Last week, news wires, blogs and pundits lit up with the horrifying story of David Eckert, a New Mexico man who last January was subjected to a series of invasive and degrading drug search procedures after a traffic stop. The procedures, which included x-rays, digital anal penetration, enemas and a colonoscopy, were all performed without Eckert's consent…
Days later, a second resident of New Mexico came forward with similar allegations. Timothy Young says that after a traffic stop in October 2012, he too was subjected to x-rays and a digital anal exam without his consent. New Mexico news station KBO-TV was first to report both incidents, which were performed by physicians at the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City, New Mexico. In both cases, doctors and police failed to find any illegal drugs.
A third alleged victim has since come forward, although this woman says her anal and vaginal searches, x-rays and CAT scans came courtesy of federal border patrol agents, and without a warrant.
These incidents raise troubling questions about how the criminal justice system and medical establishment could allow for such extreme and invasive measures based on such little suspicion for nonviolent drug offenses. Oddly, according to constitutional scholars and medical ethicists I've consulted, the indignities imposed upon Eckert and Young were both illegal and unethical. And yet it also may be that (a) none of the law enforcement officials or medical personnel responsible for the violations are likely to be held accountable in any way, and (b) they could probably do it all again tomorrow, and still wouldn't likely be held accountable.