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Boat owners say they were fearful during Coast Guard search
The Monterey Herald ^ | September 18, 2005 | VIRGINIA HENNESSEY

Posted on 09/22/2005 2:42:37 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Two of the Moss Landing Harbor residents who were the subjects of random boat searches during Labor Day Weekend say their experiences were closer to armed invasions than the friendly "safety inspections" characterized by U.S. Coast Guard officials.

Both residents said search crews entered the harbor in inflatable boats with machine guns mounted on their bows. Then, carrying M-16 rifles, they approached residents and boarded and searched their boats in the name of safety and "homeland security."

One resident, who asked not to be identified for fear or retribution, said his experience was "very intimidating, very frightening."

"To me it reeks of Nazi Germany and the death squads in Argentina," he said. "I don't want my name on their list."

Scott Jones, a live-aboard resident who was searched, said there has been talk in the harbor about contacting the American Civil Liberties Union, but he first wants to hear further from the Coast Guard about its future intentions.

Lt. Mark Warren of the Monterey Coast Guard Station said he has heard mostly positive response to the operation, but may rethink future actions given current criticisms.

"We take lessons and learn from these types of operations. If the public is genuinely distasteful of it, we might not do it," he said. "I'm not saying we won't, but I'm not saying we will."

In addition to trying to ensure the safety of boats on the bay during the holiday weekend, Warren said, the operation was part of an effort to increase the public's awareness of the Coast Guard's role as a law enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security. He said the public might have been surprised to see weaponry that is now standard issue to all Homeland Security forces.

"I, as a U.S. citizen, am highly offended by that," said Jones, who is accustomed to Coast Guard boardings when he sails. "When a sheriff's deputy drives down the road or a CHP officer drives down the road and I see them, I'm aware of his job, and not because he's pulled me over and put a gun to my head.

"The Coast Guard's needs would be better served by an advertising campaign," he said, "rather than bullying people in their bedrooms at 10:30 at night."

Jones said he and his wife were sleeping when they were awakened by knocking on the side of the boat.

He went to the deck and was confronted by two armed officers asking if they could come aboard. Thinking something had happened in the harbor that the officers needed to talk to him about, Jones acquiesced.

"It seemed a little unreasonable at 10:30 at night," he said, "but it was the middle of the night and I was half asleep, so I said 'OK.' At this point, I looked out and saw six to eight officers (on the dock) and all appeared armed."

The officers boarded his boat and quickly spread out beyond the immediate deck without invitation, saying they were conducting a safety inspection.

"I can say with all certainly that what they did was not a safety inspection or in any way related to a safety inspection," he said. The officers demanded access to the bilge, saying they wanted to make sure the boat wasn't taking on water.

"This was highly suspect," Jones said. "If you're on board, you'd know if you were taking on water."

When Jones showed them the bilge, the officers repeatedly, and with increasing forcefulness, demanded to know if there were other accesses to the bilge. They also "demanded" the driver's licenses of everyone on board.

Increasingly upset by the nature of the search, Jones asked for the officers' authority and justification. One officer read to him from a federal code authorizing the search.

"It was either the Patriot Act or homeland security,"Jones said.

Warren said the officers would not have cited the Patriot Act because it affords the Coast Guard no additional authority.

Jones conceded he may have heard "homeland security" and registered "Patriot Act," but still feels the search was unwarranted and in a gray area of the law at best.

"I wouldn't question their professionalism, but I do question their motive and their authority," he said. "To me, it sounds like something that an ACLU lawyer would just tear apart."

Coast Guard officials say they are authorized by maritime law to board and search vessels on U.S. waters, including waters that lead to U.S. waters, to enforce federal laws.

Warren said the officers were attempting to ensure the safety and compliance of docked boats by checking for oily water in their bilges and that their sanitation devices were in locked position. Some searches were conducted at night in an effort to catch boats before they went onto the bay for the weekend.

The second boat owner who spoke to The Herald said his boat was searched after he challenged officers who were searching other boats, at 10:30 p.m. Sept. 2, and during the morning on following days. Told they were acting as Homeland Security officers, he asked what they were protecting the harbor from.

"Terrorists," he said he was told by the officers, who exhorted him to "remember the Cole," referring to the October 2000 attack by terrorists on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors.

