Terrorists, Toe Tappers, and Law Enforcement Resources

Despite his resignation from the Senate, the Larry Craig story won’t die. Arianna Huffington spent her Labor Day wondering, “In the Age of Terror, Isn’t Busting Toe-Tappers an Insane Use of Our Law Enforcement Resources?”

Sometimes a clever title is used as a hook to attract reader attention but the article itself goes in a different direction. Not so here:

In the consensus judgment of America’s 16 intelligence agencies, the terrorist threat to our homeland is “persistent and evolving,” placing our country in “a heightened threat environment.” Given that chilling assessment, isn’t it the height of madness to use America’s finite law enforcement resources to seek out and arrest people for tapping the foot of a cute undercover officer in a restroom?

Does Huffington really believe that Sergeant Dave Karsnia of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police Department would have been sent to North Waziristan to look for Osama bin Laden had he not been on toilet duty? Or even that there was something he could have been doing to thwart a non-existent terrorist plot at the airport that day?

The mere fact that something is designated Priority One does not mean that Priorities Two, Three, and Four Hundred Seventeen must therefore be ignored. The vast majority of our Armed Forces is doing something other than patrolling Iraq and Afghanistan or hunting for terrorists right now. Only a tiny fraction of our municipal police resources are working homicide right now; the others are dealing with what are comparatively less serious crimes.

While I disagree, there’s an argument to be made that cruising bathrooms looking for anonymous gay sex should be legal and that being occasionally hit on while in the airport bathroom is a price of living in a free society. If the consensus is otherwise, though, then some law enforcement resources must necessarily be used to deter people from this illegal conduct. One officer assigned for a limited time to the single restroom in the airport that has garnered the most complaints would seem an appropriate allocation.

UPDATE: Jeffrey Imm of something called “World Anti-Terror” emails to note that Minnesota has all manner of terrorist problems to which police could be devoting their time. He sends links to articles on MEMRI and similar sites about an Islamist website hosted in the state, a call by that website for defending terrorist actions, Muslim cabbies refusing to let people bring booze aboard, and so forth. It’s not clear what, precisely, he’d have the police do about these things, however.

FILED UNDER: Environment, Law and the Courts, LGBTQ Issues, Policing, Terrorism, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jeffrey says:

    Actually you couldn’t be MORE wrong about the major problems with Minnesota ineffectiveness in fighting Jihad and the Minnesota govt in dealing with Islamism – while the Minnesota law enforcement was chasing “toe-tappers”… are we at WAR or not?

    August 31, 2007:
    Minnesota: Islamist Websites Hosted in Minnesota on How to Join Al-Qaeda, Form a Jihad Cell, and Select a Western Target — ‘[Is] Assassinating the American Ambassador… Difficult For Someone Who Has Already Crushed America in Her Own Home?’

    September 3, 2007
    Minnesota: Islamist Website Hosted in Minnesota Calls for Suicide Operations in Denmark

    You might notice that there were 8 Al-Qaeda also arrested in Denmark TODAY for a terrorist plot!

    And Minnesota has a history of problems with Jihad and Islamism:

    Minnesota: U.S. sees terrorism in Somalia; Minnesota Somalis see it differently

    1500 Somalis Protest Muslim Defeat – In Minnesota

    Shariah in Minnesota?

    CNN Headline News-Sharia in Minnesota

    Minnesota University’s Radical Islamic Keynote Address

    Minnesota Muslims in culture clash at airport

    (Minnesota) Muslim Brotherhood: Airport taxi flap about alcohol has deeper significance

    Minnesota Muslim columnist: post-9/11 US an “Islam-phobic country”

    (Minnesota) CNN Interview: Muslim cabbies refuse customers carrying booze

    (Minnesota) First Muslim Congressman sworn in on Koran – Keith Ellison