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Judge Allows Bradley Manning Supporter To Sue Government Over Border Search 129

Fluffeh writes "David Maurice House, an MIT researcher and Bradley Manning supporter, was granted the right to pursue a case against the government on Wednesday after a federal judge denied the government's motion to dismiss. 'This ruling affirms that the Constitution is still alive at the US border,' ACLU Staff Attorney Catherine Crump said in a statement. 'Despite the government's broad assertions that it can take and search any laptop, diary or smartphone without any reasonable suspicion, the court said the government cannot use that power to target political speech.' The agents confiscated a laptop computer, a thumb drive, and a digital camera from House and reportedly demanded, but did not receive, his encryption keys. DHS held onto House's equipment for 49 days and returned it only after the ACLU sent a strongly worded letter."
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Judge Allows Bradley Manning Supporter To Sue Government Over Border Search

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:05PM (#39518449)

    I'm surprised that he wasn't being held in contempt.. or similar.. for not handing over his keys..

  • Police State (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:22PM (#39518569)

    This country was founded (in part) to protect people from the very shenanigans going on now re: unlawful search and seizure. Most of this crap is being justified under the umbrella of the "war on terror." The current occupant was elected by in large to combat the Bush era Patriot Act and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps we have met the enemy.

  • by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:24PM (#39518589)
    If being in contempt of DHS was punishable, we would all be in jail.
  • Re:Police State (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:28PM (#39518617)
    We have met the enemy, and he is us. We're the ones who assumed BHO would be different from GWB.
  • by IBitOBear ( 410965 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:29PM (#39518625) Homepage Journal

    Violating the First Amendment is a violation of Apparent Freedom(tm) and is part of Political Theater(tm).

    Violating the Fourth Amendment is a violation of Apparent Secrecy(tmp and is part of Security Theater(tm).

    The DHS, in its puppet role over the TSA is in charge of Security Theater(tm) and so had no leg to stand on against the First Amendment.

    If proper form were followed, the DHS would have picked a fight with House in a public place away from the border but within view of a political edifice, and "accidentally damaged" the material seized, then claimed it was known to contain child pornogrpahy because someone saw it over House's shoulder.

    In short, this was all a failure of Due Process, as they used the entirely incorrect Rail Road in its persuit.

    It'll be fixed in post production before air... just you wait...

  • Re:Inconsistent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pdabbadabba ( 720526 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:09PM (#39518925) Homepage

    First remember that the 4th Amendment does not actually require a warrant before the government can search your property. It just requires that searches be "reasonable." It's just that in most cases the courts have held that reasonableness requires a warrant. Not so, they have said, at the border where travelers expect that they might be searched and where the government has a heightened interest in controlling what moves in and out of the country. Imagine trying to enforce customs regulations without an ability to search! (Note that I don't agree with all of the powers that the government claims flow from this, but this should help to explain why at least some of what they do is OK under the 4th Amendment.)

    But the government can't enforce its laws in a way that infringe on other rights. So, for example, the police can't decide to only pull over black people for speeding, even if they were actually speeding. Or, here, the government can't decide to only seize the property of people who belong to the wrong organizations (such as the Bradley Manning Support Network). That would violate the 1st Amendment just as pulling over only black people for speeding would violate the 14th.

  • by IBitOBear ( 410965 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:10PM (#39518937) Homepage Journal

    Railroading someone in pursuit of "Justice(tm)" has become commonplace in this country. Each form of railroading has its very onw pro-forma means and mode of operation. In drugs offenses, for instance, they get to weigh the packaging as part of the drug and assign "street value" that corresponds to no known street in order to lay on extra charges etc. In this case they used border seizure on a politically undersireable person. This was not the correct means or venue. e.g. "they picked the wrong railroad" to go after this guy. (the e instad of u was just a typo.)

  • Re:Police State (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldorel ( 828471 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:19PM (#39518965)
    Voting against someone implies voting for someone else.

    All i'm seeing is the same shit sandwich with different kinds of bread.

    Sorry, not hungry.
  • Re:Inconsistent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:48PM (#39519075) Homepage Journal

    What makes this act constitutional is the power granted to Congress under the Constitution to regulate commerce between nations and enforce immigration laws.

    It is VERY unlikely that the Supreme Court will touch this principle that has been in force for 230 years.

    And what would make it UN-constitutional is if the search and seizure were done to silence domestic political opposition. Which is why the judge is allowing the case to proceed.

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Friday March 30, 2012 @12:23AM (#39519211) Homepage Journal

    Doesn't that mean the DHS should be arrested?

  • Re:Police State (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @12:56AM (#39519345)

    "We have met the enemy, and he is us. We're the ones who assumed BHO would be different from GWB."

    You can vote against Obama in the coming election.

    I voted for him in the first election but now that I know he
    is a liar I will vote for his opponent if only to see Obama's lying ass
    replaced with a different liar.

    That's sad. You think you're being clever but you are doing exactly what they want you to do. BHO, GWB, etc may have different faces but they all work for the same side. You think you're striking a blow against BHO, and you are, but in doing so you ignore the fact your enemy wins nonetheless - tactically it's a victory, but strategically it's another defeat.
    Republicans and Democrats alternate in screwing you and every time it happens you run to the other one, only to be screwed once more.

  • Re:Inconsistent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loki_666 ( 824073 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @01:21AM (#39519445)

    Wait a minute! Doesn't this mean if they copy the contents then they may be pirating software, films, and music? .

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Friday March 30, 2012 @02:05AM (#39519581) Journal

    Well, for that to happen we'd have to have a justice system. I'm not holding my breath for that, but then again I didn't expect to see the Berlin wall come down in my lifetime.


  • Re:Police State (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Friday March 30, 2012 @02:14AM (#39519601) Journal

    We're the ones who assumed BHO would be different from GWB.

    Speak for yourself. It was obvious to a lot of people that the teleprompter-in-chief was a wholly-owned minion of Goldman Sachs before he even set foot in the Senate chamber for the first time.


  • Re:Inconsistent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @03:16AM (#39519857) Homepage

    Imagine trying to enforce customs regulations without an ability to search!

    Without the ability to search laptop hard drives? OK, I'll try to imagine that... Done. In fact, it was really easy. Here's how it goes:

    You search things like trailers and trunks that carry physical things. Physical things that cannot cross the border via the Internet. Then, you don't search the hard drives, because they are not particularly useful for transporting Cuban cigars or Persian rugs.

    Hard drives are only good for transporting data, which can travel just as easily through the Internet, or on a micro SD card that the border agents would not be able to find without stripping the vehicle to component parts. The increased probability of catching even a moderately intelligent data trafficker by checking laptop hard drives is vanishingly small, and utterly insufficient to be reasonable cause for avoiding a fourth amendment violation.

    Which is to say; customs enforcement is not remotely credible as the actual, underlying justification for searching a hard drive.

    Therefore, the objective of the executive in doing such searches must be something other than customs enforcement. Those objectives may be fine and wonderful things, but they are not directly related to crossing the border. The border crossing is the distinguishing event; the proximate source of reasonableness that prevents a violation of the fourth from a warrantless search. If the infraction in question is not directly related to the crossing of the border, the crossing of the border cannot be the means to satisfy the reasonableness requirement in a rational society.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.