A FOIA request from the ACLU revealed that in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people -- roughly half of whom are American citizens -- were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant. But the willingness of courts to act is unclear at best. The judiciary, with a few exceptions, has been shamelessly deferential in the post-9/11 era to even the most egregious assertions of Executive Branch power in the name of security. Combine that with the stunning ignorance of technology on the part of many judges -- many of whom have been on the bench a long time and are insulated by their office from everyday life -- and it's not hard to envision these practices being endorsed. Indeed, two appellate courts have thus far held -- reversing the rulings of lower courts -- that Homeland Security agents do not even need to show "reasonable suspicion" to search and seize a citizens' electronic products when re-entering their country.
Homeland Security's Laptop Seizures: An Interview With Rep. Sanchez