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Seriously, This Must Stop

Here’s another absolutely repulsive case of the government essentially committing sexual assault on someone on the suspicion that they have drugs in a bodily orifice. And all based on an “alert” from a drug-sniffing dog, which are wrong about 80% of the time.

In a case eerily similar to David Eckert’s humiliating ordeal at the hands of cops in Deming, New Mexico, a federal lawsuit charges U.S. Border Patrol agents with subjecting a U.S. citizen to six hours of degrading and fruitless body cavity searches based on an alleged alert by a drug-sniffing dog. The lawsuit, filed yesterday by the ACLU chapters in Texas and New Mexico, says the plaintiff, a 54-year-old New Mexico resident identified in the complaint as Jane Doe, was crossing the bridge between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso after visiting a family friend last December when she was chosen at random for “additional screening.” This “secondary inspection” involved a pat-down during which an agent “inserted her finger in the crevice of Ms. Doe’s buttocks”—a rather startling incursion inasmuch as the agents at this point had no basis to suspect that the woman was carrying contraband. But they were just getting started.

The agents instructed the plaintiff to stand in line with other people who had been selected for additional screening and walked a dog past her. According to the lawsuit, the dog handler “hit the ground by her feet, but did not hit the ground by any of the others in the line,” and “the dog responded by lunging onto Ms. Doe and landing its front paws on her torso.” Why did the dog do that? “Because Ms. Doe did not possess any contraband,” says the complaint, “the dog either did not alert or the response was not a proper alert.” Yet this possibly manufactured and in any event erroneous alert was the basis for all that followed.

First the agents strip-searched the plaintiff, examining her anus and vagina with a flashlight. Finding nothing, they took her to the University Medical Center of El Paso, where they forced her to take a laxative and produce a bowel movement in their presence. Again they found no evidence of contraband. At this point one of their accomplices, a physician named Christopher Cabanillas, ordered an X-ray, which likewise found nothing suspicious. Then the plaintiff “endured a forced gynecological exam” and rectal probing at the hands of another doctor, Michael Parsa. Still nothing. Finally, Cabanillas ordered a CT scan of the plaintiff’s abdomen and pelvis, which found no sign of illegal drugs. “After the CT scan,” the complaint says, “a CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] agent presented Ms. Doe with a choice: she could either sign a medical consent form, despite the fact that she had not consented, in which case CBP would pay for the cost of the searches; or if she refused to sign the consent form, she would be billed for the cost of the searches.” She refused, and later the hospital sent her a bill for $5,000, apparently the going rate for sexual assault and gratuitous radiological bombardment.

It’s time to start putting people in prison for this. This is government-sanctioned rape.

Comments

  1. says

    With the amount they’re going to spend on lawsuits they ought to just buy their own CT scanner and do an abdominal scan. If people carrying objects in their body cavities was that big a problem, I suppose it would make sense. … But then they wouldn’t get to have all that ‘fun’ humiliating people and showing dominance.

    From a risk/reward perspective it’s just silly. How much can you fit in your body, anyway? A relatively small amount – infinitesimal – compared to the amounts that enter the country through tunnels, border runners, etc. One car carrying concealed drugs is going to vastly outweigh the total amount that is carried by body mules. That this is not immediately obvious to anyone who thinks about it makes me suspect that the policy-makers are not actually trying to do their jobs, they just enjoy the humiliation and dominance.

    Runaway police state.

  2. says

    The CT scanner argument is a fun kind of Catch-22 you can throw at them:
    – You need to buy a CT scanner to do this; it’ll work better and cost you less in lawsuits and you’re doing your job better and you don’t have to stick your fingers in various weird places
    – Oh, what do you mean, you don’t need a CT scanner because you don’t find enough stuff up people’s butts? Then why are you checking up people’s butts as SOP?
    – After all, if people carry stuff up their butts so much that it’s SOP to check there, then you need a CT scanner.
    – If people don’t carry stuff up their butts enough to justify the CT scanner, then it’s not worth you sticking your finger up their butts, you sick little shit-sniffer authoritarian pig.

  3. says

    It wasn’t a drug stop. It was Obamacare. What do you think “We have to pass the bill so you can see what’s in it” really meant? Sarah Palin warned you. She was right about the Crotch Panels. Things like this happen in Liberal Utopias with Universal “Health”care all the time. In Sweden they call it “månads obligatorisk gren inspektion” (also the name of a table at IKEA).

