Techdirt Files FOIA Requests Concerning ICE 'Anti-Piracy' Videos

from the digging-in dept

Earlier today, I filed three Freedom of Information requests concerning the infamous "anti-piracy PSA" that Homeland Security's ICE division started placing on domains it seized. As we noted at the time, the videos were not new and not created by ICE. Instead, they were part of a campaign put together by New York City with the help of NBC Universal and the MPAA. The scripts of the videos were misleading, and I was troubled by the idea that the federal government would be playing corporately produced and funded propaganda, with the imprimatur of the Department of Homeland Security. I asked a series of friendly (non-aggressive) questions to Brian Hale, officially the spokesperson for ICE within the Department of Homeland Security about where they got the video and how much was paid for it. Hale and Homeland Security apparently decided not to comment at all, despite multiple email requests.

Separately, I made requests to the City of New York, to get their side of the story, but after being asked who I was reporting for, what "the nature" of my story was and who else I was talking to (all of which I answered honestly), I received no further response from the City of New York.

Thus, the three Freedom of Information requests -- filed using the new system from MuckRock.com, an open government tool that seeks to publish documents retrieved via such requests and which recently built a tool to make it easier to make such requests (which I'm now testing) -- are as follows: The NY State law says that the city must respond to my request within five business days. DHS has a longer period of time to respond. Honestly, it's silly that I had to file such requests. Homeland Security could have easily cleared this up weeks ago by answering my simple questions concerning how the federal government licensed this video. The fact that it has refused to do so necessitated this formal approach, unfortunately.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    LOL

    "hey Bob, that guy that writes the piracy love blog is on the phone again..."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      weneedhelp (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:03pm

      Re:

      Hey Bob, another anonymous troll is trying to make fun of TD and failing miserably.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re:

        LOL

        "hey Bob, that guy thinks the word freetard is offensive to the handi-capable..."

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Qritiqal (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 2:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          LOL

          Maybe if you LOL enough you'll increase your self esteem to the level that most human beings achieve in the 8th grade.

          (and yes, I LOL'ed too because I'm also mentally stuck in the 8th grade -- or thereabouts)

           

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        •  
          icon
          Any Mouse (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 6:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Considering that I /am/ handicapped (wheelchair most of the time and legally blind), I should take offense to that. It's difficult to, however, with the person behind that comment among the mentally challenged.

           

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      •  
        identicon
        Andy, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:38am

        Re: Re:

        Hey Bob (most popular guy in the office?), weneedhelp doesn't like a wee jokey joke it turns out.

         

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    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

      Re:

      "Thanks for the heads up, Joe. Better pay some more shills to troll his blog."

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      btr1701 (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

      Re: Response

      > "hey Bob, that guy that writes the piracy
      > love blog is on the phone again..."

      So you're suggesting the government should only respond to publications with whose point of view it agrees?

      Despite being granted no such discretion in the FOIA law?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 3:12pm

        Re: Re: Response

        no he is saying that if the person requesting disagrees with they they can ignore him until he makes a FOIA request. Then they can tell him it costs $100,000 to get a team of interns to track down what he wants, redact everything but pronouns, and make a copy.

        Only give information to people that agree with you unless otherwise forced by stupid "law." Sharing information leads to informed debate which is the last thing we want. Besides pirates share information, you dont want to be a pirate do you?

         

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      •  
        icon
        DannyB (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 6:46am

        Re: Re: Response

        > So you're suggesting the government should
        > only respond to publications with whose point
        > of view it agrees?

        No. He's suggesting that the government is so deeply connected with the copyright maximalists that they call them to laugh about a lawful FOIA request.

         

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  •  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

    I filed three Freedom of Information requests

    You're on the list.

     

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    •  
      icon
      Almost Anonymous (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:06am

      Re: I filed three Freedom of Information requests

      Mike, I hate to say it, but that was my first thought as well. My next thought was "/unsubscribe", for which I am not proud.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      One_of_the_Norm (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:10am

      Re: I filed three Freedom of Information requests

      Which is good, because with the potential offender* filing information requests the government officials now have "documented proof of subversive activities" toward the government. Which makes it easier to legally fight the offender* when the offender* complains or attempts to sue after finding the newly hidden GPS tracker under his/her car.

      Which was placed there using completely legitimate "court documents" that just happen to be filed over... ummmm... hmmm... well that isn't important, we'll get back to you on the location later.

      (*subnote offender: see entry for 'anyone who questions government activities or actions' in local references)

      --sarcasm over, returning to your normally scheduled program--

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Mr. Smarta**, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:03pm

    Not happening

    Nope. Not going to happen. Those documents and anything else of the government are related to National Security.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:21pm

      Re: Not happening

      Maybe wikileaks can leak a classified document concerning a governmental evaluation over how many federal agencies it takes to screw in a light bulb?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Smarta**, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

        Re: Re: Not happening

        No need. It takes five government agencies and sixteen defense contractors. First they have to evaluate the national security impact of the bulb, the socket, the wiring, and each and every photon. Then they have to evaluate the amount of electricity, where it's coming from, how the bulb got there, who made the socket, the bulb, the filament, and the wall mount. They need to make sure classified information isn't going to leak through the bulb in the form of infrared heat. They they get the sixteen contractors to do the work, design the system of screwing in the bulb appropriately, and then evaluate it's functioning for the next thirty-six years, thereby costing the taxpayers about $1.2 trillion dollars....

        But it will create a few jobs... so the plan is a success. Hooray!

         

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        •  
          icon
          TypoFlood (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 10:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: Not happening

          Now we just need to figure out how many federal agencies it takes to answer this FOIA request. Maybe another leak is in order to answer that question.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          chuck, May 17th, 2011 @ 6:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Not happening

          Actually it depends on the agency.
          Some of them have been working in the dark for years now.
          No light bulbs necessary.

           

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      •  
        identicon
        revwillie56, May 17th, 2011 @ 3:32am

        Re: Re: Not happening

        Better to ask for government documents concerning federal documents, programs, research into how many Federal Agencies it takes to screw in a light bulb and the taxpayer cost of each report. $1.2 trllion per year as appropriated by Congress for each Federal Department to have their own maintainace department - ignoring each department has their own appropriations department to buy a light bulb which costs anywhere between $80 to $0.39 depending on how, where, and allowed to buy.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    "Techdirt Files..."

    Isn't it more like "Mike Masnick files"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 2:05pm

      Re: "Techdirt Files..."

      For a minute I thought that said "flies" and I was like OH MY GOD FLYING PIRATES. Phew... Anyway what is your point exactly?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      DannyB (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 6:49am

      Re: "Techdirt Files..."

      By that thinking, we should start assigning personal names to actions of the music and movie industries to manipulate the government.

       

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  •  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    I certain

    You'll likely get results in 10 to 36 months.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:11pm

      Re: I certain

      Hope he doesn't have to wait that long. By that point Masnick will likely have had an aneurysm due to increased record sales...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

        Re: Re: I certain

        Still holding your breath in hopes that killing Limewire will save the recording industry? We may have to call Guinness by the time that's done.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: I certain

          "Save" the record industry? LOL

          Hate to break this to ya bud, but your best chance to "kill the recording industry" was about 7-8 years ago.

          And it didn't happen.

          And it quite obviously isn't going to happen now.

          boo-hoo :(

           

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          •  
            icon
            ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

            So, "Piracy" isn't a problem, then?

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:42pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

              only if it being a problem aids him in insulting people

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

              Anytime someone else is making money off my work instead of me, we have a problem.

              But we're getting that problem addressed.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                So piracy's not a problem then? After all if I pirate your stuff, all I'm doing is listening to it, not making any money off it.


                Right?

                 

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              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:59pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                oooohh you are one of those guys that thinks pirates are making money off of pirating

                no wonders everything you say sounds so stupid

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                •  
                  icon
                  Marcus Carab (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                  Didn't you know? Pirates go around stealing hundreds of songs from wayward musicians, then they put them in a chest and bury it on a remote island until the statute of limitations has passed. Then they follow their map, dig it up and live in luxury for the rest of their days.

                   

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                •  
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                  oooohh you are one of those guys that thinks pirates are making money off of pirating

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

                   

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                  •  
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                    ok so you have an example of one guy who tried to make money of off other people infringing....

                    remind me, how did that work out for him?

                     

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              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                So the recording industry is a problem for musicians? Good to know.

                 

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              •  
                icon
                techflaws.org (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 10:19pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                Yeah, right.

                 

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          •  
            icon
            Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

            Honestly, you're right (probably unintentionally). The recording industry is not just the RIAA and their labels, but a larger group of people that will always be needed. If copyright was abolished tomorrow and downloading songs was legalized, the recording industry wouldn't flinch, the music industry wouldn't flinch. The RIAA would die a horrible, flaming death, and reality would just shrug them off like the bad idea they are. The music will still flow and so will the money.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

              The RIAA is a non-profit trade organization.

              Care to try again?

               

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              •  
                icon
                Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 2:52pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                RIAA is a non-profit

                Yeah, and the mob doesn't exist.

                I'll give you that on paper, "legally" they're non-profit. But that's just because the labels needed a non-profit group to funnel all that money to politicians.

                 

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              •  
                icon
                RadialSkid (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 5:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                It's also shorthand for the labels affiliated with them. Try to keep up.

                 

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              •  
                identicon
                abc gum, May 16th, 2011 @ 6:08pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                "The RIAA is a non-profit trade organization."

                and scientology is a religion

                 

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              •  
                icon
                Any Mouse (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 9:31pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                NO WHERE do I find that that RIAA is a non-profit. Trade organizations can be for profit, non-profit, or not for profit. All three have differences. Care to cite where the RIAA is a non-profit?

                 

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              •  
                icon
                TypoFlood (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 10:40pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                "The RIAA is a non-profit trade organization."

                All that means is that they don't pay taxes.

                 

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              •  
                icon
                The eejit (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 2:08am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

                So that union-busting law in Wisconsin would actually break the RIAA? SWEET!

