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Justice Department's Bio-terror Mistake

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the more-deadly-than-the-mooninites dept.

Biotech 477

destinyland writes "University professor and artist Steve Kurtz publicizes the history of chemical weapons with performance art pieces. The day his wife died of a heart attack, 911 responders mistook his scientific equipment for bioterrorism supplies. After he was detained for 22 hours, Homeland Security cordoned off his block, and a search was performed on his house in hazmat suits, they found nothing. Now they're prosecuting him for "mail fraud" for the way he obtained $256 of harmless bacteria."

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Terror is winning (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763813)

Incidents like this and other such just prove that terror(ists) are winning. Post 9/11, everybody is still in panic.

Re:Terror is winning (1)

zxnos (813588) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763821)

just proves that those who have 'power' cant be wrong...

Re:Terror is winning (4, Insightful)

TarPitt (217247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763921)

Power without ethics IS terrorism

Re:Terror is winning (3, Informative)

SueAnnSueAnn (998877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763859)

Actually the terrorists are in our government.

This is one of over a hundred such cases.

Hale to the Fatherland.

Sue

Re:Terror is winning (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764033)

Oh come on. They mistook his disabled chemical weapons for... chemical weapons. I agree that people scare stupidly easily (see: boston) but this isn't a good example. These *really did* look just like the weapons they thought they were.

Re:Terror is winning (5, Informative)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764063)

These *really did* look just like the weapons they thought they were.
The problem is that, after they discovered that he did not have WMD, they still tried to pin something on him. Why can't they just admit that they were mistaken and let it go? Welcome to America. When the police think you have done something wrong, then come hell or high water they will try to find something they can charge you with.

We're from the government... (3, Interesting)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764311)

We're from the government and we're here to help!

-- The sad thing is they butcher the government programs make them worse than having nothing... then argue that they should be disbanded because they don't work. FEMA was a fantastic agency under Clinton, on the ball and everything, they weren't posting guards to prevent help from getting to people needing help.

Re:Terror is winning (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764381)

Are you trying to suggest the police are different anywhere else?

Re:Terror is winning (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764429)

Yes. And they were different before as well. Adopting the third world practice of making people dissappear is not helping things but thankfully that's still the spooks plus Edgar Hoover's crowd and not professional law enforcement.

Re:Terror is winning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764431)

"But Mom! All the other kids are doing it!"

Heh, the captcha is "coward."

Re:Terror is winning (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764093)

I agree that people scare stupidly easily (see: boston) but this isn't a good example.

So it seems that unless you are a pot-bellied, glued-to-the-tube, backyard BBQ, All American meat head, there's no place left for you in the good 'ol US of A. Before we know it, all the smart people, or people with different ideas, will be in jail or litigated into bankruptcy and living under bridges where the cops can more easily harass them. I'm so proud to be an American -- now where's my remote?

Re:Terror is winning (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764117)

So where's the next geek haven? Canada? China? Taiwan? Japan?

Re:Terror is winning (4, Informative)

Dak RIT (556128) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764361)

I picked Taiwan. Most of the population here is still actively fighting for ever-increasing rights.

Re:Terror is winning (4, Insightful)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764097)

Did you skip the part about the guy recreating 50's Germ Warfare experiments? This isn't an irrational paranoid panic response. I'd hope any government organization anywhere in the world would thoroughly investigate all recreations of Germ Warfare experiments. What would you suggest, the government just letting things slide?

It's not panic, it's just common sense.

Re:Terror is winning (3, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764115)

Did you skip the part about the guy recreating 50's Germ Warfare experiments?
Did you skip the part about them using harmless bacteria?

Re:Terror is winning (2, Funny)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764167)

Harmless unless you have a specific type of DNA, in which case the bacteria cause a heart attack ;)

Re:Terror is winning (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764163)

Did you skip the part where he hadn't actually commited a crime? The mail fraud charge is totally bogus, why is this totally obvious to everyone except you?

Re:Terror is winning (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764385)

Given that the article linked had exactly one side of the story, it's not "totally obvious" that the charge is bogus. If you only heard OJ's side of the story you'd think he was innocent too.

