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Homeland Security Approves Seizure of Cell Phones and Laptops within 100 Miles of Border; Report Remains Secret

By Matt Bewig | AllGov | February 11, 2013

  (graphic: ACLU)

Americans have no Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures if they happen to be within 100 miles of the border, according to the “Executive Summary” of a still-secret report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the ACLU-created map above shows, nearly 2/3 of Americans (197 million people)—including the entire populations of Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC, and Michigan—live in this “Constitution free” zone, as do the residents of the nation’s five most populous cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia.

The secret report is DHS’s response (two years late) to critics of its policy, in place since at least 2008, of allowing border control agents, without a warrant or even a suspicion of wrongdoing, to search any travelers’ electronic devices (laptops, cell phones, tablets, cameras, etc.) and seize data they find. According to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) filed three years ago by the ACLU, DHS subjected more than 6,500 travelers—nearly half of them U.S. citizens—to searches under this policy between October 2008 and June 2010.

The Executive Summary of the secret report, which DHS is allowing the public to see, sets forth its conclusions without even summarizing the reasoning underlying them. Thus it asserts 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,” but is silent on how DHS defines “civil rights/civil liberties benefits” or how it balances these against its institutional needs.

The ACLU, which has already filed an FOIA request demanding the full report, released a statement arguing that “allowing government agents to search through all of a traveler’s data without reasonable suspicion is completely incompatible with our fundamental rights: our Fourth Amendment right to privacy—and more specifically the right to be free from unreasonable searches—is implicated when the government can rummage through our computers and cell phones for no reason other than that we happen to have traveled abroad. Suspicionless searches also open the door to profiling based on perceived or actual race, ethnicity, or religion. And our First Amendment rights to free speech and free association are inhibited when agents at the border can target us for searches based on our exercise of those rights.”

To Learn More:

DHS Watchdog OKs ‘Suspicionless’ Seizure of Electronic Devices Along Border (by David Kravets, Wired)

February 11, 2013 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. None of this would be happening, if it were not for the all the tens of millions of American citizens being willfully distracted, wantonly ignorant of, and even when more than suspicious, have keep their mounts shut, in the aftermath of 9/11.

    Obama is the Terrorist-In-Chief; a proven enemy of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights. They are superior to any authority, professed legitimacy, of anyone to say and act as if they are meaningless! For, that is high treason in fact. Obama, Biden, those under them in the executive branch, those in congress, in courts, and mass disinformation complex aka, the Mass Media Mind-fuck!

    Expect nothing more than a obsequious and craven congress at the State of Union address by the imperial punk Obama.

    The immediate move to impeach should take place by a standing vote in the US House of Representatives during the State of the Union address. Romans were more decisive as on the Ides of March. We can vote, the nation should vote in unison in making Public Policy and Law. The Supreme Court in Citizens United proves it has no respect for and fair elections, and politicians are out to raise campaign funds more than anything else, especially political awareness. I see no ‘”Rule of Law'” just repression of ‘We the People’ political prostitution, state-terrorism via false flag psyops and the chronic cravenness.

    Bill Mitchell

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | February 11, 2013 | Reply

  2. As a side note, you need to be aware that simply deleting a file from your smart phone or laptop does not actually get rid of it. It’s still there in the memory waiting for forensics software to uncover it. So, on the off chance you once had something on your cell phone or laptop like your latest product idea or naked pictures of your girlfriend you do not care to share with the DHS, there are applications for laptops and cell phones that truly erase the empty space on your phones and computers by filling the space with random numbers to obliterate the remains of deleted files. Many of them are free.

    Comment by Michael F Rivero | February 12, 2013 | Reply

  3. Hmmm

    Really now people are you that guilible to actually believe that the DHS (which is an agency that has been in existence for a little over 1 decade) has the legal constitutional right to suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for any reason what so ever. Let alone violate the Bill of Rights because of where you live within the United States? The DHS has no more “right” or legal authority to search your person, papers, personal effects or cars than I have to rob banks. Come to think of it what DHS is doing is robbing you of your Constitutional rights. DHS is acting outside the confines of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and is therefore acting illegally.

    If they were in fact operating legally why would they hide their so called “justification” from the American People? At this point in time in February of 2013 the only difference between DHS and the Gestapo and SS in 1937 Nazi Germany is that the DHS has more power and more ways to violate, persecute and terrorize law abiding citizens. If the DHS was operating in a legal and Constitutional manner it would not secret presidential signing statements and secret memos and secret rulings to carry out their work. Oh and the framework for the DHS was created with the help of a group of ex East German secret police and israeli terrorists. (mean secret police sorry)

    People it was the government themselves that told we the people that if you have nothing to hide why would you want to hide it.
    I mean lets face it, the real criminals don’t give a rats butt about the legal mechanisms in place to apprehend them so why hide it? Unless of course it cannot stand up to public and Congressional let alone Judicial review. DHS operates under the guise of protecting us when it fact its standard Modus operandi is right out of the play book of every totalitarian police state in modern history.

    Comment by DDearborn | February 12, 2013 | Reply

    • I am not sure what planet you live on, but on our planet called Earth, they already wiped their asses with our Bill of Rights and Constitution and shoving their dirty gloves down our pants in almost all airports. I didn’t know that alien beings could post on this website. What technology do you guys use on your planet, have you already defeated the banking and oil cartel?

      Comment by Peter Pan | February 12, 2013 | Reply

  4. Where does this end? Tommorow it will be everywhere, this is just to get you used to the idea like the frog in the warm water.

    Comment by JonnyD | February 13, 2013 | Reply


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