Thursday, September 9, 2010


"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment

Welcome to our brave new world. Doesn't it seem, more and more everyday, that we have crossed some invisible line, that we've crossed over into the intrusive world that is so often pictured in science fiction? How did this happen? When did we forget how to say no?

Is there any action by the government we'll stand up to? Can the threat of terrorism and the protection of the nanny state be used to justify anything?

Does the Constitution have any meaning at all anymore?

"Commuters who ride PATCO trains between southern New Jersey and Philadelphia should expect random searches of their clothing, pockets, bags and vehicles on their morning trip to work.

Twelve Transportation Security Administration screeners, armed with an explosive-sniffing K-9, checked 663 commuter bags randomly selected from the morning rush at the Lindenwold station Tuesday."
NBC Philadelphia

"Holli Powell, a Phoenix medical- software consultant who flies every week, says she avoids getting into airport security lines that end at what she calls a humiliating full-body scanner.

“Those scanners, I feel, are above and beyond,” Powell, 35, said in an interview. They generate “nearly naked images.”

The concerns of travelers such as Powell, which led privacy advocates to sue the government, may soon be eased. L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. and OSI Systems Inc.’s Rapiscan, makers of the scanners for U.S. airports, are delivering software upgrades that show a generic figure rather than an actual image of a passenger’s body parts. The new display would mark sections of a person’s body that need to be checked."

"From the KCMO police: The Kansas City Police Department will conduct a sobriety checkpoint on this weekend at a location in Kansas City that is known for occurrence of DUI related crashes or DUI arrests.

During this operation there will be signs placed in advance of the checkpoint site and officers will be on the street directing traffic. Motorists will be directed to a location where an officer can conduct a brief check to determine if the motorist should be delayed longer. If not, the motorist will be delayed only a very brief period of time."
Crime Scene KC

"The result [of the Patriot Act} is unchecked government power to rifle through individuals' financial records, medical histories, Internet usage, bookstore purchases, library usage, travel patterns, or any other activity that leaves a record. Making matters worse:

The government no longer has to show evidence that the subjects of search orders are an "agent of a foreign power," a requirement that previously protected Americans against abuse of this authority.

The FBI does not even have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement for "probable cause" that is listed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. All the government needs to do is make the broad assertion that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation.

Judicial oversight of these new powers is essentially non-existent. The government must only certify to a judge - with no need for evidence or proof - that such a search meets the statute's broad criteria, and the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.

Surveillance orders can be based in part on a person's First Amendment activities, such as the books they read, the Web sites they visit, or a letter to the editor they have written.

A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone. As a result of this gag order, the subjects of surveillance never even find out that their personal records have been examined by the government. That undercuts an important check and balance on this power: the ability of individuals to challenge illegitimate searches."

"Despite complaints by privacy advocates, the number of surveillance cameras is growing and proving increasingly valuable to police for catching criminals as well as protecting against terrorists."
USA Today

"The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that federal law does not require prosecutors to show probable cause when they seek tracking data collected by cell phone providers. But the court said that judges can ask for it nonetheless.

...The records requested, which track the towers and site locations used by the phone subscriber, can track where a person was in the past when making and receiving calls. In urban areas, a person's whereabouts can be tracked to within 200 feet of the exact location."
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"The FBI and other police agencies don't need a search warrant to track the locations of Americans' cell phones, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday in a precedent-setting decision.

In the first decision of its kind, a Philadelphia appeals court agreed with the Obama administration that no search warrant--signed by a judge based on a belief that there was probable cause to suspect criminal activity--was necessary for police to obtain logs showing where a cell phone user had traveled."

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