Friday, June 27, 2008

Fascism Has Arrived When Information Can Be Seized As "Contraband"

How the fuck can anyone believe there still persists even the fucking possibility for freedoms under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments?
Seizing Laptops and Cameras Without Cause
A controversial customs practice creates a legal backlash
By Alex Kingsbury
Posted June 24, 2008

Returning from a brief vacation to Germany in February, Bill Hogan was selected for additional screening by customs officials at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. Agents searched Hogan's luggage and then popped an unexpected question: Was he carrying any digital media cards or drives in his pockets? "Then they told me that they were impounding my laptop," says Hogan, a freelance investigative reporter whose recent stories have ranged from the origins of the Iraq war to the impact of money in presidential politics.

Shaken by the encounter, Hogan says he left the airport and examined his bags, finding that the agents had also removed and inspected the memory card from his digital camera. "It was fortunate that I didn't use that machine for work or I would have had to call up all my sources and tell them that the government had just seized their information," he said. When customs offered to return the machine nearly two weeks later, Hogan told them to ship it to his lawyer.

The extent of the program to confiscate electronics at customs points is unclear. A hearing Wednesday before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution hopes to learn more about the extent of the program and safeguards to traveler's privacy. Lawsuits have also been filed, challenging how the program selects travelers for inspection. Citing those lawsuits, Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, refuses to say exactly how common the practice is, how many computers, portable storage drives, and BlackBerries have been inspected and confiscated, or what happens to the devices once they are seized.
Customs agents have the authority to search the contents of lap-tops, on the same theory that permits 'em to search brief-cases. A brief-case might hold some piece of physical, material contraband: jewelry, drugs, food. A lap-top holds only bits and byts. No physical danger there, only ideas, thoughts. Didn't they settle that with allegedly pornographic literature imports in the '50s? If Customs fuckers can seize, inspect, and confiscate electronic information storage gear, it makes a complete, cocked-up mockery of the citizen's liberties guaranteed by the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.

Typical Murking reply: "Fascism? Hunh? Where? I don' see no 'fascism.' There's no li'l guy in a funny moustache...You're just making shit up, you Dirty Fucking Hippy! You jis hate the Preznint..."


notwatchingtelevision said...

Obama told Rolling Stone first-term priorities are combat troops out of Iraq, effect energy policy and universal healthcare. Wish he'd seen fit to put restoring the Constitution on the list. SP

Woody (Tokin' Lib'rul/Rogue Scholar & O'erall Helluvafella!) said...

Restoring Constitutional protections is not high on the list of priorities of ANY Presidential candidate. Obama or Bombin' John, they won't concede back to the People any of the power the Busheviks stole (illegally arrogated), except at the point of a gun...It has NEVER happened, since Washington. Not once. EVER!

nolocontendere said...

Funny how no self respecting terrorist would casually try to walk through customs with all his nefarious and incriminating plans on his hard drive in a file named HERE IT IS in a folder called MY BIG AND HORRIBLE ATTACK.
But TSA still pretends otherwise.