The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (which could be considered an oxymoron by some), in a two-page executive summary, revealed travelers near the nation’s borders can have their electronic devices seized for any reason.
In 2009, the DHS, one of the responsibilities of which is securing our borders, stated it would conduct a “Civil Liberties Assessment” into its policy of suspicionless search-and-seizures of electronic devices.
While the assessment was originally supposed to be delivered in around 120 days, it actually took three years of waiting before the review was issued.
“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 stated.
The suspicionless search-and-seizure policy began in 2008 under the Bush administration.
In that year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency under the umbrella of the DHS, declared CBP had the right to search laptops, electronic devices and printed material of any traveler (U.S. citizen or non-citizen) at the border, “absent individualized suspicion.”
So far the same policy is being continued under President Barack Obama.
Between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons have had their various electronic devices searched.
With the Fourth Amendment, you might logically think they would be legally protected from such searches.
Sadly, you would be wrong, since the protection does not apply to the border and could actually stretch 100 miles inland, because of a “Constitutional Free Zone,” as the American Civil Liberties Union refers to it.
A great video to watch on this is Border Patrol (100 miles from the border), which is embedded below:
As one would imagine, this policy has civil liberty organizations livid. And as to be expected, the ACLU opposes the draconian measures.
“There should be a reasonable, articulate reason why the search of our electronic devices could lead to evidence of a crime,” Catherine Crump, an ALCU staff attorney said.
“That’s a low threshold,” said Crump.
“This is a civil liberties watchdog office. If it is doing its job property, it is supposed to objectively evaluate. It has the power to recommend safeguard to Americans’ rights. The office has not done that and the public has the right to know why,” Crump said.
According to the ACLU, “The Constitution-Free Zone” of the United States, encompasses all borders affecting 197.4 million people.
Let’s hope this abuse of power is challenged and our right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures are restored.
But then again, we could always bury our heads in the ground and be good automatons, while repeating the mantra, “if you have nothing to hide, then don’t worry about it.”
As Ben Franklin once said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Editor’s note: I covered some other issues surrounding the massive so-called “Constitution-Free Zone” in the below video:
Edited by End the Lie
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