Our View: Analysis of task force needed

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— Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall should commit to helping fund the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team for the 2007-08 year.

But we understand and support Wall's desire to review the drug task force before committing funds beyond that timeframe. Wall should commit Routt County's share of funds and personnel this year with the clear message that future support will depend on a thorough analysis of the program's effectiveness.

GRAMNET is made up of officers from the Moffat County and Routt County sheriff's offices and the Craig and Steamboat Springs police departments. Those four law enforcement agencies also provide most of GRAMNET's funding, particularly as federal grants supporting the task force have been cut. Jackson County and the Hayden Police Department make minor contributions to GRAMNET's annual budget.

During Wall's campaign for sheriff, he promised to research GRAMNET's funding before deciding whether to cut it. "I'm not going to address any of these agencies like (Routt County) Search and Rescue or GRAMNET because I haven't had a chance to examine them," Wall said last week.

"I want to be thorough," he said. "I don't want to jump to any conclusions or mislead anyone with what I am doing."

That's a reasonable approach; however, GRAMNET needs a decision by Feb. 15 so it can determine its eligibility for federal funding. That's not enough time for Wall to conduct the analysis he needs. It would be wrong to pull the plug on Routt County's support at this late date. Besides, doing so would look like petty politics given that Wall's opponent in the sheriff's race, Garrett Wiggins, is now the director of GRAMNET.

Special local drug task forces such as GRAMNET are tools that were born during the infancy of the nation's 20-plus-year war on drugs. It's hard to say that war has been successful. Drugs are as big a scourge on society today as they were in the 1980s. Drugs destroy families and are the lifeline of violent gangs. Drugs are linked to the vast majority of criminals in jail. The drugs - cocaine, crack, heroin, methamphetamine - may change, but the destruction remains the same.

Because of that destruction, we support effective efforts to reduce the availability, distribution, use and abuse of illegal drugs.

The question is, how effective is GRAMNET?

Last year, GRAMNET officers arrested 74 people on felony distribution and possession charges. Forty-nine of those arrests were for distributing or possessing methamphetamine. The agency seized about $83,000 in estimated street value of drugs. The cost to operate the agency is about $450,000 annually, and the local agencies' responsibility for that cost goes up each year as federal contributions go down.

How many of those arrests would have been made without GRAMNET? How much in drugs would have been seized? Has GRAMNET reduced serious drug use, and its related violent crime, in Northwest Colorado? Without GRAMNET, what are the alternative methods of addressing our drug issues?

These are questions we think Wall and Wiggins would be wise to spend the next 12 months answering.

Comments

Mark_Louden 7 years, 2 months ago

I absolutely agree with the idea behind this opinion - serious, in-depth analysis of the task force IS needed. However that analysis should not only be done by the stewards of public money, such as Sheriff Wall, but also by a government watchdog like the Pilot.

I encourage you to take your own advice, Pilot leaders, and conduct a thorough investigation into GRAMNET. It's a story that's been wanting for a long time now.

Is the taskforce beneficial or wasteful? Are the resources being used efficiently and effectively? Are the law enforcement agencies targeting the highest priority problems? Are we getting our money's worth? Is getting our money's worth even the point? Is this the best option out there? What are other communities like ours doing?

Obviously the scourge of drugs, particularly meth here in the West, is something that needs to be combated. Thank God for the officers who give their time and talents, who put themselves in danger to join that fight. But simply throwing money at a problem is never the answer. Measurement of the program's efficacy is critically important, as is full public disclosure of the results.

You're right, Pilot, to point a finger and ask public officials to be accountable. I would just say you also need to hold up a mirror when you give this kind of advice.

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corduroy 7 years, 2 months ago

I completely agree that it needs to be looked into more. However, he's the ROUTT COUNTY SHERIFF and GRAMNET is GOVERNMENT. Should we really be throwing more money at a government task force that has lots of money already being thrown at it.

And is it just me or is most of the meth in Craig, which is Moffatt County, not Routt?

Officers have better things to do than support this.

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whyquestion 7 years, 2 months ago

why would a new sheriff fire 3 employees when the organization was already under staffed?????? was this done to criple law inforcement ???? to put fear in remaining employees?????will wall follow oc x mayor "deficit" cargo example and say one thing and do the opposite????? will wall PROTECT and serve law abiding citizens or support illegal drug dealers?????is this not an oppertunity for wall to show his true colors???? i still wonder why wall kept the vail shooting incident secret afterall it was a first in vail history????like what else is he hiding?????how devious is wall???? who are his enablers???? citizens take charge demand answers!!!!!!!!! is the steamboat pilot right????they have a duty in a free country!!!! but citizens have a duty too!!!! ask questions of this new sheriff?????

