Do you live in a “Fourth Amendment Free Zone?”

By: Joshua Cook
55
Constitution Free Zone

Americans continue to lose their Constitutional rights in the name of “security” at a rapid pace.  The Second Amendment has been the most obvious, but the First, Fifth and Tenth Amendment are being usurped by the U.S. government in a disturbing trend.


The Fourth Amendment is the most recent in this series.  Increasing surveillance – such as New York’s proposal to monitor the streets by camera and save the data, Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk,” the NSA’s snooping programs, and PRISM revelations – has drawn this accusation, and now the Department of Homeland Security has become involved.

In the name of “border security,” a recent report defended the idea of so-called “Fourth Amendment Free Zones” within 100 miles of every border and the ocean.

In these areas, DHS agents can search and examine electronic devices, search through peoples’ belongings, and shake them down, all without probable cause.  This effectively suspends the rights of 197 million Americans based on residence alone.  This was questioned in 2009, and the DHS agreed to investigate the “civil rights impact” of the practice, but the full report wasn’t released until nearly four years later.

In February 2013, the DHS released an executive summary by its civil rights watchdog concluding 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.”  In other words “it’s easier this way.”  According to the report, there were 685 electronic device searches from 2009-2010, with a total of 41 seizures.  All in all, about 6,500 travelers (2,995 of whom were citizens) have been searched since 2008.

As the DHS had initially released only the two-page executive summary of the report, the ACLU also filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the full DHS report, hoping, according to attorney Catherine Crump, “to establish that the Department of Homeland Security can’t simply assert that its practices are legitimate without showing us the evidence, and to make it clear that the government’s own analyses of how our fundamental rights apply to new technologies should be openly accessible to the public for review and debate.”  The full report contained arguments such as the importance of following “hunches,” and concrete data about numbers of seizures, but was no more convincing than the initial summary.  See report here.

It’s long been argued that Fourth Amendment rights don’t apply at the border.  This is why cars can be searched crossing from Canada or Mexico to the US, and why customs and security searches are allowed at airports.  Essentially the DHS has expanded the definition of the border to include everything within 100 miles of it and any ocean.  Instead of simply enforcing the border, the DHS has allowed for agents to patrol thousands of square miles within the United States, something which is neither more efficient nor constitutional.

It isn’t difficult to see how this precedent could easily be expanded.  If federal agents have permission to search a defined set of property – such as a computer or on someone’s person – there is nothing to prevent them searching any property they deem appropriate.  Geographically, there’s little difference between 100 miles and 200 from the border.  Even if 100 miles remains the threshold, and airports – which are already considered the “border” – are added to borders and beaches, there will be virtually nowhere within the US in which Fourth Amendment rights remain.  Neither of these is fundamentally different than the DHS’s current definition of “border.”

ConstitutionFree

The DHS’s argument that retaining the Fourth Amendment would be “operationally harmful” is also somewhat disingenuous.  It has always been the case that not having to obtain a search warrant would make finding criminals easier, but it has also always been the case that having to obtain a search warrant reduces the opportunity for corruption and unfair law enforcement practices.  Virtually no one is doing everything right all the time, but with the Fourth Amendment people are still free to go about their business with some degree of confidence, and police officers can focus on important legal violations.

For people worried about racial profiling, removing the Fourth Amendment is the single most damaging action which can be taken.  For people worried about political targeting, the same is true.  There’s nothing stopping the DHS from going through Houston, Charleston, Chicago or Anchorage searching the electronic devices of everyone with a third party bumper sticker – something which is already listed as a possible indicator that someone is a domestic terrorist – or someone who just looks a little different.

When Americans call for “securing the border,” they mean sending agents to patrol the border, not removing the rights of hundreds of millions of Americans.  This DHS definition alone is damaging, but combined with the extraordinarily dangerous legal precedent it sets, it sets the stage for further destroying American citizens’ Constitutional Rights.