Re:Terror is winning (3, Insightful)

Skreems (598317) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764397)

Part of the case that the good Dr. still can't talk about publicly is that he was also a suspect in his wife's death, and hounded about this by the FBI as well. He's still under a gag order on this point, which is why the documentary mentioned in the piece re-enacts those parts of the story with actors.

It is not panic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764107)

This is the beginning of the crack down. The feds are now in control. It was 1 thing for EMS to report it, but a whole nother thing when DHS charged the man.

Re:Terror is winning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764261)

incidents like this prove little beyond the inequities of government. this was not insightful. it was droll, improve the moderating. no one i know (live far from new york) was in panic on 9/11, and we're definitely not in a state of panic now.

you don't have to believe in the police state. instead do what you can to make the world better, thats how it works. do you decide how life is to be or a regime?

Re:Terror is winning (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764265)

HAHAH f@#$%ing stupid overly-paranoid ignorant American sheeple. Oh, wait, I'm an American.

Re:Terror is winning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764357)

"Land of the free", huh? :-(

how did he commit fraud? (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763835)

What was in the package and what was claimed to have been in the package are identical... that's not fraud.

Re:how did he commit fraud? (2, Insightful)

Xonstantine (947614) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763889)

Uh, the fraud was probably misrepresentation of either his credentials or the purpose of purchasing the bioligical sample.

Re:how did he commit fraud? (5, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763977)

The "fraud" was actually probably another case of prosecuting somebody who should walk because the authority in question feels they need a conviction to justify their investigation.

It's the same stupid reason we're going to try to send a perfectly innocent college student to jail for wearing blinking lights on her shirt to the airport.

The search and investigation were probably justified. The prosecution almost certainly isn't. When did we forget that it's OK to do an investigation which turns up no evidence of guilt?

Re:how did he commit fraud? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764195)

That's exactly what is going on (I know all of the people directly involved in this case). The federal prosecutor in Buffalo made a big deal of this case in the beginning and doesn't want to walk away without getting somebody. They couldn't make the bioterrorism charges to stick so they're going after them both for fraud.

Re:how did he commit fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764229)

It's the same stupid reason we're going to try to send a perfectly innocent college student to jail for wearing blinking lights on her shirt to the airport.

I object to "we". You mean Boston is. The US is not.

There are some great quotes from the Boston police on that too, like how she's luck she's being charged with this and that they decided not to shoot her. The police actually said they should be praised for not shooting her.

But that's a Boston issue, along with the Mooninite scare. That has NOT happened anywhere else in the US - just Massachusetts.

Re:how did he commit fraud? (5, Insightful)

Christopher_Edwardz (1036954) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764233)

When did we forget that it's OK to do an investigation which turns up no evidence of guilt?

Right around the time "probable cause" made it OK to ignore the constitution and [investigate|terrorize|go on a fishing expedition with] anyone the powers that be don't like.

This would also be right around the same time that the whole "double jeopardy" thing got worked around by filing state charges and then federal charges back-to-back or after losing in one arena.

The "fraud charge" gambit probably references some technicality in WHY he wanted them evil-smarty-things that no honest (stupid|docile|sheep) citizen would want.

The government's agenda for a while has been Citizen = stupid. After all, no citizen should be able to create or research or learn anything without A) A university to pay money to or B) a large corporation in which to be enslaved, right?

C.E.

Re:how did he commit fraud? (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764277)

because the authority in question feels they need a conviction to justify their investigation.

If "authorities" are so fragile that they cannot admit that they made a mistake (or at least apologize and move on, mumbling something about "we had to be sure") there's a real problem.

Perhaps admitting error is a sign of weakness to some people. To me it's a sign of strength and character.

Wearing blinking lights attached to a strange-looking device to an airport as a publicity stunt for an art project is another thing...

Re:how did he commit fraud? (0, Offtopic)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764287)

I think you are correct up until you reference the girl in the airport. In all honesty she invited lethal force. She was lucky they didnt use it.

She is stupid and deserves to be punished severely.

Re:how did he commit fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763923)

I think (and it's possible I'm wrong, but here goes) that perhaps the prosecuting attorney saw something in the evidence that would lead him to believe that he somehow lied to the company to order the bacteria.

