Maybe it's too much to hope for more than a prolonged flirtation between libertarians and liberals on the issue of the War On Drugs, but the fact that Radley Balko's blog post at Reason and a diary on Dailykos from the ACLU elicit similar responses from readers gives me hope.

The case in question is the story of Terry Ingle. Police somehow obtained a no-knock warrant despite not, according to the ACLU, "presenting any evidence of why Ingle posed a risk to police safety and without even a specific reference to Ingle, who had no history of violence or drug law violations." A SWAT Team (what the ACLU and Reason define as "paramilitiaries") showed up at Ingle's house heavy and burst in without identifying themselves (the point of a "no-knock" warrant is to allow the Police to do this, supposedly to prevent suspects from destroying evidence or fighting back). Ingle picked up a broken gun to scare off what he thought were armed robbers, and ended up getting shot up so bad he almost lost a leg. The police found no drugs, only a scale and plastic bags that Ingle's sister said was for her jewelry business.

Ingle was charged with aggravated assault for picking up his broken gun, and with "running a drug enterprise" despite the absence of, you know, drugs. The quality of medical care Ingle claims he received is reminiscent of what we provide immigrant detainees with.

While libertarians and liberals might both agree that the War on Drugs has led to some very serious abuses of authority, the relationship might break down over issues that would require more government spending, like transitional services for former inmates. But at the very least, their combined efforts might lead to some accountability for law enforcement policy that has gotten completely out of control.

Similalrly the fact that all four officers in the Sean Bell case were acquitted of any wrongdoing essentially because the officers were "scared" (and so anything they did was justified) suggests that race remains a trump card for those looking to preserve a lack of accountability.

--A. Serwer

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