October 21, 2006

BeauprezGate Roundup

ToTheRight has full coverage, as well as some thoughts on how the Beauprez campaign could have used the agricultural trespassing plea-bargain cases legally, and to his advantage, instead of facing FBI investigations.

The fallout continues, even as Beauprez defends his campaign and the "courageous whistleblower".

Beauprez finds some support from this editorial:
Bob Beauprez's campaign for governor spent much of the week on its heels over the use of information leaked to it by a federal agent. The "leakgate" incident has provoked much righteous rhetoric from Beauprez's opponent, Bill Ritter, as well as from a number of pundits, columnists and political activists.

Ritter, of course, is only acting as any politician would when presented with a wounded opponent: He's trying to finish the poor fellow off. But what accounts for the lack of perspective from everyone else?

We're not about to justify lawbreaking, but no one is suggesting the information taken from a federal criminal database and leaked to Beauprez is false. No one is suggesting its release jeopardizes law enforcement activity.

No one is even offering any serious reason why the information should be off limits to the public in the first place. It just is. We meek little citizens, you see, are simply supposed to salute and say, OK, that's fine with us. What big brother wants, big brother gets.

Well, it isn't fine with us. There is no reason whatever that the arrest records and aliases of an illegal immigrant - or anyone else - should be kept under wraps, with the possibility of prison for those who breach the secrecy.

If you go to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Website, you'll quickly discover that you can access Colorado arrest records for the modest fee of $6.85. There is nothing untouchable or sacrosanct about arrest records in and of themselves. Are aliases the issue then? Is there reason to keep them hush, hush? Of course not.

So what exactly did the agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who engineered the leak do that was so horrible? Oh, yes: He connected the dots between an immigrant busted in Colorado for heroin possession, under one name, and an immigrant busted in California for sexual battery, under another name. Two crimes and two aliases, but only a single criminal.

Which brings us to another gripe: the weird fact that law-enforcement data regarding illegal immigrants is more inaccessible than similar data for U.S. citizens. We're not kidding. Whether it's records from immigration proceedings or the registration number for an immigrant who runs into trouble with the law, the feds tend to treat the information as if they were protecting state secrets instead of records that by every reasonable standard should be available to the public.

If the ICE agent broke the law, he'll have to answer to his agency, and the penalty could be severe. In the meantime, however, the rest of us should take a deep breath and stop the bloviating. Maybe the real crime that has come to light - not the one on the books but the one that actually inflicts harm on the public - is one of excessive government secrecy.

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