Thursday, February 7, 2008

They hate us for our freedoms

Just remember these two news stories the next time our dear, addled president tries to tell us that the reason for terrorism is that "they hate us for our freedoms".

This first story presents, in a shockingly approving manor, what I consider to be a major violation of the 4th amendment.

Police officers in Daytona Beach are swabbing the mouths of persons of interests during traffic stops with special DNA kits in the hunt for an elusive serial killer, sources close to the investigation told Local 6.
Agents are using the DNA kits to collect as much DNA as possible during traffic stops and special operations in hopes on making a match.

Local 6 showed agents stopping a person of interest from Canada, who gave his DNA to officers on the street using the DNA kit.

The DNA kits are also being used in prostitution stings in the area.
Stop me when I get to the part that bothers you. Is it that citizens are being compelled to give police officers evidence, or that citizens are being compelled to give police evidence that is not related to the offense for which they were stopped, or that the asshat reporter sees absolutely nothing wrong with these patently illegal searches? Ah, the "freedoms" we enjoy!

This story also disturbs me. It seems that flying with electronic devices has been identified as a breach of National Security if you're an Arab or South Asian.
Nabila Mango, a therapist and a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country since 1965, had just flown in from Jordan last December when, she said, she was detained at customs and her cellphone was taken from her purse. Her daughter, waiting outside San Francisco International Airport, tried repeatedly to call her during the hour and a half she was questioned. But after her phone was returned, Mango saw that records of her daughter's calls had been erased.

A few months earlier in the same airport, a tech engineer returning from a business trip to London objected when a federal agent asked him to type his password into his laptop computer. "This laptop doesn't belong to me," he remembers protesting. "It belongs to my company." Eventually, he agreed to log on and stood by as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited, said the engineer, a U.S. citizen who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of calling attention to himself.

Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had "a security concern" with her. "I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight," she said.

The seizure of electronics at U.S. borders has prompted protests from travelers who say they now weigh the risk of traveling with sensitive or personal information on their laptops, cameras or cellphones. In some cases, companies have altered their policies to require employees to safeguard corporate secrets by clearing laptop hard drives before international travel.

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus, two civil liberties groups in San Francisco, plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices. They also want to know the boundaries for asking travelers about their political views, religious practices and other activities potentially protected by the First Amendment. The question of whether border agents have a right to search electronic devices at all without suspicion of a crime is already under review in the federal courts.

The lawsuit was inspired by two dozen cases, 15 of which involved searches of cellphones, laptops, MP3 players and other electronics. Almost all involved travelers of Muslim, Middle Eastern or South Asian background, many of whom, including Mango and the tech engineer, said they are concerned they were singled out because of racial or religious profiling. (emphasis mine)
Can you believe this? The courts have to review whether an illegal search is okay? You can't make this stuff up!

You might argue with me for getting bent over a minority that protects terrorists being harassed by "the man". But it's the old slippery slope, my friend. How long before these Nazis decide that MY laptop is fair game? Or your phone?

Our liberties - whether immigrant citizen or free-born American - are supposed to be GUARANTEED under the Constitution. The actions of the Daytona Beach police and the TSA Nazis is simply more evidence of the way our government wipes its ass with the Constitution.