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TSA Withdraws Subpoenas Against Bloggers

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the oh-was-that-my-outdoor-voice? dept.

Censorship 125

wwphx writes "In the wake of public outcry against the Transportation Security Administration for serving civil subpoenas on two bloggers, the government agency has canceled the legal action and apologized for the strong-arm tactics agents used."

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125 comments

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"Whoops, sorry" (5, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615664)

"We didn't realize our dick move would receive so much public attention."

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (-1, Offtopic)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615676)

Would that I had mod points right now!

21st Century Socia media buptkiss whoopin' (5, Insightful)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615906)

yeah, buddy.

Welcome to the age of social media on the internet, where not only does stuff *not* stay secret for long, it spreads faster and farther than ever before, and to people who otherwise wouldn't give a fit because a friend or family member they care about *does*.

This is the magic of still living in a (semi) free society.

Re:21st Century Socia media buptkiss whoopin' (4, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616080)

, it spreads faster and farther than ever before

Except on /. where it still takes 4 weeks to a year...

Re:21st Century Socia media buptkiss whoopin' (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30617228)

Yeah, but to make up for that, Slashdot posts it more than once.

Re:21st Century Socia media buptkiss whoopin' (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617926)

Welcome to the age of social media on the internet, where not only does stuff *not* stay secret for long, it spreads faster and farther than ever before,

This is why the internet and all communications must be monitored. Must think of the children and the terrorists. And the children terrorists.

Obviously not a parent.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618112)

Must think of the children and the terrorists. And the children terrorists.

As a parent, I'd guess you don't have kids.
Newsflash!: Children ARE terrorists!!

Your quoted comment is both repetitive and redundant. ;-)

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (4, Informative)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615946)

"We'll try again later and hope the public doesn't pay attention the next time."

TSA (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615992)

TSA = Thugs Standing Around

Re:TSA (2, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616094)

The whole DHS are a bunch of thugs. An ICE agent recently blew through a stop sign [ivpressonline.com] and killed 3 women. They're trying to blame it on his driving with tinted windows at night. Why would a run-of-the-mill GOV need tinted windows?!

I couldn't agree more. (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617600)

WTF, is up with the TSA/CPB agents at airports wearing mirrored sunglasses and shit like that when working with the public (indoors). I find it insulting.

Re:I couldn't agree more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30617876)

So you can't identify them. I've noticed cops wearing black tape on badges when any officer anywhere is killed. Even in Argentina. I'm in the US.

Re:I couldn't agree more. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618922)

WTF, is up with the TSA/CPB agents at airports wearing mirrored sunglasses and shit like that when working with the public (indoors).

It's so you can't see what or who they're looking at.

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (5, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616480)

"The price for freedom is eternal vigilance" - Thomas Jefferson

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (4, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616644)

"Next time we'll remember to get a gag order too"

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (2, Funny)

sunilhari (606555) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616116)

Cue (entirely appropriate) lawsuit in 3...2...1...

Re:"Whoops, sorry" - this is AFTER.. (5, Insightful)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616354)

"We didn't realize our dick move would receive so much public attention."

This is AFTER they took the guy's laptop, imaged it and returned it to him with a corrupted disk, reportedly.. of course they don't need the subpoenas anymore.

Re:"Whoops, sorry" - this is AFTER.. (2, Funny)

Vexar (664860) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617366)

Is it me, or does the "Federal Agent" badge look really tarnished now, from the technology vantage? I mean, who out there *can't* image a hard drive? I'll bet they broke it because they weren't grounded. Besides, opening a laptop these days, that's a difficult task. Need more than a few certifications, I say. Last time mine was professionally serviced, it needed a motherboard replacement after it was fixed. So, I wonder if the federal agents just took the laptop to the Geek Squad and asked them to do it for them?

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616394)

One of these days government agencies will realize that they can't pull shit like they did back in the 50's era of commie hunting. Information and public dissent spreads like wildfire thanks to the internet and social media. The quicker the assholes that run our government learn this, the happier everybody will be.

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616684)

They'll only realize that when people actually start revolting against the TSA violently for this kind of thing.

When a violation of someone's rights leads to a protest in Washington that results in the riot police being called, maybe they'll listen. They're going to be more than happy to do this exact same thing int he future. They'll go after someone, get the information they want, then "apologize" and blame it on poor judgment of some random whipping boy in the agency. They'll insist that they were still justified because of TERRORISTS BE AFRAID!! 9/11!!!

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (1)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617150)

Yeah, I am rather tired of the U.S. government agencies using illegal tactics against U.S. citizens, then only admitting to using such tactics after enough people complain. It is the government's responsibility to always follow the law in every situation. When a person, or group of people violate the law or rules when attempting to apprehend a criminal, then they are no better than the criminals.

Of course, the two guys the TSA were "strong-arming" are not criminals. They were providing the public with a great service and I hope to see more people do what these two gentlemen did in this instance.

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618352)

"We didn't realize our dick move would receive so much public attention."

I am not quite sure that was their motivation. Possibly paranoia, possibly reality, I suspect the laptop was modified just a wee bit...

Frischling says the laptop was returned to him with “tons and tons of bad sectors” and a corrupt operating system. The audio on his computer has also stopped working, and a red light glows from the audio jack.

I am not exactly sure what audio jack on what laptop has a red light in it that glows... weird...

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618570)

Optical audio port. There's one in my old laptop too. It tended to be switched on when I installed a new system. Since he mentions a broken OS, he's probably reinstalled and doesn't have the right drivers.

Or MAYBE, the TSA infected him with the HAL 9000 virus.

"I'm sorry Steven, I can't let you listen to that."

Re:"Whoops, sorry" (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618616)

Optical audio port. There's one in my old laptop too. It tended to be switched on when I installed a new system. Since he mentions a broken OS, he's probably reinstalled and doesn't have the right drivers.

Or MAYBE, the TSA infected him with the HAL 9000 virus.

"I'm sorry Steven, I can't let you listen to that."

Ah yes... forgot about optical audio ports... most of our customers dont have such high end machines.

Pity (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615702)

Since their new guideline was published everyone is going to know about these changes in security. If only these bloggers would have kept quiet, the only ones who would know would be the millions who go through the airports. Someone has to pay for a lapse in secrecy of this magnitude!

Re:Pity (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616490)

Maybe so, but one thing:

Hrm.. [nytimes.com]

It also listed people who would be exempted from these screening procedures such as heads of state and their families.

Now the bad guys know is all they have to do is get a family member of a "head of state" (whatever that means), to defect to their cause, or impersonate such a person successfully. :(

What the heck is the security justification for heads of state, or their families to be exempt?

Their luggage (or the item a bad guy secretly planted in their luggage at some point to get it past security) can be just as much a security risk as anyone else's luggage.

Re:Pity (1)

sn00ker (172521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617098)

What the heck is the security justification for heads of state, or their families to be exempt?

Two words: Diplomatic Passport. Followed by another two words: Diplomatic Incident.

We know that the US doesn't have much regard for the rights of plebes but, since the generally-accepted retaliation for mistreating foreigners with diplomatic status is other countries mistreating your persons of diplomatic status, they're going to try and avoid messing with heads-of-state if possible. It just gets ugly.
Also, the family members exemption (and yes, I have read the document) is pretty specific. It's not a blanket exception, but applies only when they're accompanied by the head-of-state in question.

Re:Pity (1)

Panoptes (1041206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618014)

I'm puzzled. As I understand things, *anybody* with diplomatic status (and thereby protected by the articles of the Vienna Convention) is exempt from such regulations - not just heads of state.

Look over here! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615704)

Look here at my left hand, which is withdrawing the subpoenas everyone is upset about.

Over here, is my right hand, doing nothing at all (except issuing new ones to other bloggers).

Re:Look over here! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616066)

And this time they'll remember to amend the subpoena to make it illegal for the recipient to talk to anyone but their lawyer about the existence of the subpoena. i.e: double secret subpoena!

Re:Look over here! (0)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616194)

And this time they'll remember to amend the subpoena to make it illegal for the recipient to talk to anyone but their lawyer about the existence of the subpoena. i.e: double secret subpoena!

      IANAL but you can't send someone a document to force them to shut up. Even in the military, you have to swear an oath and/or sign a document that you won't reveal classified information. In business, you sign a non disclosure agreement. However you have to GIVE consent. It can't be assumed.

Re:Look over here! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616312)

Re:Look over here! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616328)

IANAL but you can't send someone a document to force them to shut up.

See Gag order [wikipedia.org] . For example, see Librarians Describe Life Under An FBI Gag Order [wired.com]

Re:Look over here! (2, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616508)

Such a subpoena would be illegal prior restraint on free speech.

Thankfully, we still have the constitution and the 1st ammendment. No item in the patriot act or other laws has the legal authority to override that.

Besides, if they can tell their lawyer about it, their lawyer can disclose the information.

LIke... DUH. (0)

orlanz (882574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615714)

Morons: 0
> 1 Braincell Persons: +1

And the lesson is (4, Insightful)

Yurka (468420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615728)

Cooperate - and get two hours of grilling and a borked laptop. And the half-assed apology.
Tell the feds to go get a clue about procedure and return with a warrant - get the half-assed apology and keep your electronics in working order.

Re:And the lesson is (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615796)

Don't cooperate and get designated a security threat. Try not to pretend that the system works. It doesn't. This was a rare instance where a person who stood up for his rights won in the end. It doesn't usually end up like that. The TSA could have easily filed the obstruction of justice charge, even though they knew it would be BS. They would then drop it a month later and face no consequences. Then the blogger would have to try to get the money in legal fees back from the government. Fat chance! A broken laptop is far cheaper than that.

