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‘Land of the free,’ he reminded himself

October 4, 2015

Paul sends links to two accounts about the mayor of Stockton, CA being detained by Homeland Security.

This account is from SFGate: Stockton mayor was briefly detained on return flight from China.

And here’s another from TechDirt:

Homeland Security Detains Stockton Mayor, Forces Him To Hand Over His Passwords
from the home-of-the-free dept

Anthony Silva, the mayor of Stockton, California, recently went to China for a mayor’s conference. On his return to San Francisco airport he was detained by Homeland Security, and then had his two laptops and his mobile phone confiscated. They refused to show him any sort of warrant (of course) and then refused to let him leave until he agreed to hand over his password:

A few minutes later, DHS agents confiscated all my electronic devices including my personal cell phone. Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property. In addition, they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices,” Silva said.

Silva was not allowed to leave the airport until he gave his passwords to the agents, which the mayor’s personal attorney, Mark Reichel, claimed is illegal. […]

To some extent what the DHS told him is true. It’s not that unusual, but it’s not that common either. But forcing him to turn over the passwords is unusual, and not standard practice. […]

I think the American people should be extremely concerned about their personal rights and privacy,” he said. “As I was being searched at the airport, there was a Latino couple to my left, and an Asian couple to my right also being aggressively searched. I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the Free.

So they keep telling us.

On the one hand, this appears to be another case of random abuse. If Homeland Security had well-founded suspicions about the mayor, they should have produced a search warrant for his gear or taken him into custody straight away. If not, they should have left him alone.

Where’s the Fourth Amendment when you need it?

On the other hand, I think it’s great when elected officials get a good taste of the monsters the federal government has created. I doubt that Mayor Silva had anything to do with the creation of DHS – but maybe he’ll think about running for Congress now and doing something about acts like these.

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