That's about the only way I can think of to classify ordering something and receiving what you ordered to be fraud... If it's one of the many things that get tracked because someone somewhere once thought it could be used to make something. (Y'know, like how real Sudafed (with psuedoephedrine) is now something the pharmacies track the sale of, to prevent crystal methamphetemine manufacture.)

Apologies for any spelling errors on the big words... or small ones...

Re:how did he commit fraud? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764191)

Gee i sure am glad they are on to that. forget those real terrorists, focus on nailing this guy for mail fraud!

Re:how did he commit fraud? (1)

2Bits (167227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763965)

But that's not important whether there was fraud or not. What is important is, the government made a snafu, and there is no way they will say "sorry". So, to save face, they push the charges on. The question is, how far will they go?

Re:how did he commit fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763981)

You mean "How far can they go?"

Re:how did he commit fraud? (5, Informative)

Odin's Raven (145278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764269)

What was in the package and what was claimed to have been in the package are identical... that's not fraud.

The fraud claim wasn't about the contents of the package - instead, it was based on how the order was placed. According to an article on AlterNet, "The $256 Question" [alternet.org] :

[Steven] Ferrell, a geneticist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, allegedly provided Kurtz the organisms for use in an artwork, rather than using them in his own research, thereby violating an agreement he had signed when he purchased the cultures for $256 from the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC).

I think that's an accurate description from Kurtz's point of view, since I found the Alternet article via a link on the Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund's press release page [caedefensefund.org] .

So yeah, seems like there was mail fraud, but in a technically-correct-but-really-lame sense of "fraud" that reeks of desperation to pin something - anything - on Kurtz.

Sore Losers (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763837)

Our gov't reminds me of my little brother. Well not so little anymore, but he still accuses me of cheating every time I win a game. We need more mature people in there!

Re:Sore Losers (0)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764119)

More mature people will begin to question why we are required to fight other countries wars, why we continue to get deeper in debt for other countries , why we put other countries before our own in election promises.

blinking lights, everyday life forms in test tubes (2, Funny)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763847)

I'm always scared of the day that someone finds my electronic test equipment and somehow connects it to my egg hatcher then creates a terrorist plot.

I think this one's an incubator sir.
For biological agents?
I believe it's used to hatch eggs, sir.
Eggs can be used to cultivate biological agents, proceed with the anal probe.
He does have several dozen chickens outside...
Damnit, follow orders or the terrorists win!

Depends on a context. (3, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764235)

Egg hatcher at a farm is not the problem. But if someone finds an urban apartment stuffed with egg hatchers, Petri dishes, vacuum pumps, and high-speed milling equipment along with some photocopied manuals in Arabic, I would have that observer drop a dime on you as fast as it falls...

And so was this arts professor SOL: Imagine YOU were the (non-specialist) rescuer that saw a woman go down and die in a house full of makeshift but specialized microbiological equipment whose owner is jittery to the max, and claims to be an artist, and cannot describe the equipment's purpose?

Same for the idiot girl wearing the LEDs: handling the bricks of modelling clay out at an airport is not what a blinkenlights dork normally does. Not after the two planes blew up because of women carrying "modelling clay" a few years ago.

Sounds about right (3, Insightful)

FoolsGold (1139759) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763857)

If they can't charge you under the original accusation, they'll simply find something they CAN charge you with, to save face.

Heavens forbid they apologize for putting him through hell. Oh no, can't have that. That would be a sign of weakness.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763987)

It's right outside your door... NOW TESTIFY!

Re:Sounds about right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764151)

If they can't charge you under the original accusation, they'll simply find something they CAN charge you with, to save face.

For real. They need to damn stop with that.

Re:Sounds about right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764307)

If they can't charge you under the original accusation, they'll simply find something they CAN charge you with, to save face.

Right, there's a good reason why the feds have a 90% conviction rate. There's enough laws out there that they'll get you on SOMETHING.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

neverhadachoice (949216) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764343)

Yeah, just like in that story the other day when the guy called the police because the Circuit City manager would not let him leave. After it turned out he had done nothing wrong, he was arrested for obstructing police.

The USA needs a new motto (1, Troll)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763865)

"Land of the free" seems a bit passe.

How about:

"We're shitscared!"

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763971)

"Land of the scared" is not only more satirical but it also rhythms!

