A New Low: Vaginal Probes At The Border (Update)

The things done to David Eckert were horrific and inexcusable, but if there is a saving grace to them, at least they were done pursuant to a search warrant.  No, it’s not much comfort that a judge approved of the rape of a human being, except to those for whom process somehow makes the violation of a person palatable. But whenever it appears that we’ve reached bottom, that it can’t go any lower, boom.

Via Jacob Sullum at Reason:

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 basic rule is that a border search requires no probable cause; it’s the price ones pays to cross a border. This is true even when the border ceases to actually be a border, but is expanded to 100 miles from any border, the free-search zone. But then, a border search historically involves questioning, an inspection of baggage to assure that no contraband, dangerous plants or untaxed goods were being introduced into the country.  It was never understood to be a free-for-all, with a border agent’s finger probing wherever it ended up.

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.”

Putting aside the ease with which a dog handler can direct a dog to alert, as it’s somewhat irrelevant since the handler inclined to cause an alert would be similarly inclined to claim an alert when none occurred (cheating is cheating, so what difference does it make how the handler cheated), the judiciary desperately clings to the time-honored tradition of trusting dogs too much. Despite evidence that they are the equivalent of a coin toss, they remain beloved, their sniff tantamount to probable cause.

But in this instance, Jane Doe detained, a putative dog hit and the opportunity to seek judicial approval for whatever came next, the border agent had a choice.  Despite the scientific absurdity of basing probable cause on a dog’s reaction, real or phony, all it accomplishes legally is to provide probable cause. That’s the thing needed to obtain a search warrant. Probable cause is not, contrary to the understanding of too many in law enforcement, a free pass to do as they please.

There are exceptions to the warrant requirement, lots and lots of exceptions with cool names like exigent circumstances and the automobile exception, but there is no exception that applies when a person is detained, there is no emergency, no threat, and only the probable cause of a dog hit.  Except when it’s at the border, because there are no 4th Amendment rights at the border.

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.

And then there are the doctors, happy to stick whatever they’ve got into unwilling women (as was the case with David Eckert) because an agent said so.  So that it’s clear, a warrantless “forced gynecological exam” is rape.  A warrantless forced “rectal probing” is rape. Jane Doe was raped. Unlike Eckert, neither the agents nor the physicians can hide like the sick cowards they are behind a judge’s warrant to excuse their conduct.

And they found nothing. Jane Doe was clean. Absolutely, totally, perfectly innocent of any wrongdoing. Not that it’s acceptable if she wasn’t, but she was.

Then, of course, the coup de grace:

“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.

Quite the deal, given that Eckert received a bill for $6,000.  The ACLU filed a civil suit against the government for redress of what was done to Jane Doe, randomly selected for secondary inspection. It’s incomprehensible that she was left to her own devices to deal with this.  There are good people in the Department of Justice, and it defies belief that this was not the subject of intense investigation leading to prompt prosecution and denunciation of such outrageous conduct.  Is there no one at DoJ who takes issue with the rape of a human being by agents of the government under the guise of their authority?

Fellow blogger and Senior Judge in the District of Nebraska, Richard Kopf, noted what happened to David Eckert, calling it “astounding” without any further commentary.  I’m constrained to ask, knowing his feelings toward drugs and assuming his affection toward the fine law enforcement personnel protecting our safety from the vaginas of innocent American women, is conduct of this nature acceptable in the United States of America?

As much as I would love to believe that now, this time, we’ve hit absolute rock bottom when it comes to outrages perpetrated on human beings by government agents, filled with their vast power and authority and unconstrained by either law, basic social norms or human decency, I can’t.  My imagination isn’t sufficiently fertile to anticipate the next level of shocking and disgusting conduct, but experience tells me that there is yet a lower level of Hell and agents of the United States government will find it and go there.

But Judge Kopf, I ask you since you’ve been kind enough to join us in the blawgosphere: Is this good with you? Is this your America?

Update:  From El Paso’s University Medical Center, this statement was issued:

“We want to assure the community that UMC is conducting a thorough review of the allegations raised in the ACLU’s lawsuit,” the statement said. “We take these types of claims very seriously and are taking steps to ensure that our staff does the right thing by every patient every day. Hospital policy is to obtain consent from all patients who receive medical services at UMC.”