Constitutional attorney Ed Mazlish told Benswann.com,  “while Americans are being asked/required at every turn to surrender their liberties in the name of security, the (real) terrorists are not … the unifying theme is that if you are truly an American citizen or if you are in fact no threat to America, then your constitutional rights are in jeopardy and expendable – but if you are not an American citizen or if you are antagonistic toward America, every indulgence is made to ensure that your right (presumably, your right to destroy and/or defile America) is protected.”

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Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook is a writer and a political activist. His work has appeared on DrudgeReport, InfoWars, Reason.com, WND.com, Breitbart.com, DailyCaller and FreedomOutPost.com. If you have any tips please email him at [email protected]

  • db

    Nothing surprises me anymore, except for the wanton stupidity and blindness of the average Joe Citizen, who thinks that if he’s done nothing wrong, he’s got nothing to hide….SMH

  • David Hatch-Bernier

    I’m expatriating. I’ve had enough of this nonsense.

    • mdkoh

      David, now is not the time to tuck you tail and run. Where are you going to go? No other place is any better than where you are here. And besides this is worth fighting for, no other place on the planet is. Hang in there my friend we should have help on the way soon. Network with like minded people.

      • Bob Loblaw

        I have a similar sentiment, and think that there is no safe haven, especially if the powerful U.S. run global mafia wins here and then endangers any country you move to.

        HOWEVER, there was a point in Germany where you could leave, and then they shut the border and you were stuck in a nightmare. There comes a point where it kinda doesn’t matter how good the destination is, or where it is, so long as it isn’t here in Fascist-land.

        Unfortunately, with ARGUS and HELLADS drones and other robots to do their bidding, it may not matter where you run unless you can leave orbit and hope they don’t fire a missile at Mars or where ever you wind up.

    • kagen

      i’m with you David…where we headed?

  • usaok59

    So people in FL or Michigan are SOL. What a crock of dodo. This Admin is a bunch of thieves or worse. I’m with David – where do I sign up???!!!!

    • Rob Dies

      Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the District of Criminals are also essentially constitution free zones.

  • Dan Bender

    figures,the guy in the mask at the rodeo in missouri is smarter than the goon the mask was made to depict..glad i didnt vote for mr prez,emperor obama.

    • Bob Loblaw

      Yeah, but Obama has nothing to do with this, other than being the front man for the left boot of the international criminals levying a war on this nation.

  • tracesofreality

    Great article. Being from South Texas, I know about this “fourth amendment-free zone” all too well and have covered the issue extensively on my website/radio shows. One quick point of clarification: The article implies this is a recent phenomenon, and I’ve seen other articles lately explicitly say this began sometime in 2008. This could not be further from the truth. Internal border patrol checkpoints have been around since the early 1900′s and this ridiculous “100 air mile rule” has existed since at least 1957. This might seem like a minor point, but this historical context is essential in understanding how the people of the borderlands have been conditioned to this tyranny over generations. Thanks for raising awareness on this important issue.

  • OhioNative

    That’s an interesting post. Having just moved into such a 100 mile zone in the Cleveland, Ohio area …on Lake Erie coast but its not like anyone can traverse the Great Lake with any ease. This isn’t close to any border crossing; the nearest being Detroit 165 miles and Buffalo 190 (approx.) – a stretch is Put-in-Bay islands which are still 85′ish miles …still we’ve seen Border Patrol vehicles on the highways in the city in what would appear to be some unknown working role. Your article leaves that answer to be more curious of one I’ll stay alert to discover.

  • David

    Lol, pittsburgh you lucky devil

  • paul revere

    I live right on the edge of one of these. These dumbasses need to stop. They are going to cause a civil war.

  • Joe Eckstein

    You cowards deciding to expatriate need to learn how to discuss things with local politicians who can literally nullify this crap.

