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Homeland Security Stole Michael Arrington's Boat

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the keeping-'murica-safe dept.

Government 812

An anonymous reader writes "Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, lives near Seattle and bought a boat there. He ordered it from a company based near him, but across the border in Canada. Yesterday, the company tried to deliver it to him, and it had to clear customs. An agent for the Department of Homeland Security asked him to sign a form. The form contained information about the boat, including its cost. The price was correct, but it was in U.S. dollars rather than Canadian dollars. Since the form contained legal warnings about making sure everything on it is true and accurate, Arrington suggested to the agent that they correct the error. She responded by seizing the boat. 'As in, demanded that we get off the boat, demanded the keys and took physical control of it. What struck me the most about the situation is how excited she got about seizing the boat. Like she was just itching for something like this to happen. This was a very happy day for her. ... A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today. And when I didn't do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.'"

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This never happened to me, (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979627)

in the years that I imported horse manure.

so what? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979637)

Rich people problems.

Re:so what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979687)

I was thinking the same thing.
A good lawyer and a few phone calls and your boat will be back in your precious hands. The agent will probably get reamed out and fired hopefully. Maybe if you donate to a few buy-able politicians they'll be happy to expedite this along. Welcome to the US of A.

Re:so what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980029)

Both of you are a little selfish, aren't you? "Oh, he's got money so he's got no right to complain."

This is a bureaucrat fucking up the paperwork, refusing to fix it, then seizing the opportunity to take someone else's toy for a ride. That flagrant abuse of power is a problem with integrity.

In a country where the constitution was deliberately crafted around the idea of protecting citizens from governmental abuse and seeking to empower the citizens with means to call their government on any and all abuse.

Integrity problems in government ought to have you up in arms, it's your job as American Citizen[tm]. No matter what the cause is. So git off yer arses arriddy, ye lazy bums!

Re:so what? (5, Insightful)

Feyshtey (1523799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979773)

It's only news because it's a rich person and his boat. When they utilize the new Homeland Security policy allowing them to seize any electronic device at the border without suspicion, and decide to hold on to your IPad or cellphone it will most certainly be your problem. And you will have enabled it to be so because you are so cavalier about a person's rights, so long as they have a different amount of wealth as you.

Isnt it fascinating that it's abhorent to violate a poor person's rights, but its chiche to promote violating the rights of the wealthy?

Much worse under Obama regime (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979937)

I always thought the fanatical left was completely hypocritical that they bashed the Bush administration for liberty violations by federal agents but now they are Obama constituents and are completely silent.

*sigh*
Oh well; who needs those stupid ethics and morals anyway?

Re:Much worse under Obama regime (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980023)

Ethics and morals are racist.

Re:so what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979979)

Property is the granting of rights to items and ideas. Therefore a wealthy man has more rights than a poor man. Worrying about whether a wealthy man has yet more rights is just Reagan warbling from beyond the grave.

And your argument about knock-on effect is specious. The wealthy man's response won't help the poor man, because all the wealthy man has to do is call up his excellent lawyer or other relevant contacts, or grease the right palms, and he gets his stuff back. This option will always be available to the wealthy, and never be available to the poor.

With the US as it is today, I don't want to see the DHS sequestrating boats, but I don't want to see such disparity that some people can afford private boats either. I'm not sure which is worse, but I have a strong suspicion that they're both sides of the same coin.

Re:so what? (2, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980105)

I don't want to see such disparity that some people can afford private boats either.
Just so you are aware, the vast majority of boats are owned by lower and middle class people. Boats tend to be a money sink which a lot of the wealthy avoid unless they just really have so much money that they don't care.

Re:so what? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980027)

I disagree. Many years ago, (2002 or 2003), myself and two friends went to Canada. One friend was French, carrying a proper passport, etc.

When crossing into Canada, the customs official could not have been more cordial. He asked all three of us to come up at once (we were walking). Had a quick chit-chat about why we were going to Niagara Falls, checked our friend's passport to make sure everything was good, and wished us well.

Coming back was a completely different experience. We assumed the process would be the same, so we all started up to the customs agent at the same time. He jumped back from his seat, unholstered a pistol, and started shouting commands at us. (3 young college kids). After that, we received the 3rd degree on how two Americans could be friends with a Frenchie, etc.

CBE officials are power hungry... end of story.

Re:so what? (-1, Flamebait)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979775)

Didn't you get the memo? We're supposed to care about this because Rich People are our betters, they are Job Creators(tm) and are never spongers or moochers, like all people whose employers pay them less than $50,000 a year.

Re:so what? (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979793)

That happened to someone with a loud voice that is not so easy to intimidate don't mean that it not happens all the time, with a lot of things (maybe not as expensive in absolute numbers, but could hurt even more to the victim), to people with not so loud or that are easier to intimidate in some way.

Re:so what? (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979859)

Yep, they've been doing this for many, many years. Since the RICO act, in fact.

Re:so what? (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979857)

I care. Not because the guy is rich and I worship CEOs, but because this is another example of some governmental lowlife taking property.

As much as I am FOR regulations of corporations I am against misuse of regulation for petty reasons.

Re:so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980129)

So let's cut their pay, cut back on their training, and cut their support services. That will make them better.

Re:so what? (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979887)

Having it happen to a rich person makes it news, but the basic problem is there and likely impacts middle class people too.

Re:so what? (5, Insightful)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979933)

What an assholish thing to post. The guy earned his money - you're somehow more okay with his property being seized because you're envious of it? Grow up.

No way... (0, Flamebait)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979641)

A person in a position of power abused that power? Well color me surprised! I'm sure this has everything to do with DHS and nothing at all to do with the fact that every imaginable authority organization has had people who abuse their power since the dawn of time. Why is this news? Pursue your problem, get it resolved... But this is not "news for nerds" by any reasonable stretch of the imagination.

Re:No way... (4, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979749)

But this is not "news for nerds" by any reasonable stretch of the imagination.

Yeah, just close your eyes....

Re:No way... (2)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979765)

It's not really in nerdspace, but still - it highlights the fact that people in positions of power misuse it.

Maybe Franz Kafka was an optimist.

Re:No way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979785)

Well, it is concerning someone of somewhat importance within the 'tech' crowd who has a considerable amount of ears to hear his voice.

Re:No way... (-1, Troll)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979795)

But the president supports same-sex marriage, so really, abuse of power in different areas can be overlooked.

Re:No way... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979911)

Having opinions isn't an abuse of power. Acting on them (which he hasn't done) is.

Also, restricting human liberties is possibly a bigger abuse of power, if inconveniently decentralized. But good on you for having an opinion.

Re:No way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979969)

You mean becides not defending DOMA, stopping DADT, and offering same-sex benefits to military? Yep, he's done nothing. Thanks Obama!

Re:No way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980085)

Nope, Obama sure isn't acting on his opinions in trying to ram gun control down America's throats...

Re:No way... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979929)

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Re:No way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979989)

Well... You are a nerd, and you are commenting.

QED.

Re:No way... (4, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980021)

I'm sure this has everything to do with DHS and nothing at all to do with the fact that every imaginable authority organization has had people who abuse their power since the dawn of time.

Well, that's one way to rationalize your feelings of powerlessness. "I'm not a pussy, I'm a cynic!"

Re:No way... (3, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980121)

"... stuff that matters."

Would you like some cheese with that? (-1, Troll)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979657)

FTFA, "My point in writing this isn’t to whine."

No, clearly your point was to whine. Otherwise you wouldn't have been an asshole about the whole thing. Make the correction, initial it, and sign the bottom. Ask to have the paperwork re-done and make an appointment to come back when it's ready. Better yet, hire a real importer and have them process the paperwork for you. Don't go bitch and complain about it.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (5, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979717)

Ask to have the paperwork re-done

Isn't that what got his boat confiscated?

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (2, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979799)

Exactly the point.

So next time bring a heavyweight lawyer as a sidekick. I suspect that the DHS clerk was breaking more than one law at that moment.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979871)

It sounds like the boat was already being held, and simply wasn't released.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (5, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979745)

Otherwise you wouldn't have been an asshole about the whole thing. Make the correction, initial it, and sign the bottom. Ask to have the paperwork re-done and make an appointment to come back when it's ready.

Did you read the whole article?

The primary form, prepared by the government, had an error. The price was copied from the invoice, but DHS changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars.

It has language at the bottom with serious sounding statements that the information is true and correct, and a signature block.

I pointed out the error and suggested that we simply change the currency from US $ to CAD $ so that is was correct. Or instead, amend the amount so that it was correct in U.S. dollars.

I thought this was important because I was signing it and swearing that the information, and specifically the price, was correct.

The DHS agent didnâ(TM)t care about the error and told me to sign the form anyway. "It's just paperwork, it doesn't matter," she said. I declined.

He did try to fix it, and the DHS agents acted like morons.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (3, Insightful)

guanxi (216397) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979945)

He did try to fix it, and the DHS agents acted like morons.

Says who? If the customs agent wrote a blog, would it say the same? What if she wrote her blog first and it was posted to Slashdot as "Arrington acts like and a**hole, gets yacht confiscated"? Do we just believe whichever side gets posted to Slashdot first?

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (1)

Wovel (964431) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980015)

Easy enough to confirm she did take the boat. Why do you automatically disbelieve him? In a battle of assholes, the one that goes public wins.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980113)

What if she wrote her blog first and it was posted to Slashdot as "Arrington acts like and a**hole, gets yacht confiscated"?

I don't care if he called her a dirty &$@*â licking %*@& £^#%er. She can't legally confiscate his boat for that.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979973)

And if the customs agent doesn't have the authority to amend the paperwork then and there, what happens?

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (5, Insightful)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979755)

You don't get the point. It is about the gatekeeper's ego. If everything he described happened, then it would have made a lot more sense to make the corrections just because it is nice to be honest sometimes you know. She stole the boat because her attitude is like "if you don't do everything the way I want you to do it or if I sense even the slightest disrespect, I will F**K your things". That is what we face at airports too.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979771)

I think Arrington overreacted and misrepresented facts, but whining is perhaps a bit strong.

It wasn't DHS "stealing" a boat, it was them refusing to release it without a signature.
We don't know whether the agent in question had the authority to make changes to the legal documents. If not, refusing to release it while the paperwork was redone might have been the only valid recourse.
For those who suggest initialized amendments to the document, whether that is allowed depends on the type of document. DHS might not be allowed to accept amended documents. Their hands could very well be tied.

What was truly disappointing was his speculations about the DHS agents feelings. That was very unprofessional, to say the very least.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979791)

Nice example of the just world fallacy there. I imagine you do this a lot? Something like this, let's see if I can recreate your style of thinking correctly:

Innocent: That officer shot me for no reason.
Overzeetop: Well you shouldn't have made yourself such a larger target. You already know that guns go off by mistake, so when you saw the police officer, you should have thrown yourself to the ground and then you wouldn't have been hit. Simple. It was your error. Don't go bitch and complain about it.

Re:Would you like some cheese with that? (1)

Zcar (756484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979949)

Or, just sign and don't worry since CAD and USD are at basically the same value these days (a 2 cent difference). I get the principle and everything, but it's not like there's a while lot of difference between the currencies these days.

De oppresso liber (2)

TrentTheThief (118302) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979665)

Vote from the rooftops

Your tax dollars at work... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979671)

The government is creating a giant force of people with ill-defined powers who are itching to push people around for the sake of the fatherland. The current gun control push is to make the nation safer for these guys. We either get this government back into its Constitutional box or we will be the ones in the box.

Re:Your tax dollars at work... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979889)

Re: gun control have a look at a few quotes.

http://thefiringline.com/library/quotes/antifreedom.xml

One of my favourites, due to it's simplicity and honesty (rare for a politician) is

"Waiting periods are only a step. Registration is only a step. The prohibition of private firearms is the goal."

Janet Reno
U.S. Attorney General
1993-12-10

Re:Your tax dollars at work... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980079)

There's a storm coming.

DHS (5, Interesting)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979673)

I dont remember the last time we had a dept that was so pathetic, inefficient, useless, corrupt and annoying as the Dept. of Homeland Security. Why do these people even exist? I dont feel any safer with them being around at all. Just yesterday there was an article in Slate about how insecure airport perimeter security is. http://www.slate.com/blogs/crime/2013/02/20/airport_diamond_heist_it_is_shockingly_easy_to_breach_perimeter_security.html [slate.com]

Re:DHS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980001)

Have you ever heard of the ATF?

Poorly written blog ad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979675)

Sorry, but that is a badly written blog. Convoluted and poorly put together. Who cares about your boat. Also, the currency didn't matter so as long as the value of the boat was correct (either in US or canadian dollars).

It must have had... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979677)

"electronic devices" onboard. I new that new border law was going to give them a "bone".

Maybe there is more to this story ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979679)

... just a guess, though the author is a clue.

Why did they obey? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979681)

Tell them to fuck off.

That was one agent, not the entire DHS.

LOL ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979689)

"It's just paperwork, it doesn't matter"

So, a government functionary with a minor Napoleon complex who just wants to get on with the fun parts of the job then?

This is what happens when you give stupid people that much power.

Re:LOL ... (5, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980075)

"It's just paperwork, it doesn't matter"

So, a government functionary with a minor Napoleon complex who just wants to get on with the fun parts of the job then?

This is what happens when you give stupid people that much power.

This is what happens when you give anyone power without having balance and checks to keep them in line.

Re:LOL ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980109)

Whenever I hear "It doesn't matter" my first response is then "then why do I have to sign it?"

captcha: Sadists

Simple Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979705)

Cross out what you did not want, replace it with the corrrect currency, and inital, then sign the darn document....

Re:Simple Solution (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980097)

That's not necessarily possible. In that case I imagine that what happens is that you're told to get off the boat and come back when someone has the right paperwork.

Cry me a river (-1, Troll)

nysus (162232) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979709)

Little rich boy Mikey couldn't get his boat right away and was made to feel bad.

Fuck him.

Re:Cry me a river (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979777)

Yeah, because people in power would never abuse you the way they abuse those with more money than you!

Re:Cry me a river (0, Troll)

nysus (162232) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979903)

Come on. This is a rich guy who can't go fucking sailing this weekend because some paperwork was wrong. Who gives a fuck?

This is the story of a bureaucrat doing their job and inconveniencing someone as a result, not a violation of a basic human right. It's a non-story.

Re:Cry me a river (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979977)

This is the story of a bureaucrat doing their job and inconveniencing someone as a result, not a violation of a basic human right.

How do you arrive at that conclusion?

The DHS agent didn't care about the error and told me to sign the form anyway. "It's just paperwork, it doesn't matter," she said. I declined.

This is a story of a bureaucrat acting like a fucking idiot and asking someone to sign incorrect paperwork, and then acting like a miserable old cow when he tried to resolve the problem.

Sorry, but if DHS is that incompetent and behaves that much like assholes, that's a major problem.

Re:Cry me a river (0)

hsmith (818216) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979983)

You do realize that the people making this "fucking sailboat" are middle class folk right? If he wasn't buying his "fucking sailboat" - they wouldn't have jobs. I know, it is hard to see through your abhorrent jealousy.

Re:Cry me a river (2)

StormyWeather (543593) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980087)

Slashdot hates anyone that builds airplanes, sailboats, custom cars, restores very expensive old cars, designs custom jewelry, owns a tuxedo rental store, etc. Didn't you get the memo?

I'm about to build a couple 4000 (my cost) pc's for some wealthy clients, so I'm sure they hate me too. I wouldn't be able to feed my family without rich people.

Re:Cry me a river (1)

jcobol (221484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979985)

Come on. This is a rich guy who can't go fucking sailing this weekend because some paperwork was wrong. Who gives a fuck?

This is the story of a bureaucrat doing their job and inconveniencing someone as a result, not a violation of a basic human right. It's a non-story.

My thoughts exactly.

"Stole" or "confiscated"? (3, Insightful)

BBTaeKwonDo (1540945) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979733)

As TFA notes, he will hire a lawyer and get it back. The only variable is when; my guess is that within two weeks, he'll be sailing around. However, if the government accuses the boat of being the proceeds of a drug transaction (very unlikely, since there was no cash or drugs anywhere around) it will take longer. But "stole" makes for a much better headline than the truth, "confiscated", doesn't it?

Re:"Stole" or "confiscated"? (5, Insightful)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979819)

I'd tend to say that when the "confiscation" has no legal basis whatsoever, we can very accurately call it "stolen".

Re:"Stole" or "confiscated"? (2)

Zcar (756484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979997)

So, "confiscation" is the correct term, then? He didn't sign the form to get the boat out of customs impound so they couldn't release it to him.

This sound like another occurrence of true vs. right answers: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/the-true-answer-and-the-right-answer/ [nytimes.com]

Re:"Stole" or "confiscated"? (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980033)

The DHS had the authority to hold the boat the minute it arrived on US soil, for customs clearance. That's why Arrington had to sign the paperwork: to get it released.

Re:"Stole" or "confiscated"? (1, Interesting)

czth (454384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979823)

A distinction without a difference; and it's no difficulty for them to also plant drugs on the boat and then keep the proceeds of their theft.

Was the exchange rate wrong? (0)

BetaDays (2355424) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979751)

Was the exchange rate wrong? What am I missing? If the document stated the price in US dollars and was clearly marked as being US dollars why would one care that they paid Canadian Dollars if the paper had the correct exchange rate and listed it in US dollars. Or is it that it did but didn't list the exchange rate at the time? Or is it that the document said the price was (example) $4,000,000 when it should have been C$4,000,000?

Re:Was the exchange rate wrong? (5, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979835)

If the document stated the price in US dollars and was clearly marked as being US dollars why would one care that they paid Canadian Dollars if the paper had the correct exchange rate and listed it in US dollars

Dude, seriously, it's in the article ... they took the Canadian dollar value, turned it into American dollars (incorrectly), and asked him to sign a form under oath that what the form said was true.

The government form was wrong, he tried to fix it, they became assholes and confiscated his boat.

I'm entirely willing to believe some DHS agent went off and acted like an idiot when he was trying to reasonably fix a clerical error.

Re:Was the exchange rate wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979869)

Was the exchange rate wrong? What am I missing? If the document stated the price in US dollars and was clearly marked as being US dollars why would one care that they paid Canadian Dollars if the paper had the correct exchange rate and listed it in US dollars. Or is it that it did but didn't list the exchange rate at the time? Or is it that the document said the price was (example) $4,000,000 when it should have been C$4,000,000?

The latter. He asked them to amend the price copied down as it was untrue unless they changed USD to CAD or factored in the exchange rate. The agent told him to sign anyways. He refused as that would be swearing in writing to something he believed to be an untruth, and they took his boat.

Re:Was the exchange rate wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979883)

FTFA:

"The primary form, prepared by the government, had an error. The price was copied from the invoice, but DHS changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars.

It has language at the bottom with serious sounding statements that the information is true and correct, and a signature block.

I pointed out the error and suggested that we simply change the currency from US $ to CAD $ so that is was correct. Or instead, amend the amount so that it was correct in U.S. dollars."

They merely listed the Canadian value in US $ instead of CAD $.

Re:Was the exchange rate wrong? (1)

splatter (39844) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980103)

The amount of paid on the boat was right, but in which countries currency was was wrong. So it was like saying he paid 10K Euro when it was supposed to be 10K Rupees. Euros to rupees trade at 1:75 which is a big difference in cost. Obviously this is exaggerated, and he admittedly says that the Canadian and US dollar are currently trading close to 1:1, but that has not always been the case, as I remember traveling to Canada years ago, and the rate was 1:2.

