I know lots of people out there won't see any problem with the civil liberties of these suspects being violated. In truth, if the worst thing that happens in the world today is that people involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center get knocked around by cops, I won't lose any sleep.
However, the story is much bigger than that, for a couple of reasons.
First, if the American system of justice - and indeed, the whole idea of "American Freedom" that our not-so-elected leaders claim we're defending - is to mean anything, then these people must be tried just like any other criminals. They should be tried on the strength of the evidence, and that evidence must be gathered lawfullly. These suspects, however guilty and however heinous their crimes, must be extended the same rights as all other criminals. To make exceptions, even in this one case, invalidates both the letter and the spirit of the mechanisms meant to ensure fairness in America's legal system.
The second (and less abstract) problem is that once we do start making such exceptions acceptable, they will be made again and again. When law enforcement agencies are given license to abuse their powers, they will; the recent spate of illegal wiretaps by the LAPD should provide ample evidence of that.
It gets worse. Once exceptions are made to due process for criminals - whether that's through new laws relaxing controls on law enforcement, or through a new habit of looking the other way when they go over the line - the government will use it to crack down on political dissent. This is not just paranoid raving: This century includes numerous high-profile examples of the law enforcement apparatus being used against members of various political opposition groups, through the passing of new laws (e.g., the Sedition Act), through quasi-legal "investigations" (think Senator McCarthy), outright abuses of law enforcement apparatus (such as the FBI's illegal surveillance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), and egregious abuses of executive power (such as Nixon's "enemies list" - people on the list were often the target of brutal tax audits). And don't get me started on J. Edgar Hoover.
Many of the freedoms enumerated in America's Bill of Rights were put there precisely because the denial of these freedoms was Great Britain's most common tactic in supressing the nascent, dissident movement for independence. Recognizing the role of dissidence in achieving social justice, the framers of the American political system deliberately erred on the side of protecting the guilty to avoid punishing the innocent, with the specific intent of disallowing the new American government from punishing innocent people whose primary "crime" was disagreeing with the status quo.
So, when voting on this article, I'd urge K5'ers to look past the (entirely understandable and legitimate) desire to see a few outstanding sociopaths brought to deservedly brutal justice, and think about the long-term consequences of relaxing Fourth Amendment protections and other restrictions on law enforcement. The article pointed to here contains disturbing information that should be widely disseminated and discussed, for it is exactly this dissemination and discussion that is required to maintain a healthy, pluralistic democracy with justice for all.
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily