Supreme Court Court Rejects Willy-Nilly GPS Tracking

The Supreme Court said Monday that law enforcement authorities might need a probable-cause warrant from a judge to affix a GPS device to a vehicle and monitor its every move — but the justices did not say that a warrant was needed in all cases.

The convoluted decision in what is arguably the biggest Fourth Amendment case in the computer age, rejected the Obama administration’s position that attaching a GPS device to a vehicle was not a search. The government had told the high court that it could even affix GPS devices on the vehicles of all members of the Supreme Court, without a warrant.

“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,’” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the five-justice majority. The majority declined to say whether that search was unreasonable and required a warrant.

All nine justices, however, agreed to toss out the life sentence of a District of Columbia drug dealer who was the subject of a warrantless, 28-day surveillance via GPS.

Texas man convicted of trying to sneak out of US to join al-Qaida, faces 20 years in prison

HOUSTON — A Texas man accused of attempting to sneak out of the country with restricted U.S. military documents, money and equipment in order to join al-Qaida was convicted Monday of trying to help the terrorist organization.

Barry Walter Bujol Jr. was convicted of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 8.

Prosecutors said Bujol sought to join al-Qaida and to provide it with money, the documents and GPS equipment. He was arrested in May 2010 after a two-year investigation and was taken into custody after using fake identification to sneak into a Houston port and board a ship bound for the Middle East, authorities said.

But the 30-year-old said he never sought to harm the United States or any American, and the reason he wanted to leave the country was due to his displeasure with U.S. foreign policy. He said he wanted to become a better Muslim.

Carleton University Fires Professor Accused in Paris Bomb Plot

An Ottawa university has replaced a professor accused of involvement in a deadly Paris bombing nearly three decades ago. Hassan Diab was teaching a part-time summer course in sociology at Carleton University. He has been a Canadian citizen since 1993.

The university said it had hired Mr. Diab to teach in the summer session because of an unforeseen leave taken by the course’s original instructor.

Mr. Diab has maintained his innocence since he was arrested in late 2008. He was released on bail March 31, 2008, under strict conditions that include wearing a GPS-monitored ankle bracelet. A Canadian Jewish organization had criticized Mr. Diab’s hiring, saying that an alleged terrorist should not be teaching impressionable university students.

Mr. Diab is expected to face a hearing in January, when a judge will decide whether he should be sent to France to face allegations he participated in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and wounded dozens of others. The university said the action was being taken “in the interest of providing its students with a stable, productive academic environment that is conducive to learning.” His colleagues at Carleton have issued several petition letters.