                 

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          •  
            icon
            Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

            Hate to break this to ya bud, but your best chance to "kill the recording industry" was about 7-8 years ago.

            If I wasn't at work, I'd find a Youtube link to the Monty Python "I'm not dead yet" scene.

            ...I feel happy! I feeeeeeeel happy! I feeeeeeel

             

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          •  
            icon
            G Thompson (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 2:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I certain

            Strange then that I have never seen a record sold in the last 7yrs.. all I see are crappy CD's by wannabee marketing hyped artists using computers to mask that they cannot actually sing...

            When we had 'records' at least we could get some good, though expensive, music by the 'recording industry' since they were not wasting all their money on their egos, or legal fishing expeditions and instead spent it on the actual music industry and strategic positioning.. ie: Not going to Youtube/***IDOL to grab the latest wannabee star

            The Music Industry will never die, humanity has too much of a cultural history with music. The Recording Industry on the other hand.. Ever seen what happens when you cut a chickens head off? Just before it falls over stone dead and plucked.. it races around all over the p[lace doing nothing much but spewing out gore and bile onto anything it touches.

             

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      •  
        icon
        techflaws.org (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 10:17pm

        Re: Re: I certain

        By that point Masnick will likely have had an aneurysm due to increased record sales...

        ROTFLMAO! You actually believe that bull your touting? Hilarious.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:23pm

      Re: I certain

      Only because the information would have already leaked by then. No point in not releasing it once its leaked.

       

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  •  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    FOIA Request

    Do you have to be a journalist to file an FOIA request? Why does that have anything to do with anything? Shouldn't I, as a regular citizen, be able to file one just for the hell of it?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:36pm

      Re: FOIA Request

      The answer to your first question is "no".

      To your second "nothing".

      To your third "yes".

      Bear in mind that FOIA is the name associated with the federal government.

      Each state generally has its own nomenclature.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 6:39am

      Re: FOIA Request

      Anyone can file a FOIA but depending on what you ask for you may end up paying for the reproduction cost of what you are looking for unless you can justify a wavier of cost.

       

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  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    Aren't they the ones?

    Isn't it them and their blind followers who are always saying that if you haven't done anything wrong then you have nothing to hide when they are pushing for more transparency in our daily lives?
    Interesting that they wouldn't respond then when we are asking them to be open about operations that are funded with OUR tax dollars.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:44pm

      Re: Aren't they the ones?

      "if you haven't done anything wrong then you have nothing to hide"

      that is why they hide so much

       

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  •  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    *waits for TD homepage to be replaced with ICE anti-piracy PSA*

     

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    •  
      icon
      Almost Anonymous (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:11am

      Re:

      I chuckled too, but seriously, who here with an ounce of sense (sorry Joe) doesn't believe that is exactly what will happen the day after PROTIP or one of its clones is passed? I need to jot down TD's IP address...

       

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  •  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    Response time

    FOIA allows 5 days to not actually provide a response to the questions, just an acknowledgement of receipt of request and an estimated cost to the inquisitor (staff time to recover information, copies, etc., if any) and date when the pertinent information is available to you. Or a rejection. Keep your fingers crossed.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Zangetsu (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    Bravo

    Although you cannot see it, I am standing up and applauding your efforts. I look forward to the results.
    So if this video is hosted on a government site, can it be taken down by ICE, because that would truly be funny.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    So they come back someday and send info, so what?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Prediction:

    1. The government will attempt to block MuckRock.com, presumably by declaring that they arbitrarily don't have to obey FOIA requests associated with them.
    2. A lawsuit (with the support of interested parties like the EFF) will, after a lengthy court battle, declare that the government does, in fact, have to respond to FOIA requests.
    3. The government will try somewhere between 0 and 3 more attempts to get out of responding to the FOIA requests. Each time, it will be decided (at taxpayer's expense) that they do, in fact, have to respond to FOIA requests.
    4. After kicking and screaming for months, the government will finally give in and respond to the FOIA requests, which will reveal nothing particularly controversial.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Spaceboy (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    What happens when they present a bill for $1,000,000?

    So what happens when they say that it will cost an absurd amount of money to hand over the information?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Bob Webster (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 3:27pm

    ICE Technological Prowess

    You have to remember who we're dealing with here. ICE is not even capable of generating a random number!

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9216721/Computer_glitch_forces_U.S._to_cancel_visa _lottery_results

     

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    •  
      icon
      Jay (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 8:05pm

      Re: ICE Technological Prowess

      Wait...

      You mean to tell me, we have a lottery to allow people in the US...

      We don't get them for any skill...
      We don't get them for any number of jobs that they might be good for society...

      We get them because they had the most luck.

      *facepalm*

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Fredrik, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:18am

    Do they have it?

    Does the DHS have a license to show the video? Or should www.dhs.gov be put on notice

     

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  •  
    icon
    LaughingalltheWay (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Gee

    A true journalist, jumping in to defend the rights of pirates everywhere. Awesome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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