The best and the worst of America

On the one hand, a Brooklyn judge took a one-man stand against the rampant racial profiling that results in large numbers of minorities being charged for drinking in public:

It was not sufficient, the judge wrote, that a police officer had smelled the contents of Mr. Figueroa’s cup and detected beer. Nor was it enough that Mr. Figueroa had told the police officer that, yes, the liquid was indeed beer.

In dismissing Mr. Figueroa’s case, Judge Dear wrote that the police should be required to adhere to a higher standard of certainty that the drink’s alcohol content exceeded 0.5 percent, the threshold under the city’s open-container law, before issuing a court summons. One way to do that, he suggested, would be for the New York Police Department to have a laboratory test conducted.

Judge Dear made it clear that he hoped his interpretation of the city’s public drinking law would persuade the Police Department to reconsider its enforcement of the ordinance. In his experience, he wrote, the department singled out blacks and Hispanics when issuing public drinking summonses.

“As hard as I try, I cannot recall ever arraigning a white defendant for such a violation,” wrote Judge Dear, a former city councilman who was elected to a judgeship in 2007.

Judge Dear wrote that he had his staff review a month’s worth of past public-drinking summonses issued in Brooklyn, and found that 85 percent of the summonses were issued to blacks and Latinos, while only 4 percent were issued to whites. According to census data, Brooklyn’s population is about 36 percent white.

Elsewhere, the United States spread its tentacles ever farther in a futile attempt to win its perpetual war on terror (“We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia”):

An ocean away from the United States, travelers flying out of the international airport here on the west coast of Ireland are confronting one of the newest lines of defense in the war on terrorism: the United States border.

In a section of this airport carved out for the Department of Homeland Security, passengers are screened for explosives and cleared to enter the United States by American Customs and Border Protection officers before boarding. When they land, the passengers walk straight off the plane into the terminal without going through border checks.

At other foreign airports, including those in Madrid, Panama City and Tokyo, American officers advise the local authorities. American programs in other cities expedite travel for passengers regarded as low-risk.

The programs reflect the Obama administration’s ambitious effort to tighten security in the face of repeated attempts by Al Qaeda and other terrorists to blow up planes headed to the United States from foreign airports.

The thinking is simple: By placing officers in foreign countries and effectively pushing the United States border thousands of miles beyond the country’s shores, Americans have more control over screening and security. And it is far better to sort out who is on a flight before it takes off than after a catastrophe occurs.

“It’s a really big deal — it would be like us saying you can have foreign law enforcement operating in a U.S. facility with all the privileges given to law enforcement, but we are going to do it on your territory and on our rules,” the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, said on a flight back to the United States from the Middle East, where she negotiated with leaders in Israel and Jordan about joint airport security programs. “So you flip it around, and you realize it is a big deal for a country to agree to that. It is also an expensive proposition.”

Emphasis mine. The ability of Napolitano to state the above, without even a smidgen of intentional irony, reveals more about the stupidity and incompetence of American counterterrorism efforts than just about anything else. But remember: they hate us for our freedoms.

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