Originally published October 29 2015
NYPD now blasting citizens with X-ray radiation to search vehicles without a warrant
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The Information and Technology Age has been a boon to mankind; there is no question about it. Things that were once impossible are now accomplished with the touch of a screen or the click of a mouse.
However, technology can also be a double-edged sword, especially when it is co-opted by governments looking for ways to control, subvert or monitor We the People as a way of getting around the Constitution.
As reported by the New York Post, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is resisting calls by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the public to provide details regarding the department's super-secret X-ray vans.
In recent days, the top cop in the city was questioned about the counterterrorism vehicles, which are called Z Backscatter Vans, following the NYCLU's request to file an amicus brief in court arguing that the department ought to be forced to release details about the vans, the way they are deployed and how the NYPD uses them.
"They're not used to scan people for weapons," Bratton told reporters. "The devices we have, the vehicles if you will, are all used lawfully and if the ACLU and others don't think that's the case, we'll see them in court — where they'll lose! At this time and the nature of what's going on in the world, that concern of theirs is unfounded."
Hand over the detailsThat's the extent of the details that Bratton chose to discuss. He wouldn't talk at all about the X-ray devices themselves.
"Those are issues I'd prefer not to divulge to the public at this time," Bratton said. "I will not talk about anything at all about this — it falls into the range of security and counter-terrorism activity that we engage in."
Three years ago, the privately funded investigative news site ProPublica filed a lawsuit against the NYPD following the department's denial of a reporter's requests for police reports, training materials and health tests related to the Backscatter X-rays.
In ruling on the suit, New York State Supreme Court Judge Doris Ling-Cohan ruled that the NYPD should have to hand over the records in spite of the department's arguments that disclosing such information might interfere with ongoing investigations.
"While this court is cognizant and sensitive to concerns about terrorism, being located less than a mile from the 9/11 site, and having seen firsthand the effects of terrorist destruction, nonetheless, the hallmark of our great nation is that it is a democracy, with a transparent government," she wrote in a December 2014 decision.
U.S. and foreign governments are buying the vansHowever, the department has appealed that decision, and now the NYCLU has requested to file an amicus brief in the case that urges the appeals court to uphold a lower court's original ruling.
"People should be informed if military-grade X-ray vans are damaging their health with radiation or peering inside their homes or cars," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "New Yorkers have a right to protect their health, welfare and privacy."
Very little is known about how the department is utilizing the high-tech machines, which are believed to cost between $729,000 and $825,000 apiece.
The vans are also utilized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to scan vehicles entering the country for drugs, weapons and explosives.
Natural News reported in August 2012 that Billerica, an American Science & Engineering firm based in Massachusetts, has sold more than 500 Backscatter X-ray scanners mounted in vans to both U.S. and foreign government agencies over the past few years. The vans are being driven past neighboring vehicles in order to view their contents, said Joe Reiss, one of the company's vice presidents of marketing.
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