Pubdate: Sun, 17 Oct 2004
Source: Ogdensburg Journal/Advance News (NY)
Copyright: 2004 Johnson Newspaper Corp.
Author: Lee Monnet
Referenced: and
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


To The Editor:

Editor Charles Kelly has certainly shown his authoritarian nature in
his editorial "Road Checks Important".  The Editor apparently feels
the border patrol checkpoints are necessary to end the war on
marijuana. Worst of all, he wants us to smile and thank agents who
violate our 4th Amendment right when they subject us to these
intrusive road blocks.

If the Editor would stop and research the issue of border patrol
checkpoints it is possible he might see the whole picture.  First, the
stated purpose of roadblocks is usually legalized excuses to stop and
scrutinize motorists for which there would otherwise be no reason to
do so. These excuses include sobriety checks, license and registration
verification, possession of insurance, proof of citizenship and
seatbelt usage.

On November 28, 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court declared drug roadblocks
unconstitutional which disallows law-enforcement to use drug
interdiction as a primary reason to stop vehicles. In order to
circumvent this ruling they incorporated the excuses mentioned above
to achieve their goal. Also of interest is that the U.S. Supreme Court
will be hearing the case of Illinois vs. Caballes which will determine
the constitutionality of police officers use of drug dogs to sniff
cars at roadblocks.

I have compiled several frightening incidences that have resulted from
border patrol checkpoints that I would like to share with the Editor. 
On February 22,  2004 a Canadian charter bus carrying 50 passengers
rammed into the back of a truck at a US Border Patrol Check Point on
Interstate 87 just North of Albany critically injuring three people. 
The force of the impact caused a chain reaction crash with cars ahead
of the truck.  On September 9, 2004 a tractor trailer struck three
vehicles waiting at a border patrol checkpoint on Interstate 87 near
North Hudson killing four people in the fiery crash. In 2003 several
marijuana arrest were dismissed in St. Lawrence County Court because
of illegal searches performed by agents.

Although the following incident is not related to a checkpoint it is
the most flagrant disregard for the 4th amendment by law-enforcement
in this area. On August 28, 2004 Border Patrol agents looking for
marijuana conducted a warrentless search of a home in the Town of
Alexandria (Jefferson County). The agents would not immediately
identify themselves as they went through the family home, room by room
looking into cupboards, drawers, closets and under beds, terrorizing
the pregnant wife and their crying 8 year old daughter who now has
nightmares over the raid.  According to the 09/17/04 Watertown Daily
Times article "Dismissing Pot Case", Judge Kim H. Martusewicz noted
that "It appears Border Patrol Agents were sometimes operating
independently of local Law-Enforcement Officers on the scene". The
Judge also said in his decision to dismiss "That blatant and
overwhelming violations of the applicable federal and state
constitutional provisions involved and the misleading and false
testimony of the Governments witnesses in these cases are

In the September 18, Watertown Daily Times Editorial "Good Decision"
The editor praised Judge Martusewicaz for his courageous decision to
dismiss the marijuana charges and reprimand the border patrol agents
for their disregard for the legal process.

The sad thing about the deaths, injury, arrest and erosion of the Bill
of Rights is that marijuana smuggling continues. One only has to read
the newspaper to see the daily arrests at these checkpoints.  If Mr.
Kelly wants to smile while his rights are being infringed upon that's
fine but I have a powerful quote by a great man for him to ponder.
"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little
temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" Benjamin
Franklin, 1759.

Lee Monnet
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