Thursday, April 3, 2014

We Have To Raid You To Determine If You Committed A Crime

Scary article from the Indiana Star, about a raid on a collector of archaeological artifacts:
FBI agents Wednesday seized "thousands" of cultural artifacts, including American Indian items, from the private collection of a 91-year-old Rush County man who had acquired them over the past eight decades.

An FBI command vehicle and several tents were spotted at the property in rural Waldron, about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

The man, Don Miller, has not been arrested or charged.

... The aim of the investigation is to determine what each artifact is, where it came from and how Miller obtained it, Jones said, to determine whether some of the items might be illegal to possess privately.

Jones acknowledged that Miller might have acquired some of the items before the passage of U.S. laws or treaties prohibited their sale or purchase.
This is disturbing because the Supreme Court has held that a warrant cannot be issued without probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the person or place named in the warrant is involved in the crime. Shadwick v. City of Tampa, 407 U.S. 345, 350 (1972). However, according to this article, the FBI does not know if a crime has been committed--the very purpose of the seizure is to determine whether a crime has been committed. This is the equivalent of someone reporting to the police that you have a container with a white powder, and the police executing a warrant to determine whether the powder is legal (e.g., corn starch or powdered sugar) or illegal (e.g., cocaine).

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