I am checking out how Libertarians feel about Obama. I come across this.
February 2, 2008
Obama, before becoming a United States Senator, was, of course, a state senator in Illinois. His campaign has used an accomplishment of his during this service as evidence of his ability to be a politician and pass legislation over intense opposition: he spearheaded a law mandating the videotaping of police interrogations. I think that beyond his political ability, this event is telling of another important facet to Obama’s candidacy: his commitment to civil liberties.
Radley Balko, senior editor of Reason magazine, has authored a groundbreaking study on the use of paramilitary police tactics. He has also, on his personal blog, examined the lack of proper accountability for police officers who break the law or overuse force. Through this work, he has highlighted an inordinate number of abuses in Chicago, Illinois. Here is a short list that does not purport to be exhaustive:
- Chicago police shootings are, for practical purposes, uninvestigated.
- Chicago police were to establish a constant presence on the street in battle dress.
- Chicago police officer assaults elderly man, stays on force, does nothing while fellow police assault bar patrons.
- Chicago resident complains to local newspaper about police harassment, and has her apartment raided three days after the story appears.
- Chicago police abuse cases exceed national average.
- Chicago police officer assaults wheelchair-bound hospital patient, resumes duty after suspension.
- “A prostitute is more likely to have sex with a [Chicago] police officer than to get officially arrested by one.”
The law mandating interrogation videotaping was, unsurprisingly, vigorously opposed by the police, among others. By fighting for the passage of the interrogation-videotaping law, Obama has proven himself to be not only the only presidential candidate with a basic understanding of the necessity to systemically reduce police abuses, but also one of the only politicians in office with such an understanding.
Speaking personally, this issue is one of the first things that made Obama an appealing candidate to me. His decision to lead the campaign to get this law passed reveals a deep moral character and a sympathy to heightened oversight of a police force that increasingly sees itself as separate and distinct from “civilians.” I trust him to use the power of the federal government granted under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to enforce this oversight. No other candidate has this record.