– Department of Homeland Security: We Can Search and Confiscate Electronic Devices Based on a “Hunch” (Liberty Blitzkrieg, June 5, 2013):
Regular readers know my complete and total disdain for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). An organization that is quite clearly gearing itself up for confrontation with the American public, rather than offering any meaningful protection from foreign “terrorists.” These folks think that because they have a big budget and a badge they do not have to abide by the Constitution. They have such little respect for the supreme law of the land that they claim they can search through travelers’ electronic items, and even confiscate them, based on a “hunch.” No, really.
Terrorists don’t take away freedoms. Governments take away freedoms…and ours is doing a damn good job of it.
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — U.S. border agents should continue to be allowed to search a traveler’s laptop, cellphone or other electronic device and keep copies of any data on them based on no more than a hunch, according to an internal Homeland Security Department study. It contends limiting such searches would prevent the U.S. from detecting child pornographers or terrorists and expose the government to lawsuits.
The 23-page report, obtained by The Associated Press and the American Civil Liberties Union under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, provides a rare glimpse of the Obama administration’s thinking on the long-standing but controversial practice of border agents and immigration officers searching and in some cases holding for weeks or months the digital devices of anyone trying to enter the U.S.
Since his election, President Barack Obama has taken an expansive view of legal authorities in the name of national security, asserting that he can order the deaths of U.S. citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism without involvement by courts, investigate reporters as criminals and — in this case — read and copy the contents of computers carried by U.S. travelers without a good reason to suspect wrongdoing.
Now here is some text from the DHS study:
“We do not believe that this 1986 approach, or a reasonable suspicion requirement in any other form, would improve current policy,” the report said. “Officers might hesitate to search an individual’s device without the presence of articulable factors capable of being formally defended, despite having an intuition or hunch based on experience that justified a search.” It added: “An on-the-spot perusal of electronic devices following the procedures established in 1986 could well result in a delay of days or weeks.”
Apparently in America, a search warrant has now been replaced by a “hunch.”
Full article here.