Friend Of Bradley Manning Sues Homeland Security For Seizing His Laptop

from the land-of-the-free dept

Connecting two separate stories we’ve been covering here, it appears that the ICE group of Homeland Security seized the computer equipment of David House — a friend and supporter of Bradley Manning — as he flew back into the country last fall. As you may recall, DHS/ICE have been pushing hard for the right to seize and search laptops at the border for any reason (or no reason at all). Courts have mostly said this is okay, with a few exceptions. In this case, DHS didn’t return the equipment for 49 days, and that was only after House had the ACLU send a “strongly-worded letter” demanding the return of the equipment. Again, while the courts have generally deemed such searches to be okay, the ACLU appears to think that this particular search is a perfect example of why these searches are massively overreaching — so it has teamed up with House to sue DHS and the US government.

It certainly could make for an interesting case and an interesting challenge to DHS’s claims that it can ignore the 4th Amendment at the border. The ACLU seems to be suggesting that since the seizures of his devices had nothing to do with customs, immigration or terrorism, but were politically motivated, then they violate both the 1st Amendment and the 4th Amendment. It definitely makes for an compelling argument, but I’d guess the courts will (yet again) defer to the US government on this one and say it was okay.

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Comments on “Friend Of Bradley Manning Sues Homeland Security For Seizing His Laptop”

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29 Comments
skrea says:

Re: That's almost seems like suing someone...

Huh?? I’ve re-read this several times, and even ignoring the grammatical error (I think the ‘seems’ was an oops) I don’t get it… maybe it’s just me…

It’s a real shame that our own government has done much more to curtail our freedom and liberties than any terrorist(s) or terrorist action(s). The “Patriot” Act has got to be the most un-patriotic pieces of legislation ever enacted, and the sad thing is that if you dare state that opinion in public you’re immediately deemed un-American. How can quashing citizen’s rights and authorizing militant ‘internal security’ forces on our own population be considered patriotic? Can anyone show where DHS or ICE have accomplished anything that makes us more secure?

The only actions needed after 911 were:

1) Kill the creep that claimed responsibility (took 10 years, but we finally did that) to stop further plans coming out of him and send a message that we will actually seek retribution; and

2) Lock the damn cockpit doors (we took care of that one pretty quickly)

Everything else was driven by profits (for those making the rules and their friends & families) and mindless emotion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: That's almost seems like suing someone...

Sorry, it should have read

“That almost seems like suing someone who burned down your house for trespassing.”

Basically, it’s not enough. The government has put Manning in solitary confinement for way too long without a trail whatsoever and mistreated him and they’re being sued for …. seizing a laptop. It misses the point entirely. It’s an insignificant thing to get them on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 That's almost seems like suing someone...

My faulty wording is (at least partly) responsible.

and what’s even worse is that the govt isn’t being sued for all its faulty behavior that was leaked. Again, suing them for confiscating a laptop misses the point, that laptop shouldn’t be confiscated because the government shouldn’t be allowed to protect itself from the embarrassment and the potential liability of its own wrongdoings, not (just) because it violates the fourth amendment. The govt needs to get a warrant to seize things that ought to be seized but that laptop isn’t something that should have been seized so there is no grounds to get a warrant, yet alone to seize it (and this is sorta what the ACLU is arguing).

Steven (profile) says:

I’m getting really tired of this BS that we give up our constitutional rights whenever we cross the border/buy a plane ticket/fricken’ breath.

The entire point of the constitution is that the limits on the government (and therefore the rights of the people) cannot be altered by the government period!

cue idiots spouting off about jail and criminals blah blah blah, but actual thinking people understand what I mean.

A citizen cannot give up their rights through any legal action, ever. They can choose to forgo those right if they want, but that’s not what this is, this is clear unquestionable oppression.

skrea says:

Re: Re: This is exactly the type of behavior...

I’m a Ron Paul supporter too; but let’s not kid ourselves. The president cannot accomplish much by himself; we need a LOT of legislators with the same thinking. I hope Ron does win (first time in my life I’ve expended money and/or energy on anything political); but I’m realistic and think the media will portray him as a nutcase. Unfortunately, a large portion of the voting population accept media propaganda without question.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: This is exactly the type of behavior...

