I thought I’d do a follow-up to my Let Civil Liberties & Freedom Ring! post about the erosion of civil liberties in Britain—which, in my opinion, is akin to what has been happening here in the United States in the past decade. My inspiration for a second post on the subject was Glenn Greenwald’s most recent piece at Salon—Homeland Security’s laptop seizures: Interview with Rep. Sanchez.
I have been reading about the seizures of cell phones and laptop computers by the DHS. I have found it troubling that our government has no compunction about confiscating the personal property of some of its own citizens without any warrant, probable cause, or suspicion that the citizens may have been involved in a criminal activity.
Our civil liberties and rights are being eroded while most of us sit silent. Where is the outcry? Even a watchdog like Greenwald talks of how he had become “inured” to the abuses of our civil liberties and how “severe incursions start to seem ordinary.” Greenwald wrote:
“Such was the case, at least for me, with Homeland Security’s practice of detaining American citizens upon their re-entry into the country, and as part of that detention, literally seizing their electronic products — laptops, cellphones, Blackberries and the like — copying and storing the data, and keeping that property for months on end, sometimes never returning it. Worse, all of this is done not only without a warrant, probable cause or any oversight, but even without reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in any crime.”
Greenwald goes on to talk of how there is no law which authorizes the DHS with such powers—and how we citizens have no recourse to have our personal property returned to us if it is confiscated. Few members of Congress appear concerned. There is, however, one person who is attempting to address the problem—Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat from the state of California. Greenwald reports that Sanchez has introduced H.R. 216, a bill that would require DHS to issue rules governing searches and seizure, impose some reporting requirements, and give some “modest” rights to people who have had the property seized by DHS.
There is always a huge outcry when someone brings up gun control. Why don’t people get as concerned about the diminution of their Fourth Amendments rights as they do about restrictions being put on their Second Amendment rights?
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.
I recommend the reading of Greenwald’s entire article. I also recommend listening to his interview with Rep. Sanchez here. (Scroll down to the end of Greenwald’s article for the interview.)
Source: Glenn Greenwald (Salon)