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whyquestion 7 years, 2 months ago

corduroy do vehicles travel between countys???? don't forget the drug problems in routt county???? young people are again attempting suicide in south routt???? WHY?????

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seabirth 7 years, 2 months ago

"I'm not going to address any of these agencies like (Routt County) Search and Rescue or GRAMNET because I haven't had a chance to examine them," Wall said last week.

i'm curious, what has he been doing since november?

gary, take a stand. i might disagree with you, but you might gain a little respect if you actually stood for anything tangible.

but, gramnet is a waste of time. we all know that meth magically changes into wine at the county line. routt county is a magical place where rent a cops and pi's become real cops, POST tests are just a stupid waste of time, and all is well.

welcome to wallywood and the town of smoke.

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oofcboy 7 years, 2 months ago

Second Home owners, pay extra tax ! we pay taxes in two,three, no we pay taxes in four counties.I think we pay enough.

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kingsride 7 years, 2 months ago

South; Do us all a favor and take an english comp class at the college. Sometimes, trying to read you is just painful. Thanks

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Mucker is bringing up some very valid points.

Why should he be criticized for a stream-of-consciousness writing style? He's pointing out that we've got a county full of depressed and over-stressed drug abusers who are struggling to get by financially.

$15,000,000 of the county tax bill is attributable to the new so-called "justice center." My share of that is just about a full year of my current property tax bill. We didn't have to spend that money, and think what it could have done if the county had funded the RCSO for drug enforcement efforts.

Okay, so why didn't the county commissioners spend the extra money on drug enforcement? Ain't it obvious? GRAMNET is chasing meth heads in Craig and nobody is even looking at the affluent and powerful coke users in Routt County. A lot of people LIKE it that way.

The truth is, the affluent people who make their money on the backs of the working people just don't care about these issues. As long as they are warm and safe and making money in the real estate market, they don't care who does the dirty work. If the working people disappear from the county, illegal aliens will come in to fill the labor gaps. We've all seen it happening on construction sites for a couple of years.

The people using drugs to compensate for a stressed lifestyle are at fault. They should go elsewhere and get better jobs where the climate is more comfortable, and live a better life. My opinion may not be popular, but each person can solve their own problem much faster than the local government of a red-neck mountain county can solve the drug problem.

If you can't say "no," Then don't complain to me, Just because I told you so.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 2 months ago

What a comment "we've got a county full of depressed and over-stressed drug abusers who are struggling to get by financially", seems to me buying drugs and/or spending every night in a bar is a major cause of financial problems, but you are right, that's what we have. GRAMNET has been a handful of officers trying to cover three counties, what they need is more money, more officers, and the help of tougher prosecutors and judges. If we get tough on the dealers and the users within all three counties, maybe they'll move to greener pastures. As long as politicians govern law enforcement, we'll never win this war on drugs, cripes, just look at OC.

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kingsride 7 years, 2 months ago

Lets see...We can elect coke hewers as mayors, drunks as sheriffs, and then we can wonder why law enforcement programs have been gutted?

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

No, I'm not a cop.

Kids get alcohol now. They'd get legalized recreational drugs also. Plus, there would still be a demand for black market drugs because of the tax issues, just like moonshining in other parts of the country.

Do some research on how things are in the Netherlands. People who go around lawfully intoxicated become a burden on the state, and those who work have to pay for it. If you're not going to be part of the solution, then you'll be one of the people paying the price. That's the piece that people with your point of view don't see.

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Watcher 7 years, 2 months ago

I have several points to discuss.
First, Wall did not fire anyone. He simply chose not to retain them, which is his prerogative. Why anyone would think he would keep Taylor, who was a total disaster for the SO is waaaaaaaaaaay beyond me. Taylor was a very verbally abusive person and most officers are glad to see the last of him. Rochelle chose to run as his opponent's undersheriff so why would you expect him to keep her. The other officer, I can't say but I do understand he was hired because he was a friend of Taylor's and not for any other reason. Second, The county commissioner's have decided not to fund an officer for Gramnet so Wall would have to take a patrol officer off regular duties to go to Gramnet. This makes sense how? Third, If you read the previous article about Gramnet when in G. Wiggins states that there are only three offices, counting himself, in Gramnet and he expects a turnover of two officers in the near future, you would figure out that that leaves just G. Wiggins as the sole 'stable officer' in Gramnet. Fourth, I wonder what the CONVICTION rate is for the arrests noted in the article above. I notice that everyone is quick to holler arrests but never follow-up with an actual conviction rate. Fifth, As far as I can see, the only people being arrested are small time users with maybe a couple of actual minor dealers. Where are the big busts? Maybe it is because that that some of the biggest drug people are prominent people in this community.