Re:And the lesson is (2, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616596)

According to the article it was a civil subpoena.

And TSA agents are not police officers.

Obstruction of justice is apparently not applicable to civil matters..

The penalty for failure to comply with a subpoena depends on the jurisdiction/court that issued it, and usually some warning of that effect would be on the document.

Re:And the lesson is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30618382)

Then why were the officers armed?

Won't next time, or only if victim makes noise? (4, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615732)

Will they also refrain from doing this kind of thing next time, or do so only if the victim doesn't keep quiet?

In any case, this blogger's refusal to keep quiet is inspiring.

The apology's nice and all . . . (4, Interesting)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615742)

. . . but someone should have to fall on his or her sword over this. If those field agents acted on their own, it would be they; if not, then whoever they worked for that authorized the tactics should be holding a sign saying "WILL WAND YOUR CROTCH FOR FOOD."

Re:The apology's nice and all . . . (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616140)

    If you ask real nice, they'll pat you down too. No, check there again, that felt good. Oops, I mean, I might be hiding a salami there. :)

His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack?!? (3, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615768)

Drennan also promised to make sure the administration resolved issues that Frischling has been having with his laptop ever since the agents seized it to image the hard drive.

Frischling says the laptop was returned to him with "tons and tons of bad sectors" and a corrupt operating system. The audio on his computer has also stopped working, and a red light glows from the audio jack.

Damn, I bet his machine is full of spying devices, including one where the audio card used to be.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (2, Interesting)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615800)

Hard to imagine installing a spying device with a glowing red LED, but then the TSA isn't known for its stunning efficiency. More likely the just screwed up his computer and some standard warning light was activated.

They should owe him a new computer and say 100 hours of consulting time to ensure that his data and software are properly transfered to the new computer. Say $30K total.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615820)

What, trust them to give him a replacement computer? Under the circumstances I'd request the CASH and buy my own laptop.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (4, Insightful)

chefmonkey (140671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615848)

If it's a MacBook, then there's a little flap at the end of the audio jack. Behind that flap is an LED that is used to transmit SPDIF audio over fiber. (The Apple SPDIF adapter is longer than a standard audio jack, and pushes past the jack to the LED).

If you are exceptionally violent with the machine, I suppose it's possible to damage or dislodge the flap, which would cause red light to shine out the audio jack whenever the sound card is on. Between this, a broken keyboard, and a "ton of bad sectors," it sounds like they took the Israeli approach [slashdot.org] to handling people it thinks don't agree with its tactics. Except the TSA managed to actually destroy data.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616008)

In the picture with the article the power supply is indeed an Apple one, and the laptop looks like a black MacBook.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (4, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616182)

    It sounds like they knew they wouldn't find anything, so a few "accidental" drops to the laptop was their preferred interrogation method. While I do find this works sometimes on PC's, it rarely works on a laptop.

    It sounds like they were looking to punish him for posting it, rather than actually looking for information.

    At one company I worked for, we received a few computers from Europe. They had been shipped separately, just because that's how they arrived for shipment. One showed up at our office in pieces. The pieces appeared ok, but not a single part worked. I'm pretty sure they thought we were smuggling something inside the computer. Come on, was it necessary to remove and manhandle the motherboard, just to see that it didn't contain any drugs? We didn't get an apology, nor reimbursement for it. the US Customs stance was, "That's the way we got it, when we inspected it.". Ya, right.

    Consistency is not in their methodology though. We shipped a lot of equipment around to various locations. Most got there fine. The occasional piece was mishandled by the shipping companies. Some were held for weeks by customs. It makes it hard to work, when you ship say 20 pieces, and only 15 show up on time.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30617752)

If it's a MacBook, then there's a little flap at the end of the audio jack. Behind that flap is an LED that is used to transmit SPDIF audio over fiber. (The Apple SPDIF adapter is longer than a standard audio jack, and pushes past the jack to the LED).

Awesome. Amazing Apple. They use devices that have been standard in my desktop for several years, and in Sony laptops, in HP laptops, in Lenovo laptops...

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617968)

If you are exceptionally violent with the machine, I suppose it's possible to damage or dislodge the flap, which would cause red light to shine out the audio jack whenever the sound card is on.

No violence necessary. And there's no flap. It's a microswitch that detects whether the longer connector is there or not. If that switch gets knocked into the wrong position, the computer assumes there's a digital connector in place and enables that hardware.

This happens occasionally [macrumors.com] to people. The fix is to take a bobby pin (rubber coated, please) and push it beyond the switch, then pull the switch back towards you, then pull it out. Either that or put in a real 1/8" TOSLINK connector and pull it out.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616040)

Anyone traveling with a laptop these days should not have unique copies of anything on that device. With some good habits, you could throw it in their face, hit best buy with a CC and within hours have all function back....there might even be a laptop shop where you land. If you can't do this with a mac or pc, or with a usb stick in linux you are a dumbass and deserve to herded and messed with. US citizens are property of the gov and treated as such when they travel. There is nothing they cannot take and if you end up glued to the nooks and crannies in your precious laptop, you deserve what happens to you. There is no reason people can't keep their valuable information organized, encrypted and offdevice. The trend toward netbooks is more than enough indication that all you need is an interface, not a full system. Caching all your stupid email locally and various attachments because you are an idiotic outlook slave is absolutely nothing but a recipe for disaster. I access the same information from all three platforms, I have redundant machines and I can access basic functions with my fscking cellphone. In my own tech lifestyle the only reason I really need good hardware anymore is for low latency audio over PCI. Games are queer.

The FBI and CIA are using TSA - actually its all the same spring water with different labels. The US is using its TSA brand to randomly audit laptops. I also suspect that some laptop theft is actually intentional and supervised. The various forms of entrapment possible once a persons' personal kink and lifestyle are exposed is more than enough leverage for the federal thugs to get whatever they want. When you travel with a laptop not only are you risking the device and all the data it contains, but potentially a lot more. You may be putting your basic rights at risk. With that laptop you may be giving a hacker or worse, an agent all the info they need to coerce and manipulate you with. The fairy tale that individuals within these privileged and protected agencies are infallible and behave with moral integrity is completely false primitive and not holistic. Categorically those who are attracted to these roles have every intention once enabled of abusing their positions. Count on this, assume it and expect it.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616180)

The glowing red audio jack means that the jack it trying to output audio via optical digital.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOSLINK

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615878)

As much as the conspiracy theorist in me would like to believe they added spying devices to the computer, chances are they just screwed up the hard drive in shipping. Of course either way it's unacceptable and they owe him the value of his time, fixing the thing, and lost data.

Re:His returned laptop now glows red in audio jack (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615974)

That's the funniest part of the whole FA. Like something out of the simpsons for crying out loud.

Apology schmapology already (5, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615814)

Has there been an offer of compensation? Has anyone been fired?

If not, then it's not an apology, it's just regret at being caught.

The only question (4, Interesting)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615854)

in my mind is: Did they stop legal action against him because they FOUND the source of the leak?

Type of laptop in picture (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615870)

It looks like a black MacBook (look at the power supply on top of it).

"The agents then tried to image his hard drive, but were unable to do so."

Hehehe. Maybe they didn't know how to image it because it wasn't Windows? :-)

Re:Type of laptop in picture (2, Funny)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615928)

Maybe they didn't know how to image it because it wasn't Windows?

Which unequivocally proves that he's a terrorist. If he didn't have anything to hide he wouldn't have gone to such lengths to prevent investigators from performing their sworn duty.

Re:Type of laptop in picture (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617168)

just ship a linux laptop that boots with a video of the Chuck sequence when hes looking at terrorst data, and shows pics and images of boms , and nukes.

Then put a fake movie style login screen with giant green cursor and noises for each key press, with a countdown to self destruct in 10mins.

The TSA would freak out and really believe it to be real.

Re:Type of laptop in picture (2, Insightful)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616380)

then they should be fired for being idiots since
1 removing the hard drive is documented online
2 only a true idiot would try to get a FORENSICS QUALITY image from a system without some sort of write blocking inplace
3 a binary dump of the drive does not care about the disc format

Violation of rights under color of authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615888)

I believe that there is a federal law against the violation of civil rights under color of authority. That is to say, using the power of a law authority (police, FBI, TSA, whatever) to violate the rights of a citizen. As I understand it, this is a federal felony. I hope these bloggers and others who the TSA applied the "strong arm" to with these illegally obtained supoenas will make the appropriate criminal complaints. Hopefully, the ACLU will also help to deal with this outrageous behavior on the part of the TSA.

Hopefully... (3, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615922)

Hopefully the first in a long line of realizations that when you do something stupid publicly, you can't harass or sue someone for pointing that out.

Re:Hopefully... (1)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616306)

Only if the public wakes up and helps out. Props to this guy for not shutting his mouth, but there have been plenty of other people who continued to speak out only to have the public more worried about the bread and circuses.

And of course... (4, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615934)

Notice the guy who caved in to their threats ends up out a laptop.

The guy who didn't cave and refused to bend over still has his working computer hardware.

As always "never talk to the police" wins again. Even when you have done *nothing* wrong (and not just in the domain they are telling you they care about, across all domains) there are only two things you should say to the police:

1. No you may not search that/open that/have that/come inside.
2. I'm not saying anything without my lawyer present.

Re:And of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615986)

Keep selection bias in mind, though. All the guys who caved in and got their laptops back in working order weren't mentioned in the news.