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764031)

> but it also rhythms!

What does "rhythms" mean? Did you mean "rhymes"? In which case, with what does it rhyme?

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764179)

Yes, rhymes, thanks spell checker. And obviously, 'scared' rhymes with 'land' but maybe in your dialect of english it doesn't.

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764249)

> And obviously, 'scared' rhymes with 'land' but maybe in your dialect of english it doesn't.

I'm traveled a fair bit, and I've yet to hear a dialect or accent where those two words rhyme.

Perhaps it's our definition of 'rhyme' that differs.

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764319)

Yes, perhaps our sense of the pedantic also differs.

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

Glyphstream (1101409) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764341)

The only way those two words rhyme is if you are drunk and slurring your words to the point where every word rhymes with every other word.

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764363)

The both end in 'd'. Get off my back. Christ.

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

maj1k (33968) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764403)

you're so wrong it's not even funny. actually, it is kinda funny.

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764441)

NO U

Re:The USA needs a new motto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764371)

Yaaaarrrrgh fickin shust waytuh minnit. Thasnot rime fer fickin no how! Shtoopid ay hole!

Re:The USA needs a new motto (1)

Glyphstream (1101409) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764437)

Nope, not there yet. You still need about 10 more beers, and maybe a few jello shots.

Re:The USA needs a new motto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764243)

More like:

"I'm busy."

Like that "Hoax device" BS. (5, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763871)

I recognize the merit in, when a legal search is conducted, allowing the use of truly coincidental material found to charge someone with a crime. So long as the search was legal and reasonable. (Drumming up happens too much, of course.) That being said, this smacks heavily of abuse of the law, in a way related to the "Hoax device" BS about the Breadboard incident a few days ago: prosecutors or cops seeking to charge someone in order to justify the fact that they've detained the person, looking for a crime to charge a particular person with rather than observing a crime and charging the person responsible for it.

IANAL, but oughtn't that to be illegal?

Re:Like that "Hoax device" BS. (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763919)

IANAL, but oughtn't that to be illegal?
IANAL either, but I know it is illegal.

And then this hits the media... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763883)

Dear Mr. Kurtz,

Our bad!

Sincerely,
The Department of Homeland Security

Re:And then this hits the media... (4, Funny)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764127)

You forgot:

P.S. We are still going to charge you with something.

Re:And then this hits the media... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764185)

and...

P.P.S. Our bad for that too. But lets just keep this between us eh?

Mail Fraud eh? (4, Interesting)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763895)

As per the main story, the difference between 'Harmless' bacteria and deadly ones is pretty darn slim and hard to tell if you're not an expert in the field. This isn't the same as most other situations as it's organic, and organic things are complex, and complex things are hard to examine to see if they're dangerous or not. They shouldn't have been so harsh on him, or so overzealous in the raid, but I don't see any problems with them testing the stuff. He admits that he was recreating germ warfare experiments from the 50s using different bacteria. He says the bacteria isn't harmful, but his rig is similar to one used on extremely harmful ones. So...we should just trust him that the bacteria aren't dangerous? Circumstantial evidence was heavily on the government's side here, anyone preparing to recreate germ warfare experiments should be looked at closely, even if they claim to be using harmless bacteria.

Now again, they should not have handled it the way they did. They should have been a lot nicer and lest gung ho about the whole situation, but they should have, and did, handle the situation, and that's good.

As for the Mail Fraud charge...I wonder what the story behind that is. That I can see in the article he never denies that he committed fraud, nor confirms it, so it seems entirely possible that they happened across this and decided to prosecute him for it, and it's also possible that they're just trying to hit him with something to make it look like they accomplished something. There's not enough info to really tell...

Re:Mail Fraud eh? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763949)

It's a crazy opinion these days, because everyone is so chicken shit, but until he actually harms someone, he should be free to do whatever the hell he likes.

Re:Mail Fraud eh? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764003)

Tell me that when it is your family that dies from his "WHOOPSY!"

WTF (1)

Stickerboy (61554) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764041)

but until he actually harms someone, he should be free to do whatever the hell he likes

It is a crazy opinion, and it has nothing to do with the case.

So I should be able to breed anthrax in my home, just because I love growing anthrax bacteria?

