Very few people are aware that in a country supposedly protected by a Constitution enumerating liberties such as freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, there exists a 100-mile-wide ring around the entire nation that the ACLU has called a “Constitution Free Zone.”
This zone lies within the realm of border protection and permits otherwise unconstitutional actions such as inland checkpoints, drones, license plate tracking, biometric data collection, DNA collection, and now digital searches, all without a warrant.
What makes this particularly troubling is that the nation’s largest cities lie within this zone, making 2/3 of the population susceptible to whatever the government wishes to do in its headlong march toward tyranny.
When it comes to civil liberties, Homeland Security cares, which is why they have their own office to oversee its activities; it is called the The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security. Orwell would be proud of its name and function.
Some also contend that searching laptops without reasonable suspicion violates the First Amendment. The Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Office at the DHS, which is theoretically in charge of ‘promoting respect for civil rights and civil liberties in policy creation and implementation’ within the organization, disagrees.
‘Some critics argue that a heightened level of suspicion should be required before officers search laptop computers in order to avoid chilling First Amendment rights,’ writes Tamara Kessler, the report’s author. ‘However, we conclude that the laptop border searches allowed under the ICE and CBP Directives do not violate travelers’ First Amendment rights.’ (Source)
In case this sounds a bit convoluted and doublespeaky to you and you might want further clarification … you can’t have it. That’s right, the office that cares so much about your civil liberties and privacy has offered only an executive summary, but the full report is off limits.
That rubs the ACLU the wrong way. ‘Given the report’s troubling conclusion that its agents are entitled to the sweeping power to examine Americans’ private papers, it is important that the agency make the full and complete report available,’ Crump told us. ‘The public has a strong interest in understanding the arguments and evidence that supports the report’s conclusion, not just in knowing the ultimate results.’
In a further troubling side note, DHS has issued a grant of $583,000 to the University of Alabama to develop technology to track all mobile devices, laptops and tablets. This technology will offer a full chronology of location history and prevent forging of that history. It, like other high-tech security initiatives, is being developed for use in protecting government buildings and agencies. But if history offers any lessons, it is that this technology – just like biometric ID – will trickle down rather rapidly into the everyday lives of Americans with or without a Constitution.
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