Maybe it is just me but I really don't see much benefit in Gramnet. If the police department and the sheriff's department just do their jobs, they can take care of the day-to-day drug cases in town.

If Gramnet had shown any real progress in going after the big fish that are out there, maybe I would feel differently about them but they have had their chance and we don't have much to show for our money.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

The coke connection goes higher and wider.

They say history repeats itself. Here's a history lesson for you.

The point of all these stories, and others if you care to Google them up and get all the available details, is that a Colorado district court judge knowingly tolerated drug abuse by someone close to him while he sat in judgment of others who were charged with the same crimes.

The double standard is alive and well. Coke abuse gets overlooked because of who is doing it, and who their friends are.

How can the cops hope to win the fight when the rest of the system isn't on their side?

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Watcher 7 years, 2 months ago

Davinci, go wash your mouth with soap. If you cannot make a valid argument without putting yourself in with the toilet mouth crowd you are pathetic.

Rochelle knew she would likely not be retained. She put herself out there. I think it was a very gutsy move on her part and if G. Wiggins had won, she would have been happily working at the SO however, that is not what happened. There are consequences to ones actions and she knew what to expect.

I' still waiting for someone to point to a large drug bust by GRAMNET that resulted in convictions.

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Tigger 7 years, 2 months ago

Just Legalize it! Take away the black market. The war on drugs is an expensive losing battle, hey so is Iraq!

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 2 months ago

watcher...you're still waiting for someone to point to a large drug bust by GRAMNET that resulted in convictions. How can you expect officers to get convictions when the prosecutors would rather take a plea for a misdemeanor than take a felon to court? Then you have the bleeding heart judges that go along with it again and again and again and:. You want convictions, help get rid of the DA and the assistant DA and put someone in place that will be tough on drugs, no matter who is buying or selling. Until the people demand more Routt County's justice system will continue playing politics and we the people will continue to pay the piper. As for the new sheriff, maybe Rochelle was just trying to better herself, just because she chose to run as his opponent's undersheriff doesn't mean she wouldn't have worked just as hard for the new administration, she just wasn't given a chance. Neither was Kelliher, he was a conscientious hard working officer, not just a friend of the old admin; I still believe letting Dan go was to fulfill a promise made by the newly elected sheriff to the newly unelected ex-mayor of OC, looks like she "got er done" again. You don't just dismiss well trained, qualified officers just because they thought someone else would have made a better sheriff, you give them a chance and see how well they work for you...but not Wall, he has the same attitude that his friend the ex-mayor of OC had:if you don't blindly support me, you must be the enemy and therefore you gotta go. You said "Wall did not fire anyone. He simply chose not to retain them," just exactly who benefits from that decision, WE the people or ME the politician? I fear we're in for a long rough ride.

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Watcher 7 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like several people got up on the wrong side of the election. I don't belive I have heard such whining since my kids were small.

Well to get back to the article above. No I don't believe G. Wall should put good money after bad for GRAMNET.

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uporpeopleu 7 years, 2 months ago

davinci, u're a true idiot. a toilet is too good for your thoughts. no 1 is responsible for dan k.'s demise except dan k. nothing else u wrote is even worth comenting on. u po fool

watcher, great to see someone on the forum with a decent and intelligent thought of their own.

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whyquestion 7 years, 2 months ago

are you all forgetting the ray cyr meth bust in o c that was a conviction?????? then he left this world before he went to prison didn't he??????? "deficit"cargo organized a great memorial service that brought in many of his closest freinds from the 70's to now, didn't she?????

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

Dang! I had no idea there were this many new people on the forums having hard times putting thought to keyboard. Reading some of the reponses is enough to make my eye prescription 40x worse in just 5 minutes! What's worse, is that it's happening on all threads. Looks like some "Children were Left Behind."

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bolter 7 years, 2 months ago

The war on drugs is a huge failure and a giant waste of money. It doesn't work. Period.

