Ve Haff Vays Uff Makink You Talk!

Legal Note

It seems that certain lowlife slugs employed by a certain government agency--okay, it's the DEA--loiter about at airports, looking for travellers who fit certain profiles--such as they happen to be the "wrong" color, or are flying a quick turnaround, or pay for their tickets in cash (heaven forbid!). In the mind of a DEA agent (supposing for a moment that a real thing, represented by the noun phrase "mind of a DEA agent," actually exists), these travellers are already convicted. Of what? Well, of being, you know, something.

Such "reasoning" would never hold up in a court of law, you're thinking. You're right. That's why the seizure laws are written in such a way as to do an end run around due process. In the goofy yet dangerous world of seizure law, suspicion=conviction. If you share a characteristic or characteristics with some abstract profile (abstract in that no such thing as a "profile" exists in the real world, any more than there exists a real person who is "the average citizen" or "the typical consumer"), you are automatically guilty. You are guilty of a crime of definition, not commission (not even omission, you Catholics out there). If you fit a profile, they're going to take your money--or your car, boat, plane, house, or whatever else they see that interests them. For--and here's a great idea--law enforcement agencies themselves are the beneficiaries of these laws. That's right, the agencies get to keep whatever they seize. Often they even have quotas. That's going to make for just and impartial enforcement of laws, isn't it?

The government actually pays bounties to airline employees who tip them off to travellers who fit the defined profiles. That's how, for a little bit of blood money, W got ratted out.

But wait a minute! Doesn't the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution say, "No person shall be...deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law?"

To which the Federal answer these days is: "Constitution?"