    • Marco

      Have those that have fled their countries, to come to America, cowards? Were your ancestors cowards for fleeing instead of staying and reasoning with the government? I know I am assuming, but unless you are full blooded Native American, your ancestors, according to your logic, were cowards for fleeing and coming to America. Next time think before you write.

    • Marco

      I meant, Are those…..

  • Angelus

    THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE PEOPLE! COME ON!

  • Mykal Faircloth

    I’d love to see them try searching my house or property. They wouldn’t make it one foot inside my door.

    • mdkoh

      I have only 2 examples to share with you, Ruby Ridge and the Branch Dividians. I believe firmly in the fourth amendment but when the odds are completely against you it’s best to act differently. If you want to be a martyr then go ahead, as for me I would rather fight them in court or at their own game.

  • Kevin Merck

    There is one very quick way to turn all this around.
    Get involved in exposing 9/11 for what it was, an attack on the American people by elements of the US government as an excuse to trot out the Patriot Act and for an excuse to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.
    People who refuse to deal with this reality are going to be very disappointed with what these criminals have in store for us.
    Government involvement in 9/11 is not a ‘conspiracy theory’ to anyone playing with a full deck. There is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the twin towers and building seven where demolished with explosives.
    Only the most ignorant and childish people imaginable would believe the government story of what happened on 9/11.

    • Bob Loblaw

      Unfortunately, that would change nothing but public opinion. While that’s a vital step, it’s a big leap for the brainwashed masses. For them, recognizing that the agenda is neither a left or right issue is perhaps required before even that is possible regardless of what facts are presented. To do that, we have to show them things like the fact that Goldman Sachs was both Romney and Obama’s #1 campaign contributor.

      To really change things you have to then:

      1) Get the majority of the people to recognize the people pushing this global agenda.

      2) Get them to stop supporting them. GE makes bombs, shoddy nuclear reactors, etc. for example. So every time you buy a GE appliance etc. You are funding this.

      3) Get the people to demand that those participating in, and defending treason, are charged for it, and put in front of a firing squad. They don’t fear prosecution because they own judges so you must instill the idea that such actions as the NSA (and the rest of government) are perpetrating are fatal to THEM even if they were “following orders” as a contractor as Snowden was.

      4) Elect people who represent US rather than corporations, government contractors, etc.

      5) Roll back any unconstitutional laws, re-instate laws and regulations that protected us like Glass-Steagall, use real money rather than counterfeit debt-notes the FED prints etc.

      6) Be vigilant.

      Frank Church set up “Intelligence Committees” to be an adversarial check against the NSA (at least he tried). Today people like Diane Feinstein sit on them and are bought and paid for by offense contractors the NSA employs. She is not their adversary, but an advocate. Lindsey Graham defends these policies and many other atrocious ideas. Nancy Pelosi helped stop the Amash amendment that would defund the NSA’s spying on the people. These are but a few examples of bi-partisan TREASON. They are defending and committing crimes that constitute a “luke-warm” war on the U.S.A. These people are precisely the reason that, out of necessity, our laws require and allow such individuals to face treason charges, with penalties including hanging and firing squads. It’s not for revenge, or justice, but to keep the nation from being torn apart.

      • Kevin Merck

        I’m not in disagreement with anything you said.
        All I’m saying is that people need to fully understand that 9/11 was a staged event; a controlled demolition of the twin towers and building seven, to justify taking our rights and starting wars of aggression.
        If we don’t deal with the reality of 9/11 … it’s game over. 9/11 is the justification for everything they’re doing. Take that away and the house of cards crumbles.

        • Bob Loblaw

          Of course, you’re right. Busting the propaganda is essential. No argument there. But I think some polls show most of us don’t think Oswald was the lone gunman. Heck he said he was a patsy. But other than making people distrust the government (as they should) it doesn’t really seem to get them to change anything.

