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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Check Your Engine: FBI Attaching GPS Bugs Without Warrants

If President Obama wants me to keep shouting "Yes We Can!" he'd better let me say, "No You Can't!" to the G-men attaching GPS trackers to American citizens' cars. The FBI snuck a GPS device onto a 20-year-old California university student's car, apparently for no greater reason than that he's Arab-American and has relatives in Egypt.

President Obama, who ought to know better, given the grief he gets for his skin color and his overseas family connections, thinks this kind of warrantless search is just fine:

The federal appeals court based in Washington D.C. said in August that investigators must obtain a warrant for GPS in tossing out the conviction and life sentence of Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner convicted of operating a cocaine distribution ring. That court concluded that the accumulation of four-weeks worth of data collected from a GPS on Jones' Jeep amounted to a government "search" that required a search warrant.

Judge Douglas Ginsburg said watching Jones' Jeep for an entire month rather than trailing him on one trip made all the difference between surveilling a suspect on public property and a search needing court approval....

The Obama administration last month asked the D.C. federal appeals court to change its ruling, calling the decision "vague and unworkable" and arguing that investigators will lose access to a tool they now use "with great frequency" [Pual Elias, "Discovery of GPS Tracker Becomes Privacy Issue," AP via Yahoo News, 2010.10.16]

Think about it, Mr. President. You have teabaggers making the nutty claim that they are engaged in a noble crusade against a tyrannical government. If you're going to support warrantless GPS tracking, you make it that much harder to refute claims that Big Brother is in charge.

Of course, I'm still waiting for the teabaggers to get off Marxism and tackle the real tyranny in our midst.


  1. His administration also wants to track all bank transactions in and out of America. The previous administration set a cut-off of $10k.

  2. Cory, it is far more frightening that the South Dakota Department of Public Safety has access to the same technology.

    President Obama frightens me far less than Tom Dravland does, especially in a state that routinely sends the likes of Kristi Noem, Ted Klaudt, Gordon Howie, Jerry Apa, Bill Janklow and Don Kopp to make and enforce laws solely intended to sustain prison jobs by criminalizing its population.

  3. Point taken, Larry: I don't want any government official, not even my man Barack, getting to bug my car without a warrant.

  4. Thad: that's international transactions only, right? Is that any different from the complete surveillance of international travel currently imposed?

  5. What about our 4th amendment right to our papers? Or is the new America guilty until your prove your innonce?

    The Obama administration is proposing that all banks report electronic money transfers in and out of this country. Expanding its anti-terrorism role. Martin Crutsinger AP Economics Writer 27 September 2010.

  6. I'm with you to on inncoent 'til proven guilty. I wonder on the "papers" comment: is there a different between riffling through your documents (in your lockbox, on the computer, on the bank's computer) and simply being alerted to the details of a transaction when it takes place? Is it one of your "papers" before the transaction is even recorded? (I'm not defending the policy; I'm just testing its foundation and boundaries.)


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