DHS “Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties” Admits It Is A Farce

I mean, they didn’t say that explicitly, but you be the judge: the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was asked to review the policy of DHS’s Customs and Border Patrol regarding conducting suspicionless searches of electronic media (generally, your laptop) at border crossings. This policy means that any time you enter the country, the government feels it has the right to look through all the documents on your hard drive, even if there’s no reason at all to suspect that you might be engaged in criminal activity.

The review concluded that “imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefit.”

Do you see a problem here with an office, whose job it is to ensure that an agency respects the civil rights of the people, that does not understand how requiring the government to have a reason before it paws through the photos of your kids and wife (yeah, those photos!), reads through all of your e-mail, and makes sure the music you’re listening to and books you’re reading are not “suspicious,” would have a civil liberties benefit? DHS does this, ostensibly, to prevent the trafficking of child pornography and corporate espionage. I’m no expert on either subject, but it would seem to me that if one were to engage in either crime, wouldn’t they simply upload their contraband to a secure location on the Internet, where they can easily download it at their destination, rather than travel the globe with it sitting on their hard drive?

It seems clear to me that the alleged desired benefit of these searches is unobtainable since they are easier to circumvent than the TSA’s body scanners. It seems clear to me that this is a new technique to spy on the citizens, collect data (“Oh, Mr. Corbett here has files on his hard drive relating to aviation security… let’s put him in a database!”), and chip away at the Fourth Amendment. It seems clear to me that this furthers the government’s, and particularly the Obama administration’s, desire to fellate the copyright industry — from its absurd extrajudicial prosecution of Megaupload, to its attempts to pass SOPA and related laws, to these hard drive searches at borders that have already seen travelers questioned about whether they illegally downloaded songs and movies.

While this battle is fought on the legal front, you can protect your data now: free software such as TrueCrypt can scramble the data on your computer such that, if done right, it cannot be unscrambled without the correct password, even by the government (and, even if the government can decrypt your hard drive, they won’t: to admit that they know how to break the world’s strongest encryption algorithm would be giving away a secret that is worth much more than prosecuting you). As U.S. Courts of Appeals have refused to compel people to provide passwords, for the time being, encryption allows you to force the government to respect your rights.

About tsaoutofourpants
I'm a 30 year old entrepreneur and frequent flyer who opposes visual and manual inspection of the private parts of our bodies! I hope you'll join me in my fight to have our rights restored!

9 Responses to DHS “Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties” Admits It Is A Farce

  1. esgatch says:

    In other words, they know they don’t have legitimate legal-cause or the actual ability to perform their bogus security, so they have to contrive some facetious excuse to justify themsleves.

  2. joe says:

    Peanut butter-loving flier seeks $5 million from TSA worker and Port Authority cop for putting him in sticky situation:

    Take a jar of fancy peanut butter, add a dumb joke about explosives at airport security, and you’ve got the makings of a nutty federal lawsuit.

    A former New Yorker is suing a TSA worker at LaGuardia Airport and a Port Authority cop for $5 million after they busted him for trying to bring a jar of Crazy Richard’s peanut butter on the plane.

    Frank Hannibal claims in a complaint filed in Brooklyn Federal Court that he wound up in the sticky situation when the screener noticed the layer of oil atop his gourmet peanut butter — and ordered him out of the line.

    “They’re looking to confiscate my explosives,” Hannibal sarcastically told his wife and twin 6-year-old daughters, the court papers state.

    The TSA worker, identified in the papers as Edwin Sanchez, overheard Hannibal, apparently didn’t get the joke — and called the cops.

    Hannibal said he spent the next 25 hours in a lockup.

    Adding insult to injury, Hannibal — an admitted peanut butter snob who said the 16-ounce jar that retails for about $6.99 — said the prison chow consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    “The jelly looked like pus, the peanut butter like God knows what and the bread was hard as a rock,” Hannibal, 50, told the Daily News.

    Hannibal, who lived in Harlem at the time and now lives in Arizona, said he was eventually allowed to leave and the Queens district attorney declined to prosecute him.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/peanut-butter-lover-seeks-5m-airport-jam-article-1.1258474

  3. joe says:

    US Air Force veteran, finally allowed to fly into US, is now banned from flying back home:

    In early November, a 43-year-old African-American Muslim who – despite having never been charged with any crime – was secretly placed on a no-fly list and thus barred from flying to the US to visit his seriously ill mother. When I met with Long in early November in Doha, Qatar, where he has lived for several years with his wife and her two children while teaching English, he was in the middle of his futile months-long battle just to find out why he was placed on this list, let alone how he could be removed.