          But I do agree that it’s important. In fact, my father was a (great) high-rise maintenance engineer for nearly two decades in Dallas and I was a sophomore in high school when it happened. Day one I told my friends that high rises don’t fall down, they fall OVER unless you rig them. Never heard of Alex Jones at the time. Only a few years later did I realize it wasn’t just me.

          A friend said he was thinking about joining the Air Force and I said “Why?”. He said “The terrorists attacked us”. I said “Yeah. You know what my father did for a living right?” and told him they don’t fall down unless you rig them and basically was like “They’re not saying that so why would they not say that if they aren’t involved in the whole thing?”.

          Response: Blank stare.
          Either shattered his reality or made him think I was full of crap.

          I’ve no idea if he joined up, but hopefully if we all try to wake up our neighbors, they’ll help us turn it around before it’s too late.

  • http://warforourmind.com/ War for Our Mind

    This is an outrage. I have written about this in the past for my website as well. Thanks for bringing awareness to this important issue.

    Justin from http://warforourmind.com

  • RageFury

    But how are they going to catch the “Bad Guys” if they have to obey the 4th?

    • Bob Loblaw

      Same way they did before they started violating people’s rights instead of doing their job.

      • RageFury

        Now fancy that.
        Excellent response.

  • Erik Bays

    International waters are generally considered to be 200 miles offshore. That’s the border. So on the east and west coasts the zone should be 100 miles offshore.

  • Logan

    More like “Do we still live in America?” because this ‘governance’ is looking like every other tyranny that ravages a nation.

  • Amber

    For those that are considering moving, consider the Free State Project. 20,000 like-minded individuals are moving to New Hampshire, the live free or die state. When you put enough people together in one place things can get done. Check it out here: http://freestateproject.org/

  • Tannim

    The map is wrong. Most of Lake Michigan is not within 100 miles of the Canadian border. I know Illinois can be like a foreign country, but the ACLU needs to learn how to read a map.

    • Bob Loblaw

      I think it’s maybe not the ACLU, but DHS that is at fault there. They probably consider the border to be this side of Lake Michigan when it comes to border enforcement.

    • Oppelganger

      The Great Lakes border Canada, and as such they constitute a maritime border entry-point for the purpose of this insane policy. It’s the distance from shore, and not from the land border, that counts…

  • Independent Tom

    Liberals are terrorists… this is liberal, mayor Adolph Bloomreich terrorism.

    • Josh Ledford

      I am liberal and I dont agree with this….Does that make me a terrorists? I have never hurt anyone in my life…..Why would you call the people of the USA terrorists just for not thinking the way you do? c’mon now. How about we be American about this and get togehter and fix it instead of pointing fingers and calling names like school kids do.

      • Michael Langley

        Did you not read, a couple of years ago, that third party supporters, veterans and Ron Paul followers, to name a few, were warned to be terrorists by a Missouri document?!

  • Ethan

    This “4th amendment free zone” covers my entire state, as well as 4-5 others. This is one of the many reasons why I don’t trust our government.

    • Oppelganger

      Actually it looks like 8 states are entirely covered (five New England states plus NJ, FL and Michigan) and 4 others (MD, NY, NH and WI) are almost entirely covered. That makes nearly 25% of our states a “Constitution-free Zone”!

  • navydoc86

    make a map that includes what the zones would look like if the criminals in DC were able to expand it to 200 miles and add airports as a border

    • Ellie

      I agree, the impact of that visual would be very scary and might move people to action.

  • bro

    I hearby declare my property, A CONSTITUTION ZONE

  • Oppelganger

    I hope folks clamoring to militarize the border even further realize that they’re just contributing to the Constitution-free Zone. These checkpoints in Texas are sweeping up so many people on low-level drug possession charges that it’s bankrupted the counties that have to prosecute them. As a result they’ve refused to continue to cooperate with DHS absent more federal funding to offset the cost of throwing marijuana smokers in jail! At the same time, migrant workers who in the past would return to Mexico in the off-season now stay in-country because they can’t get back in without paying smugglers (whose profits are also through the roof), yet it would cost tens if not hundreds of billions to deport them all, while creating legions of unprovided-for dependent minors, and creating more excuses to militarize and nationalize our police forces. All of this costs us far more than any expenses taxpayers incur from illegal immigrants!

