Pubdate: Fri, 05 May 2000
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2000 San Francisco Examiner
Author: Tom O'Connell
Note: Headline by editor.


No-knock raids should be questioned in drug cases, too. Christopher
Matthews' column "Photo also showed arrogance of power" (Opinion Page, April
30) speaks volumes about the terrible damage already done to the rule of law
by our flawed national policy of drug prohibition.

Shows of force identical to the one he and platoons of other commentators
are now spilling rivers of ink over are actually routine all over the United
States, and have been for nearly three decades.

Each year thousands of children are psychologically scarred and more than a
few people are shot in the execution of "no-knock" drug raids undertaken by
squads of heavily armed agents. These tactics are justified not only by
safety concerns - as in the case of Elian Gonzalez - but with the ludicrous
excuse of "preserving evidence" - in other words to prevent drugs from being
flushed down toilets.

Matthews' criticisms of both the hazards and significance of such raids are
completely valid. What is truly amazing is the hypocrisy he and his
colleagues exhibit by decrying them as a national disgrace when used to
remove a little Cuban boy from exploitative distant relatives, yet
presumably regarding them as quite reasonable when used to enforce
unworkable laws against our own citizens.

Tom O'Connell

San Mateo
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