The ACLU reported yesterday it is suing the Federal government on behalf of a young man who was stopped at the U.S. border and — with no grounds for suspicion of illegal activities — his laptop and camera were seized. The government certainly had reason to dislike the man targeted — he is David House, who helped create the “Bradley Manning Support Network” (Manning, of course, is the alleged source of the mountain of U.S. Government materials we’ve come to know via Wikileaks).
Although the Support Network engages solely in lawful and constitutionally protected advocacy, members of the group have apparently been targeted by the Feds for exercising the right to free association. David has been visited by agents from the FBI, Department of State, and the military — who repeatedly question him about his political beliefs and associations. Then, last November, when David arrived at the Chicago airport from a vacation in Mexico en route to Boston, he was again stopped — this time by two Homeland Security agents — who not only questioned him again about his political beliefs, but seized his laptop, flash drive, and video camera — all without David’s consent and without any reason to believe a search would turn up evidence of wrongdoing.
Simply put: the government seized information about David’s lawful associations without reasonable suspicion. That’s when the ACLU stepped up in defense of both David and the Constitution.
Today, David and the ACLU are filing a lawsuit in Federal Court challenging the government’s assertion that it can seize, search, copy and disseminate information seized from a personal computer or other electronic devices without a reasonable basis for suspicion. The lawsuit asks that the court “Declare that the prolonged seizure of [David’s] laptop computer and other electronic devices and the review, copying, retention and dissemination of their contents without reasonable suspicion violates the Fourth and First Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
The case is important not only for David and others in the Support Network, but for all Americans who care about democracy. After all, the Support Network is just the latest in a long and noble American tradition of creating lawful “legal defense committees” to ensure the due process rights of all Americans — check out the Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society if you don’t believe me.
Somewhere, Way Down Deep, This Really, Really Bothers Me Department
The news was all over the blogosphere yesterday: The Indiana Supreme Court decided that a citizen has no right to forcibly oppose police who wrongfully enter his residence. Story here; court decision here. As nwi.com reported, the court “said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry.”
This so goes against my sense of what is right under our Constitution, I don’t know where to begin. Examples:
- Police come to my door, and after exchanging niceties ask if they can come in. I say, “No.” They can ignore what I said and barge right in.
- A religiously conservative policeman sees me doing something inside my house that offends him. He breaks my door down to tell me to stop it.
- Or, as in the case that was decided. I am arguing strongly with someone on the sidewalk. A police car arrives. We go inside my house and continue the argument. The police come into the house to intercede in the argument.
And if any of those were to happen, under this decision, I must stand aside and do nothing.
From the article:
Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the ruling, saying the court’s decision runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally – that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances,” Rucker said. “I disagree.” [Emphasis added.]
[Dickson:] “The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad.”
All this to avoid violence against the police. The court wants us to passively let them in and seek remedies in court afterward. Needless to say, the militiamen are going ape!
Random Ways to Deal With The Rapture Department
A blogger came up with a neat idea. Starting on May 21, start sending tweets like this:
- My wife says she hears someone playing trumpets, but I can’t hear a thing. All that exercise is rotting her brain.
- HOLY SHIT, SHE JUST VANISHED IN FRONT OF ME!
- WHAT’S GOING ON??? MY WIFE JUST DISAPPEARED LIKE OBI WAN KENOBI! HER EMPTY CLOTHES COLLAPSED ON THE FLOOR!
- WHERE’S MY SON!
- My son has vanished, too! WHERE’S MY SON! WHAT’S GOING ON!! I gotta figure this out!
If enough people were to do this, can you imagine how distressed the evangelicals would be when they realize they’re still here? Other people are going but they aren’t? “But we are the Elect! We should have disappeared by now!”
Good Photography Department
Article in The NY Times about a NYC photo exhibit entitled “Photography Now: engaged, personal, and vital.” Introduced me to some striking photography by Martine Fougeron, and a series called “Pornoland,” by Stefano De Luigi of Italy, “offering often indirect glimpses of people performing in pornographic films or relaxing between takes.” If that doesn’t get you clicking through, here’s De Luigi’s description from his website:
A land where sex is simulated, evoked, glorified, supercharged in the extreme, a land where everything is about the body, in its possible and perverse combinations…
This is Pornoland, a strange, parallel world where pornographic films are churned out on a daily basis. It includes no moralizing, nasty judgements or yearnings for redemption.
From our yet-to-be-released session.