 

no reason to lie... (0, Redundant)

dominator (61418) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979803)

It sounds like he was being pedantic. 1 USD =~ 1 CAD [xe.com] these days. It's been trading in such a narrow band (0.96 - 1.04) for over a year now. Just fill out the paperwork, and get on with life. Don't upset the pencil pushers. They're goons with badges and guns.

Re:no reason to lie... (4, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979881)

And when they then take the boat and don't give it back because you falsely swore to the authenticity of the import paperwork, then what? Yeah, it's only paperwork. It doesn't matter. Until it does. And if you don't think that this could happen, look up civil forfeiture, which is an even worse abuse.

Re:no reason to lie... (4, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979885)

>Just fill out the paperwork, and get on with life. Don't upset the pencil pushers. They're goons with badges and guns.

This way lies fascism.

Re:no reason to lie... (1)

Wovel (964431) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980055)

Did the penalty of perjury statement end with: But hey don't be pedantic...

Customs broker to the rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979815)

I can't belive anybody is foolish enough to try to import a BOAT without hiring a customs broker to ensure this sort of thing doesn't happen.

Oh no, he's rich. But we're looking at that wrong. (5, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979829)

Guess what happens when the victim isn't rich?

We never hear about it, and the agent seizes his boat and profits.

Corruption is a very real threat!

So what if this guy is rich? The point is that if they'll do it to rich people, they'll do it to anyone, except little people have no ability to retaliate.

Re:Oh no, he's rich. But we're looking at that wro (3, Insightful)

cenerentolo (2817897) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980025)

exactly, this has newsworthiness for a few reasons, two of which i will expand upon.... IF a rich guy can be treated like this, guess what? if youre not rich, YOU ARE GONNA GET IT WORSE.... secondly, it is cause the guy is also a celeb in the geek world, so geeks care about him in the same brainspace that they will occasionally pick up something about steve job's illeg. child.

Re:Oh no, he's rich. But we're looking at that wro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980047)

Guess what happens when the victim isn't rich?

They don't have a boat for DHS to steal?

Re:Oh no, he's rich. But we're looking at that wro (5, Insightful)

BetterSense (1398915) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980107)

Dealing successfully with the ironically-named 'justice system' (where 'successfully' is defined as 'minimal loss of wealth/immediate freedom/future earning potential/continence' is based on two key factors:

1) Do not appear to have anything confiscatable
2) Flatter their ego

Stupid people care about the law. They think that if they obey the law, they will be ok. The fact is, the law really doesn't matter. Cops don't know the law, they just enforce it. The most important thing is to not get involved with the police, and if you do, to not get arrested. If you get arrested, you have already lost.

The law only matters after you are arrested. But even then, you will end up plea-bargaining to an unrelated charge anyway. The idea that you will stand up before a judge and he will see that you were in compliance with the law and you will achieve some kind of 'justice' is pure naivete. Even if the case is dismissed, you lost.

"how screwed up our government bureaucracy ..." (4, Insightful)

guanxi (216397) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979841)

He writes:

itâ(TM)s to highlight how screwed up our government bureaucracy has become.

If true (we should hear the other side), it's nothing new in the history of governments or the United States. Not that it shouldn't improve, but the good old days never were.

That's the essential point to understand that if you want to improve things: The problem isn't current bad apples or lack of morality or a temporary increase in corruption; it's the universal, eternal nature of humanity and their institutions. Ignoring that fact is like designing a bridge and ignoring gravity. There are solutions, such as transparency, but it's not a matter of replacing the current 'bad' apples with a new batch -- they will be human too.

Re:"how screwed up our government bureaucracy ..." (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980117)

but it's not a matter of replacing the current 'bad' apples with a new batch -- they will be human too.

We don't want to "replace" the current crop of losers - We want to burn down the whole fucking orchard.