Empty rhetoric, suggesting that while Drs. Parsa and Cabanillas were busy aiding the border agents’ sexual assault, UMC was busy whipping out crisis management response number 7.

H/T @DrowsyGeek, who reminds us that this statement meshes well with the deafening silence of the medical community to those docs willingly coopted by law enforcement to do its bidding.


51 thoughts on “A New Low: Vaginal Probes At The Border (Update)

    1. SHG Post author

      It is beyond my comprehension how you would use this case to push the neo-feminist misogyny agenda. Not nearly as disgraceful as what was done to Jane Doe, but disgraceful enough.

  1. Pingback: Best Article / Best Headline on our Rape-Happy Police State | Popehat

  2. Pingback: Rape « Drug WarRant

  3. Bruce Coulson

    One of the few constants in life is that government authority, and the exercise of said authority, increases unless checked by outside forces. And sadly, it’s becoming clear that the medical profession will not be that outside force.

    1. Broden Mickelsen

      That outside authority must be us. That is, every citizen, police officer, teacher, employee, media personality, doctor, nurse, etc…. We must talk to any police officers and reinforce in them the principles that will protect the citizens. We must reinforce in nurses the principles that will cause them to stand up when the time comes. We must also make sure our voices are heard. Find out what you can do in your community to help.

  4. Malcolm Kyle

    “The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they [the prohibitionists] exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and, whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate — which is to say, upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are.”

    “They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offences, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.”

    —an extract from “Notes on Democracy” by Henry Louis Mencken, written in 1926, during alcohol prohibition, 1919-1933

    1. SHG Post author

      Much as I’m a long-time fan of Mencken, this quote has essentially no relation to what happened here and illuminates nothing.

        1. SHG Post author

          There is almost nothing I see at that level of simplicity. Drugs have been illegal for more than 100 years, and this didn’t happen. To attribute this to drug prohibition is grossly simplistic, which recalls another Mencken quote.

          1. Patrick Henry, the 2nd

            That’s because its taken a hundred years to indoctrinate judges, police, doctors, and the public that anything is necessary for the war on drugs.

            This happened because of the war on drugs. It really is that simple.

            1. SHG Post author

              Or the war on terror. Or over-criminalization. Or militarization. Or the “us against them” division. Or the use of drug dogs, or bomb dogs, or cadaver dogs. Or the willingness of doctors to “help” law enforcement. Or the thousand other issues and problems that go into the creation of a culture, atmosphere or attitude that gives rise to a horror like this. Or, you can just keep insisting it’s all about the war on drugs because it “really is that simple.” Sheesh.

              What will be your next magic bullet should drugs be legalized and giant rainbows don’t cover your world?

          2. Jeff

            > Drugs have been illegal for more than 100 years

            Not even close and barely accurate in the context of the few exceptions!!

            Drugs like cocaine and marijuana were made illegal in the 1914.

            [Ed. Note: Middle thousand words deleted as boring, irrelevant and an inexcusable waste of my bandwidth.]

            How you can have a blind spot for this is suggesting something else. You might want to spend some time contemplating that and/or do some research on the subject. I’m not a lawyer – just someone educated in STEM and classical education – but it seems perfectly obvious to me.

            1. SHG Post author

              I stand corrected. Almost 100 years. My bad.

              Here’s a thought for you to ponder: I’m a criminal defense lawyer, and have been for more than 30 years. Most of the readers here are criminal defense lawyer, prosecutors and judges. The only people who find this a “simple” product of the War on Drugs are non-lawyers. We see it in all aspects of law enforcement, certainly drugs, but many others as well. Your simple is far more complex for those of us who actually live with this.

              We are not only aware of the War on Drugs, but far more so than you will ever know. But we also are aware of things you aren’t aware of. We spend a whole lot of time contemplating these things, and do a whole of research about it. You are not a lawyer, and it seems perfectly obvious to you. Since you’re so smart, do the math.

            2. Allan Erickson

              @ Sgt Shulz…

              Pardon me?

