Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lesson from a lying cop.

A former cop has decided to come forward and admit his numerous crimes as a police officer. Patrick O’Brien says that in his war on drugs he went to court and lied about evidence every single time, without exception.

This rare confession, unfortunately, does not come from an American police officer since Mr. O’Brien worked in New Zealand. In a shocking letter to the Chief Justice of New Zealand, Dame Sian Elias, O’Brien made his confession. He says he has been racked with guilt over his actions.

Mr. O’Brien says that he can not estimate accurately how many people went to prison due to his lies because he stopped counting when it reached 150. In all the cases where he testified, with invented evidence, he says juries returned guilty verdicts, with just one exception. O’Brien wrote: “In every case I lied to the courts and I lied to the juries to obtain convictions against my targets. Telling lies was easy -- ‘policemen don’t tell lies -- and my targets never stood a chance.”

In addition to lying under oath this ex Drug Warrior says that he tampered with evidence presenting in court drugs which were never confiscated from the person on trial. O’Brien says that the lies destroyed him to the point that he eventually quite the police force and left New Zealand. He says his life was “a tragic waste” and that “in what time is left to me” he intends “correcting the wrong that I have done.”

O’Brien has said he wants to apologize to the many people he victimized and will “assist in whatever way I can” those who wish to seek legal remedy.

In 1944 F.A. Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom. He discussed what happens to a society where is “is one common over-ridding end”. I think Hayek’s perception applies to the sort of moralistic crusades in which Drug Warriors, Moral Majoritarians and others participate. Hayek says once this over-ridding end is agreed upon “there is no room for any general morals and rules” and “it is inevitable that occasionally cruelty may become a duty, that acts which revolt all our feelings... should be treated as mere matters of expediency....”

When I watch the Drug Warriors in action I see Hayek’s warning. They believe they are serving a greater goal and they plow on continuing to do great damage to innocent people. The current antigay campaigns being whipped up by the Mormons and the Catholic Church are similar exercises. No one questions the morality of protecting children from sexual abuse and because no one questions it then it is easy to engage in the sort of crimes against children which this blog has reported on repeatedly.

It behooves libertarians to always question the methods we use to accomplish our gaols. The more convinced we become of the morality of our cause the more tempting it is to use unacceptable methods to achieve them. This can apply to the cause of liberty just as much as to erradicating drug abuse, protecting children or stopping terrorism.

All in all we must be most careful about the causes where we have the fewest doubts. For the more sure we are about the goal we seek, the less likely we are to scrutinize the methods we use to get there.

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