Lost amongst the wreckage of the current financial crisis is the latest news of the Bush Administration’s utter disregard for civil rights.

Feds give customs agents free hand to seize travelers’ documents

(09-23) 17:06 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — The Bush administration has overturned a 22-year-old policy and now allows customs agents to seize, read and copy documents from travelers at airports and borders without suspicion of wrongdoing, civil rights lawyers in San Francisco said Tuesday in releasing records obtained in a lawsuit.

The records also indicate that the government gives customs agents unlimited authority to question travelers about their religious beliefs and political opinions, said lawyers from the Asian Law Caucus and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They said they had asked the Department of Homeland Security for details of any policy that would guide or limit such questioning and received no reply.

How can anyone find this even remotely acceptable under the Constitution? Note that it doesn’t appear to even limit the policy to foreign (non-American) travelers. When you combine this with the Ninth Circuit’s earlier decision, the Bush Administration is blatantly ignoring the Fourth Amendment which states:

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.