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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ESPN columnist on the hunt for Barry Bonds

As the title at Reason says, if you've got ESPN upset about civil rights abuses, it might be time to re-think what you're doing. They're talking about a great column by Jon Pessah, whose column at ESPN chronicles and condemns the witch hunt for Barry Bonds by Jeff Novitzsky, a federal agent investigating steroid use in professional sports.

[I]n 2004...Novitzky raided Comprehensive Drug Testing, the nation's largest sports-drug testing company. What happened on that day is complicated but boils down to this: Novitzky walked into CDT with 11 armed agents and a search warrant for the confidential test results of 10 baseball players with ties to BALCO. Hours later, he walked out with more than 4,000 medical files, including those of every major league baseball player, a bunch of NFL and NHL pros, and workers from three businesses. Maybe one that employs you.

Three federal judges reviewed the raid. One asked, incredulously, if the Fourth Amendment had been repealed. Another, Susan Illston, who has presided over the BALCO trials, called Novitzky's actions a "callous disregard" for constitutional rights. All three instructed him to return the records. Instead, Novitzky kept the evidence, reviewed the results and received clearance from an appeals court to pursue 103 MLB players who, those records revealed, had tested positive for steroids. (That investigation is pending another appeals court decision, expected this fall.) [...]

After [Bonds' trainer Greg] Anderson served three months in jail for dealing steroids and money laundering, Novitzky and the feds put him back in for 13 more for refusing to testify against Bonds. They also waited three years to return $41,420 of the seized $63,920 [from Anderson], violating Anderson's plea agreement. And most recently, they opened tax investigations on his wife and mother-in-law, neither of whom has anything to do with Bonds, to force the trainer to testify.

Often when libertarians bring up the war on drugs, someone insists that we want a world without rules or morals, or that we think that you don't have any freedom unless you have the freedom to do whatever you want. Ignoring the fact that most of that statement is patently false and assuming that whoever makes it simply means that libertarians are too concerned with the right to be a libertine, I have to say that while personally, I do get worked up about the rights-based libertarian arguments for ending the drug war, I'm typically a lot more concerned (and think most people ought to be) about the sort of nonsense stemming from the drug war that would cause a US judge to ask if the 4th amendment has been thrown out the window.

This is the kind of stuff that happens to people with what often turn out to be questionable or nonexistent ties to marijuana or harder drugs all the time, and it's the kind of stuff we shouldn't stand for.

h/t to (and quote snagged straight from) Reason, because I just can't get enough of them.

Posted by Janet Neilson on February 25, 2009 | Permalink

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