Comments Subscribe to Personal Liberty News Feed Subscribe to Personal Liberty
 

DHS Report Justifies Warrantless, Suspicionless Searches Of Electronics Near Borders

June 7, 2013 by  

The Department of Homeland Security has released a long-awaited 2011 assessment of the civil liberties impact of its policy of conducting suspicionless searches of electronic devices at the border in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU calls the results of the DHS assessment “disappointing” for civil liberties advocates.

Credit: PHOTOS.COM

In the redacted Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Impact  Assessment, the government explains why it believes requiring officers to have probable cause to search electronic devices such as cell phones and computers at the border would make America less safe:

[A]dding a heightened [suspicion-based] threshold requirement could be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefit. First, commonplace decisions to search electronic devices might be opened to litigation challenging the reasons for the search. In addition to interfering with a carefully constructed border security system, the litigation could directly undermine national security by requiring the government to produce sensitive investigative and national security information to justify some of the most critical searches. Even a policy change entirely unenforceable by courts might be problematic; we have been presented with some noteworthy CBP and ICE success stories based on hard-to-articulate intuitions or hunches based on officer experience and judgment. Under a reasonable suspicion requirement, 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.

ACLU attorney Brian Hauss said that the government’s reasoning completely undermines Constitutional rights and is baseless for many reasons.

“Although DHS might fear the prospect of being called into open court to explain its actions, executive accountability before the law is the bedrock on which our system of constitutional self-government is built,” Hauss said.

Furthermore, the ACLU attorney contends that the Federal government’s fear of court challenges leading to national security leaks is moot: “This line of thought is faulty for a few reasons. DHS claims that giving Americans the opportunity to challenge laptop searches in court would lead to the divulgence of national security secrets, but this is obviously wrong. The government has numerous resources at its disposal to prevent the disclosure of sensitive information. The ‘state secrets privilege,’ to take just one example that is used in court cases, has been criticized on many grounds, but no one has ever seriously suggested that its protections are too anemic.”

While even the most ardent civil liberties advocates understand that security threats at the Nation’s borders sometimes require lower thresholds for 4th Amendment protections; but the Federal government makes it seem as if the Nation’s borders should be treated as a Constitution-free zone. Nearly 190 million citizens live within what the ACLU has previously dubbed “Constitution-free Zones” near the country’s borders.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

Facebook Conversations

Join the Discussion:
View Comments to “DHS Report Justifies Warrantless, Suspicionless Searches Of Electronics Near Borders”

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

Is there news related to personal liberty happening in your area? Contact us at newstips@personalliberty.com

Bottom
close[X]

Sign Up For Personal Liberty Digest™!

PL Badge

Welcome to PersonalLiberty.com,
America's #1 Source for Libertarian News!

To join our group of freedom-loving individuals and to get alerts as well as late-breaking conservative news from Personal Liberty Digest™...

Privacy PolicyYou can opt out at any time. We protect your information like a mother hen. We will not sell or rent your email address to anyone for any reason.