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Tigger 7 years, 2 months ago

I wonder why civil liberties were an issue in the election. NOT. If we adhere to davincis' view we lose due proccess! Innocent until proven guilty, regardless of the lying cops.

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Tigger 7 years, 2 months ago

Every case I have been involved in. Can't get an honest report. Severely biased. Thats why we have attorneys. Not my duty to inform you. It is my opinion from facts.

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Tigger 7 years, 2 months ago

unlike you I am not going to reveal private matters. The fact of the matter is, I have never seen an honest report. Your opinion is bias since you are married to a cop. BTW, I won. :P

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bolter 7 years, 2 months ago

Leonardo: The people are in jail because of prohibition---a misguided belief that we can solve every social problem with the criminal justice system. It's the American way--if there is a problem we "declare war" on it and everybody feels like they have done all they can. Neither GRAMNET nor any other agency is making strides. Like I said, the war on drugs is a loser, just like the "war on poverty", the "war on teenage drinking", and every other "war" against a social ill our government will invent in the future. These wars NEVER work, they are ALWAYS very expensive, and no public official has the courage to admit it. Come on---taking a rapist off the streets takes a rapist off the streets. Taking a drug dealer off the streets just creates a business opportunity.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

The reason a lot of people in Colorado don't want the police around is because they don't want to bring attention to their own violations of the law. Cheating on taxes, using recreational drugs, etc. The list goes on and on.

Little children who are allowed to be selfish and think only about "me me me" end up being alienated and despised by others. Think about that roommate in college who always left the kitchen trashed, or puked in the trash can and left it for you to clean up.

"How does it hurt anybody else if I use drugs as long as I'm buying them with money I earned?" That's the attitude. Well, it's because that creates a market and provides a pipeline for somebody else to buy them too. Eventually somebody who doesn't share your work ethic and situational morality will cause harm to others, and YOU bear part of the responsibility. "Everybody else is doing it" goes back to the old lemming argument about jumping off a cliff.

Don't put abusers in jail? Okay. Do we have to provide support for them? How about a requirement for drug testing to qualify for public assistance and social security disability benefits? It won't happen, because our society is not prepared to let people starve and freeze to death and all the rest. The answer is euthanasia, but that one won't fly either.

I don't want a junkie breaking into my house, or my car, or sticking me up on the street. That's what casual recreational drug use leads to. "Treatment" is a joke without imposition of some very real physical pain to condition against use. Antibuse works for alcohol. Where's the drug for meth, pot and coke? If it doesn't make people puke their guts out every time they use illegal drugs, it won't work. That's the only treatment option that has any hope of working.

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Tigger 7 years, 2 months ago

Legalize it. Tax it. Take away the black market . Use tax revenue for education and rehabilitation. Mainly, remove the black market. Face it the cops are losing. Peple will always want to get high. Not everyone of course. The number of drug users will not go up, they will simply be illuminated. The "war" on drugs is an approach that has been utilized since Nixon invented it. Cmon, if its not working lets change tacticsand also, save money. Look what happened when prohibition ended, same amount of folks drank booze and the "gangsters" had to find other work. But if we need job security for cops at the publics' expense sheesh, sounds silly. Be brave, legalize it.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

Boobie,

The mortgage tax deduction is not for homeowners. It's for people who build homes for a living, and for banks that make money by lending money at interest. It's an incentive to fuel the economy.

Calling the mortgage deduction a subsidy for homeowners is like calling seeds a subsidy for people who eat the food grown on farms.

I wish half of the people in America could understand second-order effects. The other half already knows about them and usually votes Republican because of a perceived business-friendly platform.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

Tigger,

Legalization will not stop underage folks from wanting illegal drugs too. There will still be a black market.

The reason moonshining (making whiskey and selling it without a license) goes on is to avoid the tax on liquor. It would be the same with drugs.

The number of people drinking to excess in bars in Routt County is an indication of how much disposable income is available to spend on getting high. Illegal traffickers will continue to fill that market at a discount if it's taxed. What makes you think that people who are habitual law-breakers (the users of illegal drugs) will suddenly reform just because the stuff is available legally and without a prescription?

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

Boobie,

Legislative history means nothing. It's the second-order effects that justify sustaining the deduction.

Social security was never intended to be a comprehensive retirement system, but that didn't stop a lot of people from relying upon it for 100% of their retirement income. As senior citizen votes became precious (as life spans grew dramatically over the past 70 years) the politicians had to keep it viable. The original stop-gap intention of the system has turned into a "don't stop" issue that would mean instant political death for any legislator who voted to end it.

