When the animated series South Park lampooned the TSA, it did so by suggesting that screeners routinely demand that Americans passing through airports must submit to anal examinations. The exaggerated humor served to highlight a serious point – that TSA agents everywhere are violating Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights by groping their genitals and searching inside their underwear.
A disturbing series of recent cases suggests that this exact thing is now REALLY happening in the US – except it isn’t confined to airports, it is being carried out by police on the streets, and by doctors in hospitals at the behest of law enforcement officials.
The stories have centered on New Mexico, where not one, not two, but THREE cases of law enforcement officials enforcing humiliating and demeaning anal probes and body cavity searches WITHOUT CONSENT have been reported in recent weeks.
By far the most appalling of these cases was that of David Eckert, who was subjected to FOURTEEN HOURS of medical probes at the hands of doctors following orders from deputies with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and police officers with the City of Deming.
Eckert’s crime? He did not come to a complete stop at a stop sign.
After pulling Eckert over, officers approached with a drug sniffing dog which alerted. The officers then suggested Eckert was “clenching his buttocks”, and that they had probable cause to have him examined.
While a doctor at one emergency room refused to go along with the “unethical” process, physicians at the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City agreed to carry out the anal exams, happy that the police had secured a “search warrant” from a judge.
The medical report released as part of the case indicates that police ordered doctors to carry out no less than EIGHT anal and abdominal searches, consisting of 2 X-rays, 2 anal penetration examinations by hand, 3 enemas, forcing Eckert to defecate in front of doctors and police each time, and finally a full colonoscopy, involving inserting a camera into his anus, rectum, colon, and large intestine.
At no point were any drugs discovered. Eckert never gave consent for any of the procedures to be carried out and was vocally resistant throughout. The police and doctors involved are now facing a hefty lawsuit and possibly being both sacked and banned from law enforcement and the practice medicine respectively.
While Eckert’s attorneys are questioning whether a judge even has the authority to issue such a warrant to search INSIDE a person’s body, what is not under any doubt is the fact that the horrific medical procedures were carried out in a different county to the one in which said warrant had apparent jurisdiction. Some of the procedures were also undertaken in the hours AFTER the warrant had expired.
“This is like something out of a science fiction film, anal probing by government officials and public employees,” said Eckert’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy, who is arguing that there wasn’t sufficient probable cause in the case.
“If the officers in Hidalgo County and the City of Deming are seeking warrants for anal cavity searches based on how they’re standing and the warrant allows doctors at the Gila Hospital of Horrors to go in and do enemas and colonoscopies without consent, then anyone can be seized and that’s why the public needs to know about this,” the attorney added.
But this was not the end of the story. Eckert’s attorney has uncovered another case almost identical to his ordeal, involving a second man being forcefully anally probed at the hands of the same police department and the same doctors.
After not using his blinker at a junction, Timothy Young was pulled over by cops in Lordsburg, N.M and subjected to a search involving the very same drug sniffing dog that featured in Eckert’s ordeal. When the dog again alerted, Young was shipped off to the Gila Regional Medical Center and subjected to anal exams and x-rays of his stomach, without giving his consent.
The examinations again turned up nothing, and it again turned out that the “search warrant” obtained by the cops was issued in a different county to where the medical exams took place.
The attorney in Eckert’s case also discovered that that the drug sniffing dog’s certification expired in 2011 and was never renewed. The law states that drug dogs must be re-certified every year.
“We have done public requests to find anything that would show this dog has been trained, we have evidence that this dog has had false alerts in the past,” Kennedy said.
Following intense media coverage, a THIRD person from New Mexico, this time a woman, has come forward with a similar story. Representing the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, the ACLU states that federal border patrol agents pressed their fingers into her vagina and anus without consent and without a warrant, following a drug dog alerting to her at a Port of Entry from Juarez, Mexico into El Paso.
The agents are said to have stripped searched the woman at their facility, asked her to spread her genitalia and to cough. Female agents also allegedly pressed their fingers into her vagina looking for drugs, but turned up nothing. Medical records examined by the ACLU revealed that the woman did not consent to the strip search or having her private parts sexually molested. The woman’s ordeal then continued as the agents delivered her to the University Medical Center of El Paso.
“First, medical staff observed her making a bowl movement and no drugs were found at that point,” said Laura Schaur Ives, Legal Director for the New Mexico Chapter of the ACLU. “They then took an X-ray, but it did not reveal any contraband. They then did a cavity search and they probed her vagina and her anus, they described in the medical records as bi-manual–two handed. Finally, they did a cat scan. Again, they found nothing.”
These cases indicate that police are conducting these procedure as a matter of routine when a drug sniffing dog reacts to anyone they stop. The Americans in these cases have been treated worse than prisoners would be in maximum security detention facilities, with total disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which is supposed to protect against unreasonable searches and seizures.