The security theater has gone on for about 11 years too long now. End it.

uh, that's what's supposed to happen (-1, Troll)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979863)

The customs paperwork on a shipment was screwed up.

The Customs department impounded the shipment until the paperwork gets straightened out.

WTF did you expect to happen?

Sounds to me like a whiny rich asshole didn't get his way when importing an expensive toy. Cry me a fscking river. (And maybe buy American next time, dude, then you won't have to worry about Customs.)

Re:uh, that's what's supposed to happen (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980125)

So you think that government agents should encourage people to make false statements and swear they are true?

If what happened was "I pointed out that the paperwork the DHS had written was incorrect and the agent said they couldn't correct it now and would have get a higher up to fix it which will take a few days and they'll hold the boat until that is done", then yes you would have a point and he would be being a "whiny rich asshole".

But that isn't what happened. The "they wouldn't let me have my boat right this second" wasn't the point of the whine, which should be pretty obvious to anyone who can read.

Name And Shame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979913)

Post the name of the agent that did this.

Tar, feathers.

Maybe torch as well, but tar and feathers at a minimum.

Really? (3, Funny)

jcobol (221484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979925)

I'm sure Arrington, with his long history of reporting the facts, is telling us the entire story. And if he is? It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy . . .

DHS = the new Brownshirts, only more stupid. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979939)

And they deserve the same sort of respect.

Limit government powers to prevent abuses. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979941)

If you give people power, they will abuse it. Government is usually a parasite. Best to keep it in its smaller symbiotic stages.

Well DUH!!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979947)

If you don't pay them their bribes you don't get your shit across. Everyone knows that...

There's a cabal out to get Arrington (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979991)

I wonder if the agent is part of the cabal? Was she involved in the theft of the CrunchPad?

There's all sorts of reasons to hate the DHS and their agents. Years of reading techcrunch has left me with the impression that there's all sorts of reasons to take what Arrington writes with a block of salt.

America - The new Constitution Free Zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980005)

Its too late to turn back now. They actually have assumed control.

No tin hat needed.

They told me (5, Funny)

AntiBasic (83586) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980035)

They told me if I voted for Romney, we'd see DHS continue with abuse power... and they were right.

Re:They told me (-1, Flamebait)

StormyWeather (543593) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980111)

Wow, your blaming this on Romney.. What a blind sheep you are.

Name names (2)

Alien Being (18488) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980051)

The American people have a right to know who did this. I'm sure the guy will eventually get his boat, but he'll have no recourse for any damage they do to it. We're paying those bastards big salaries to fuck us over. And they wonder why citizens are seeing red.

Just sayin'.... (0, Troll)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980065)

If he was being an incredible dick toward the agent, I'm sure she was excited to seize property from an asshole who thinks his money makes him the coolest thing since the last ice age.

I'm just sayin'... There are always two sides to a story. Unfortunately, since this agent is an official government employee, her TRUE side can't be heard; only the legal facts (the numbers did not match, etc).

If I were being a real prick toward someone and they relieved their vengeance toward me, I would sensationalize the story about it to try and one-up them, just like this story sounds. If I would, millions of others would, too.

Again, just sayin'.

Parity? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980071)

Since the Canadian and US Dollars are almost the same, the diff was what 10 pence?

How is anyone still suprised... (4, Interesting)

sensationull (889870) | about a year and a half ago | (#42980081)

the US is a totalitarian state now run by the corporations and paranoia merchants who exist to fuel wars. I would not travel there with any electronic device as I would be more concerned about them messing about it or taking it at the border than if I was going to China. Seriously it has to have killed of a bit of tourism if nothing else with the mental border policies. Sure Israel blows up laptops it does not like but at least they have provable reason. I've picked flights to avoid the US as a stop over simply because I don't feel safe traveling there with electronics, not that I have anything to hide but I don't think that matters anymore.

Call me old fashioned but I just don't want to be irradiated and have all my electronic devices seized and violated at the whim of some random overpaid security guard with a bad attitude.

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