[News] Strip-Searches: Obama Wants You to Bend Over (Or Squat) and Spread ‘Em

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 4 18:14:54 EDT 2012

Strip-Searches: Obama Wants You to Bend Over (Or Squat) and Spread ‘Em

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Humiliation is the law of the land. When you fall 
into the clutches of the police, for any reason, 
or no good reason at all, you can be compelled to 
bare your private parts before being placed in 
the general jail population. Five of the nine 
U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled that 
Constitutional prohibitions against unreasonable 
searches end at the jailhouse door, even if there 
is no reason to suspect that the person under 
arrest is in possession of anything that could be called contraband.

The decision throws out laws against unreasonable 
strip searches in at least ten states, and 
overrides federal law enforcement regulations 
against intrusive searches. The High Court 
decision also flies in the face of international 
human rights treaties to which the United States 
is a signatory. In effect, the Supreme Court 
majority ruled that the whim of the local jailer 
trumps any standard of reasonableness. The 
American Correctional Association, which 
represents jail guards, is pleased that its 
members now have the “flexibility” to look into 
virtually every human orifice that enters their 
domain, even though the association’s own 
standards currently discourage blanket policies of strip-searching everyone.

The casual observer might conclude that the 
ruling is more evidence of a rightwing court on 
the warpath against what remains of the Bill of 
Rights. But, on this issue, the Obama 
administration is marching in lock step with the 
High Court’s rightwing majority. U.S. Justice 
Department lawyers spoke and filed briefs in 
favor of blanket strip searches. Indeed, the oral 
argument put forward by Obama’s lawyer was, 
perhaps, the most curious of all. Most of the 
discussion about the smuggling of contraband into 
jail settings involves drugs or crude weapons and 
other petty criminal concerns – the day-to-day 
stuff of life in a jail. But the administration’s 
lawyer chose to use hypothetical political 
protesters as the bad guys of his argument. In 
this weird scenario, a protester with a gun, 
traveling in a car that was about to stopped by 
police, would hide the gun on his person in hopes 
of avoiding a pat-down search, and then bring the 
gun into the jail when he is arrested – 
presumably for some minor offense connected to the demonstration.

This is quite strange reasoning, and shows what 
kinds of conversations the Obama folks are having 
at the Justice Department. Crushing political 
dissent, not safety in jails, is what motivates 
the Obama administration to ally itself with the 
most reactionary wing of the Republican-dominated 
U.S. Supreme Court. The Left is not paranoid; the 
Obama administration really is preparing its 
legal arsenal to smash dissent in the United 
States. They are getting ready for a “full 
spectrum” assault on civil and political 
freedoms, ranging from the big hammer, suspension 
of all due process through preventive detention, 
to the intimately chilling effect on potential 
protesters of knowing that Uncle Sam wants to 
look into all of your bodily cavities if you get arrested at a demonstration.

Obama’s lawyer was not talking off-the-cuff 
before the U.S. Supreme Court. This 
administration is obsessed with political 
protesters. They want you to bend over, and 
spread ‘em – literally and politically.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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