How about if I'm just curious to know if I'm able to weaponize anthrax spores into a dry powder, so I just do it?

On a more everyday note, I guess it's OK for husbands to hold up a gun and threaten to kill their wife and kids if she leaves him, as long as in his mind he knows it's just a big joke.

Or what about if he just shoots and misses her? No harm, no foul, right?

Re:WTF (1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764197)

It is a crazy opinion, and it has nothing to do with the case.
If you say so.

So I should be able to breed anthrax in my home, just because I love growing anthrax bacteria?
Yup.

How about if I'm just curious to know if I'm able to weaponize anthrax spores into a dry powder, so I just do it?
Yup.

On a more everyday note, I guess it's OK for husbands to hold up a gun and threaten to kill their wife and kids if she leaves him, as long as in his mind he knows it's just a big joke.
Hey, it's left field calling, they want their ball back.

Or what about if he just shoots and misses her? No harm, no foul, right?
Queue "firing a gun into a crowd" argument.

Is it really so hard to understand? Freedom is better than security.

Re:WTF (0, Offtopic)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764227)

So you are okay with being police storming down your home and shooting you down, because your kid was playing with a toy gun?


Are you volunteering yourself to be arrested for fungus growing on that stale bread in your fridge? It is all like....that "bacteria" stuff, you know?

Idiot!

Re:Mail Fraud eh? (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764057)

until he actually harms someone, he should be free to do whatever the hell he likes.

Okay. I'll just amass tanks of aerosolized Ebola until I save enough money to buy a plane with enough fuel to dump it on every bit of inhabited land on the planet.

-:sigma.SB

Re:Mail Fraud eh? (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764189)

This seems to be pretty typical of many local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Spend lots of money and time on an investigation and then once you realize that your main goal has no valid facts supporting it, find at least something minor in order to put the victim on the defensive to hopefully stave off lawsuits and bad publicity. I would call it saving face and defense by offense.

Only the best run departments will say they made a mistake and apologize and then try to work with the victim to settle out of court. To me, that is the winning strategy. It says that they want transparency in order to keep the public's trust and that the taxpayers' dollar is spent on a fair settlement instead of expensive litigation and then possibly a huge payout.

Re:Mail Fraud eh? (1)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764325)

It's been pretty well studied and the gov't actually released it on a major US city (can't remember which one) several decades ago in order to do a simulation of what an air dispersal of a biological agent would do. Plus your comment about it being a slim difference between harmless bacteria and deadly ones is kind of absurd. Putting bacteria into milk to make yogurt isn't the same thing as using anthrax. He didn't just randomly pick a bacteria to use either, he actually searched and consulted expert advice on which one would be the absolute *safest* to use.

This story is very very very very very very old. (5, Informative)

rafael_es_son (669255) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763897)

Like three years old [washingtonpost.com] .

Re:This story is very very very very very very old (2, Informative)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763995)

And unfortunately, it's still very very ongoing. The mail fraud charges are new, IIRC.

Re:This story is very very very very very very old (5, Insightful)

HoboMonkey (911904) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764053)

And therein lies the story. They're still at it three years later. Riveting, no. But it is newsworthy when the government seems to abuse its' power and decides to continue to do so for years rather than admit to being wrong. Note that I said newsworthy, but not new.

Re:This story is very very very very very very old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764055)

From the first line of the linked article - "On May 11, 2004, 911 received a call from SUNY Buffalo University professor and artist Steve Kurtz reporting the death of Kurtz's wife Hope from heart failure."

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763905)

What happened to just admitting they overreacted and were WRONG? The recent MIT student in Boston with a stupid breadboard and now this. I am not surprised that many of my colleagues in academia are moving out of the US to Europe of East Asia to continue their work. As an American, is it wrong for me to equate this action as the start of the end of the hegemony of the United States?

This is what happens (2, Interesting)

Trikenstein (571493) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763935)

when you can't admit that you overreacted.
They have to move forward in an attempt to stave off lawsuits.

In the industry... (5, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763985)

This is known as the "Boston" response.

Re:In the industry... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764111)

"Square the Quad-Laser and you have, behold: The Quad-Glaser."

Can you hear me Boston? Let me turn it up for you.