              “The only people who find this a “simple” product of the War on Drugs are non-lawyers. We see it in all aspects of law enforcement, certainly drugs, but many others as well. Your simple is far more complex for those of us who actually live with this.

              We are not only aware of the War on Drugs, but far more so than you will ever know. But we also are aware of things you aren’t aware of. We spend a whole lot of time contemplating these things, and do a whole of research about it. You are not a lawyer, and it seems perfectly obvious to you.”

              I’m sorry sir but lawyers judges and cops are hardly the only ones with knowledge of society, culture, the War On Drugs… so excuse my blue collar ig’nance, please.

              Those 100 years of drugs prohibition is all fraud, factoid. The Prohibition on Cannabis the keystone to Prohitibition II’s house of lies.

              There are many of out here that are very educated about the excesses and atrocities of the drug war. From shooting babies and dogs to forced anal and vaginal probes the offenses of Prohibition are virtually uncountable. There is a list of names of those dead, innocents, killed by the WOD. The WOD is but a symptom of a far greater social illness.

              WE live with the drug war. Don’t lecture about your superior knowledge because a JD does not necessarily a genius make. We are the ones with the boot on our necks. Don’t get me wrong, I love lawyers. Some lawyers that is…

              What other policy has led this nation, once proud to proclaim itself as “the Land of the Free, Sweet Land of Liberty,” to now (and has been for many, many years) become the most incarcerated population on the planet? The cases of Eckert and Jane Doe are analogous to what the drug war does to our communities, our nation and our Constitution (drugs even get a “Constitutional exception”). There are profiteers in and corruption at every level of the drug war bureaucracy.

              And if I need judicial or law enforcement corroboration of my views I simply need to turn to those who are cops and lawyers and judges and DEA and border agents belonging to the fine organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

              The court of public opinion and shared media (the interwwwebs) has laid waste to Prohibition II’s lies. That folks have their hackles raised by a government raping its citizens should not be shocking.

            3. SHG Post author

              Whoosh. Rarely has a point been so totally, completely and utterly missed, and by doing so, conclusively proven the point.

              Perhaps this will help: The universe of people who understand that this is not a simple “war on drugs” problem, but an overarching law enforcement culture of abuse problem, is made up of lawyers and non-lawyers. The universe of people who think this is a simple “war on drugs” problem is made up of only non-lawyers. Sgt. Schultz isn’t saying all non-lawyers don’t get it, but that the subset of people who don’t get it are non-lawyers. Not all non-lawyers. Just some. You are among the non-lawyers who don’t get it. See how that works? No? Well, I tried.

            4. Sgt. Schultz

              > Drugs have been illegal for more than 100 years

              Not even close and barely accurate in the context of the few exceptions!!

              Drugs like cocaine and marijuana were made illegal in the 1914.

              Very impressive. So 99 11/12ths? Wow, you sure showed the lawyers, you STEM stud.

          3. David Hart

            While I will agree that there has been a broad trend of over-criminalisation far beyond questions of drug use, I think it’s still fair to say that subjecting people to forced vaginal and anal exams is a policy which was very unlikely to have arisen except in the context of drug prohibition simply because there are very few other things besides drugs which it would be feasible and worthwhile for someone to try to smuggle inside such body orifices.

            1. SHG Post author

              No. Just because you don’t know about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

              Want a little history? Read Papillon, about how people hid contraband on Devil’s Island.

            2. David Hart

              Okay. But you’re comparing a prison colony with an instance of a civilian simply trying to legally cross the border. Maybe I should have phrased it as ‘very few other things besides drugs which it would be feasible and worthwhile for someone to try to smuggle across an international border (as opposed to into a prison) inside such body orifices, that would not easily be detected by an x-ray.

              I’m not saying that the war on drugs is the sole, or even the main driver of police brutality. But it is still a very large one in terms of the excuses it provides for brutality. Sniffer dogs are used primarily to sniff out drugs. I guess they can also sniff out weapons and explosives, but the market for these is a lot smaller, given that there is already a substantial market for legal firearms in the USA, and far more people want to use drugs than make bombs. So the war on drugs provides the primary excuse for using sniffer dogs in the first place.

