Heather Mac Donald, one of the Manhattan Institute's best and brightest, takes on libertarian critics of the PATRIOT Act.
The fact is, the government's power to investigate terrorism has been the opposite of a slippery slope toward tyranny. Since the 1970s, libertarians of all political stripes had piled restriction after restriction on intelligence-gathering, even preventing two anti-terror FBI agents from collaborating on a case if one was an "intelligence" investigator and the other a "criminal" investigator. By the late 1990s, the bureau worried more about avoidinga pseudo-civil liberties scandal than about preventing a terror attack. No one demanding the ever-more Byzantine protections against hypothetical abuse asked whether they were exacting a cost in public safety. We know now that they were.