Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Federal court approves use of hidden surveillance cameras on private property without warrants

Madison Ruppert
Activist Post

Yet again, a federal judge undermined the Constitution in a wholly disturbing fashion, this time by allowing police to install hidden surveillance cameras on private property without obtaining a search warrant.

This is especially troubling since the federal government has conducted more warrantless surveillance over the past two years than the entire previous decade. This court decision can only be expected to increase that already troubling number.

Let us not forget that the Obama administration has fought vigorously to hold on to their ability to conduct warrantless wiretapping while also claiming that cell phone location data is not protected by the Constitution and the Supreme Court recently refused to review a lawsuit challenging the warrantless surveillance program of the National Security Agency (NSA).

According to CNET, U.S. District Judge William Griesbach ruled “that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission — and without a warrant — to install multiple “covert digital surveillance cameras” in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana [plants] were being grown.”

Griesbach’s decision was actually based on a recommendation issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Callahan on October 9.

Callahan’s recommendation claimed that the DEA actually did not violate the Fourth Amendment by conducting warrantless surveillance.

“The Supreme Court has upheld the use of technology as a substitute for ordinary police surveillance,” wrote Callahan in his recommendation.

The case surrounds Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana of Green Bay, Wis. Both Mendoza and Magana have been charged with federal drug crimes that carry potential fines of up to $10 million along with life in prison.

Steven Curran, a DEA agent, claimed he discovered over 1,000 marijuana plants on a 22-acre heavily wooded property owned by Magana. The defendants called on Callahan to throw out the video evidence collected by the DEA based on the fact that there were “No Trespassing” signs posted throughout the property along with a locked gate, thus making the evidence collected a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Around four days after the DEA installed the surveillance cameras on Magana’s property without a warrant, a magistrate judge granted a warrant for surveillance. Mendoza and Magana’s attorneys rightfully pointed out that the surveillance took place long before the warrant was actually granted.

Callahan made his recommendation based on Oliver v. United States, a 1984 Supreme Court case in which the majority of justices ruled that “open fields” could indeed be searched without obtaining a warrant. They based this decision on their claim that open fields are not actually covered by the Fourth Amendment.

If the land is immediately surrounding a residence, on the other hand, it has greater privacy protections based on a legal concept known as curtilage.

“Placing a video camera in a location that allows law enforcement to record activities outside of a home and beyond protected curtilage does not violate the Fourth Amendment,” Department of Justice prosecutors James Santelle and William Lipscomb told Callahan.

“That one’s actions could be recorded on their own property, even if the property is not within the curtilage, is contrary to society’s concept of privacy,” argued Magana’s attorney Brett Reetz in a legal filing.

“The owner and his guest… had reason to believe that their activities on the property were not subject to video surveillance as it would constitute a violation of privacy,” Reetz added in last month’s legal filing.

Writing for CNET, Declan McCullagh paints a quite disturbing picture of where this precedent could lead.

“As digital sensors become cheaper and wireless connections become more powerful, the Justice Department’s argument would allow police to install cameras on private property without court oversight — subject only to budgetary limits and political pressure,” McCullagh writes.

The ugly reality is that legal precedents such as these serve to reinforce the constant erosion of our most essential rights. So long as judges continue to support the consistent undermining of our Constitutional rights, this disturbing trend will undoubtedly continue and will likely get significantly worse.

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This article first appeared at End the Lie.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on Orion Talk Radio from 8 pm -- 10 pm Pacific, which you can find HERE.  If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at


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Anonymous said...

The Constitution is just a figment of your imagination. You learned about it in US Propaganda Mythology 101. It doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

One problem with this is that property owners in general, and of course cannabis growers, will have even more reason to booby trap their properties.

Anonymous said...

The legal justifcations appear on their surface "unreasonable" in contrast to the principle of PRIVATE PROPERTY!!

These traitorous judges and executive police agencies are no longer a separation of power nor a check to one another's abuse of authority. Innocent until Proven Guilty was the legal standard, now all are guilty and have no rights....when was so much lost with the eyes of patriots supposedly keeping vigilant?
Iustitia omnibus
Molon Labe

Justin Davis said...

It's about time we took the government to court. The Patriot Act and NDAA 2012 are not only unconstitutional, they aid and abet the enemy and are therefore treasonous. They are treasonous because if there are terrorists, we are helping them by being terrified and passing laws that turn our country into a frightened prison. Anyone got any input that would help?

Anonymous said...


It is a shame that these articles never bother to quote the 4th amendment. This would instantly highlight the lawlessness of the ruling to even a casual reader.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" No honest judge could claim that without a warrant the government cannot search private property. All of the judges involved that ruled this was legal should be impeached.

Anonymous said...

If your not doin anything wrong, what's the problem ? All you people who want privacy are criminals! i think their should be a camera in every home accesible by the police. God bless the police! They are our heroes! Jesus will return one day and he will be wearin a badge and carryin a taser! Now go get high on beer!

Anonymous said...

Dear Justin Davis,

Just which court would you go to since all courts are corrupt, - bought and paid for by the government?

Next the hidden cameras will be installed INSIDE your home! Serfs must be watched and monitored. But what do you expect when the people are so passive and cooperative that they willingly stand in line and silently watch their wife and child get molested by TSA?

The Courts have nothing to fear from the docile american sheep.

Anonymous said...

Stalin is smiling

Italics Mine said...

Why does the Government always win if the country's Constitution was established to support We, the People?

Unknown said...

Odd/strange objects on my property are subject to damage- either by purpose or accident. Left on my property- they belong to me.

Herbert Scornwaffles said...

You find a surveillance camera on your property, sneak up on it and hit it with a big hammer, then ask questions.

Brian Thiesen said...

What people don;t know is with microwaves you can generate a 24/7 picture inside the home, then relay it back to a fusion center... its called a smart grid, the 'warrantless search' is already happening and it is inside your house, AND out... that is the purpose of the RF and the cloud:

Anonymous said...

Most of these federal judges are former federal prosecutors. Do you think that they will rule against their buddies/former co-workers in the justice department?

Anonymous said...

So what form are we to fill out in protest of this latest infringement and where do we submit it?

Danny Adams said...

Now I'm having flashbacks to those heady days of 1996 when then-Congressman and future CIA head Porter Goss argued against warrantless wiretapping because he said it was too great a threat to civil liberties.

ip cctv said...

nowadays government is looking more closly to make sure that you are secured...

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