              And there are very few other items apart from drugs that it would be feasible and profitable to carry across an international border inside one’s body cavities that would typically evade detection by x-rays. Guns or gun parts containing metal, would be easy to spot with x-rays, thus making the physical probing unnecessary and again explosives are just not that popular an illegal commodity. Other contraband things, like counterfeit goods, or parts of endangered species would tend not to fit so conveniently inside there.

              So, no, drugs are not the only think that someone might be smuggling from Mexico inside their vagina, but they are far and away the most likely thing, so much so that it would have been much harder to normalise the idea that this sort of invasiveness is acceptable if people hadn’t been conditioned to accept the idea of criminalising drug use – if the only people that were smuggling illegal things inside their body cavities was that much smaller number that would be smuggling weapons parts, explosives or whatever else. There is nothing else that makes criminals of such a large percentage of the population, after all (or at least, that makes criminals subject to such harsh repression).

            3. SHG Post author

              Nobody has said or suggested that this was unrelated to the war on drugs, that the war on drugs isn’t a terrible thing and that it doesn’t happen in relation to the war on drugs. What is terribly unfortunate is that those well-intended people who want to “own” this for the war on drugs have created this ridiculous rift. It’s not all about the war on drugs, no matter how obvious that may be to the people who focus only on the war on drugs.

              See the first comment at the top here? The neo-feminists want to “own” this to prove their issue, rape culture, is predominant. War on drugs people want to “own” this to show theirs is the cause. What is it with people with limited agendas arguing (look how many asinine comments have been left here regarding the war on drugs) that something horrible like this is “theirs” and proves their point to the exclusion of anyone else’s.

              There is no criminal defense lawyer who doesn’t appreciate the nightmare of the war on drugs, but that doesn’t mean that every bad thing that happens with cops is due to the war on drugs, or rape culture, or drunk driving (which, if you had clicked on the link you would realize has been the cause of most of the invasive body procedures, far, far more than drugs). So yes, the war on drugs gets a piece of this, but it does not “own” this any more than anyone else does. What happened here is horrible, but it’s not all about you.

          4. iquanyin

            and for the thousands of years before that, drugs were a total non issue. remember all those old civilizations brought down by drugs that you learned of in school? no? that’s because there were none. and recent science confirms what common sense and observation show whoever cares to see: whatever a societys preferred drug (coffee, booze, coca leaves, etc, its a classic bell curve: at one tiny end are those who shouldnever touch the stuff, and at the other are those who ever do.everyone else is somewhere in between, with most people bulging up inthemiddle.ie, nobiggie. most folks can use most things reasonably. and if they can’t, so what? jailing them — and sticking the public with the tab — does squat for anyone but crooks and other undesireables (power addicts, moralists, etc).

      1. Sam

        But wouldn’t it be fair to say that the War on Drugs plays a huge role in what happened here? You seem to be saying that this had nothing to do with the War on Drugs. That seems to me to be just plain wrong.

        1. SHG Post author

          The War on Drugs plays a role, but it’s not “the” problem, just a symptom of a far deeper, most outrageous, cultural problem that has infected the police. Just as we see a near endless stream of videos of people being beaten that have nothing to do with the Drug War, it reflects a level of depravity that can’t be attributed to a simple problem or fix, but to the great many problems that are happening.

          So no, it is not fair to say that this is a War on Drugs problem, and trying to pigeonhole it to a single cause is a grave mistaken.

          1. Sam

            So you’re not saying that this has nothing to do with the War on Drugs, but it’s the product of a deeper problem with police culture?

            1. SHG Post author

              I’m saying that regardless of the war on drugs, or terrorism, or any other war, the rape of Jane Doe can neither be adequately explained nor justified. This is a sickness, and one with which the government apparently took no issue. This goes far beyond any of our “wars” and into a far worse, far deeper problem.

              By the way, to try to make better sense of this, note the first comment above, which links to a neo-feminist blog blaming this on rape culture, patriarchal society and misogyny. She had a simple answer too, but it was pigeonholed by her paradigm. Everybody has a simple answer, that confirms their bias. What happened here transcends simple answers and there is no adequate or acceptable explanation, no easy, simple fix. That’s what I’m saying.

