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Censorship The Courts United States

TSA Withdraws Subpoenas Against Bloggers 125

Posted by timothy
from the oh-was-that-my-outdoor-voice? dept.
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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TSA Withdraws Subpoenas Against Bloggers

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  • "Whoops, sorry" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday January 01, 2010 @03:45PM (#30615664) Homepage

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

  • Look over here! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @03:50PM (#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).

  • And the lesson is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yurka (468420) on Friday January 01, 2010 @03:55PM (#30615728) Homepage

    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.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Friday January 01, 2010 @03:56PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:04PM (#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.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:06PM (#30615814) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:08PM (#30615820)

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

  • by chefmonkey (140671) on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:13PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:18PM (#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.

  • by KarmaOverDogma (681451) on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:23PM (#30615906) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Hopefully... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:24PM (#30615922) Homepage

    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.

  • And of course... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:26PM (#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.

  • TSA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:35PM (#30615992)
    TSA = Thugs Standing Around
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:37PM (#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:Look over here! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:46PM (#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!

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:53PM (#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:Look over here! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @05:34PM (#30616312)
  • by michaelhood (667393) on Friday January 01, 2010 @05:41PM (#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.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Friday January 01, 2010 @05:42PM (#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.

  • by RobertLTux (260313) <robert&laurencemartin,org> on Friday January 01, 2010 @05:44PM (#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

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @05:46PM (#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" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... g ['s.o' in gap]> on Friday January 01, 2010 @05:58PM (#30616480) Homepage
    "The price for freedom is eternal vigilance" - Thomas Jefferson
  • Re:Look over here! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Friday January 01, 2010 @06:02PM (#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.

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

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Friday January 01, 2010 @06:24PM (#30616644)
    "Next time we'll remember to get a gag order too"
  • by dissy (172727) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @04:00AM (#30620426)

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

    Those two things are not mutually exclusive you know...

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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