On September 13, 2003, John Perry Barlow was arrested on a flight he boarded in San Francisco (after attending Burning Man), and charged for possession of drugs found in the bottom of a bottle of Ibuprofen in his checked luggage.
While this type of thing happens a lot, the difference here is that John Barlow believes that the 4th Amendment still has some power left in this country.
There is a lot at stake here. Although, as I say, the 4th Amendment is in rough shape, it remains quite clear in its prohibition of “general warrants,” which are searches of unspecified members of the public for evidence of random illegal activity. But, whether by design or “mission drift,” this is what TSA’s checked baggage searches increasingly resemble. They’re not just looking for explosives, folks.
John is fighting the charge and finding that the government is trying to stall or claim national security every time the attorneys try to get information, and the Department of Homeland Security has instructed the private security company that discovered the alleged drugs to stonewall.
However, 15 months later, there will finally be a court hearing this Wednesday on the motion to suppress evidence.
This is one I’ll be following.
Read John Perry Barlow’s story A Taste of the System at his blog.
And just a reminder:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.