Monday, August 19, 2013


Americans continue to lose their Constitutional rights in the name of “security” at a rapid pace. The Second Amendment has been the most obvious, but the First, Fifth and Tenth Amendment are being usurped by the U.S. government in a disturbing trend.

The Fourth Amendment is the most recent in this series. Increasing surveillance – such as New York’s proposal to monitor the streets by camera and save the data, Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk,” the NSA’s snooping programs, and PRISM revelations – has drawn this accusation, and now the Department of Homeland Security has become involved.

In the name of “border security,” a recent report defended the idea of so-called “Fourth Amendment Free Zones” within 100 miles of every border and the ocean.

In these areas, DHS agents can search and examine electronic devices, search through peoples’ belongings, and shake them down, all without probable cause. This effectively suspends the rights of 197 million Americans based on residence alone. This was questioned in 2009, and the DHS agreed to investigate the “civil rights impact” of the practice, but the full report wasn’t released until nearly four years later.

In February 2013, the DHS released an executive summary by its civil rights watchdog concluding 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.” In other words “it’s easier this way.” According to the report, there were 685 electronic device searches from 2009-2010, with a total of 41 seizures. All in all, about 6,500 travelers (2,995 of whom were citizens) have been searched since 2008.

As the DHS had initially released only the two-page executive summary of the report, the ACLU also filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the full DHS report, hoping, according to attorney Catherine Crump, “to establish that the Department of Homeland Security can’t simply assert that its practices are legitimate without showing us the evidence, and to make it clear that the government’s own analyses of how our fundamental rights apply to new technologies should be openly accessible to the public for review and debate.” The full report contained arguments such as the importance of following “hunches,” and concrete data about numbers of seizures, but was no more convincing than the initial summary.

Full article: … amendment-free-zone/

Share on Tumblr Flattr this