Sunday, October 25, 2009

Civil liberties 1, Katie 0

Alternate title: The taste of crow, unsalted

flying imams

Ken Avidor graphic

In a column that Spot hopes was therapeutic for Katherine Kersten, she bellows and roars about the vindication of the flying imams where it really matters, in court:

The "flying imams" and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are declaring victory in their legal war against law-enforcement personnel and safety procedures at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Their "victory" -- aided and abetted by a judge arrogantly dismissive of law-enforcement realities -- is a major setback for transportation safety.

The case made news three years ago when the six imams were removed from a U.S. Airways jet after passengers and airline employees reported that the six were engaging in suspicious behavior, including changing seats into a so-called 9/11 pattern; cursing the United States and its conflict with Saddam Hussein; chanting "Allah, Allah" when boarding was called, and unnecessarily requesting seat-belt extenders that could be used as weapons.

Katie was “all imams all the time” for months after the incident occurred.

This is remarkable writing, boys and girls. In the span of two short paragraphs, Katie manages to defame a federal judge and make misleading statements about the law so as to confuse some of the dimmer bulbs who read the Strib even further about the case. Doubt it? Just read some of the comments to Katie’s column about “liberal” and “Clinton” judges.

Every search, seizure, or arrest without a warrant that ends in litigation has a judge passing on the conduct of law enforcement authorities that took place at the time. There is no way to avoid that unless you are willing to cede unlimited authority to the police. Spot doesn’t know about you, boys and girls, but he doesn’t think that’s a very good idea.

If you don’t have the courts cutting through whatever hysteria is afoot at the moment, what do you get? Well, you might get police officers citing motorists for not speaking English as was done in Dallas. Come to think of it, some of Katie’s commenters are probably okay with that, too. But probable cause or suspicion justifying a stop has to be in the eyes of reasonable people, not the xenophobics.

In passing on the conduct of law enforcement officers, though, the court does not Monday-morning quarterback or operate on the basis of hindsight. In determining whether a stop or an arrest was justified, the court focuses solely on what the officer knew, or should have reasonably known, at the time of the incident.

Of course there was a substantial record amassed in discovery proceedings: there were lots of witnesses, but it was all directed to the issue of what was the picture presented to the officers at the time to determine whether their warrantless action was justified by exigent circumstances. Katie’s remarks are either contemptibly disingenuous or remarkably ignorant on this point.

The same can be said of her remarks about Judge Ann Montgomery. Spot assures you, boys and girls, that Judge Montgomery is not arrogant. Certainly not compared to some wing nut columnists that we might mention.

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