Thursday, December 26, 2013

A new low

Remember David Eckert? I certainly do. His harrowing tale was a graphic reminder of police overreach and an example of the excesses -- state-sanctioned kidnapping and rape, for example -- law enforcement will allow itself in its tireless attempts to Keep Us Safe. It's hard to think how that could get any worse, but as always, the universe provides an example of just how it could have been worse -- David Eckert could have been a woman.

Reason Magazine wins one shiny, new Internet for its headline "Drug Warriors Kidnap and Sexually Assault a Woman After Getting Permission From a Dog". A 54-year-old New Mexico woman endured six hours of fruitless body cavity searches at the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez border crossing, all on the supposed say-so of a dog.
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. ....
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.
That's a whole $1,000 less than the bill Eckert received. What chivalry!

Remember, folks -- these aren't flaws in the system, this is how the system is supposed to work. One justice system for the upper crust, another for the rest of us. It's enough to make you want to burn the system to the ground and start over.

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