Good for the Goose?

Look, we don't know what's really going on with the teenage girls from Queens, N.Y. — originally from Bangladesh (search) and Guinea — who are in an immigration cell after cops found what appeared to be a note about being a suicide bomber in a file on a computer that belonged to one of them.

The facts will get sorted out. But in the meantime, this case shows how important it can be to get into someone's computer when they are suspected of something. And it shows why we should continue to allow certain provisions of the Patriot Act (search) to remain in effect while we're in the War on Terror, or until the Supreme Court rules definitively that the Patriot Act is totally out of bounds.

The Patriot Act, for instance, allows cops — in some cases — to insert a device into a person's computer, which allows the cops to monitor every single keystroke.

Now some people think that's way too intrusive and should be outlawed again. I think it is way too intrusive in the case of most people — but not all.

And by the way, you do remember that it is totally illegal to download any child porn? And they watch what people do in that regard. If the cops can track downloaded porn back to your computer, your doorbell is going to ring and two burly FBI agents are going to be standing there.

So what's the difference between child porn and terrorism? How come we can go after child molesters with the fulsome vigor of the law and yet, when it comes to the potential or suspected — and maybe one day they will turn out to be terrorists — they have rights, and we have to treat them as if they were completely innocent citizens who are to be left alone?

If it's good enough for a Boy Scout executive in Texas or Pete Townsend in Britain, it darn well ought to be fine, just fine, for that next Mohamed Atta (search) out there surfing Jihadi Web sites.

That's My Word.

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