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Computers, Phones Can Be Searched On Hunches

From an unfazed Associated Press:

Dept. of Homeland Security: Laptops, Phones Can Be Searched Based on Hunches

June 5, 2013

WASHINGTON (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.

Wow. Also, limiting such searches might prevent the administration from finding donors to Tea Party groups. (By the way, someone needs to tell the AP that the term ‘hunch’ is very politically incorrect, since ‘hunches’ refer to the disability known as ‘hunchback-ness.’)

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.

The DHS study, dated December 2011, said the border searches do not violate the First or Fourth amendments, which prohibit restrictions on speech and unreasonable searches and seizures.

Funny how none of this came out before the elections, isn’t it?

It specifically objected to a tougher standard in a 1986 government policy that allowed for only cursory review of a traveler’s documents.

“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.”

The Homeland Security report was prepared by its Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties…

Oh, the irony.

According to the government study, 685 of roughly 50 million travelers entering the U.S. in 2009 and 2010 were subject to electronic device searches. Of those searched, 41 devices were held by the government.

The ACLU, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and other groups have sued to stop the practice, saying that it violates First and Fourth amendment rights. They say allowing agents to act on a hunch encourages racial profiling…

And never mind that the Israelis prove every day that ‘profiling’ works.

Meanwhile, we have this from the Politico:

TSA abandons plan to allow knives

By KATHRYN A. WOLFE | June 5, 2013 

In the end, the head of the TSA blinked. Following a barrage of criticism from politicians, unions, airlines and consumers, John Pistole [sic] said on Wednesday knives with blades just under 2.5 inches long and other items that could be used as weapons will not be allowed on board planes after all.

You can bet it was the unions who carried the day. Still, you can’t blame the TSA, who probably believed Obama when he said the war on terror is over.

In a statement, TSA said it decided to reverse its previous decision after discussions with law enforcement, passengers and “other important stakeholders.”

Stakes shouldn’t be allowed on planes, either.

TSA had originally proposed allowing small knives, golf clubs, souvenir baseball bats and other such items on planes. That ignited a firestorm of opposition that forced Pistole to put the decision on hold for a time.

Pistole’s decision was based on the idea that there are enough layers of security in place that a terrorist won’t be able to use a small blade to hijack a plane again. He further suggested that paying attention to those items only forces security agents to spend less time trying to spot the terrorists’ preferred weapon: explosives.

They can’t do both?

But TSA’s decision blindsided lawmakers and others with a stake in aviation security, and lack of engagement with them was one of the key critiques that lawmakers leveled against TSA when it first announced the policy change…

Is there anything this crew can’t screw up?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, June 6th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Computers, Phones Can Be Searched On Hunches”

  1. Noyzmakr says:

    It’s begining to look as though the AP went to their closet and dug out the stories they had burried about the regime.

    It seems to be a little revenge for spying on their reporters. AP is sticking in the knife and twisting it. Well, maybe their using a nail file.

    They don’t really want to hurt the Kenyan.


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