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Exposure of Recent Terrorism Plot: What Does It Prove About the Bush Administration's Policies?

The recent news of a terrorist plot to detonate airplanes using liquid explosives is still developing, but already, some  bloggers are discussing whether the exposure of these plans vindicates the Bush administration's policies. At Volokh, Jim Lindgren quotes from this Wall Street Journal opinion piece that argues that the plot was exposed because of administration policies that many liberals oppose. From the editorial:

Let's emphasize that again: The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications. Which leads us to wonder if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.

But at Crime and Federalism, poster Mahan Atma gives a different spin: that the plot was uncovered not by surveillance but a tip. Quoting from this Washington Post story:

It all began with a tip: In the aftermath of the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on London's transit system, British authorities received a call from a worried member of the Muslim community, reporting general suspicions about an acquaintance.

Atma continues:

That’s right: It started with a TIP! In the American legal system, a tip -- along with some basic corroboration -- is a classic way to develop probable cause, and thereby to obtain warrants for searches or wiretaps. In other words, the plot wasn’t discovered by massive, nationwide wiretaps or datamining bank records. It was uncovered by classic law enforcement techniques.

It's still too early to determine what actions contributed to the exposure of the liquid explosives plot. But expect the blogosphere to continue to debate these issues as the story unfolds.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 11, 2006 at 05:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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