      2. Sgt. Schultz


        If I may, I think the problem you’re having with the non-lawyers is that they are seeing the superficial aspects of what happened here, whereas you’re seeing the systemic problems. Don’t blame them for seeing it so clearly. That’s how things look from the surface. And that’s what happens when you write for lawyers but are read by non-lawyers.

        1. SHG Post author

          I can appreciate that. My issue is that this discussion immediately spiraled downward because of this mistaken focus on the drug war rather than a discussion of the more fundamental issues giving rise to the rape, etc. Then again, my response to Malcolm Kyle likely fed the problem, so it’s my fault as well.

          It’s not that I have anything against non-lawyers reading or commenting on SJ. It’s just that it basically kills any chance of a deeper discussion. Oh well. That’s life on the internets.

          1. Sgt. Schultz

            So just delete the comments that belong on reddit instead of SJ. Problem solved! It’s not like there aren’t other places for the non-lawyer to go and rant. It doesn’t have to be here.

  5. Richard G. Kopf


    You ask: “I’m constrained to ask, knowing [Kopf’s] feelings toward drugs and assuming his affection toward the fine law enforcement personnel protecting our safety from the vaginas of innocent American women, is conduct of this nature acceptable in the United States of America?

    Let me first say that my son and his family have now taken Australian citizenship. Let me say, secondly, that my son-in-law is a Canadian citizen who can also travel on a Czech passport. Additionally, my wife was born in China to American parents shortly after WWII–when we travel to China that can become a bit of a problem. Fourth, I have had the opportunity to observe the ICE Beagle, after getting off an international flight. I watched that darling little dog hit on a banana. I am not kidding.

    With the foregoing in mind, my answer to your question is “Hell, no, it is not acceptable.” If the facts recounted by you, Jacob Sullum and the ACLU turn out to be true, the behavior of the agents and the doctors shocks the conscience. Let me add something else. Had those idiots tried to do something similar to me or mine, I would have kicked some folks in the genitalia as the starting salvo to one helluva of a fight.

    I trust that this responsive. If not, let me know and I will try to do better.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      Thank you, Judge, for responding. I thought I might be pushing my luck here. As you can tell, I’m a bit fired up on this one, this going well beyond anything I could have imagined possible. But in light of the numerous recent instances of physical invasion which are fully documented, including the one about which you wrote, it’s sadly just a small hop down the slope.

      Then comes the next step. Jane Doe had no options. She was in the custody of armed men. Had she fought, likelihood would be that she would not be around to tell her story, and it would be a righteous shoot because she was violent. The social compact has unraveled here. That things go awry in the normal course of such matters is one thing, but what happened to Jane Doe should never, under any circumstances happen. We have a wealth of officialdom dedicated to never letting this happen.

      If it did (and I have sufficient faith in the ACLU that they wouldn’t expend resources if this wasn’t sufficiently provable), then every safeguard failed. It’s not enough for Jane Doe to sue afterward. It can’t be allowed to happen to Jane Doe, or my wife or yours, in the first place. Yet it did. This doesn’t happen in my America.

      And seriously, the dog alerted on a banana? But precedent?

      1. Richard G. Kopf


        I am perfectly serious about the ICE Beagle and the banana. It happened upon a return flight from China at O’Hare in Chicago.

        Now, to be fair (why?), I suppose the little thing might have been trained to sniff out contraband bananas and I suppose that you can’t carry fruit into the US without some type of inspection. All I know is that the dog hit on a lady’s bag, an ICE agent decked out in black camo gear, boots and a nine looked into the baggage while the poor woman stood in line and pulled out the banana. The woman was not detained, but her offending banana was confiscated.

        All the best.


        1. SHG Post author

          In the 60’s, the rumor going around was that people could get high from smoking banana peels. Maybe it’s on schedule I and it was a good hit?

    2. Lucusloc

      You cannot fight them, as much as you think it would be justified. To do so is to invalidate any claim you have against them in court. If they are acting under color of law, and you take action to stop an unjust act perpetrated by them you just committed a felony. Furthermore they will be legally justified in taking pretty much any action against you, up to and including causing your death. If you attempt to protect your wife from rape “in the name of the war on drugs” and open with a kick to the groin you will in all likelihood be beaten and possibly killed, and you actions will be held as yet more evidence/probable cause that her rape was justified by pretty much every court in the land, even if noting was found.