Of course standing up for your rights is the right thing. But you don't do it because it means there's a bigger chance you'll keep your laptop in working order; you do it DESPITE the fact that there's a SMALLER chance you'll end up with a working laptop. You do it because it's RIGHT.

Re:And of course... (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616002)

It's really sad how true this is. I used to think 'I'll just comply and everything will be perfectly fine and I can be on my way.' Then somewhere along the way I realized that cops who want to do improper searches are assholes to start with, and they've already decided you are guilty and will treat you as such. If you make them do the paperwork first, then there -is- paperwork to show that it happened and you can't get into a situation where it's their word against yours that it even happened.

As for the laptop... I know when they search a car or house, they have to put things back as they are. Does that not apply to electronics as well?

Re:And of course... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616178)

Add to that the fact that if all they have to go on is a hunch or gut instinct they are far less likely to actually get a warrant. It goes like this:

DA: I need a warrant, this guy is our guy!
Judge: What is your evidence?
DA: I have no evidence, but I know it's him!
Judge: Uh... ok, I can't just give out warrants for no reason.
DA: But he's the guy!

Etcetera etcetera. Now, they don't exactly need a lot of evidence, and what they have doesn't need to be all that solid to get a warrant, but if they're just fishing they usually don't get it.

Plus there is the fact that the cop must now convince a minimum of two more people that you are a likely suspect. That protects you from assholes a lot more.

Re:And of course... (2, Interesting)

wwphx (225607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616598)

When I worked as a civilian for the police department, part of computer services was officers involved in computer crimes. While I was there, to the best of my knowledge, they always took great care in disassembling systems and mirroring drives so that the computers were functional when returned (original disks were NEVER booted). They were all computer geeks and didn't want to disrupt things for the user when they got their stuff back. Not to mention they would have to defend their practices in court regarding chain of evidence, so they had to be careful.

Of course, the ones that I worked with weren't feds, and this was some years ago. Now with the apparent presumption of guilt overriding presumption of innocence, who knows. So many of the cases were kiddie porn I'd just as soon see the computers torched, but that's just my opinion.

Re:And of course... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617010)

As for the laptop... I know when they search a car or house, they have to put things back as they are.

They do? There are numerous stories of people's cars that were searched and left trashed (inoperable). Is that a violation of how they are supposed to work, or the way they do it?

Re:And of course... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617106)

I believe you have to know to ask them to put it back like it was. If you don't ask, they don't have to.

Yeah, it's really messed up. It should be automatic.

Re:And of course... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616018)

Darn right. No, I do not consent to any search. Am I free to go? Lawyer. Those are pretty much the only things you should ever say. For why you should never talk to the police ( a class from law school), go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc [youtube.com] And support the http://aclu.org/ [aclu.org]

Re:And of course... (3, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616114)

That’s because, as I always say: It’s not about what you have to hide. It’s about what they want to find.

Cardinal Richelieu also had a nice saying about seven lines of the honest man being enough, to find something, to let him hang.

The “funniest” thing is, that the exact description of what the TSA does to people, is “terror”. They’re the real terrorists. But as all terrorists, they have more powerful backroom figures who control the big picture. The “terrorists” are just straw-men.

Re:And of course... (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616204)

Exactly. The talking heads call it a "war on terror" and all the while it's our own government who tries to keep us afraid with colored charts and media scaremongering. Then some fucking moron tries to blow up a plane and ends up lighting his nuts on fire and the government agents have an excuse to further terrorize the citizens. They will continue to let the occasional bomber through every now and then, and the cycle will continue.

Re:And of course... (5, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616362)

Exactly. The talking heads call it a "war on terror" and all the while it's our own government who tries to keep us afraid with colored charts and media scaremongering. Then some fucking moron tries to blow up a plane and ends up lighting his nuts on fire and the government agents have an excuse to further terrorize the citizens. They will continue to let the occasional bomber through every now and then, and the cycle will continue.

There is an old saying that applies here: Never ascribe to malice that which can readily be explained by incompetance.

The TSA believes in what they are doing, as does the DHS. They are not creating increasingly inconvenient security measures to instill terror, they are honestly trying to prevent the next attack.

However, their misguided attempts at this do not prevent new attacks, it simply terrorizes the citizens, making their lives worse.

There is nothing TSA has in place right now that would stop hijackers from sneaking box cutters on to airplanes once again and hijacking the plane. I know this because in the past year a friend of mine accidentally snuck a box cutter through at least 6 TSA screenings, maybe even more since he wasn't sure exactly when he put the thing in his bag. The only measure that has been implimented that would have any effect at all is the pilots locking the cockpit door. That's it.

