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Electronic Bugging
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Michigan Invasion Of Fourth Amendment Rights

By James Donahue

The Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution reads: “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 searched.”

It has been bad enough that Michigan’s newly elected Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his GOP-controlled House and Senate have invented a way to strip county and local governments of their own autonomy, put more money in the pockets of big corporations and put a bigger tax bite on low income and retired citizens. Now we learn that the Michigan State Police has found a way to strip residents of the Fourth Amendment rights and tap freely into all forms of electronic communication without bothering to get a court order.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Detroit is asking the troopers to release information as to just how they are using a portable Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) to secretly extract personal data from cell phones during routine traffic stops.

It appears that the troopers have had their hands on these little devices since they were released by Cellebrate, a subsidiary of Japan’s Sun Corporation, about three years ago. UFEDs have the potential of downloading every electronic messages, photos and even financial records stored on cell phones, iPads, automobile tracking systems, laptops and home computers within about 90 seconds. The device can even read erased messages.

What the ACLU wants to know is just how extensively the State Police have been using these little toys and whether they are invading the Fourth Amendment Rights of the drivers they stop, and possibly even the private messages on electronic computer equipment in Michigan homes and offices.

Mark P. Fancher, a ACLU staff attorney at Detroit, noted in a letter to the Michigan State Police that his agency has “repeatedly asked for importation” through numerous Freedom of Information Act requests, but the requests have been ignored.

“Through these many requests for information we have tried to establish whether these devices are being used legally. It’s telling that Michigan State Police would rather play this stalling game than respect the public’s right to know,” Fancher wrote.

The ACLU of Michigan is asking for records, reports and logs of actual UFED use. Fancher said the cat-and-mouse game over the question of how the devices are being used has been going on for about three years.

The Michigan State Police recently responded to the ACLU’s public outcry for transparency in their use of the UFED device. The police deny that the device can extract data without being in physical possession of the cell phone or computer, and say the UFEDs are only used by trained teams after a warrant has been issued or the device has been voluntarily handed over to the officers by its owner.

“The department’s internal directive is the DEDs only be used by specialty teams on criminal cases, such as crimes against children,” a State Police news release stated.

The State Police is allegedly asking the ACLU to pay a search and processing charge of $544,680 before the information the agency wants can be released.

The question of the capability of police and military electronic spy devices to capture information from a distance remains somewhat unanswered at this point. But there has been a race among electronic developers in Germany, Japan and elsewhere to generate improved surveillance equipment to aid in the universal war against terrorism. There are big profits to be earned.

Also the ACLU has charged that in Michigan, the UFED device has been routinely used during traffic stops and that “state troopers were able to access the mobile devices without their owners being aware that their data was being grabbed.” This strongly suggests a capability of a wireless downloading of data.

One blogger, who remained unnamed, wrote that Michigan State Police were “forcing motorists to surrender their cell phones upon detention for traffic violations. They are using the common tactic that most liberals and anti-constitutionalist morons use that ‘if you have nothing to hide, you’ll do what I ask.’”

There is nothing quite as intimidating as the sight of a uniformed police officer with a gun strapped to his waist, making demands of motorists following a traffic stop. Add the flashing lights of the patrol car drawn up at the driver’s rear bumper, and create this scene after dark, and the images get even more frightening.

Tom Burghard, in an excellent article, The Orwellian Internet Surveillance Noose appearing on Global Research, delves deeply into the latest electronics spying technologies now being used by police and military agencies not only in the United States, but all around the globe.

Burghard reports that there is virtually nothing that has ever been recorded on a computerized device that cannot be recovered as “evidence” of criminal or terrorist activity. Some of this equipment can even track the IP address right to the owner’s door, and in the case of tracking devices for drivers, can trace the vehicle’s movements from the day it was purchased. He notes that Apple’s popular iPad had a secret tracking device built right into its system so it is possible to track the movements of these devices as well.

Burghard warns that “a device that allows immediate, surreptitious, intrusions into private data creates enormous risks that troopers will ignore these requirements to the detriment of the constitutional rights of persons whose cell phones are searched.”

The ACLU’s quest to reveal just what is going on behind the doors of the Michigan State Police cruisers and headquarters in regard to electronic surveillance may never be revealed. As the web site Cryptohippie recently reported in The Electronic Police State: “every surveillance camera recording, every email sent, every Internet site surfed, every post made, every check written, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping . . . are all criminal evidence and all are held in searchable databases. The individual can be prosecuted whenever the government wishes.”

One final thought. We can be assured that if the Michigan State Police are using electronic surveillance devices to spy on citizens, police agencies in most other states are secretly doing it too. Armed with the freedoms written into the Patriot Act, just signed into law for another four years by President Obama, you can bet that citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights in the United States have been lost under the sweat of artificially generated human fear.