US Government Settles Lawsuit Over Seizure Of Laptop Of Bradley Manning's Friend

from the a-bit-late... dept

The US government's intimidation of anyone even remotely connected to Wikileaks is somewhat insane. The difficulty that former Wikileaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum has every time he crosses the border is well documented. Two years ago, we noted that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had seized David House's laptop as he re-entered the country from a vacation. House has been a friend and supporter of Bradley Manning, and the feds kept his laptop for 49 days, and only returned it after the ACLU sent a sternly worded letter. House then sued the government. The government's defense was basically "we're the US fucking government and we can do what we want with your laptops at the border" (slight paraphrase). The court, however, didn't quite see it that way, and noted that politically motivated searches and seizures may be unconstitutional, under the First Amendment. This is important, because courts have let DHS/ICE ignore the 4th Amendment at the border, but here the court said that intimidating House and others could violate their 1st Amendment rights to freedom of association.

It's taken some time since then, but the feds have now agreed to settle the case, and more or less given in to all of the demands from House and the ACLU:
In a settlement reached with human rights activist David House, the government has agreed to destroy all data it obtained from his laptop and other electronics when he entered the U.S. after a vacation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Massachusetts announced today. House, who was then working with the Bradley Manning Support Network, an organization created to raise funds for the legal defense of the soldier who has admitted to leaking material to WikiLeaks, charged in a lawsuit that the seizure violated his Fourth Amendment rights by subjecting him to unreasonable search and seizure, and violated his First Amendment right to freedom of association.
More specifically:
Under the terms of the settlement, the government agreed to destroy all remaining data copied from House’s devices. The government will also hand over numerous documents, including reports describing Army CID’s inspection of House’s data as well as the DHS “Lookout” telling agents to stop House as he entered the country. The government further agreed to release reports on DHS agents’ questioning of House, which included inquiries about whether he knew anything about Manning giving classified information to WikiLeaks.
Some will argue that this is all way too late -- after all, the feds had that data for years, and the basic intimidation impact is still in place. However, hopefully this stops Homeland Security and ICE from continuing these kinds of politically motivated attacks.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    out_of_the_blue, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:26pm

    I'm NOT arguing "this is all way too late" as that's fact.

    And too little. When gov't agents step outside the law, they cease to represent the people and have only the same status as any private person. Should be at least million cash here too (low for the crimes committed, because I bet Appelbaum wouldn't want to look motivated by money).

     

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    Jesse (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    "However, hopefully this stops Homeland Security and ICE from continuing these kinds of politically motivated attacks."

    But don't hold your breath.

     

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    Rekrul, May 30th, 2013 @ 3:19pm

    However, hopefully this stops Homeland Security and ICE from continuing these kinds of politically motivated attacks.

    I'm sure it will. Just like my yelling this morning will surely keep the squirrels away from the bird feeder...

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 3:21pm

    Right! That and $5...

    "However, hopefully this stops Homeland Security and ICE from continuing these kinds of politically motivated attacks."

    Right! That an $5 will get you a nice latte at Starbucks! :rolleyes:

     

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    BreadGod (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 4:32pm

    "However, hopefully this stops Homeland Security and ICE from continuing these kinds of politically motivated attacks."

    That's about as likely as EA showing respect towards their customers.

     

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    Haywood (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 4:56pm

    Wink wink, nod nod

    the government has agreed to destroy all data it obtained from his laptop and other electronics

    Yeah right, and I've got used MP3s on sale this week; 3 for a dollar.

     

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    Mr. Applegate, May 30th, 2013 @ 7:37pm

    And why would they care if they can't confiscate your laptop at the border when they can spy on your here (in the states) with zero oversight?

    Sorry, this does very little to keep the government from spying on its citizens.

     

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    Wolfy, May 31st, 2013 @ 4:18am

    Until there are criminal penalties for agents of the gov't. that violate citizens' rights, this crap will continue to happen.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 4:32am

    and the compensation that is going to be/has been paid amounts to what, exactly? everyone thinks this wont happen again? dont be ridiculous! since when have any law enforcement agencies or representatives actually taken any notice of, you know, the law?

     

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    Aussie Geoff (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 4:45am

    And Just How ...

    is anyone going to be able to check that the US government actually does/did destroy all of the data they got their sticky claws on?

    Or are US citizens supposed to take the word of some government lackey?

     

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