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FOX News Contributor Mike Gallagher Calls Concern For Constitutional Rights Idiotic And Absurd

Reported by Ellen - August 7, 2005

FOX News kept up its steady assault on civil liberties and those who care about them Friday night, 8/5/05, when Hannity & Colmes hosted FOX News Contributor Mike Gallagher as part of its debate on civil liberties vs. security in the New York City subways. Gallagher offered no reasoned argument for sacrificing civil liberties in the name of security. His only contention seemed to be that anyone who is not willing to chuck the Constitution is an idiot. By some stroke of good fortune, the panel included a real voice of opposition named Michael Meyers, of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, and Meyers was not about to be intimidated by Gallagher's bullying.

Gallagher has no apparent expertise in either security or civil liberties. His main qualifications seemed to be that he hates liberals and has written a book calling them idiots that just happens to be published by a sister company to FOX News. The book was promo'd, there was discussion about it appearing on the bestseller list, and Sean Hannity called it "terrific" but there was no mention of the connection between FOX News Channel and the publisher. There was no mention of Gallagher's relationship to FNC, either. He was introduced only as a talk show host and author.

Sean Hannity opened the discussion by quoting a New York assemblyman who said that random subway checks (i.e. not using racial profiling) leaves everyone "outrageously vulnerable."

Gallagher called the concern for constitutional rights "the most absurd thing I've ever heard... It's absolutely the height of craziness that there's a lawsuit being filed now by people who think somehow their constitution's being violated because the New York Police Department's trying to keep the subways from being blown up."

As Gallagher spoke, Hannity concurred in the background.

When it was Meyers' turn, he said that Gallagher "misstated the facts," that the NYCLU's lawsuit is over the use of random bag searches, not profiling. (Meyers was right about that. See, e.g., the AP article via CNN.) Meyers also said that New York City has no plans to use racial profiling. (That's true, too, according to WCBS-TV in NY.) Meyers called random searches "fuzzy-brained scare tactics. Can you spell orange alert? It must be a mayoral election year."

Gallagher and Hannity attempted to interrupt but Meyers refused to allow them to do so and they backed off. (You go Meyers!) He continued until he had finished, saying that "At best it is a scare tactic. At worst, it gives a false sense of security." He explained that if police search every fifth or tenth person, "Can't the so-called terrorists count to five or ten?" He posited a scenario where a "multitude" of terrorists arrive at a station, the one slated to be searched leaves and goes to another station, then meets up with the other or others. "It's absurd. It's lunacy."

Gallagher said with glib sarcasm, "Here's absurd. You're saying that the New York police are trying to scare people? Why do you suppose the NYPD..."

Meyers interrupted to say, "I said scare tactic." (That's true, he did.)

Substitute co-host Bob Beckel interrupted to "get in here" but, ever eager to show his affinity for conservatives, first congratulated Mike Gallagher on the success of his book. (Beckel earlier had chuckled heartily when Gallagher and Hannity had joked about the need for having Beckel's bags checked by security.) But Beckel added a bit of lively spirit to his side of the debate for the first time (that I saw) during his week sitting in for Alan Colmes. Beckel asked what the chances really are that the bag searches will actually find a bomb or whether racial profiling would protect against someone like Timothy McVeigh, "a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy from the midwest who blew up a bunch of kids."

Gallagher offered no data, no statistics, no expert analysis but that didn't stop him from providing an emphatic opinion (and taking a swipe at Beckel which he didn't seem to mind. "I have faith in the New York Police Department, Bob, and I have faith in the national law enforcement's ability to know a bad guy when they see him. Bob, what do you want to do - nothing? Do you want more nuts to blow up subways in New York?"

Meyers asked, "How about following the Constitution?"

Comment: The 9/11 hijackers raised plenty of suspicions that law enforcement never followed up on but Bob Beckel seemed to have missed that point. Instead, Beckel pounded the table with his fist as he said, "What I don't want, Mike, is some cop, some authority, some state gettin' in my business. They got no right in my bags. They got no right in my house, they got no right in my car. They got no rights when it comes to gettin' into my business."

Meyers: Have we suspended the Bill of Rights in this country in this quote, war time? Have we suspended the Constitution?

Gallagher, once again, resorted to grandiloquence rather than reason. "Have you lost your senses? Did you see what happened to those people in London?"

But Meyers was not cowed. "We have a constitutional standard for police to stop and search..."

"We are in a war."

"That's what you say. We are in a wartime but we cannot suspend the Constitutional rights of our people."

Gallagher: Surrounded by idiots.

Which just happens to be the title of his book and also just happens to be exactly what he said at the very end of the segment the last time Gallagher appeared on Hannity & Colmes.

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