    For folks who ostensibly believe in free market economics, we seem to suspend this belief in the law of supply and demand when it comes to cultural issues. Yet no matter how many billions we waste trying to suppress the supply of migrant labor and the supply of illegal drugs, our vast domestic demand for both of these will be met one way or another. We spent $18 billion last year on DHS border security alone- more than the entire DOJ budget, but it seems we won’t stop until we have domestic drones patrolling our skies everywhere. “Who needs the 4th Amendment, privacy and freedom from government surveillance and police checkpoints when we have illegals to hunt down!”

    When are the Tea Party Republicans going to wake up and stop feeding the beast?!

    • Kevin Merck

      Spoken like a true Obamanoidian ingnoramian ;-)
      We needed to have harsh prison sentences for people who hired illegals, but neither side of the aisle wanted to deal effectively with the issue. The left wanting Hispanic votes and both sides wanting a pool of cheap labor to drive down wages in a race to the bottom for all Americans.
      Everything being done on the border is being done with the full cooperation and assistance of the Obamanoid faction In Washington.
      You voted for Obama, reap the whirlwind.
      Who are you working for? They sure made a lousy investment when they hired you.

      • Oppelganger

        Wow, you really love to troll don’t you? Keep on thinking I voted for Obama man, I just have to smile and shake my head. Can you have a rational discussion without resorting to insults and name-calling? Give it a try.

        I agree with you on the cheap labor piece, however NAFTA’s decimation of Mexican corn farmers also had a lot to do with it. When 4 million farmers are forced off their land to go look for work, a lot of them come north…

        You’re right that border militarization was expanded under Obama- as were deportations and drone strikes. However the groundwork for both was laid under the Bush administration. Once again, I’d suggest the evidence shows the national security state tends to be a bipartisan affair.

        Re: left-wing votes, that may be true, however if you look at the timelines, that is a pretty lousy vote-getting strategy, given that it will be 10 years before they could even get a green card, and 5-10 years after that before becoming eligible to vote. By that time, the Democrats will already have broad majorities if current demographic and voting trends continue, regardless of any potential votes from immigration reform. As such, I don’t find the Rush Limbaugh argument that this is all some scheme to produce more “brown” voters to be credible- it is, however, obviously a response to the demands of their current Hispanic constituencies.

        • Kevin Merck

          “brown” voters.
          You are a racist hypocrite.

          • Oppelganger

            I see you failed the test not to resort to insults and personal attacks. Notice I put “brown” in quotes because I was refering to Limbaugh’s characterization. And I don’t know how you get the idea that I post under multiple accounts- can’t believe that someone would actually agree with me? Do you do that?? Come back to reality, man…

          • Kevin Merck

            Sure, oppelgagger, blame your racism on Limbaugh! LOL!
            All you racist trolls are the same. Lying through your tooth with multiple accounts.

          • Oppelganger

            In order to accuse someone of racism you sort of need to use the word correctly:

            racism (ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm)
            1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
            2: racial prejudice or discrimination.

            I’m sorry you can’t accept that it’s possible that more than one person who disagrees with you can exist- no, the more likely explanation for you is that I’ve resorted to creating multiple accounts just to disagree with you. I got news for you: you’re not worth the effort! A much simpler and rational explanation is that your hateful accusations with no basis in reality attracted more disagreement than support from other readers on this site. Maybe that’s because they realize if you want to convincingly advocate for the assertions you make, you have to use FACTS and REASON- not insults, name-calling and baseless accusations of racism and online fraud.

