the U.S. Constitution protects you against searches on your property
without warrant? Think again. The so-called "open
field" precedent has allowed searches for some time now, and
recently federal courts even upheld that federal agents can invade
your driveway and plant
tracking devices on your car without your knowledge and
without a single warrant.That practice has been brought into
glaring focus by Wired.com
in the case
of Yasir Afifi, a young Arab-American. Unbeknownst to Mr.
Afifi -- a 20-year-old U.S.-born citizen who attends the business
marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, Caifornia -- he
was under surveillance by the FBI, presumably due to the fact that
his father was an Arab American community leader who died last year
while traveling in Egypt.Mr. Afifi had just taken his Lincoln
LS for an oil change at Ali's Auto Repair when something unusual was
found attached attached to his vehicle. It was a wire that led
to what appeared to be a multicomponent tracking system, complete
with a large battery pack and transmitter device. The wire was
protruding by the right rear wheel and exhaust. The
young man recalls, "I wouldn’t have noticed it if there wasn’t
a wire sticking out."Garage owner Mazher Khan confirms
that the device was indeed there and that he helped Mr. Afifi remove
it.Unsure whether it was real or a prank, Mr. Afifi posted
the pictures online on Reddit a
CondeNast Digital site for user-generated content. Mr. Afifi
was apparently concerned the device might be a bomb or something.
He comments, " My plan was to just put the device on another car
or in a lake, but when you come home to 2 stoned off their asses
people who are hearing things in the device and convinced its a bomb
you just gotta be sure."A savvy reader identified that
the device was indeed a GPS tracker -- a Cobham Orion
Guardian ST820 that sells exclusively to U.S. law
enforcement. Former FBI agents have since confirmed that the
model is indeed used by the bureau to track individuals within the
U.S.What happened next was a surprise for Mr. Afifi. A
team of a half-dozen armed FBI agents and police officers showed up
at his door demanding that he return the device. The agents
indicated that they may have been monitoring Mr. Afifi for as long as
three to six months. Reportedly Mr. Afifi asked, "Are
you the guys that put it there?" and the agent replied, "Yeah,
I put it there. We’re going to make this much more difficult for
you if you don’t cooperate."Mr. Afifi cooperated with
the law enforcement team, returning their tracking device to
them.An FBI spokesperson at the bureau's San Francisco
headquarters -- Pete Lee -- contacted by CondeNast's
site Wired.com comments,
"I can’t really tell you much about it, because it’s still
an ongoing investigation."The FBI also indicated that
aside from concerns about Mr. Afifi's father, it also might be
investigating Mr. Afifi because of a blog post that one of his
college friends wrote that involved "something to do with a mall
or a bomb." The friend, Khaled (who helped Mr. Afifi post
recalls writing "something stupid", but says it wasn't
anything serious. Mr. Afifi defends his friend, stating, "He’s
a smart kid and is not affiliated with anything extreme and never
says anything stupid like that. I’ve known that guy my whole
life."Now the FBI may be the ones facing the heat.
Mr. Afifi has retained a high profile lawyer -- Zahra Billoo of
the Council on American Islamic
Relations . He comments, "The idea that
[government monitoring[ escalates to this level is unusual. We take
about one new case each week relating to FBI or law enforcement
visits [to clients]. Generally they come to the individual’s house
or workplace, and there are issues that arise from that."The
ACLU is reportedly salivating at the case, which it believes could be
used to try to overturn the government's ability to invade personal
property and track citizens without warrant, something it considers a
clear abrogation of due process.Mr. Afifi recalls Mr. Alseth
telling him, "This is the kind of thing we like to throw lawyers
at."While it's tempting to make this an issue of race or
religion, it's important for readers to consider that the U.S.
government under the Obama and Bush administrations has increasingly
sought to increase
the government's ability to spy on its citizens without
warrant. These changes impact all Americans, so this is a
universal issue for citizens of the United States, not just
Arab-American U.S. citizens.
quote: "something to do with a mall or a bomb."