Re:In the industry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764133)

Hey, what can you expect of the city that did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prevent 9/11 and then did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING after it? (At least until the DHS MADE them.) The victims are still trying to get damages from Boston. [theaircharterjournal.com] Apparently they've decided it's best to overreact than risk having to pay money for blatant negligence.

Tea (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764221)

Hmm, there must be something in the water in Boston that causes the people to go nuts - maybe it is tea leaves...

In Soviet Russia... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763993)

Remember when we used to make fun of Soviet Russia? Well, in NeoCon America, Soviet Russia makes fun of you!

Strange Place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764039)

I suppose if we can't invade the right country, we're not likely to invade the right house.

I feel like I live in a very strange place.

This is why the US is falling behind (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764043)

The tinkerer's spirit was a big part of what made this country great. Now, if you're an electronics or chemistry hobbyist, people think you're a bombmaker; if you build and fly model rockets, you're suspected of trying to produce some kind of missile; if you've got a microscope and some test tubes, you're assumed to be manufacturing anthrax.

When perfectly innocuous activities make people go totally apeshit with suspicion of their neighbors, the terrorists win.

What really grinds my gears, though, is how common sense goes right out the fucking window... if this guy had anything to hide, why would he have allowed the authorities to see it? If he was up to no good, he'd have dragged his wife's body into the yard and told them she keeled over tending to the garden or something, and never let the EMTs or whoever in the damn house. Failing that, he'd at least have taken the time to hide the dodgy stuff first before making the call-- "I was taking a nap, and when I woke up, she was dead!"

No. Instead, they're thinking, "Wow, what a lucky break, this terrorist invited us in to see all his incriminating terrorist supplies! Homeland Security FTW!"

Fucking morons.

Re:This is why the US is falling behind (2, Interesting)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764145)

Hear, hear. If Feynman pulled the kind of shit today that he did during WW2 in Los Alamos, his ass would be in Guantanamo by now. What happened to the greatness of the WWII generation? Do we need a war to wake people up?

Re:This is why the US is falling behind (1)

tukkayoot (528280) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764337)

What really grinds my gears, though, is how common sense goes right out the fucking window... if this guy had anything to hide, why would he have allowed the authorities to see it? If he was up to no good, he'd have dragged his wife's body into the yard and told them she keeled over tending to the garden or something, and never let the EMTs or whoever in the damn house. Failing that, he'd at least have taken the time to hide the dodgy stuff first before making the call-- "I was taking a nap, and when I woke up, she was dead!"

I thought of that too, but people, even terrorists, are not immune to panic or failures in judgment, particularly when a loved one's life is slipping away before their very eyes. He might have thought there was some chance of his wife surviving in the minutes following the call, and after that he probably wouldn't want to take the chance getting caught in the act of dragging his wife outside the house as the ambulance drove up if he were a terrorist.

I'm not sure I really blame the EMTs forwarding their concerns to the authorities. After all, you have the scene of a death and some sort of weird laboratory setup with who knows what kinds of chemical and biological agents. Prudence would seem to dictate at least some sort of investigation. The investigation itself appears to have been massively overblown, of course, and the mail fraud charge is ethically suspect, to say the least.

He asked for it.... (0, Troll)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764089)

<rant> Any artist whose art can be mistaken for a biological weapon ought to be detained imho. What was so bad about paintings and sculptures of people and nature that they had to be completely abandoned by modern artists in favor of making mostly stuff that a scrap yard would turn down as too hideous. </rant>

Back on topic, the mail fraud charge really smells of them trying to find something, anything to charge him with to justify all the damage they did to the guy. Hope he has a good lawyer because if the facts are as they seem from a casual reading of the article (a big IF) he might have a good case for a lawsuit.

Re:He asked for it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764131)

I don't think I trust my government with that much mis-"interpretation."

Re:He asked for it.... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764201)

Any artist whose art can be mistaken for a biological weapon ought to be detained imho. What was so bad about paintings and sculptures of people and nature that they had to be completely abandoned by modern artists in favor of making mostly stuff that a scrap yard would turn down as too hideous.

Being vindictive to innocent people who have or like things that are complicated or blink is just plain silly.

