Anthony L. Fisher on Confidential Informants

Andrew Sadek was 20 years old when he was caught dealing small amounts of marijuana on his college campus in North Dakota. He was told by law enforcement that he could possibly face up to 40 years in prison, or accept a deal to aid campus drug busts for a time as a confidential informant. Soon after signing on, but before completing the terms of the deal, Andrew went missing; a few days later his body was found, with a gunshot wound to the head, wearing a backpack full of rocks. The law enforcement agency which had assigned Sadek his task not only failed to inform Sadek’s parents of his role as a confidential informant when he went missing, they also dragged their feet in investigating the death (still a mystery). Anthony Fisher, an Associate Editor at Reason Magazine, picked up the story, which has since been covered by 60 Minutes – shining a light on a very shady corner of the U.S. Justice System. Bob welcomes Anthony back on the show this Sunday to discuss the lack of accountability surrounding the use of confidential informants.


Anthony Fisher's original coverage (, June 15, 2015)

Matthew Feeney on Best Practices for Police Body Cameras

Technology is rapidly changing the way law enforcement operates, and as we’ve learned from previous guests, such as Adam Bates on StingRay Surveillance, the change is not always for the better. On the other hand, the recent adoption of body cameras by a growing number of police departments would seem to increase accountability and civility in officer-civilian interactions without much of a downside. Matthew Feeney, policy analyst at the Cato Institute, says the technology – while promising – is not a panacea. The public widely supports the adoption of body cameras, but could there be a risk that new technology is getting ahead of sound policy, and putting our privacy at risk? What appears like a simple criminal justice reform turns out to have multiple complex considerations, including whether or not police can view the footage before submitting a statement. It takes a Cato analyst to explain the nuances of best practices for body cameras. Bob and Matthew discuss how we can get the best of both worlds: keeping police accountable while keeping our privacy too.

Sarah Stillman on Minors on the Sex-Offender List

It’s tempting to divide the world, in its unyieldingly complexity, into "good guys" and "bad guys." This provides endless plots and ratings for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but it often hides the messy reality of our criminal justice system, where overzealous prosecution can make new victims out of innocent people. Sarah Stillman is an award-winning journalist and staff writer for The New Yorker, with a talent for bringing clarity and nuance to murky topics. The last time Stillman joined the show, she had written a gripping exposé on civil asset forfeiture – the unconstitutional takings of private property by police from suspects who have not been convicted of any crime. Now, she joins Bob to discuss her latest New Yorker piece, *The List,* on an even more delicate subject: minors placed on the sex-offender registry for their youthful mistakes. Stillman reports on a sampling of tragic cases, which cast doubt on laws that lead to harsh sentences and life-long scarlet letters for kids – some as young as 10 years old. We all want to protect victims. Tune in, and you may be surprised to learn how poorly the system works, even by that measure.


The List - The New Yorker, March 14, 2016 issue


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Adam Bates on StingRay Surveillance

Mobile technology has brought uncountable conveniences into modern life, making it easier to locate new restaurants, get a lift across town, and listen to your favorite radio personalities on the go. On the flip side, some innovations have enabled both criminals and law enforcement to abuse technology, and use shadowy means to evade accountability. Adam Bates, a policy analyst with Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice, has been tracking the government’s surreptitious use of portable ‘Stingray’ devices, which can locate and obtain data from cell phones by masquerading as a cell phone tower (often without a warrant).  Many criminals and malicious hackers have long known about police surveillance of cell phones, and sought more covert methods of communication. Thanks to groups like the Cato Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the ACLU, the rest of the public is now learning of the potential violations of their privacy taking place in the name of public safety in virtually every jurisdiction in the country. Adam explains how the use of Stingrays is undercutting our Fourth Amendment rights, and could be undermining efforts to put real criminals behind bars. 

Professor Bernstein vs. President Obama: Battle of the Con Law Professors

Not long ago, Barack Obama's peers knew him as a moderate. As a constitutional law professor, Obama generally subscribed to the dominant progressive ideology at Harvard Law School, but voiced a strong belief in separation of powers and other checks on the executive branch. Many hoped he might become the first civil libertarian president. Now, even liberal law professors (not to mention liberal Supreme Court justices) are questioning the legal reasoning behind the Obama administration’s increasingly brazen edicts. David Bernstein, a constitutional law professor at George Mason University, has documented the worst of these abuses power in his new book, “Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law” – drone strikes without Congressional approval are only the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of your political tribe, you must listen to Bernstein’s warning. Obama supporters should be especially wary – after all, who knows who will be wielding these expanded powers down the road? 


Amazon: Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

VIDEO: 2008 Candidate Obama campaigns on promise to stop abuses of executive power

The Volokh Conspiracy


Seeing Through TSA's Security Theater With Jim Bovard

If you're flying home from vacation this weekend, you have one more gift to look forward to before you reach your gate: a TSA body scan. As of this week, opt outs of the invasive technology will no longer be granted to all those who ask for the alternative pat down. Jim Bovard has written for over a decade on the Transportation Security Agency’s encroachments of liberty. A frequent “opter-out” of the scanners in bygone times, Bovard has not flinched in the face of the screeners’ intimidation tactics. In addition to his repeat encounters with TSA agents, Bovard stands out among libertarian writers for his widely-read USA Today columns denouncing the climate of fear created by government to justify their privacy violations. He joins this special holiday edition of The Bob Zadek Show to dissect the carefully constructed “security theater” that we are forced to attend every time we fly. Tune in at 9am Pacific and call in with your nightmare experiences at airport security.