It is an old Internet trick to decry the “suspicious silence” of your ideological opponents regarding news that appeared a couple of hours ago. This trick was used by John Cole when the Terri Schiavo autopsy came out. But the pinnacle of the format was achieved by our friend Thomas Ellers, known by some as Glenn Greenwald, who excoriated a few of us for not denouncing a blogger calling himself “Emperor Misha” — for comments made while most of us were asleep, getting ready for work, and/or working. When Greenwald pulled this trick, I called him a “douchebag.” That was neither restrained nor civil of me, but many have called it accurate.
For reasons unknown even to myself, I’ll be more civil to commenter “Frank N Stein,” who this morning left the following comment:
In other, more important news, turns out the Atlanta cops lied about the drug buy that cost an old lady’s life. Cue the chirping crickets…
The commenter was referring to this article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a paper I do not read. The story came out this morning, and I was not aware of it when I left for work at about 7:15 a.m. My friends, the comment from “Frank N Stein” was left at 10:51 a.m. Pacific time. Evidently he was upset that I didn’t take time out of my workday to troll the Internet, stumble across the story, and post my reactions.
Well done, “Frank N Stein.” Well done indeed! Rick Ellensburg himself would be proud.
Of course, perhaps Mr. “Frank N Stein” simply meant that he believed I would never get around to commenting on the story. I await his apology with bated breath, because here is my post — written up as soon as I got a chance.
The story deals with the investigation into the killing of that elderly Atlanta woman who shot three cops as they executed a no-knock search warrant on her home. This morning’s story carries a revelation that, if true, is extremely disturbing — that one of the cops lied about the probable cause for the warrant:
An Atlanta police narcotics officer has told federal investigators at least one member of his unit lied about making a drug buy at the home of an elderly woman killed in a subsequent raid, according to a person close to the investigation.
In an affidavit to get a search warrant at the home Nov. 21, narcotics officer Jason R. Smith told a magistrate he and Officer Arthur Tesler had a confidential informant buy $50 worth of crack at 933 Neal St. from a man named “Sam.”
But narcotics officer Gregg Junnier, who was wounded in the shootout, has since told federal investigators that did not happen, according to the person close to the investigation. Police got a no-knock warrant after claiming that “Sam” had surveillance cameras outside the Neal Street residence and they needed the element of surprise to capture him and the drugs.
If the anonymous source is correct, then a terrible tragedy has likely occurred here. If the probable cause for the warrant was manufactured, that is strong evidence that the woman was firing at the police because she believed that they were criminals breaking into her home. If the allegations of the anonymous source are true, then I urge prosecutors to go after the lying cops — hammer and tongs. If a murder prosecution is viable under applicable law — and the story quotes a former federal prosecutor suggesting that it might be — I think it should be pursued. We can’t tolerate behavior like this from law enforcement.
P.S. I know that there will now be a pack of libertarians in the comments screaming that I was wrong and I owe an apology. I sense that it will infuriate them to know that I do not apologize for saying that we should wait for the facts before forming concrete opinions. If you form a firm and unswerving opinion before all the facts are in, sometimes your opinion will prove to have been wrong, and sometimes it will have been right. But the fact that your opinion was right doesn’t prove the wisdom of leaping to unswerving opinions before the facts are in. By that logic, a man who risks his life savings on a spin of the roulette wheel and wins has necessarily done a wise thing. After all, he won, didn’t he?
Those of you inclined to jump down my throat and scream that I was WRONG! WRONG! EVER SO WRONG! might stop for a second and ask yourself whether you were wrong about any aspect of this. For example, did you doubt that an investigation would do anything to get to the bottom of this? Did you ever say: “there’s no point in waiting for further facts, because all that will happen is that there will be a giant cover-up”? If so, then — if the source quoted in the article is correct — you were WRONG! about that. The investigation sounds as though it is yielding results — and if the cops truly lied, and there is proof of it, I’ll betcha there will be a prosecution.
P.P.S. The observant reader will note that, in this post, my opinion is conditioned on the statement “if the source is correct.” That’s because the source is anonymous, so there is a chance we are being fed bad information. I know that not a single libertarian will see this as a possibility. It’s a natural human impulse to be less skeptical of evidence supporting a position that you already agree with. My guess is that libertarians who might normally be skeptical of an anonymous source are likely to display little or no skepticism regarding the statements of this particular anonymous source.
P.P.P.S. I may stop blogging about libertarian topics generally, because people become so personally nasty with me that it becomes no fun running the blog. I said to someone the other day that nothing makes people more unreasonable and nasty than the emotion of self-righteousness, and this (like most libertarian topics) is an issue that arouses extreme self-righteousness in people. (Case in point: a guy I previously banned somehow got through this morning and called me a “filthy apologist for murderers.”) Still, having discussed this topic in the past, I felt an obligation to blog it, and I feel an obligation to leave comments open. One simple rule will be observed: comments that make disparaging comments or references to my job will be summarily deleted. However, comments that merely call me an idiot will remain.