Actually I’ve been watching the media a bit and Ron Paul has been on the media answering questions quite a bit and he has been doing a pretty good job of portraying his position.

The one thing I think the media got him on, and the one thing I disagree with Ron Paul on, is the environment.

Ron Paul says that the constitution doesn’t give the federal government the authority to regulate the environment, that the combination of state/local law and tort law (ie: people suing entities for environmental damages by suing them for the harm that such environmental damages cause people and the liability that such lawsuits impose. An example would be BP being sued by fishers for the oil spill or someone suing a coal refinery for their respiratory problems) is sufficient.

I agree that the constitution doesn’t give the federal government the authority to regulate the environment and thus it is unconstitutional for the federal government to do so. However, the founding fathers were around before our current pollution emitting technology was as widely used as it is now (or even existed). States that pollute more can benefit from cheaper production than those who don’t and so they have an incentive not to pass strict pollution laws, yet their pollution harms states that don’t pollute as much. It would be difficult for those who live in states that pollute less to successfully sue those who live in states that pollute more without some sort of federal oversight (ie: in the form of laws that can impose some interstate liability) facilitating the process. Pollution is an interstate problem and so it doesn’t make sense to treat it as an intrastate problem like as Ron Paul suggests. and so I think the constitution needs to be amended to give the federal government limited power to regulate the environment.

Free markets assume that people are self interested and self interested people don’t care much about the environment (and even if most people do care enough about the environment to minimize how much pollution they cause, all it takes is a few selfish people to ruin the environment for everyone else).

Another problem is that states (and businesses) could have incentive to hide their pollution from other states (and the public). It’s difficult to detect who’s polluting and how much of each type of pollutant each entity is emitting unless someone has the authority to conduct the necessary inspections (ie: on private property). IMO, that should be the governments job (and that includes the federal government as well).

Thirdly, animals and trees can’t sue for the environmental damages caused to them (and it’s difficult to detect the impact that businesses are having on these things, and ultimately on us in the long term, unless someone has the authority to conduct the necessary inspections). Again, the constitution that the founding fathers set up made sense back when the founding fathers wrote it, but, when it comes to pollution and technology, we live in a completely different world today than we did back then.

btr1701 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 This is exactly the type of behavior...

> I think the constitution needs to be amended to
> give the federal government limited power to regulate
> the environment.

I don’t think Paul would disagree with you. At a minimum, he would acknowledge that even if he didn’t personally agree with the idea, if the Constitution was amended according to the prescribed procedure, then it would then become both legal and proper for the federal government to act under that amendment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 This is exactly the type of behavior...

In fact, after doing a Google search I found this.

“During the CD1 campaign, I droned on a thousand times about the ability to build left-right coalitions around issues that relate to war, banking, and civil liberties. We’re seeing such a coalition emerge in the fight against COICA: I’ve spent much of today emailing with right-wingers, including Ron Paul’s office, who are upset about this bill. “

http://rifuture.org/coica-breezes-through-committee-but-thats-as-far-as-its-going-to-go.html

Also see

“On September 26, 2008, S.3325 passed in the Senate with unanimous consent. Two days later, S.3325 passed in the House 381 to 41. In this final House vote, 2008 Presidential candidates, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, voted against the bill”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRO-IP_Act

So, at least from what I gather, Ron Paul is not all that happy about these sorts of bills.

Though I do agree that Ron Paul does seem to give mixed messages when it comes to IP and that his position is not always clear and I’m not too happy about that.

Trilox says:

You will love this.

I was over in the UK visiting friends earlier this year. I took my laptop in case I needed to remote into a system or two back at work. Of course I have a tons of files I need to have with me at work and don’t want some ridiculous agency taking my stuff.

A couple days before I left the UK to come home I pulled the hard drive out of the laptop and FedEx it home. The laptop has a built in media player so I was able to still watch movies on the way home.

I got back to the US and they wanted to check the laptop. They took me to a room where they were going to do the search. They turned on the laptop and found that it would not boot. I told them I took the drive out before I left for my trip and that I only wanted it along for the built in media player. The took off the hard drive cover and found I was telling the truth that there was no hard drive. They closed it up and I went on my way.

The day after I got home my drive showed up. LOL

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