quote: Mr. Afifi was apparently concerned the device might be a bomb or something. He comments, " My plan was to just put the device on another car or in a lake, but when you come home to 2 stoned off their asses people who are hearing things in the device and convinced its a bomb you just gotta be sure."
quote: I'll say it again, if you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide???
quote: The Government has no business performing unwarranted surveillance on innocent citizens. Period.
quote: What do you have to hide? Nothing--the question should be changed to: What do you have to fear from an unchecked Government? Answer: Everything.
quote: It's a shame when someone says something like this. Just because I am not doing anything wrong doesn't mean it is ok for any government official to keep following me. Especially without any justification. Would you still say the same if civilians started following police officers and federal agents? How would they feel to be on the other side of this debate?
quote: Would you still say the same if civilians started following police officers and federal agents? How would they feel to be on the other side of this debate?
quote: If you are doing nothing wrong - what do you have to fear in being monitered?
quote: if you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide???
quote: While it's tempting to make this an issue of race or religion, it's important for readers to consider that the U.S. government under the Obama and Bush administrations has increasingly sought to increase the government's ability to spy on its citizens without warrant.
quote: This is the difficult part of this situation. Had there been no attack on 9-11 this case would take on an entirely different vibe. I'm literally on the fence on this one...
quote: you must throw away your liberties and give far-reaching warrant-less power to the government to invade your life and your privacy?
quote: You cannot trust the 'law enforcement' and intelligence agencies farther than you can throw the Statue of Liberty when you are two years old.
quote: and most certainly the intelligence agencies.
quote: What is the point of saving those 3000 people if you have to destroy everything this nation stands for to do it?
quote: The moment you give up your civil liberties out of fear of terrorists in order to protect against them--the terrorists win. You can now call yourself officially terrified.
quote: So if you are spied on via a warrant that you don't know about, that's ok. If you are spied on without a warrant, you gave up your civil liberties?
quote: The only difference is a piece of paper, written by the same bureaucrats who 9.5 times out of 10 will side with the Government over you anyway. Either way, the outcome is the same.
quote: Is it just me or is the basis for most of the arguments here saying it's ok if the government does what it wants, as long as there is some type of due process to it? If you aren't aware of the warrant of the surveillance, then what due process?
quote: Warrant or not, if the government is spying on you your liberties are being violated. This is not the issue. What IS the issue is whether there is just cause to violate your liberties. THIS is the reason for the warrant - a balance to ensure that civil liberties aren't violated just because Agent Richard felt like you should be checked out.
quote: If things are going the wrong direction, taking them further the wrong direction is hardly the way to go:-P
quote: Doesn't that defeat the purpose of spying on someone? If they know they're being watched they'll watch their step, not exactly conducive for conducting an investigation concerning national security wouldn't you agree?"We've got a warrant here to install a tracking device on your car. Just sign here."
quote: Jason you fail to see the biggest picture here, not the bigger picture–the biggest, and that is our nation's security and this is what is not being focused on here.
quote: It's funny I bet all these f-ing hypocrites who criticize the Feds for this GPS tracking would be the same f-ing idiots who'd criticize the Feds if they didn't do anything to track this guy if he did end up being a terrorist.
quote: You can't please us all!
quote: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin
quote: I'm a hundred times more scared of my own government at this point than some bogeyman from the middle east.
quote: I'm still a little unclear here - what is it that makes you believe that due process wasn't followed? Are you sure a warrant wasn't issued?
quote: The FBI also has different procedures than other agencies - in general their procedure is to always get a warrant when practicable. Why? Because it looks better when it comes to trial and it removes all doubt in suppression hearings. Your analogy to the quality inspection just isn't true. You're purely speculating about something you appear to know nothing about.
quote: Mick don't come in here as some Constitutional Crusader. Your view of the Constitution is highly selective at best. Oh sure, like most Liberals, you get all huffy if some brown persons "rights" are being violated, but you're perfectly willing to ignore huge swaths of the Constitution if it supports your political agenda.
