A Few Notes About Obama’s Anti-Terror Plan

So President Obama gave a short speech about his administration’s plan to fight terrorism in the wake of the possibly ISIS-linked shootings in San Bernardino. I don’t know enough about the subject to comment on his foreign policy plans. On the domestic side, however, I saw a few things I want to bitch about:

I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.

He’s not being very specific, but I’m pretty sure this means that the law enforcement establishment is going to take another run at banning strong encryption. The folks in charge hate the idea that regular people might be keeping secrets from them.

Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon?

The argument is simple: “Suspect.” Or if you prefer two words: Due process.

Getting on the no-fly list doesn’t require a criminal conviction or any other kind of due process. It’s done in secret, by secret people, for secret reasons. That means it can happen for any reason at all. Or no reason at all. In one of the few cases where we know why someone was placed on the no-fly list, it turned out that an agent had literally checked the wrong box. Most of the time, we don’t know why someone is on the list, and if you find out you’re on it, the procedure for contesting your inclusion is a piss-poor excuse for due process.

Look, if you want to keep some people from buying guns, we already have a process. It’s called a felony conviction. We do it hundreds of thousands of times a year. The no-fly list is a constitutional abomination that allows bureaucrats to arbitrarily and secretly curtail people’s right to fly. It has no place in a free society, and we should be eliminating it rather than trying to subject even more American rights to its infringements.

We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. […] But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.

So our intelligence and law enforcement agencies can’t find every would-be mass shooter, but apparently stopping them from getting guns is somehow totally doable. Right.

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