    Two weeks after that article was published, Long – without explanation – was finally removed from the no-fly list and he flew from Doha to Oklahoma City to visit his mother and other family members. He took several flights to make the 20-hour journey, all without incident. He has remained in Oklahoma for the last ten weeks, visiting his family in the US for the first time in over a decade.

    But now Long – unbeknownst to him – has once again apparently been secretly placed by some unknown National Security State bureaucrat on the no-fly list. On Wednesday night, as Associated Press first reported, he went to the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City to fly back home to Qatar. In order to ensure there were no problems, his lawyer sent the FBI a letter ahead of time notifying them that Long would be flying home on that date (see the embedded letter below).

    But without explanation, Long was denied a boarding pass at the airport by a Delta Airlines agent. Three local police officers then arrived on the scene, followed by a US Transportation Security Administration agent who “told Long he couldn’t board a plane but did not give him a specific reason”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/09/saddiq-long-no-fly-list

    • Aqif Kapertoni says:

      Hi Joe. What you are reporting in here seems to me as false. I am a TSA officer and I can tell you and everyone that reads this blog that an US Transportation Security Administration (agent) officer does not have the authority or the right/power/jurisdiction or anything else that comes into your mind, to deny a passenger the right to board a plane. However, TSA will deny entry to a sterile area if you do set off one of their alarms and do not agree to go for an alarm resolution. Nevertheless, the whole process stands in the shoulders of DHS, Airline and local PD. But mainly DHS and then local PD. FYI TSA is not DHS, TSA is a branch of DHS.

  4. genomega1 says:

    Reblogged this on News You May Have Missed and commented:
    DHS “Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties” Admits It Is A Farce

  5. joe says:

    DHS: Border Device Search Policy Does Not Violate Fourth Amendment:

    The Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CLCR) has determined that the DHS’s warrantless, and often suspicion-less, search and seizure of electronics devices at U.S. borders does not violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search or seizure.

    The CLCR argues [pdf] that the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have, for a long time, possessed the authority to conduct “suspicionless and warrantless searches of merchandise at the border and its functional equivalent.” This authority, they claim, extends to electronics devices as well as other merchandise. In other words, seizing and searching a laptop at an airport customs checkpoint is no different than rifling through someone’s trunk at any land-based port of entry. The courts, the executive summary states, “have not treated [border] searches of electronic devices any differently than searches of other object.”

    http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/crcl-border-search-impact-assessment_01-29-13_1.pdf

    “We conclude that CBP’s and ICE’s current border search policies comply with the Fourth Amendment,” the summary reads. “We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.”

    http://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/dhs-border-search-policy-does-not-violate-fourth-021113

  6. joe says:

    TSA Officers Could Be Defined As Felons In Kansas:

    It looks as if Kansas legislators have had just about enough of the “security theater” of airport screening by the Transportation Security Administration. Rep. Brett Hildabrand helped to introduce HB 2175, which would make it illegal for TSA screeners to touch the private parts of passengers, as well as prohibit them from removing those passengers under eighteen years old from under control of their parents or legal guardians.

    Twenty other House Republicans are joining him in pushing the bill and this would impact between 100 and 110 TSA officers at seven Kansas airports.

    The Shawnee Republican said,

    “Air travelers are subjected to aggressive, humiliating pat-downs, many of which would land the average stranger off the street in jail. But because the federal government has given someone a blue uniform and a badge, we are told that person has authority over our bodies and we must endure.”

    Hildabrand pointed to the story of a three year old in a wheelchair that was scrutinized by the TSA and wrote:

    “This is exactly why we need to pass HB 2175, regulating the TSA conduct in Kansas! This is yet another despicable assault by the TSA”

    The TSA claims that the “Supremacy Clause,” found in Article VI of the US Constitution gives the Federal government jurisdiction in this matter and it prevents states from regulating the federal government. That is only in the case where such jurisdiction is Constitutional. The particular clause in question reads:

    “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

    http://www.kansascity.com/2013/02/14/4067959/airport-searches-irk-kansas-lawmakers.html#storylink=misearch

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