quote: My favorite was your support for a massive Estate tax increase, justifying it with "They're dead, they don't need the money"
quote: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
quote: Followed up by your hundreds of pro-Government takeover of private business articles regarding GM and Tesla.
quote: GM bailout I tend to be critical to a degree, though I cut them a bit of slack due to the fact that no bank could have underwritten the resulting bankruptcy and GM itself sought government takeover, not the other way around.
quote: Whoa there fella! My what what? No government has ever took over Tesla.
quote: My general opinion on the topic is that the U.S. gov't has no place taking over businesses.
quote: Takeovers like GM's where the business itself approaches the gov't about debt relief are imo a Constitutional gray area
quote: You cannot debate the Constitution on a per-article basis. It's clear that wealth redistribution based taxation is unconstitutional and directly opposes everything the Founders believed in. And you are CLEARLY in favor of that.
quote: See this is what I'm talking about. You people always get into an uproar when law enforcement or the military "violates rights", suddenly you're Constitutional lawyers. But when the Federal government rapes the Constitution for social or political reasons, it's a gray area. A GRAY AREA? Really? It's no more of a gray area than the FBI putting a GPS device on your car, as a matter of fact. So it's alright because they were "approached" to do something Unconstitutional?
quote: ANY TAX is redistribution of "wealth".
quote: Ummm, the constitution SPECIFICALLY outlaws searches without due process. Where does it SPECIFICALLY limit the stuff you brought up?
quote: The Constitution doesn't have to limit, it's a document of granted powers. Anything not specifically mentioned, is unconstitutional.
quote: The Constitution gives power to the legislature to make laws.
quote: For example, there's no direct mention in the constitution of public schools, but clearly, there is a need to fund them. Making legislation to do so is NOT unconstitutional.
quote: I'm not even going to get into how absurd you saying that is. You obviously don't know what wealth redistribution is.
quote: Sigh Captain Literal, OF course it does! Do you think I'm retarded?
quote: Terrible example, as usual. Where did I say the Constitution needed to specifically mention every single thing?
quote: Then clarify it. Because if you actually do, we'll all see its another republican BS talking point.
quote: Redistribution of wealth is the transfer of income, wealth or property from some individuals to others caused by a social mechanism "such as tax laws, monetary policies, or tort law"
quote: A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people. ...
quote: The friendliness and charity of our fellow countrymen can always be relied on to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
quote: Do you think I'm retarded?
quote: ANY TAX is redistribution of "wealth".
quote: The "wealthy" already still pay a higher rate of taxes, so what's your point?
quote: In layman's terms, it's not the role of the government to play Robin Hood!
quote: You cannot debate the Constitution on a per-article basis. It's clear that wealth redistribution based taxation is unconstitutional and directly opposes everything the Founders believed in.
quote: And you are CLEARLY in favor of that.
quote: Ok so without using the Interstate Commerce Clause, show me where the Constitution granted the treasury the power to give huge sums of money to private industry, for WHATEVER reason? It's clearly unconstitutional. You are, again, clearly in favor it if as long as the ends justify the means.
quote: But it DOES have a place taking huge sums of public money and giving it to them, as long as it's "green" of course?
quote: But when the Federal government rapes the Constitution for social or political reasons, it's a gray area. A GRAY AREA? Really? It's no more of a gray area than the FBI putting a GPS device on your car, as a matter of fact. So it's alright because they were "approached" to do something Unconstitutional?
quote: just spouting off a bunch of vague nonsense and saying "oh yea, that's unconstitutional!
quote: This issue is if one even has the background to speak logically and trurthfully, to which Retread can't prove neither.
quote: Defeating the argument by trying to defeat the person himself.
quote: Speaking logically and truthfully doesn't come from higher education. Neither does intelligence
quote: If you said you graduated with honors from M.I.T. NOBODY would believe you
quote: You must be high.
quote: ...are conveniently forgetting the fact that this kid's Dad raised a red flag to the Bureau [read] a terror threat .
