Obama upholds Bush laptop search policy - with new safeguards

Really at this point, can anybody be surprised to read this, in today's Washington Post:The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search -- without suspicion of wrongdoing -- the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.

Really at this point, can anybody be surprised to read this, in today's Washington Post:

The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search -- without suspicion of wrongdoing -- the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.

I mean, after the Obama administration had backed up Bush lawyers' use of the "state secrets" doctrine to keep cases out of court, backed telecom spying via the NSA, backed sharply reduced legal rights for detainees, can there be any question the Administration would also back up the abuse of the Fourth Amendment?

"It's a disappointing ratification of the suspicionless search policy put in place by the Bush administration," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It provides a lot of procedural safeguards, but it doesn't deal with the fundamental problem, which is that under the policy, government officials are free to search people's laptops and cellphones for any reason whatsoever."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says new policies strike a balance between border screening and privacy protection. The new rules place some limits on the government. U.S. Customs searches should take no more than 5 days, 30 for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For the first time, audits are required and automated tools are to be developed.

"Under the policy begun by Bush and now continued by Obama, the government can open your laptop and read your medical records, financial records, e-mails, work product and personal correspondence -- all without any suspicion of illegal activity," said Elizabeth Goitein, who leads the liberty and national security project at the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice.

Jack Riepe, spokesman for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, said the guidelines "still have many of the inherent weaknesses" of the Bush-era policy.