The hijackings wouldn't get very far today, however, in spite of the TSA's ineptitude, because the conventional wisdom for what to do in a hijacking has changed. It used to be thought that it was best to wait it out, and in the end everyone goes home. Today we know we need to act immediately, and while a few may get hurt, there is no scenario where an entire plane full of passengers is defeated by a hijacker.

So what do we gain from TSA? Nothing, that's what. Just keep the cockpit locked and act when someone tries to hijack the plane. Done. Flying is safe once again.

Re:And of course... (1)

Jaxoreth (208176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616688)

There is an old saying that applies here: Never ascribe to malice that which can readily be explained by incompetance.

You're thinking of Hanlon's Razor [wikipedia.org] .

Re:And of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30617910)

There is an old saying that applies here: Never ascribe to malice that which can readily be explained by incompetance.

There is a new saying that applies here: Never ascribe to incompetence what can readily be explained by a profit motve -- whether financial or political.

Re:And of course... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618826)

The hijackings wouldn't get very far today, however, in spite of the TSA's ineptitude, because the conventional wisdom for what to do in a hijacking has changed. It used to be thought that it was best to wait it out, and in the end everyone goes home. Today we know we need to act immediately, and while a few may get hurt, there is no scenario where an entire plane full of passengers is defeated by a hijacker.

*standing ovation! wins '+n Most Insightful' Award, due to me not currently having mod points*
Well said, good sir!
Too bad our own gov't. has not wised up to this proof [wikipedia.org] of an attitude change in it's own citizens.
Hopefully they will get a clue before 'we' get fed up with all of this nonsense, and turn on ourselves.
And [as a 'tip of the hat' to our non-USA denizens of /.] before we are turned isolationists....by choice, or not.

Re:And of course... (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616738)

A huh. So the TSA is the real terrorists. And the guys who blow up planes are the fake ones?

Re:And of course... (1)

jschrod (172610) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617616)

Well, the TSA is more successful in the actual goal of terrorism: To install fear in the hearts of US citizens, and destroy the civil base that your society was grounded upon, once upon a time. They put 100,000s of people on secret watch lists and the US society let that happen.

In my country, such behaviour once was typical of its "secret state police". That part of my country was then named German Democratic Republic, and then Americans scowled about these so-called `socialistic' states (who were never socialistic, neither in the political nor in the oeconomic sense). Now they quickly install such a state themselves. It's a pitty, really.

Re:And of course... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616208)

As always "never talk to the police" wins again. Even when you have done *nothing* wrong (and not just in the domain they are telling you they care about, across all domains) there are only two things you should say to the police:

1. No you may not search that/open that/have that/come inside.
2. I'm not saying anything without my lawyer present.

I see the wisdom in this, but there's a question I've always wanted to ask the experts who advocate this approach. What if you have a serious interest in the police completing their investigation as quickly and effectively as possible? For example, suppose your child has been abducted while in the custody of your ex-spouse. You are innocent and want the culprit found, but you also know that statistics and profiling will tell the police that you yourself are the most likely suspect. Do you spill all the information you have to the police, hoping that it hastens their investigation toward the malicious third party you know to be responsible? Or do you "lawyer up," slowing the investigation by inviting the police to focus their investigatory efforts on you? Not to mention how it will look if the police haven't identified you as a suspect yet, and you're insisting on a lawyer of your own volition: do you know you have something to hide; do you want the investigation to go slower?

And it doesn't help to say that this situation demands that you altruistically put yourself in danger of legal trouble. You getting arrested and tried is even worse for the victim than it is for you: the police aren't looking at all now, since they already think they've got the guy! So do you "lawyer up" to try to prevent that possibility, and if so, when does the risk outweigh the amount it will slow down the investigation?

I believe strongly in civil rights against police investigation, but I also recognize that the police are generally, you know, the good guys who go after the bad guys, and you often will want them to do that job. Not talking to the police without a lawyer is good advice in general, and almost certainly the best idea if you're already a major suspect, but I think it's too facile to say that you should never do it under any circumstances.

Re:And of course... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616326)

It's a cost benefit trade off.

If the police are trying to find your missing kid then the benefits probably outweight the costs. Most parents would trade not just anything by everything to get their kid back, so most will likely do all they can to provide information.

The *never* is a little extreme, but it's the safe default. And not talking should be the usual response unless the circumstances are very strange.

What it really boils down to I guess is "never talk to the police if they are the ones wanting to talk". If your kid has been kidnapped you probably want to talk to them more than they want to talk to you...

For 99% (OK I made that up, a large majority anyway) of people never is going to always apply and hence a rule of thumb it is.

Re:And of course... (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618684)

Sadly, if you don't lawyer up, their profile may lead them to focus EXCLUSIVELY on you while if yoy do lawyer up, perhaps they'll look at other possibilities while they await a warrant.