You are aware, I'm sure, that most real biological weapons and bombs look entirely innocuous. You know, like that guy's briefcase over there. Or the shoe that kid is wearing. Or the sheaf of envelopes that woman is holding, or that thermos the janitor walked by with...

Re:He asked for it.... (3, Interesting)

ricree (969643) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764237)

Did you actually read the article linked here? The projects that were confiscated were actually interesting and IMHO worthwhile. At any rate, I can see no reason that they should have caused any problems once their identity was confirmed. In case you didn't bother to read the article, here is the relevant section.

Three projects seemed to really bother law enforcement. Critical Art Ensemble was working on a biochemical defense kit against Monsanto's Roundup Ready products for use by organic and traditional farmers. That was all confiscated.

We had a portable molecular biology lab that we were using to test food products labeled "organic" to see if they really were free of GMO contaminant. Or, when in Europe, to see if products not labeled as containing GMOs really had none. We'd finished the initiative in Europe and were about to launch here in the U.S. when the FBI confiscated all our equipment.

Finally, we were a preparing project on germ warfare and the theater of the absurd. We were planning to recreate some of the germ warfare experiments that were done in the '50s (which were so insane that they could only have been paid for with tax dollars). We had two strains of completely harmless bacteria that simulated the behavior of actual infectious diseases -- plague and anthrax. To accompany these performances, we were in the middle of a manuscript on the militarization of civilian health agencies in the U.S. by the Bush administration.

A sad indication... (5, Interesting)

rindeee (530084) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764141)

This is indicative of our legal/law enforcement mindset (or what it's becoming) in our society. I am a staunch (and by staunch I mean I loath the current Rep party and must consider myself an independant) conservative. Anyway, some of you might have read a while back that a group of Hash runners (as in the Hash House Harriers running club) were arrested for marking their urban trail with flour. Why? Someone saw the 'white powder' on the ground and of course assumed that it was a terrorist bio-weapon attack of some sort. The HAZMAT guys were sent. The flour was discovered to be just that. The problem is, once the authorities got their teeth in this, they wouldn't let go. Rather than chuckle and go their merry way, they charged the 'offenders' with Breach of the Peace in the First Degree...a Class D felony. This whole story is known as the Hamburger Hash Affair. To contrast this, I have spent the last year and a half living in a very out of the way part of the middle east. Americans (of which I am one) are not liked here of course. One day while on a hash run, myself and the other Hare were laying track (using flour) and the local police observed us in action. They IMMEDIATELY stopped us and began rather intense questioning. Once we explained what we were doing and showed them it was okay by tasting the flour, they let us go and even wished us luck. Somehow it seems like a little role reversal here. We seem (as a society) to have adopted the "bust'em for somethin'" mentality. I don't advocate letting people get away with crimes, but this is getting ridiculous.

Defeat of Terrorism? (1)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764143)

University professor and artist Steve Kurtz publicizes the history of chemical weapons with performance art pieces. The day his wife died of a heart attack, 911 responders mistook his scientific equipment for bioterrorism supplies.
My neighbor puts on the same kind of show - you know, another one of those performance art pieces about the history of chemical weapons. It seems like no one attends his performances.... he says it has something to do with the feds scaring people away.

At first I didn't believe him, but after reading this story, I'm not so sure.

Is this freedom? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764159)

Is it really freedom if the authorities can simply switch charges against you when their primary charge doesn't work out? Like this terrorisms converted to mail fraud? Or arresting someone for resisting arrest? Keep in mind, that this is what is purposely being exported to the rest of the world.

Re:Is this freedom? (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764331)

So if the cops are investigating you for money laundering, and then they search your place and find a meth lab they shouldn't be able to arrest you for that?

What a maroon (5, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764161)

Why would you pay $256 for bacteria? Just buy $1 worth and let each bacterium divide eight times.

Do it again and you've got $65,536 worth of bacteria which is serious money.

Re:What a maroon (1)

Invidious (106932) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764279)

I wish I had mod points. Win. :)

Re:What a maroon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764387)

Unless you are using Excel 2007, in which case you get a nice round 100,000 bacteria.

had to say it (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764223)

All your bacteria are belong to us?

In my day.... (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764309)

Mail fraud?? Couldn't they just drop a bag full of dope in his office like they used to in the old days.
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