Why Law Enforcement Needs Probable Cause

This quote from today’s Washington Post explain really clearly why probable cause is necessary for competent, effective law enforcement:

Feeding the interrogation system was a major push by U.S. commanders to round up Iraqis. The key to actionable intelligence was seen by many as conducting huge sweeps to detain and question Iraqis. Sometimes units acted on tips, but sometimes they just detained all able-bodied males of combat age in areas known to be anti-American.

Senior U.S. intelligence officers in Iraq later estimated that about 85 percent of the tens of thousands rounded up were of no intelligence value. But as they were delivered to Abu Ghraib prison, they overwhelmed the system and often waited for weeks to be interrogated, during which time they could be recruited by hard-core insurgents, who weren’t isolated from the general prison population.

Bottom line: if you waste your time arresting the innocent, then you don’t find the truly guilty parties. Probable cause isn’t just about protecting the rights of the accused and innocent. It’s also a critical factor in making sure the guilty are caught.

2 Responses to “Why Law Enforcement Needs Probable Cause”

  1. Leroy Says:

    I can’t think of a much simpler way to make a new enemy than to find an innocent man, grab him off the street, and throw him in jail for a few weeks.

  2. Snarky Says:

    How about: find an innocent man, kill him on the street, deny there’s anything wrong with this, and leave his family and friends to seek their own justice.

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