Allow a Search of Your House for a Terrorist?

Just a quick note. Upon reading the boards, watching on Facebook and Twitter, there are some conversations going on regarding our Constitutional rights and unreasonable searches. It seems that there are very vocal people on both sides of the debate.

What’s the debate, you ask? Were the police warrantless searches of houses, looking for the 2nd Boston bomber, allowable?

One side takes the stand that no, no cop is coming into my house without a warrant. I have a right to security in my own house, and unless there is a warrant to search, no one is coming in. What business is it of anyone what I have in my home?

The other side says, Sure. Come on in. No bad guys here, and make yourself content with the fact upon your own investigation.


Of the crowd that has little problem with the police searching their home for Tsarnaev #2, they generally explain their reasoning this way: If I refuse a search, the police might think that I am doing that under duress, and assume that the bad guy is holding a gun to my head. Thusly, we will have a “search” anyway. It is reasonable to think that under this scenario, refusal of a search is almost like asking for one!

They also make another point that, on the surface, appears to be a minor difference, but in practice is really a large one.  The searches that get peoples’ hackles up are the random, browsing, general-purpose snooping for contraband or for some reason to make an arrest and press charges. These recent searches, though, left no time for games, and had a real purpose – finding that bomber before he killed again.

On the other side of the debate, 4th Amendment defenders say that their own privacy is more important than a government search. They point to how that old woman was beat up by the police during the Katrina’s warrantless searches. Many people are writing that they have the ability to defend themselves, and that the news had armed them with sufficient preparatory information starting with the initial shootout, where jihadi #1 was killed. They say that the 2nd lunatic would not have made it into their homes due to dogs, guns and preparations made long ago.

Many residents in Boston are not armed. It’s a difficult place in which to exercise the 2nd. So, claiming to be armed and sheltering in a hardened site probably would raise other kinds of flags.  From comes this post:

“That’s what makes me laugh about everyone saying they could defend their homes….nobody cares about you.

They were looking for the bomber. And you could deny their presence til the cows come home but you could still be lying for many reasons, esp. under duress. You might not even know….that homeowner didnt know the bomber was in his boat.”

To be clear, the requests to search were just that. They were not ordered to clear every room of every house in the city. Where refused, they went elsewhere. I’m guessing that they were also told to use their judgment and training to determine if a refusal was under duress. Gotta give the good guys credit at some point, no? Just be sure not to track anything nasty through the house if you are invited inside….

All said and done, though, it was a civilian that found Tsarnaev, after the police had swept the area, including the boat, and cleared it all. He went so far as to lift the tarp and see the kid in there covered in blood. What happened in Boston /Waterford was a “cooperation of law enforcement and civilians – a snap-shot setup with quick rules and somewhat quick execution. The cooperation worked because of a few things, as far as I’m concerned.

The threat was clear. Tsarnaev was on the lose, and had proven he would use homemade grenades and firearms to resist capture.

  • While he was clearly not very far, no one knew where he might be or if he would take hostages.
  • He might possibly have further devices and plan to kill others and himself in the process.
  • Tsarnaev was needed alive, so he could be interrogated as to who else is in his training and control cell.
  • The public had most of this knowledge and had a vested interest in this kid’s capture.

What would you do? While the “creeping police state” argument has its definite merits, this particular situation stands scrutiny. For those concerned with police intrusion, claiming that you’ll hide behind the Constitution won’t work, and I’ll tell you why. If they want in, they are coming in. It’s that simple, unless you have hardened your home against break-ins, and are prepared to shoot cops, you will be searched. That didn’t happen here, to the best of my knowledge. They asked, not demanded, to search. The only way to ensure that a search doesn’t land you in jail for unrelated discoveries is to harden your home in another way. You must make it difficult for a search to turn up what you want kept private. It is silly, in this day, to assume that your more private possessions are safe from prying eyes. All that is needed is a reason, and a “sneak and peek” warrant can be issued for a search while you are out. Those little surveillance drones under development most certainly will be deployed – and then any open window blind will allow for this new version of peak-tomery. It’s up to you to keep a home that is organized, and plain-jane to curious eyes.

So, what is a reasonable prepper to do?

Accept that you may be called upon to cooperate with a search. Notice I did not say “consent” to a search. I said “cooperate”. The difference is very important. A curious looking-about requires consent. You can and should deny fishing expeditions, and require a warrant be presented. When the man comes a calling due to national security concerns, expect that he will pay close attention to how you reply to his request. I always recommend being courteous, respectful and polite. Thumping your chest is the same as painting a target on it. When emotions are high, your prepping has to take that into consideration.


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