Pretty much, as soon as they go from accepting whatever you can tell them to detaining you for questioning, they've already blown it.

Re:And of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616626)

Not to mention how it will look if the police haven't identified you as a suspect yet, and you're insisting on a lawyer of your own volition: do you know you have something to hide; do you want the investigation to go slower?

This is a no-concern. Honestly, look bad in whose eyes? Unless they have evidence, they can't keep you arrested. In court, they can't use "he wanted a lawyer" as evidence. So what if they don't like you?

If you want the case to progress fast, ask for a lawyer (this really shouldn't slow things down much, they will have someone ready for this kind of things), briefly explain him the situation ("I really have nothing to hide but am a bit paranoid about talking to police. I don't want them to ask some trick question that they can twist around...") and then tell the police everything you know and that would help them in solving the case (relevant information only). For anything that you don't want to answer or that you don't believe to be relevant, don't answer "just to seem better in their eyes".

That all in theory. I personally live in Finland and consider police to be friends. I believe they will do their best to solve the case and I don't believe that they will try to twist my words in wierd ways just to get me convcted for something irrelevant to the case. I would most likely talk to them without a lawyer present if everything progresses well. If I would get an impression that they are agressive and hostile towards me, then I would ask for a lawyer.

Re:And of course... (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616924)

The concern isn't that they'll keep you arrested or that they'll use "he wanted a lawyer" as evidence, but that by looking bad to them they'll make you the prime suspect and focus their efforts on you rather than on whoever actually did the kidnapping. Rather than searching for whoever did it, the GP is concerned that they'll focus their efforts on trying to get something solid on you.

That said, even if you do get the assholes, I think that one of their superiors would be more concerned with covering their bases, since they'd look way worse if they focused all their efforts on the parent when it was someone else than if they spread their efforts and it ended up being the parent.

Re:And of course... (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617802)

This is a no-concern. Honestly, look bad in whose eyes? Unless they have evidence, they can't keep you arrested. In court, they can't use "he wanted a lawyer" as evidence. So what if they don't like you?

To paraphrase Chris Rock, "Why didn't Kobe use Johnnie Cochran?" "Well, if you use Johnnie Cochran, you like guilty!" "Sure you do, but you're at home. If I gotta choose between looking innocent in jail, and looking guilty at the mall, I know which way I'm going."

Re:And of course... (2, Interesting)

SvnLyrBrto (62138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616900)

If the cops have showed up at your doorstep and you didn't call them; they've already decided you're guilty and are there to try to pin something on you; even if it's not your hypothetical kidnapping. And the legal system is simply too complicated now for a layman to safely navigate. So yes... a lawyer is an imperative. (And yeah, as you say, in your scenario you're already and automatically a suspect.)

Even if you have information you do want the cops to have, it's safest and smartest to insist on being provided a lawyer and having him vet and sanitize it for you before releasing it. It doesn't make you any more or less guilty.. you're already guilty in the cops' eyes. It doesn't make them hate or like you any more... to them, you're either cop or you're not.

And once you go over their heads to the realm of lawyers and judges, it still doesn't make you look any more or less guilty. It's never a bad mark and always a good idea and in your best interest to seek legal council when dealing with the legal system.

Re:And of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616374)

Even when you have done *nothing* wrong (and not just in the domain they are telling you they care about, across all domains) there are only two things you should say to the police:

1. No you may not search that/open that/have that/come inside.
2. I'm not saying anything without my lawyer present.

Actualy, stick with:
1. I do not consent.
2. Am I free to go?

Re:And of course... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616388)

Yeah I missed the "am I free to do" part.

But the lawyer bit is important when the answer to that is "no".

Re:And of course... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616560)

3. Watch James Duane's presentation [youtube.com] yearly, and share it with anyone you care about.

TSA agents need to get back to work (2, Interesting)

colfer (619105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616014)

Instead of throwing people's laptops around, these guys need to get to work. There is plenty of work to go around, from airports to every other kind of transportation facility you can think of.

Federal agencies are full of people who want to carry and gun and work security, since it's easier to stomp around with a badge than to do the drudge work of investigation. Every agency wants to have a police force of its own.

TSA is a special case, since it actually is a sort of police force. So put these smart guy agents on the front line, at airport screening lines, where their elite abilities can be better appreciated. And shorten waiting times.

Obligatory (0)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616022)

In Soviet Russia, the TSA withdraws YOU!

diversion (2, Interesting)

bugi (8479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616068)

Did they get the information they were looking for?

Does "giving up" keep them from answering for their behavior in front of a judge?

Subpoena probably wasn't valid. (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616434)

As I mentioned yesterday [slashdot.org] . the subpoena probably wasn't valid. Once one of the recipients announced he would challenge it in court, the TSA probably withdrew it because they were going to look even dumber when a Federal judge threw it out.