quote: I'm sure that when they [FBI] get a lead they need to jump on it not waiting for a warrant because I'm sure that in itself takes quite a bit of time and could potentially trigger a warning to that particular individual.
quote: If you all are upset about this then how come no body is getting mad at Dateline and Chris Hasen for tapping into the chat rooms for child molesters? You think they are issuing warrants for that? I think not.
quote: Since when is talking to a person online constitute an invasion of privacy since the person voluntarily is giving himself away?
quote: Well I think now we're on a slippery slope. Be honest, he made a good point. A lot of those conversations were assumed to be private. People support that kind of stuff when the results are good and the goal novel.
quote: I can't believe that people are "on the fence" about the violation of our nation's proudest achievement, the Constitution
quote: funny how its only liberals and democrats are responsible for the gov't expansion of powers not given by the constitution, because this most recent maddness started under whose watch? please don't make the contitution a pawn for your politically charged rants.
quote: Can you name me ONE essential liberty that Conservatives took from me that I'm "content" with? What right's have I lost?
quote: So-called "conservatives", have supported intiatives to limit free speech, limit citizens' freedom of travel, limit your right to due process and more.
quote: Both parties are to blame for the current state of affairs.
quote: And I think your blind obedience to your party of choice is an outstanding example of why America is in the mess its in today.
quote: And it's always nice to see your contempt for someone who patronizes Daily Tech
quote: Oh no you don't.
quote: And it's always nice to see your contempt for someone who patronizes Daily Tech.
quote: You're living in a world of your imagination if you think that's not true.
quote: And I think your blind obedience to your party of choice is an outstanding example of why America is in the mess its in today. You're just as bad as those who blindly support an agenda pushed out by the Democratic party.
quote: People are on the fence about the Constitution on Daily Tech every day. They are called Democrats and Liberals.
quote: They vote for an ever expansive government and then act all shocked when something like this happens.
quote: To prove my point, I will now probably get a -1 for saying this.
quote: A bigger government isn't unconstitutional inherently. In fact it can be the sign of a healthy national economy (e.g. more parks, better schools, better roads, better law enforcement).
quote: If you'd focus on the fact that BOTH Democrats and Republicans have, by and large, been violating the Constitution recently then you'd get more respect.
quote: Insanity. A government TAKES from the national economy. The bigger the government, the disproportionately more it needs from the private sector to continue.
quote: Large governments directly work against healthy national economies. Are you high right now Jason?
quote: So if I lied I would get more respect? That's basically what you're saying. I noticed this whole "both parties are the same" line only gets thrown out when Democrats get called on something. Am I in a time-warp or is this 2010 and this happened under the Obama administration?
quote: I never said Republicans didn't "do the same" sometimes. But help me figure something out. Is it just a crazy coincidence that the broadest expansion of government powers we've ever seen started taking place right around when Democrats won a super-majority in the House and a majority in the Senate?
quote: That's ok Jason. When I'm sitting in jail because I didn't buy government Health Care, I'll remember you told me both parties are the same...
quote: Or what if there was only five public schools in the whole country.
quote: Get real and stop generalizing.
quote: BOTH PARTIES ARE TO BLAME. DUH!
quote: Insanity. A government TAKES from the national economy. The bigger the government, the disproportionately more it needs from the private sector to continue. Large governments directly work against healthy national economies. Are you high right now Jason? Massive sized governments and thriving economies are a complete oxymoron.
quote: You get rated down because your observations are oft off topic, you are wholly biased against the Democratic party, and you over-generalize.
quote: You clearly are not a "detail oriented person", since painting Democrats and Liberals as people who want a larger government only applies to a very small percentage of those two groups.
quote: You really need to break things down to get a clear understanding when it comes to political affiliation and how people look at things, and you clearly are the sort to jump to conclusion about a group based on the actions of a small few.
quote: Now, trying to label all Democrats, myself included, as people who want to see big government, is just foolish.
quote: So, stop jumping to stupid conclusions
quote: I'm literally on the fence on this one...