7.25.2005

fourth amendment? what's that?

The decision last week to have police officers inspect the belongings of thousands of subway riders has opened a thicket of legal and constitutional issues, involving criminal procedure, transit security and concerns about potential misuse of the new tactic.

Yesterday, Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the organization had begun work on a federal lawsuit, which could be filed this week. Such a challenge will most likely claim that the policy violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against "unreasonable searches and seizures."

And at a news conference in Brooklyn, Capt. Eric Adams, the president of a group of black police officers, said its members were worried that riders of Middle Eastern, African or Asian descent would be disproportionately targeted in the searches, despite official assurances to the contrary.
The Fourth Amendment has always been one of the more elastic clauses in the United States Constitution. It's violated constantly, under a variety of excuses, both legitimate and fabricated.

If I thought random searches of backpacks would keep us safer, I might support the idea. But it's a joke. Since you can't be detained for refusing to be searched, anyone with bomb-laden backpack can just turn around and go to a different subway stop. And since they're searching backpacks, wouldn't the would-be terrorist simply use a different method? I'm surprised they're not asking us to take off our shoes.

I haven't been stopped yet, since I don't ride the subway every day. But damned if a New York City cop is searching any bag of mine. I don't think so.

New York Times story here. And here's the story when the new policy was announced.

11 comments:

G said...

Sounds like the Patriot Act taken into the streets.

Eeeek!!!

Anonymous said...

Just the sort of stuff you expect in a "free" society.

Peter

James said...

I saw an interesting quote on another weblog -- can't remember which one, or the attribution, though:

"If Bush is right and the terrorists are attacking us because they hate our freedoms, then everything Bush has done (Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay, etc) is nothing more than appeasement"

L-girl said...

In case you missed it, here's the story when the new policy was announced. I'll add it to this entry, too.

C La said...

So, I ask you - can it be considered civil disobedience when you refuse to let police do something that is illegal for them to being doing anyway?


Since you can't be detained for refusing to be searched, anyone with bomb-laden backpack can just turn around and go to a different subway stop.

That is exactly what a friend of mine said!

L-girl said...

So, I ask you - can it be considered civil disobedience when you refuse to let police do something that is illegal for them to being doing anyway?

My opinion? I would say yes. They are the authorities, you are being disobedience, so I guess it constitutes civil disobedience.

CD usually refers to mass actions, and this would be happening in an uncoordinated, individual way. But yeah, an individual act of protest. Why not.

G said...

Not really about Britain, but still a good commentary on Iraq ... from Today's NYT via Rising Hegemon.

http://rising-hegemon.blogspot.com/2005/07/four-horsemen-of-fuckupalypse.html

Me4Prez said...

The whole thing doesn't make sense to me. If they want to kill people bad enough, they will find a way to do it. I also believe that want they wanted to justify themselves was to show that they could make us change who we were. It looks like they have.

Last time I flew, I had to take my shoes and belt off but an older lady was allowed to carry scissors on if she promised to pack them in her checked items on the way home

L-girl said...

If they want to kill people bad enough, they will find a way to do it.

This goes to something Kyle said recently, which I so agree with. There's no way to make ourselves 100% safe. There are risks in the world. Americans sometimes want to live in a cocoon.

Hey Me4President, thanks for stopping by.

Matt said...

Regarding the subway searches, be sure and check out The Citizen's Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches put out by the Flex Your Rights Foundation. It teaches subway riders exactly what they need to know in order to assert their rights when they encounter a subway search. Thought you might be interested.

L-girl said...

Matt, thank you so much! I'll post this tomorrow. Excellent stuff, and I appreciate your spreading the word.