            Racist? “I know you are but what am I!” Please let’s not yell back and forth like we’re 10 years old…

          • Kevin Merck

            “not insults, name-calling and baseless accusations of racism and online fraud”

            All anyone has to do is read your comments directed at me to arrive at the undeniable conclusion that you are the race baiter, willingly and knowingly making false and nefarious accusations of racism and hatred, without any basis in fact, with malice and forethought, intending to defame and do harm. Now you add to your list of false accusations “online fraud”.

            You are a psychopath, constitutionally incapable of telling the truth about anything. The only reason I keep this going is the hope that someone is paying attention to your criminal activity and will hold you accountable.

            Keep it up criminal.

          • Oppelganger

            If defending myself against your personal attacks on me makes me a criminal, call me guilty! Here’s the difference between you and me: I’ll admit when I agree or disagree with points you make- because that is the point of an online comment board. Discussion. You on the other hand just to launch into name-calling personal attacks and invective while ignoring the topic entirely. I think that is obvious to anyone paying attention to this exchange. I think it’s equally obvious that you can’t distinguish between disagreement with a person’s comment and a personal attack on one’s character.

          • Dave

            I bet you think Obama is the first black president too, Nope, he is the first white president to also be half black, get over it. I do know though that Obama disavows his white mother because he felt beholden to whites because of her.. Who’s the racist? Obama hates his white half admittedly, and only gives credit to his black half, which everyone knows that just a pinch of black wipes out all the other races that person might be, right? This is what all obamanites say. they also do not give one mention or credit to Obama’s white half.. What a joke..again, who’s racist?

  • scottbashaw

    I don’t trust the ACLU either,…they seem to always be siding with terrorist and are Anti-America.
    America is on a rapid decline of Freedom and people either don’t realize or don’t care, This is very scary. We are all to blame for not getting more involved and stopping the Evil Left and the Lying Media

  • Colin Skow

    The authority CBP claims to have within 100 miles of the border is fictitious if you look up the laws. Their standards for search & seizure are the same as domestic police anywhere. Immigration checkpoints require probable cause or consent to search your vehicle or detain you for more than a minute. See U.S. vs Martinez-Fuerte, U.S. vs Brignoni-Ponce and 8 CFR 287.8(b). The problem is that officers that man these checkpoints tend to have a personal god-complex and violate the regulations all the time. You have a right not to answer any questions, and if you are wrongfully detained or searched you can sue.

  • Pat Poe

    Yes sadly I live in one of the states they claim to run.

  • Mp Mb

    Great article! :-)
    Another thing that I’m noticing that is kind of concerning is that HSI is showing up in local police reports and are now working closely with local police agencies. HSI gives tips to local police (drugs in a home etc.), police obtain a search warrant based on the tip and voila, no 4th Amendment problems!
    Or are there? I think that there is a problem with agencies that have no 4th Amendment limitations using information obtained outside of 4th Amendment protections to prosecute criminals. It seems like bootstrapping to me, and I hope that it is challenged in court.
    This cozy relationship with local police disturbs me also. You have an agency that is controlled by the executive branch (which has little tolerance for Constitutional protections) intruding into cities and becoming essentially a part of their police forces. HSI gets the right to work with them by giving them all sorts of goodies like ammunition and tanks and training their people etc. which recession-starved police departments absolutely love and have welcomed with open arms.
    I understand why it is an attractive proposition for budget strapped local forces, but it makes me uneasy. Why do we need such a vast and powerful Federal police force working local cases in our cites and towns? What is the ultimate goal here?
    HSI is also connected with a humongous web of other law enforcement type federal agencies — it is absolutely amazing how fast they have proliferated and how powerful they are. Isn’t the goal of HSI to protect the American people from terrorists? How many terrorists do they expect to find on American soil? This Administration is clearly not worried about terrorists overseas because it has cut our military budget down to nothing. So what warrants such an enormous budget here at home?
    Doesn’t it make you wonder what they’re really up to? :-)