  4. says

    Further to the rape, the “sign or we’ll bill you” aspect is blatant extortion.

    There’s also the matter of radiation exposure. CT scanners expose the patient to large amounts of X-ray radiation (far more than ordinary X-rays). Their use can only be justified on the grounds of medical necessity. Forcing someone to undergo a CT scan is plain assault.

  5. Mr Ed says

    Forget CBP the supremes have long sided with them. Go after the hospitals, doctors and technicians for performing invasive procedure against the patients will.

  6. karmacat says

    forcing someone to get a CT scan is malpractice. I shouldn’t be but I am amazed that these people don’t think the CT scan is conclusive evidence there is nothing there. Even an x-ray should be enough. But then I guess it means admitting hey were wrong. I am also ashamed by these doctors. They really need to lose their medical licenses but of course they won’t

  7. says

    The next time the occupy movement or similar gets going can we try to get them focused on something like constitutionally banning the various forms of immunity that these officials enjoy? We can give it a snappy name like “one law for everyone” act.

  8. marcus says

    dmcclean@6 I don’t think anyone here cares.
    Sadly US citizens are considered to have better protections under the Constitution than non-citizens. This is particularly true at border crossings where non-citizens have almost no (recognized) rights at all. The ACLU mentions it because it is germane to the complaint and because it gives them a stronger case.

  9. sigurd jorsalfar says

    And all based on an “alert” from a drug-sniffing dog, which are wrong about 80% of the time.

    It’s worse than that. Allegations are now coming to the surface that some police departments don’t train ‘drug sniffing’ dogs to sniff drugs at all. Instead they are trained to create false positives by responding to handler cues in order to create false grounds for a search and seizure.

  10. wscott says

    I’ve worked with a lot of cops, the vast majority of whom were good, decent people. But one trait they tend to share is extreme self-confidence. No surprise – you need it to do that job. But one side effect is that all the usual tricks our brains use to convince us we’re right and justify bad decisions get amped up to 11. So once a cop makes up their mind about something, it’s incredibly hard to change it. Each procedure that fails to turn up evidence of drugs, paradoxically, makes it easier to justify the next, more-invasive procedure. It’s all Self-Justification 101, just on steroids. Not excusing. Just explaining.

    How much can you fit in your body, anyway?

    Actually, that’s one of the most common methods of smuggling heroin. Again, not excusing…

  11. D. C. Sessions says

    Anyone care to start a pool on how long it will be before the SCOTUS declares absolute immunity for physicians (etc. — why not an LPN?) performing forensic examinations?

  12. D. C. Sessions says

    I’ve worked with a lot of cops, the vast majority of whom were good, decent people. But one trait they tend to share is extreme self-confidence.

    Given the research of Drs Dunning and Kruger, this should not be surprising.

  13. davidwhitlock says

    This is clearly medical malpractice, no matter what the police say.

    This is the kind of case that is always settled because if it goes to trial the jury could award millions, tens of millions or even hundreds of millions.

  14. dshetty says

    she could either sign a medical consent form, despite the fact that she had not consented, in which case CBP would pay for the cost of the searches; or if she refused to sign the consent form, she would be billed for the cost of the searches.
    WTF??

  15. Michael Heath says

    wscott writes:

    . . . one trait [“cops”] tend to share is extreme self-confidence. No surprise – you need it to do that job.

    I would be shocked to discover the empirical evidence finds a positive correlative relationship between, “extreme self-confidence” and performance, let alone a causal relationship as you assert.

    I would not be at all surprised to find both a negative relationship along with a disproportionate rate of misbehavior from those police officers who possess, “extreme self-confidence”.

  16. says

    And all based on an “alert” from a drug-sniffing dog, which are wrong about 80% of the time.

    Why waste money raising, feeding and “training” dogs?

    Cut a coathanger and make dowsing rods. It will be just as accurate.

  17. Ichthyic says

    It won’t stop.

    I agree. I think these stories don’t even scratch the surface of the underlying problem.

    fascist America… you’re soaking in it.

  18. Ichthyic says

    I would be shocked to discover the empirical evidence finds a positive correlative relationship between, “extreme self-confidence” and performance, let alone a causal relationship as you assert.

    I’m reasonably sure a much better correlate would be their placement on the authoritarian index.

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