By Glenn Greenwald
April 8, 2012
One of the more extreme government abuses of the post-9/11 era
targets U.S. citizens re-entering their own country, and it has received
far too little attention.
With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes,
detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when
they return to the U.S. after an international trip, and then copies and
even seizes their electronic devices (laptops, cameras, cellphones) and
other papers (notebooks, journals, credit card receipts), forever
storing their contents in government files.
No search warrant is needed for any of this. No oversight exists. And
there are no apparent constraints on what the U.S. Government can do
with regard to whom it decides to target or why.
In an age of international travel — where large numbers of citizens,
especially those involved in sensitive journalism and activism,
frequently travel outside the country — this power renders the
protections of the Fourth Amendment entirely illusory. By virtue of that amendment,
if the government wants to search and seize the papers and effects of
someone on U.S. soil, it must (with some exceptions) first convince a
court that there is probable cause to believe that the objects to be
searched relate to criminal activity and a search warrant must be
But now, none of those obstacles — ones at the very heart of the
design of the Constitution — hinders the U.S. government: now, they can
just wait until you leave the country, and then, at will, search, seize
and copy all of your electronic files on your return. That includes your
emails, the websites you’ve visited, the online conversations you’ve
had, the identities of those with whom you’ve communicated, your cell
phone contacts, your credit card receipts, film you’ve taken, drafts of
documents you’re writing, and anything else that you store
electronically: which, these days, when it comes to privacy, means
basically everything of worth.
This government abuse has received some recent attention in the
context of WikiLeaks. Over the past couple of years, any American
remotely associated with that group — or even those who have advocated
on behalf of Bradley Manning — have been detained at the airport and had
their laptops, cellphones and cameras seized: sometimes for months,
sometimes forever. But this practice usually targets people having
nothing to do with WikiLeaks.
A 2011 FOIA request
from the ACLU revealed that just in the 18-month period beginning
October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people — roughly half of whom were
American citizens — were subjected to electronic device searches at the
border by DHS, all without a search warrant....
Read Full Article Here: http://the2012scenario.com/2012/04/u-s-filmmaker-repeatedly-detained-at-u-s-border/