Big Government Counter-terrorism

A fantastic column by Gene Healy about our bloated new national security state:

The system vomits up some “50,000 intelligence reports each year — a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.” Details about December’s “underwear bomber” vanished amid that morass. In the needle-in-haystack fight to ferret out terrorists, we’ve wasted billions building a bigger haystack.

Our interminable war on terror sometimes seems designed to justify every bad thing libertarians have ever said about government. For example, it’s uncontested that the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques came from a training program adopted after Chinese communists tortured U.S. soldiers captured in Korea.

Morality aside, it’s almost impossible to imagine a dumber basis for fighting terror than adopting communist tactics designed to elicit false confessions. … Unless it’s the Hayekian nightmare of spending a trillion dollars and more than 5,000 American lives trying to create law-governed liberal democracies via military fiat.

Yet, it’s usually liberals who report these tales of federal idiocy, and conservatives who resent them for it. “The Washington Post finds waste-in government!” Mona Charen snarks about “Top Secret America.” “They seem much less curious” about waste and abuse elsewhere in government. A fair point, but one that cuts both ways.

But of course we know that deep down, only conservatives care about freedom and limited government.

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