      Don’t believe me? When has a government agent ever been prosecuted for murders committed “in the line of duty?” Were Jose Guerena’s killers ever prosecuted? The L.A. cops who shot the newspaper ladies?

      If you really mean to fight, prepare yourself to die, your wife’s rape to happen anyway, and the murderers and rapists to get commendations for their fine work. That is how the normal scenario will happen. Best case is your wife gets raped, you get beaten, and some years later after a long and grueling trial, after you and your wife are forced to relive your terror over and over, you walk away with dropped charges for assault on an officer and she gets a small settlement, while the thugs at worst get a slap on the wrist and a transfer to a different department.

      That is the country you now live in.

      1. SHG Post author

        Normally, I would suggest you’re being hyperbolic. Given what happened here, it appears I would likely be wrong.

        1. Lucusloc

          Damn I wish it was hyperbolic. Unfortunately I meant exactly what I said, in a very literal manner. I believe I have the case history to back it up, and it is more than just these few cases. This kind of abuse is now built into our system of justice. Authorities have carte blanche to do anything they wish, and any resistance, no matter how morally justified, is a crime. The courts decided that the best course of action is to submit to whatever the authorities want and hope the courts sort it out after the fact. See the acceptance of “no knock” raids, full paramilitary serving or warrants for nonviolent (and sometimes non criminal) offenses (Gibson guitar anyone), the existence of agencies like the TSA, etc. We have become, in every sense of the word, a full fledged and corrupt police state. The only reason we are not feeling it like the people of other police states is because they are still letting us get used to the choke-chain before they pull it tight, but legally speaking the chain is already in place.

            1. Lucusloc

              I am wondering how you can tacitly agree to the first comment, but not the second? It seems to me that what I wrote in the second comment is a direct logical extension of what was in the first. I think the only thing that was conjecture in the second comment was that the authorities that be are deliberately holding back, and their motivation for doing so. We may also have a disagreement on what exactly constitutes a police state, but I think that my position there is a little better supported. Please elaborate on what you disagree with in the second comment, and I will attempt to bring specific evidence to support it.

            2. SHG Post author

              Your first comment related to a specific situation. Your second was inductive extrapolation. Nor will additional evidence change that. Not all cops are bad. Not all arrests are unwarranted. Not all defendants are innocent. Not all people are abused by cops. This blog is replete with “specific evidence” of wrongdoing by law enforcement (which is my way of hinting that I’m not interested in your evidence and won’t post it, so please don’t), and while it does show that we have a very deep and substantial problem that demands serious attention, it does not prove that this is a police state.

              If you believe that this country has become a police state, that’s fine. I do not, though what happened to Jane Doe, coupled with the fact that the government chose to ignore it, brings us far closer to that point.

            3. Lucusloc

              That specific situation generally reflects the state of our justice system. I am sure the police in Cuba also make justified and needed arrests, and that some of them are genuinely trying to do good in their community in a morally upstanding way. That does not mean that the system is not set up and run by thugs.

              The thing that defines a police state is not how benevolent or brutal they are, but the system by which they function. Truly there are less abuses here than almost everywhere else in the world, and Law enforcement does go after genuine criminals most of the time. But that does not change the fact that law enforcement is a special class that has undue authority over the average citizen. That does not change the face that a cops word means more to most judges than the word of the one he is accusing in a court of law, even after the cop has been shown to be a serial liar. That does not change the fact that the courts have decided again and again that legitimate self defense against an unjust attack by someone in a badge is a crime. That does not change the fact that the perpetrators of this injustice are virtually never held accountable, even after their actions have been found to be unjust. That does not change the fact that law enforcement systemically exempts themselves from most of the lesser “crimes” (and a few of the more major ones as well), while using those same “crimes” to persecute unfavored individuals. (And of course all of those examples can be extended upwards to the current ruling elites in the political sphere as well)

              What all of the above means is that yes, we are living in a police state, albeit a mostly benevolent one. I think if you were to recognize a police state as a system of government rather than trying to define it solely by abuse you would be hard pressed to say were were not living under a police state.