The "war on poverty" legislation of the Johnson administration turned into a welfare system in which people went from one job training program to the next without ever working at a job they'd been trained for.

Oh, BTW, the mortgage deduction is also a big driver of local tax revenues because mortgage companies take out property taxes from mortgage payments and send them directly to the taxing authority. It takes a couple of years for the county to foreclose for lack of payment of property taxes, but the mortgage companies make the tax payments right on time.

Legislation is just a way that uninformed attorneys elected to congress set a socio-economic spring-and-mass system into motion with no real idea how it will end up a few years down the road. This is why Democrats are usually successful in raising taxes on the "wealthy" and then everybody who loses out (the low-income workers, usually) forget what happened or cannot make the connection when they lose their jobs or prices go up a year or more down the line. Every time Congress takes money out of someone's pocket, it's the low-end of the economic spectrum that pays the price.

Why don't you try thinking instead of reading so much. Reading what other people think will only mess up your mind in the long run unless you're able to keep someone else's opinion separate from factual reality.

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe Gary Wall will approve any funds. This would be a contradiction of his "civil liberties" campaign promises to the public. Gary will never permit officers to use search and seize legal procedures to confiscate evidence of a crime.

I also don't believe Gary wanted to be closer to County Commissioners at the Courthouse, he wants to obstruct, arbitrate and hinder persons (DA's, Judges) at the justice center to rally for his friends and followers. Gary should just keep sharing his office with JD at the SSPD.

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Tigger 7 years, 2 months ago

Idio4sp, Are you a Cop? My kid brother and myself always had the option to smoke cigarettes, something that SHOULD be illegal but our system is hypocrytical and our politicians give up principles to money, neither one of us does smoke cigs though. My kid brother had the option to drink at the house, he is now 22 and does not drink. I would argue that across the board the percentage of "users" would remain the same wether this stuff, whatever substance it is, whether it was illegal or not. The cops can not catch everyone and Im willing to bet they catch less than more of the offenders. By legalization, we generate tax revenure for rehab and education. We take away the black market. We reduce the burden on police, yes the same users wouldc ause the same domestic problems whether legal or not. We reduce the burden on jails. Most of the folks locked up in jail are there for drug charges. Why is "rehab" the same for a drug user as it is for a murderer or serial rapist? The system is in error and must have a new approach. If we havent won the war on drugs by now, we never will. We have had close to 50 years to do it. Hey lets throw more money at the problem!! At least with legalization the drugs should support some of the revenue required to counter the problem. Thats the last Iwill post on this contraversial topic.

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trump_suit 7 years, 1 month ago

Tigger and id04sp - I thought those were both well thought out posts that attacked the actual problem and not any individuals.

I have to agree with both of you. The problem of drugs in our communities will not go away with any magic wand or pronouncement. Both Switzerland and the Netherlands have expereinced serious problems with hardcore drug users since the legalization of heroine and other drugs. This is an issue that needs to be discussed far and wide.

In the end, I have to side with Tigger and the legalization of drugs for the following reason. It is my opinion that when you look at the overall cost to our society, the war on drugs is costing us more than the problems we will face. It has given the gangs more money than the police, and has fostered a generation of violence that believes in drive by shootings and guns. Life is cheap to the people in this culture.

Let me be clear, the major problem is not the drugs or the guns, it is the money. The drug economy is simply too large to control, and like prohibition when American citizens choose to indulge themselves in a particular substance they will find a way to aquire it. Are we really stopping anyone that wants to use (name substance here)??? I am not a drug user, or a supporter of drug use, but I think it is time to consider a different way to fight this problem in our communities.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 1 month ago

I think Davinci is right. Why not just get rid of laws in general? Then, we don't need police for anything. That way, no civil liberties are trampled and we can save an extraordinary amount of money to pay for affordable housing...WAIT!!! With no law, who cares if housing is affordable. Just walk into a house you like and take it by force. Nobody will be able to be held accountable with no police.

Next step, get rid of our military. That's a police force on a global scale. Can't have us trampling terrorist civil liberties, so eliminate the cause of it.

Or like on South Park's rerun last night. We can just bury our heads in the sand with our butts in the air to show the world that civil liberty means more to us than having a rule of law. Then we don't have to acknowledge any bad ju-ju going on.

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