"The only terrorists down here are you guys," he told them. "You're scaring the hell out of me with that machine gun."

While Warren was noncommittal about future searches, he said it is important for the public to know the Coast Guard's presence will be increased.

"The Coast Guard's focus on homeland security has increased our presence on the water and will continue to increase our presence simply because that's what Congress is wanting us to do right now," he said. "The concern at the congressional level about the security of ports is pretty high."

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 4a; 4thamendment; aclu; armedinvasions; boatdwellers; coastguard; donutwatch; druggielibs; fourthamendment; gwot; homelandsecurity; inspections; jackbootedthugs; jackboots; law; libertariansridiots; mosslanding; nazis; newworldorder; patriotact; searches; terrorism; terrorists; threat; trollsgalore; uscg; usscole; wodlist
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To: GodBlessUSA
There are laws on the water.

All laws repugnant to the Constitution are null and void. Yes, that very much includes the 4th Amendment.

There are two and only two distinct possibilies:

1. This boat was within the bounderies of US coastal waters, in which a warrant is required.

2. This boat was not within the bounderies of US coastal waters, in which case this was a simple act of piracy.

Today's reality? SCOTUS is "constitutionally challenged", wrote a sickening opinion, and now most of the difference of boating off the US and boating off some third world pisshole is the uniform of the guy pointing a gun at you while his palls ransack your property.

61 posted on 09/22/2005 3:16:55 PM PDT by freeeee ("Owning" property in the US just means you have one less landlord.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Moss Landing Monterey, hell those people are obviously from Santa Cruz and they don't want the navy in town, and they are a few miles from San Francisco that doesn't want the Iowa.

Screw them, and their mexifornia attitudes.

62 posted on 09/22/2005 3:17:00 PM PDT by dts32041 ( Robin Hood, stealing from the government and giving back to tax payer. Where is he today?)
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To: andyk
Do you know the reasoning for not applying 4th amendment protections to these searches?

I don't. Is there one that holds water?

63 posted on 09/22/2005 3:17:04 PM PDT by King Prout (19sep05 - I want at least 2 Saiga-12 shotguns. If you have leads, let me know)
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To: Translates

not pleasing.
not at all surprising, but not something I'm pleased by.

64 posted on 09/22/2005 3:17:50 PM PDT by King Prout (19sep05 - I want at least 2 Saiga-12 shotguns. If you have leads, let me know)
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To: cripplecreek
The USCG AUXILIARY are the people who do the "friendly safety inspections", they are civilians and posses no authority.

The USCG are military AND federal law enforcement officers. They can search any boat for any reason at any time that is in US navigable waters.

My brother is active duty USCG and a boatswains mate, he's done hundreds of small boat boardings. His favorite story is getting to arrest (by force) an off duty Mass state trooper for BUI. Guy was a belligerent &^%*^ and was convinced the USCG had no authority over him, he learned the hard way. The trooper had gotten drunk with his family on his boat and got lost, and used foul language for hours over CH16 till the Coast Guard "found" him.
65 posted on 09/22/2005 3:18:22 PM PDT by IYAAYAS (Live free or die trying)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
One more Comment blame the greenies for the inspections, they are the ones who want the water pure.
66 posted on 09/22/2005 3:19:12 PM PDT by dts32041 ( Robin Hood, stealing from the government and giving back to tax payer. Where is he today?)
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To: Lurker
The Coast Guard has had that authority since the day it was founded my friend

I'm sure they have. Courts in this country haven't done their job from day one.

67 posted on 09/22/2005 3:19:38 PM PDT by freeeee ("Owning" property in the US just means you have one less landlord.)
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To: The_Media_never_lie
If smugglers come in at midnite they should not be harassed?

And of course, everyone living on a boat is a smuggler – right?
Yes, I know that maritime law is different than what most of us are used to. The US Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs do operate under a different set of rules than normal law enforcement agencies.
I have friends who live on boats on both the James and York Rivers. Their boat is their home, just as an apartment, condo or house. If the random late night searches of floating homes is accepted by The People it will not be long before the law is stretched to include warrantless searches of traditional homes.
68 posted on 09/22/2005 3:20:07 PM PDT by R. Scott (Humanity i love you because when you're hard up you pawn your Intelligence to buy a drink.)
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To: dts32041

I was going to blame the Amish.

