My Nephew's Thanksgiving (by Ron)
We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my sister and her son. After arriving at their house, her son told us that he had just been stopped by the police. He said that it appeared that they had set up a random roadblock and then pulled over "about ten" vehicles. The police were not pulling people over for speeding or sobriety tests. They were pulling them over for searches.
When it was time for his search, he asked the officer: "What's this all about?".
The officer replied in a very threatening tone, "We will ask the questions. Now open your trunk."
My nephew responded: "But what if I don't want to be searched?".
The officer replied: "Then you go to jail.". The officer then explained that they were "Federal Marshals". There was a strong implication that their authority superseded that of the state or local police-indeed, their authority seem to even exceed that of the Constitution. They seemed to have the power to create laws at the spur of the moment based on their own whims and prejudices. No one and no process could defy this power-these guys were above due process, beyond the need for probable cause and quite capable of ensuring that there would be no chance of appeal. These marshals were wielding more power than Saddam Hussein's palace guards.
Nonetheless, my nephew still felt that things did not smell right. So, he asked: "Don't you need a search warrant or something? I mean, is it legal for you to just flag down a car and tell the driver that he's going to be searched and that if he refuses he will go to jail?".
The officer replied: "Under Homeland Security, no search warrant is necessary.".
So, my nephew opened his trunk and emptied his pockets and watched a process which was illegal in the United States just 15 months ago (and which is still illegal in many countries). Of course, these Federal Marshals found nothing because there was nothing to find. After a very long delay, the officers finally waved him through the roadblock. Nonetheless, instead of feeling relieved after being released, my nephew was feeling a little less safe and a lot less secure in the land of the free and home of the Federal Marshals.