The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties

David K. Shipler, Knopf, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4362-0
The wars on crime and terrorism have turned into a war on privacy and freedom, according to this provocative but sometimes overwrought exposé of infringements of the Bill of Rights. In this first of two volumes, Pulitzer-winning journalist Shipler (Arab and Jew) focuses on the Fourth Amendment's guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure, and finds violations that remind him of his days covering the Soviet Union. Most shocking is his ride-along reportage on the Washington, D.C., Police Department's bullying searches for guns and drugs in black neighborhoods. (Random stop-and-frisks and automobile searches are so ubiquitous, he observes, that African-American men automatically raise their shirts to expose their waistbands when cops approach; residents are puzzled when he tells them they have the right to refuse police searches.) When the author turns to less intrusive surveillance, like the Bush administration's warrantless wire-tapping, his outrage—"government snooping destroys the inherent poetry of privacy"—is less compelling; he writes as if search engines sifting e-mails are tantamount to Hessians kicking in doors. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/07/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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