69 posted on 09/22/2005 3:20:26 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Never a minigun handy when you need one.)
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To: Lurker
I do wish they weren't sniffing around pleasure craft in Monterey Bay and instead concentrated on actual threats to national security but the fact remains they've had the power to do so for longer than I have been alive, and that's a while.

I think we may not know the whole story. These guys may have earned a spot on sombody's watch list. Maybe the guy is a smart A and this is payback.

Also, if the CG is suspicious about a place in the bilge, they have the right to enter any enclosed space on a boat, regardless.

70 posted on 09/22/2005 3:20:53 PM PDT by The_Media_never_lie
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To: LonePalm
Yes and it's a very good thing.

It sounds like a very horrible thing to me.
71 posted on 09/22/2005 3:21:03 PM PDT by andyk (Go Matt Kenseth!)
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To: freeeee
They have the legal authority to do boardings. NO Warrent required, 14USC89 authorizes the Coast Guard to perform boardings, searches, and investigations on all US Vessels, and Foreign Vessels in US Territorial Waters.

They have been doing it since prohibition

72 posted on 09/22/2005 3:22:45 PM PDT by GodBlessUSA (US Troops, past, present and future, God Bless You and Thank You! Prayers said for our Heroes!)
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To: AdamSelene235
Alexander Hamilton specifically created the precursor to the Coast Guard for the purpose of reducing smuggling (and gathering intelligence on possible disloyalty of the States).

Yes, I knew that. My question stands.

73 posted on 09/22/2005 3:23:35 PM PDT by surely_you_jest
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Its probably different now, but it used to be they had to ask you if they could do a safety inspection. You didn't have to allow them.

More than once I told 'em I didn't have time and that was it. No problem. But that was about 15 yrs ago.

Wonder if they had any hotties on board? Sometimes that explains it.

74 posted on 09/22/2005 3:24:27 PM PDT by Pessimist
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
The owners are simply whiny little California piss ants.
75 posted on 09/22/2005 3:24:30 PM PDT by verity (Don't let your children grow up to be mainstream media maggots.)
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To: freeeee

The courts have held that the Revenue Cutter Service (established by Alexander Hamilton) has this authority ever since the first smuggler whined that his rights were violated, which was right after the first board and search, which was right after Hamilton established the Revenue Cutter Service.

In other words, the Founding Fathers very much disagreed with you on this one.

76 posted on 09/22/2005 3:25:15 PM PDT by BeHoldAPaleHorse
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Too much power for the pea brains. This is exactly the reason why our right to bear the same firearms as the military should not be infringed. This is the crap that Mr. Jefferson and friends were thinking about when they penned the Second Amendment...I feel like I've been ripped off. I voted for Bush twice thinking he was the lesser of two evils but??? Homeland Security protecting the Fatherland... The Patriot Act giving jack booted thugs rights to rape, pilage and plunder...Campaign Finance reform protecting the incumbants from the free speech of the citizenry...what's next???? Should I be expecting a visit for not complying with thought control. What the hell is wrong with this country? Bring back Reagan!!!

77 posted on 09/22/2005 3:25:18 PM PDT by RIGHTWING WACKO FROM MASS. (NUGENT and me IN '08)
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To: surely_you_jest
Don't get me wrong, I view it as a violation of natural rights worthy of a violent response (good luck with that).

However,for the sake of historical accuracy, this sort of thing has been going on since Alexander Hamilton who wanted it that way.

78 posted on 09/22/2005 3:26:26 PM PDT by AdamSelene235 (Truth has become so rare and precious she is always attended to by a bodyguard of lies.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Yep! Admiralty law allows them on board, but:

"and that their sanitation devices were in locked position."

I don't believe there's any regs that allow federal officers to enforce a state or local law regarding human waste discharge.

79 posted on 09/22/2005 3:26:38 PM PDT by aShepard
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Hey, I've had to live with the Border Patrol for 40 yrs. These guys are just sweeties. I could tell you some real horror stories.

They leave me alone now because I took it to the public and they started getting heat.

80 posted on 09/22/2005 3:26:42 PM PDT by tiki
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