            4. SHG Post author

              Sorry, but I’m not persuaded. Aside from your reference to the courts permitting the police to behave this way, and insulating them from liability (which would make it a judicial state rather than a police state, by the way), you omit a rather important detail: the vast majority of Americans support the police, even under these circumstances, and vote for politicians and judges because of their “tough on crime” pro-police positions. It’s not the police. It’s Americans, which is why guys like me write blawgs like this.

              It’s also why guys like you, talking about the police state, are unhelpful. You’re perceived as crazy (whereas I simply see you as wrong) and scare away

              I’ve let you go very far afield from the post, but this is where it ends.

  6. Charlesmorrison

    To your point in the update and H/T, it is somewhat remarkable that the medical licensing boards haven’t weighed in on these incidents. Perhaps it’s because we haven’t yet reached a critical mass of widely-publicized cases to force the boards to respond?

    As a spouse of a military physician, I can attest that military Dr’s were legitimately concerned about their state-issued medical licenses during the height of the torture debate, once a few boards decided to finally weigh in. It actually became a real debate.

    Perhaps the same pressure can eventually be applied to effectively curb the conscription of physicians in these sorts of instances. Especially considering that military doctors truly had multiple, conflicting masters to serve whereas the Drs involved in this (and Eckert’s) case do not.

    Of course medical boards weighing on the side of reason and ethics won’t do a damn thing to curb law enforcement from overreaching, but it would help to eliminate this particular type of story.

    Not even a federal border patrol officer could believe he could rape a woman without the assistance of a physician, right? Without the ability to claim it was performed by a physician, according generally acceptable medical standards, in a “safe” and appropriate environment, these sorts of cases would offend even the most ardent pro-security folks.

    Although I might be giving the medical boards too much credit. After all, these cases only involve possible drug smugglers. In contrast, the torture issue was truly a matter if national debate.

    1. SHG Post author

      I agree, and I’ve very specifically called out a number of the physicians involved in these outrageous intrusions for that reason, to highlight their involvement so that other physicians and boards would take notice. And I see that Bennett has done with the two docs in this case as well.

      I would like to believe you’re right that, in the absence of physician cooperation (remember, in Eckert’s case, the first doc refused the cops and they went to another hospital), it would put an end to these abuses. However, the fact that police have been authorized to do roadside blood draws makes me wonder if that will turn out to be the case.

  7. John Barleycorn

    Relax, when you start writing motions to suppress scalpel warrants it will be too late and thanks a lot for fucking up my vaginal canal dreams forever.

    By the way you do know that a CT Scan does not see ligaments right? And everybody who has gone through through the academy in the last 12 years knows if you torque the speculum to 10 you can use forceps to check for shake and stems behind the six ligaments that are attached to belly button.

    It’s a tricky procedure that’s why it is forbidden in the field says so in the manual just after confessions in the search and seizure chapter.

    It is recommended that the speculum and forceps be in plain sight while obtaining the consent signature so the perpetrator can not use the search technique as a mitigating factor during

  8. Achernar

    I agree with your previous comments that this is not just a issue related strictly to the War on Drugs. If the War on Drugs ended tomorrow in every country in the world, and all drugs were legalized, thus ending the need for smuggling, it does not necessarily mean atrocious acts like this will suddenly stop. All these sadistic people involved will not magically be “nice” if drugs were legalized (and if I may make a slight disagreement, it seems to me more a psychological/social issue than a legal one). But my question is, what would be their new “excuse”? While hiding drugs in an anal or vaginal canal is possible, hiding weapons is not, so claiming to look for weapons is too ridiculous (or is it?). Or do you think that at this point they have become so used to being above the law that they will simply not claim a reason?

  9. Jake DiMare

    All of this got me thinking…Perhaps we could find a donor to fund a public awareness campaign targeting doctors? It seems to me that if the medical community was actively informed of their personal responsibility to protect patients from LE rape and the potential liability of engaging in LE gang rape…This would happen a lot less often.

    1. SHG Post author

      Some docs think cops are the good guys. Some think cops are the cool guys. Some think cops are right and perps are evil. And some are just scum who either want to invade other people’s bodies or want to be more like cops rather than the little weasels they know themselves to be.

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