Goodbye Fourth Amendment: Homeland Security Affirms "Suspicionless" Confiscation Of Devices Along Border
Slowly but surely the administration is making sure that both the US constitution, and its various amendments, become a thing of the past. In the name of national security, of course. And while until now it was the First and Second amendments that were the target of the administration's ongoing efforts to eavesdrop on anyone, all the time, in order to decide who may be a domestic terrorist and thus fit for 'droning', coupled with an aggressive push to disarm and curtail the propagation of weapons in what some perceive is nothing more than an attempt to take away a population's one recourse to defend itself against a tyrannical government, the time may be coming to say goodbye to the Fourth amendment - the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures - next. But only in close proximity to the border at first. According to Wired, "the Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security."
More on America's quest, by a very select few, to one by one extinguish its civil liberties from Wired:
The DHS, which secures the nation’s border, in 2009 announced that it would conduct a “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment” of its suspicionless search-and-seizure policy pertaining to electronic devices “within 120 days.” More than three years later, the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties published a two-page executive summary of its findings.
“We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” the executive summary said.
The memo highlights the friction between today’s reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government’s stated quest for national security.
And before this becomes yet another red vs blue scream fest, where the underlying fact is ignored in the name of proving the validity of one's ideological convictions, the reality is that the eradication of the Fourth Amendment started with Bush, and has merely accelerated under Obama.
The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The President Barack Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later. Between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border, according to DHS data.
What does this decision mean in principle:
According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.
100 miles today, 1,000 miles tomorrow, and the entire nation the day after. Though no need: as the attached map also from Wired shows, the "borders" in question include maritime as well, and with the bulk of the US population concentrated along the coasts, the "constitution free" zone of the US includes virtually everyone living on the two seaboards: some 66% of the US population!
For those still confused, luckily there is a case study:
A lawsuit the ACLU brought on the issue concerns a New York man whose laptop was seized along the Canadian border in 2010 and returned 11 days later after his attorney complained.
At an Amtrak inspection point, Pascal Abidor showed his U.S. passport to a federal agent. He was ordered to move to the cafe car, where they removed his laptop from his luggage and “ordered Mr. Abidor to enter his password,” according to the lawsuit.
Agents asked him about pictures they found on his laptop, which included Hamas and Hezbollah rallies. He explained that he was earning a doctoral degree at a Canadian university on the topic of the modern history of Shiites in Lebanon.
He was handcuffed and then jailed for three hours while the authorities looked through his computer while numerous agents questioned him, according to the suit, which is pending in New York federal court.
First they came for your iPad, and nobody said anything...
In other news, the rest of the world now openly hates America for its relentless and ever accelerating loss of freedoms. All "in the name of the national security" bogeyman of course.
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