ACLU Apologist for the Police State?

This one is pretty damned scary:

Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.

There goes the Fourth Amendment and what particles remain of the Fifth.

“People are definitely going to notice it,” Fernandez said. “We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don’t want people to feel their rights are being threatened. We need them to be our eyes and ears.”

Geez, like we need more shock and awe these days. What’s the plan, to intimidate honest citizens into being snitches for the jackbooted thugs. It is comforting to know that they “don’t want people to feel their rights are being threatened” — except for that quirky little 4th Amendment thing.

Howard Simon, executive director of ACLU of Florida, said the Miami initiative appears aimed at ensuring that people’s rights are not violated.

“What we’re dealing with is officers on street patrol, which is more effective and more consistent with the Constitution,” Simon said. “We’ll have to see how it is implemented.”

I’ve been actively supportive of the ACLU on this general issue, as they have been leading the way with respect to fighting the Patriot Act and related infringements of our civil rights. This time, I’ve got to hold their feet to the fire. The admission that the Miami Model is “more consistent with the Constitution” logically means that it is not consistent with the Constitution.

While I’m not at all surprised by another usurpation of our rights as American citizens, I am deeply upset (assuming the quotation above is correct) that an ACLU spokesperson has become an apologist for the police state.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Radley Balko weighs in, saying “If the terrorists hate us for our freedom, then holy shit are we ever appeasing the terrorists.”

Another update by Stephen VanDyke: A modified version of the story in the Washington Post quotes police spokesman Angel Calzadilla as saying “there would be no random checks of identification.” Did the stink on the blogosphere drive them to drop the idea?

Yet another update by SV: Free Talk Live, home of the bestest libertarian talk radio, had a great hour of discussion on their show (MP3 link).

Update by Stephen Gordon: The ACLU is now claiming that Mr. Simon was misquoted. Details here.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. The ACLU took a different view of the “Miami Model” when they filed three lawsuits charging that “officers of the Miami, Miami-Dade and Broward police departments used excessive force to intimidate and unlawfully arrest innocent bystanders and protesters who were exercising their free speech rights during the November 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) ministerial meetings in downtown Miami.”

    From an ACLU press release dated Nov. 17, 2005:

    “Despite the pride that Mayor Manny Diaz and Police Chief John Timoney have taken in the ‘Miami Model,’ trampling on the constitutional rights of demonstrators in order to make downtown peaceful during the FTAA meetings was not a successful police operation,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. “Police officers failed to fulfill law enforcement’s two equally important duties – ensuring the safety of the community and at the same time protecting everyone’s constitutional rights. As a result, taxpayers in several South Florida communities will now be required to compensate people from around the country for the violation of their constitutional rights.” (


  2. good stuff. Let them start with all the freemason lodges first, then move to the FOP lodges, then the PBA MEETINGS, AND THEN LET THEM MOVE ONTO THE STATE LEGISLATURE BUILDING, which is, logically, exactly what the terrorists MIGHT target. That is, statistically, where you will catch these folks, eventually. (See Yeltsin and the Soviet Parliament).

    Of course, this was already done when the Department of Homeland security compiled the names of EVERYONE flying into or staying in Las Vegas. And be it known, the feds REFUSE to purge the list compiled, although no arrest for terrorism was made. This calls into question motive. Were the bible thumpers making a target list, filled with opportunity for unscrupulous law agencies to exploit. Keep in mind cops shake young female drivers down all the time with the “ticket or lick it” play. Some of them just go to the database, a strong argument for warrants for ANY search of a police database.

    So you call it, will the sex trade be targeted, with cops shaking down the latin hookers in the slums? Will they assemble a database of johns? And bear in mind Matrix was conceived in Florida, and FDLE has unequivocally declared they intend to keep their Tourist Information Awareness (TIA)system, born from the bowels of Poindexter’s fecal excrement.

    A cop on every corner?! Bin Laden is laughing his ass off.

  3. I thought it was great to watch the “libertarian” Tucker Carlson report on this story last night on his show, “The Situation.” Max Kelerman told him that the movie Die Hard has taught us all that random police search and seizure is the only way to outsmart the terrorists. Despite the absurdity of Kelerman’s reliance on fiction, I kept listening. Carlson’s unbelievable response was that instead of randomly targeting banks, the police should be targeting Muslim neighborhoods, profiling if you will. There was no mention from this self-proclaimed libertarian of, say, not wanting to live in a police state…

  4. AP misquoted our Executive Director, Howard Simon, and ran a correction on the wire. Can you please clarify this for your readers? Thanks.

    Here’s our response:

    For Immediate Release:
    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    Alessandra Soler Meetze at 305-576-2337 ext. 16.

    ACLU Statement on Miami Shield Program

    There is some confusion over the specifics of the “Miami Shield” Program. Reports differ as to whether the plan involves large squads of officers stopping everyone at a locale and then demanding people to produce identification. Although the Miami Police Department has claimed that “Miami Shield” will respect people’s right, much of its constitutionality will depend on how the program is implemented.

    If police officers plan on stopping people and demanding identification without any reason to believe that there is criminal activity, that is unconstitutional.

    When law enforcement stops people based on individualized suspicion of wrongdoing, that is always both more effective and consistent with constitutional principles.
    Other post 9-11 law enforcement tactics such as randomly searching subway users in New York City or conducting mass pat-down searches of everyone entering the Raymond James Football Stadium in Tampa violate constitutional principles and are a waste of law enforcement resources.