There are some real questions about a law enforcement organization having administrative subpoena power. In criminal investigations, subpoenas should come from a judge. Congress has repeatedly refused FBI requests for that power. I don't think that Homeland Security has it, either. But regulatory agencies with narrow remits often have it, so they can demand records relevant to whatever they regulate. The Department of Transportation had it for use in safety investigations and such. Typically they'd be asking for maintenance records.

When Homeland Security picked up the Transportation Safety Agency from the Department of Transportation, they got DoT's administrative subpoena authority in the transfer. That's what Homeland Security was trying to use here. That clearly went beyond Congressional intent. And in any case, the subpoena hadn't been approved by one of the short list of people authorized to approve it.

Re:Subpoena probably wasn't valid. (1)

DaTrueDave (992134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617748)

While I won't disagree with your comment about the subpoena not being legally sufficient, I'm distracted by your confusion over "administrative subpoenas" and the organization of federal agencies.

TSA= Transportation Security Administration, not Transportation Safety Agency. TSA was created after 9/11 as part of the Department of Transportation (DoT), and went over to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when it was created. The department that the agency belonged to had no impact on the ability to serve administrative subpoenas, that authority is granted by statute or regulation. There are several other DHS agencies that previously had the ability to serve administrative subpoenas, which are of limited use in a complex federal criminal investigation.

I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wants to be able to serve other types of administrative subpoenas. Administrative subpoenas are very limited in their scope. I'm sure you remember that the FBI already has their controversial National Security Letter, which is an administrative subpoena.

Re:Subpoena probably wasn't valid. (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618970)

I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wants to be able to serve other types of administrative subpoenas.

From FBI Director Muller's testimony before Congress. [fbi.gov] It didn't work; Congress said no. [thenation.com]

Re: TSA Withdraws Subpoenas Against Bloggers (2, Interesting)

REALMAN (218538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616436)

The blurb you make insinuates that they "caved in" when in fact one of the bloggers gave up their laptop so in all likelihood they got the info they wanted off that laptop and that's why they dropped the subpoena.

Apologized? (0, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616694)

Well, that's nice of them, but it should have never happened in the first place.

Terrorist "DHS" cripples US ... again. (0, Troll)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617374)

LITTLE BROTHER, Detroit, Sunday -- The American-based terrorist group "Department of Homeland Security" (the Arabic term for "Department of Homeland Security") has successfully hobbled the American economy once more [newstechnica.com] .

DHS stuntman Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab caused a minor conflagration aboard a Detroit-bound plane on Saturday. "It worked spectacularly well," said his father, Nigerian banker Bnkr. Alhaji Umaru MUTALLAB. "He sent TWENTY-FIVE MILLION (25,000,000.00) Twitter messages about it. 'Stuck on runway for 1/2hr oh well catch up on da vinci code should hv time 2 finish b4 destroying USA.' I would have sent the full collection of messages to the authorities, but they were unfortunately unable to forward me a mere three thousand Twitter messages to enable my expenses in doing so."

This year, as every year, Umar had sent his relatives Christmas cards reading "MERRY CHRISTMAS, YOU WESTERNISED PIG-DOGS, SLEEP WELL FOR TOMORROW YOU SHALL BURN IN AGONY FOR ALL ETERNITY, ALLAH BE PRAISED". However, it appeared he had become "radicalised" by a sojourn in London, during which he read a book about George W. Bush, a close personal friend of the bin Laden branch of the Saudi royal family, and was inspired to take the fight to American soil. "Whenever the infidel appears complacent," he wrote to a friend, "we shall send a DHS operative to do something pathetically stupid and harmless that we may take as an excuse to torture more civilians and make movement within American yet more impracticable. Praise Allah! Praise Jesus!"

The "DHS" has crippled America's economy since its initial attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Air travel has all but ceased in the country and international visits have plummeted. Those few daring to travel find themselves cavity-search, X-rayed and anally probed. Some "DHS" operatives, brazenly working in plain sight, have become celebrities and tourist attractions, such as Big Bertha at Seattle Airport.

Mr Mutallab said the family were relieved Umar had finally made his public debut. "Apart from the obvious gigs selling our story to credulous Western news outlets, we can finally take down that God-awful shrine with the twin towers and the effigies, clean the place up and, who knows, maybe rent out the spare room at last. Are you sure you don't have three thousand (3,000.00) messages you can spare to facilitate the transmission of another twenty-five million to yourself? Please assist, dear one!"

Returned? (2, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618100)

The hardware is back but whats loaded onto it?
Its an old trick to search something and give it back with a logger or spyware.
Then raid again/sneak and peek, or have an upload of the log at a later date.
ebay the hardware asap or take to a security expert and then ebay.
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