DHS/ICE Knew Its World Series 'Panty Raid' Was A Bad Idea; Pressured To Do So Anyway

from the to-secure-the-nation,-starting-with-the-trademarks dept

The Kansas City Royals' long-delayed return to competitive baseballing coincided with one of the most ridiculous raids ever conducted by the Department of Homeland Security. Birdies, a Kansas City lingerie shop, was "visited" by DHS agents -- working in conjunction with ICE -- who seized a number of panties emblazoned with a handcrafted take on the Royals' logo, along with the phrase "Take the Crown."

The agents performing the raid didn't seem all too enthused about their participation in this panty raid, according to the shop's owner, Peregrine Honig.

She says you could tell “they [DHS agents] felt like they were kicking a puppy.”

Honig also pointed out that many local law enforcement officers had purchased lingerie, including the supposedly-trademark infringing panties, without expressing concerns about IP violations or counterfeited goods.

The printing shop that made the panties for Birdies was also visited by DHS agents, who threatened the owner with six years in prison for "breaking copyright law" unless he consented to a warrantless search.

All of this culminated in plenty of unfavorable press coverage highlighting Homeland Security's panty raid and how much "safer" we all were thanks to its intercession on behalf of the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball.

Aaron Gordon of Vice Sports has acquired DHS communications related to the infamous panty raid via a FOIA request. The internal emails contain an awesome mixture of self-congratulation, defensiveness, and the agency's willingness to go above and beyond to please its "eager" partner in IP enforcement.

On October 16, five days before the raid, an anonymous ICE officer from the Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPRC)—in the documents released, names of officers were redacted; an appeal has been filed to release the names of the officers involved—wrote an email with the subject "Op Team Player - world series update," referring to Operation Team Player, ICE's partnership with U.S. professional sports leagues to intercept counterfeit goods, including tickets and merchandise.

The unnamed officer wrote, "They [the Kansas City office] are trying to get their numbers up and will accept any leads for controlled delivery in Kansas or Missouri, even if they do not meet the criteria because the AUSA Prosecutor is eager."

For the want of increased "numbers," the DHS lowered its standards to raid a lingerie shop. That's basically all there is to it. Without the prompting of an "eager" AUSA, this may never have happened.

Within hours of the raid, the story was already spreading across the internet. A blanket statement was composed for handling inquiries from the press: the usual "Go Team IP Enforcement" jingoism that accompanies ICE's sporting event-related raids performed in close partnership with the MLB, NBA, NFL etc. But someone in the email chain knew the usual stuff wasn't going to be nearly as effective in this case.

The headlines at the bottom of the email pretty much say it all. We're going to be all over the news tomorrow for the wrong reasons. We'll obviously try to spin this as an opportunity to discuss IPR, but the panty raid jokes will make it hard.

Apparently, ICE/DHS felt this particular narrative might be beyond its control. So it tried to drag Major League Baseball down with it.

On the same thread, at 9:57 PM, someone wrote, "We need MLB to step forward and throw some support for what we do. Let us get with our MLB contact and we'll be proactive as we can re: media." Someone with the title "Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations-ICE" replied, "Great idea. Let's move on it."

As Gordon notes, perhaps the hilarious part of the email chain is the agency's severe underestimation of the internet's thirst for stories containing (a) abuse of government power, or (b) women's intimate garments -- especially any combination of (a) and (b) that's capable of composing its own headlines.

[S]omeone else on the same thread exhibited a fundamental misunderstanding of the internet's interest in panty raids by writing, "So far it appears to have just localized press. Hopefully, it won't make it out of the local news bubble."

Well, hope in one hand and hold seized panties in the other, as they say. Still, one agent appeared to believe that the government's panty raid was nothing more than a judicious use of Homeland Security assets and taxpayer dollars.

Excellent work, which speaks for itself!

Sure does. That's why press coverage was unanimously negative. ICE, DHS and an "eager" AUSA joined forces with MLB to generate additional acronyms like "WTF" and "BS." Americans were protected from unauthorized sportsball underwear -- something than can only serve to increase their respect for intellectual property rights... and the sprawling, often-thuggish bureaucracies that enforce them.


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  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 25 May 2016 @ 12:43pm

    "The printing shop that made the panties for Birdies was also visited by DHS agents, who threatened the owner with six years in prison for "breaking copyright law" unless he consented to a warrantless search."

    "Panties for Birdies" LOL. Sure glad DHS is keeping us safe from all those unauthorized panties.

    What a complete joke.

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

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 25 May 2016 @ 1:02pm

    At what cost?

    Seriously - what did this raid cost us taxpayers? How many agents, how many man-hours?

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

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 25 May 2016 @ 2:29pm

      Re: At what cost?

      Any cost is worth it to keep our sports teams' unlicensed (and hand drawn) logos off our underwear.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2016 @ 5:12pm

        Re: Re: At what cost?

        We need the underwear police to remain vigilant in these uncertain times, without such scrutiny - who knows the possible carnage that would most certainly ensue from the disgustingly hidden display of unlicensed underwear!!!1111111

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

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 25 May 2016 @ 1:06pm

    DHS & ICE need a budget cut to the short hairs.

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

  • icon
    Agonistes (profile), 25 May 2016 @ 1:15pm

    The clueless arrogance radiating from this story is lethal.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2016 @ 1:15pm

    No pantsu for us.

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

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 25 May 2016 @ 1:15pm

    Call out the intentional misuse of terminology

    And once again, we see the misuse of the word "counterfeit". A counterfeit is copy of another product. Those panties were not counterfeits -- they were original articles that infringed on copyright.

    Those are two entirely different things and shouldn't be confused, but the cops and IP radicals intentionally muddy that distinction, because "counterfeit" sounds scary and dangerous.

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

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 25 May 2016 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Call out the intentional misuse of terminology

      they were original articles that infringed on copyright.
      Is it copyright here - or trademark. I wouldn't have thought that there could be copyright in a logo and a simple phrase. There could however be trademark.

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

  • icon
    dpaus (profile), 25 May 2016 @ 1:19pm

    "...panty raid jokes will make it hard."

    I see what you did there..

    Hey, that ^ is at least as mature as these agents were!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2016 @ 1:44pm

    No doubt about it - perves....

    "but the panty raid jokes will make it hard"

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 25 May 2016 @ 2:27pm

    "Unauthorized sportsball underwear." Because it demands repeating.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2016 @ 2:47pm

    MLB scammed the FBI and the DOJ into performing a "Panty Raid". Just the kind of incentive our government needs to waste our tax-dollars.

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

  • identicon
    Skeeter, 25 May 2016 @ 4:23pm

    Protecting us from What, exactly?

    Once again, another action by Ze Department of Ze Hitleresque Homeland Zecurity Services which begs the question, exactly what are they 'protecting Ze Homeland' from, anyway?

    {HINT: Terrorist Panties is NOT on the available answer-list}

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 3:36am

    so exhtortion, threat of violence and theft. Let me guess the charges against those agents that just "followed orders" will be nill. where if anyone else had robbed a store after threatening the owner if they stood up to them would have the book thrown at them.

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

  • identicon
    me@me.net, 26 May 2016 @ 4:33am

    one more reason why the DHS is a joke

    Undies with a Baseball Logo are a matter of National Security how you useless Gism receptacles?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 8:48am

    Still figuring out what to do with their absolute power.........anything and everything must be so damn bewildering.......poor assholes

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

  • icon
    sariel1995 (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 7:50pm

    You had me at "Seize the Panties"

    Thanks for the laugh :) http://www.americanfoxies.com

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


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