August 6, 2008 11:24AM

The Drug War Kills Innocents

How do I command the scales from the eyes of the drug warriors?

Former Catoite Radley Balko continues his coverage of the war on drugs at Reason. He posted yesterday on the Hit and Run blog about the killing of Tarika Wilson by raiding police officers. When one of them shot a dog, another thought it was hostile gunfire and fired blindly into the room where Wilson and her baby cowered. Now she’s dead.

[This case] shows how layer upon layer of flawed arguments can allow something as unjustifiable as the shooting death of an unarmed woman and the near‐​killing of her infant son to be dismissed as mere collateral damage. The initial argument is that we need to prohibit drugs to protect people from the harm they cause. That’s followed by the argument that we need to use aggressive, paramilitary raids to apprehend drug dealers, because they might dispose of evidence or shoot cops were drug warrants to be served by less confrontational means. That’s followed by the argument that we have to forgive cops who kill innocent people in these raids because the raids themselves are incredibly volatile and dangerous. Never mind that the police created the danger and volatility in the first place.

Put those arguments together and you get the absurd premise that the government’s killing of Tarika Wilson—and all of the drug raid deaths that came before her—is an acceptable consequence of the government’s responsibility to protect her (and all of us) from the effects of illicit drugs.

Day after day, week after week, Radley reports with remarkably controlled outrage on ‘isolated’ incidents like this.