trial, Continue reading “On getting over it”