It should also be noted that a prominent study from 2011 found that only 44% percent of all canine “alerts” turn up any contraband. The analysis conducted by the Chicago Tribune, also found that in Chicago, the number of false “alerts” jumped to 73 percent when police were confronting a Latino suspect. While this may mean that dogs are being purposefully manipulated into reacting by discriminatory cops, a further study published in the January 2011 edition of the scientific journal Animal Cognition found that dogs are overwhelmingly influenced by their handlers’ belief that drugs may be present. The author of the study, Lisa Lit, noted that this aspect “might be as important — or even more important — than the sensitivity of a dog’s nose” in such cases.
The three cases described above, are far from isolated incidents. In July of this year, two Houston women, made headlines when Texas Department of Transportation (DPS) troopers performed embarrassing body cavity searches in plain view on both women along a Houston highway. The justification for examining both the women’s anuses and vaginas, was “an odor of marijuana” in their vehicle. In a dash-cam video of the incident the trooper is heard telling one of the young women “we’re about to get up close and personal with your womanly parts.” After the search was concluded the women complained of “severe and continuing pain and discomfort.”
Even more disturbingly, the trooper did not change her gloves in between cavity searches, a blatant health and safety violation. The two women have filed a federal lawsuit against DPS and are currently in litigation. While the senior trooper was later fired, the trooper that followed the order to conduct the cavity searches was re-instated to duty, following a short suspension, after a grand jury failed to indict her on any wrongdoings.
In an almost exact replica of this case, a trooper named Kelley Helleson from North Texas was charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of official oppression by a Dallas County Grand Jury back in March, after carrying out a search of the body cavities — front and back — of two women along an exit ramp of the Bush Turnpike in Irving.
The women, Angel Dobbs, 38, and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, 24, were stopped after one of them threw a cigarette out of their car window. Another trooper on the scene, David Farrell, was charged with theft after one of the women complained that he stole her prescription bottle of the painkiller hydrocodone. The lawsuit also says Helleson failed to properly explain the extent of the search, telling the women “not to worry about” why she was putting on blue latex gloves.
DPS Director Steve McCraw, who oversaw both the cases described above, is accused in the second lawsuit of failing to address a “long standing pattern of police misconduct involving unlawful strip searches, cavity searches and the like…”
These ordeals, which amount to a gross violation of civil rights, make the TSA’s airport groping shenanigans seem somewhat tame in comparison. In numerous other reported cases, while police are stopping short of full on anal and vaginal searches, they are still terrorizing people in the streets by searching inside their underwear, in plain view of the public. Police are also routinely stopping drivers and demanding blood, urine and even DNA samples, without proper authorization.
The common factor in all of these cases is that police are using the suspicion of a presence of narcotics as justification for conducting blatantly unconstitutional searches. Unfortunately, this is the horrific fallout of the over hyped “war on drugs” that the government and the media have been drilling into the minds of law enforcement officials for some 20+ years.
“Like the war on terror, the war on drugs is framed as a response to an exceptional, existential threat to our health, our security, and indeed the very fabric of society. The ‘Addiction to narcotic drugs’ is portrayed as an ‘evil’ the international community has a moral duty to ‘combat’ because it is a ‘danger of incalculable gravity’ that warrants a series of (otherwise publicly unacceptable) extraordinary measures. This is not an exaggeration of the political rhetoric. This crusading language has created a political climate in which drug war policy and enforcement are not required to meet human rights norms.”
In addition to the bill of rights, every form of dignity is being degraded by design, as the phony drug war is used by state and federal law enforcement personnel as a pretext to eviscerate privacy, raid private property, and now, as we have seen, to literally rape Americans on the streets.
In their influential examination of the “war on drugs” researchers Jay Stanley and Barry Steinhardt note:
“In recent years – in no small part as the result of the failed ‘war on drugs’ – Fourth Amendment principles have been steadily eroding. The circumstances under which police and other government officials may conduct warrantless searches has been rapidly expanding. The courts have allowed for increased surveillance and searches on the nation’s highways and at our ‘borders’ (the legal definition of which actually extends hundreds of miles inland from the actual border). And despite the Constitution’s plain language covering ‘persons’ and ‘effects,’ the courts have increasingly allowed for warrantless searches when we are outside of our homes and ‘in public.’ Here the courts have increasingly found we have no ‘reasonable expectation’ of privacy and that therefore the Fourth Amendment does not apply.”
If the “war on drugs” were a legitimate operation it would have long ago proven an unmitigated failure. However, it is a fake initiative, as underscored by information publicly released as part of FBI probes and Congressional investigations in the mid to late nineties, documenting the fact that US federal agencies, including the CIA, have been shipping in vast quantities of illegal narcotics for decades, with big banks laundering the ill gotten gains.
Until these flagrant violations of the law are properly addressed, Americans and anyone visiting America needs to be aware that when traveling they must be wary of encountering law enforcement officials who will disregard their inalienable rights without hesitation, and will bypass any concern for causing public humiliation of, or physical and emotional damage to those they encounter.