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Caught Spying on Student, FBI Demands GPS Tracker Back (wired.com)
184 points by lotusleaf1987 1757 days ago | 158 comments



The nerve of these people amazes me. They're caught red handed, probably never had a warrant (with the law shaky on if they need one), and they probably didn't have a very solid lead to start with (how convenient that he was reported by an "anonymous" tip).

In the middle of all this, they still had time to try to bully him into getting back the surveillance equipment from their botched attempt, with lines like "We’re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don’t cooperate."

Just reading the story sickens me.

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In Germany they first lie about it ("No, we have no idea whose unit it is") and one year later demand you give it to them.

German source: http://www.taz.de/1/nord/artikel/?dig=2008%2F04%2F22%2Fa0009...

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However, in that case there was a warrant by the Federal Court of Justice authorizing the tracking.

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You're right. When it comes down to it, it really is the lack of a warrant that's the issue. There is still enough trust in the judicial system to screen out federal abuses of power.

It seems to me that anger is based on the circumvention of the courts and not that the boy was targeted because he was Arab American. Both reasons just don't seem morally right.

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Does that forgive the moral questionability of lying?

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with lines like "We’re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don’t cooperate."

That sounds to me like a pretty explicit threat that they'll be violating the 14th Amendment's "equal protection" provisions. IANAL, but I wonder if that can amount to anything.

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I believe law enforcement is allowed to say anything they want to. As a civilian, you're not allowed to lie to most LEOs; but they're allowed to lie to you.

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There's a few things they can't lie about. They can't lie/make up any deals for lighter sentences or whatever. Note, that doesn't mean if they say 'we'll try to get them to easier on you' means that will happen, but if you (and your lawyer) actually strike a real deal (say to provide enough evidence to convict others), the police can't screw with that.

They also can't lie about the legality of actions while in the visible position of being the police. That means they CAN lie about it when undercover.

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When they move their lips, they ARE lying to you.

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Can we get some supporting evidence, please? This strikes me as a little unreasonable.

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Of course that is unreasonable. I don't think it was meant to be taken literally, but as advice recommending that as a suspect or person of interest one generally shouldn't assume that law enforcement folks are on your side.

(I have a lot of respect for the police: they accept a lot of risk to try to ensure a civil society in exchange for not a lot of reward, but there's little doubt that if they see themselves in an adversarial relationship with someone they are willing and able to mislead or misdirect that person in order to accomplish their aims. There is a reason that the Miranda Warning became a legal requirement.)

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The 'warrant' part is unrelated to the ownership issue of the tracking device. Even if it was used under unlawful circumstances, the FBI remains owner of the device. To take an extreme example, if I throw a brick through your window with a note attached to it 'this brick is owned by jimmy jones and I have no intention of relinquishing ownership', I remain owner of the brick. That I'm liable for the damage caused by it is self-evident. (the note is to preempt a digression into 'apparent abandonment of property' or whatever the exact wording it is in the appropriate jurisdiction)

'Ownership' of something, and 'committing a crime' with that something are orthogonal. Apart from some specifically designated by law items (drugs, weapons), committing a crime with something does not change its ownership status. I don't quite see the controversy here (that is, after one steps back and looks over the 'oh my god! big gubmint is spying on us!' knee-jerk reaction. Let's not forget the kid (from what I gathered...) was apparently connected to organized crime, even if only through blood).

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"was apparently connected to organized crime, even if only through blood"

So if you're the son of the local mafia don, from what age should you followed around by the FBI? 18? seems old - there are plenty of child offenders. maybe 10 or so. At what age, having lived a life free from crime, should the FBI stop following you? 25? 30? 40?

Perhaps we could assume people are innocent until we can prove them guilty.

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I'm not saying anything about the kid actually being a mobster. I don't think it's unreasonable to say that there may well be reasonable grounds for the feds to track the whereabouts of a child of a mob boss. There is no evidence or even suggestion of all children of all mafia dons being tracked.

As a side note, I quite resent your populist straw man argument.

"Perhaps we could assume people are innocent until we can prove them guilty."

Of course, and how do you do that? Sometimes, by tracking people you have a reasonable suspicion of guilt of, as long as its done through legal means. Let me also point out that the Ninth Circuit ruled last month that warrantless gps tracking is legal. You may oppose this, it's still the (current) law (yes I'm aware that it's a contested issue, and I also don't know what jurisdiction this was in).

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The 9th court can repeal gravity, but it doesn't make it law. It merely makes it the opinion of the court.

The law has not changed, and the law is quite clear in requiring a warrant.

The law will not change until the constitution is ammended.

It is very important to recognize that the courts do not create law, and they cannot change the meaning of the law with rulings (otherwise there would be no purpose in having separation of powers.)

That, in effect, they are able to do so, is merely a measure of how lawless the government in this country has become.

But that should be obvious. For instance, the existence of the FBI is unconstitutional, since it is not mentioned as an agency of the federal government in the enumerated powers clause.

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It merely makes it the opinion of the court.

Not so. When a court holds something, it is exercising its lawgiving function. The opinion (sometimes referred to as 'dicta') is an explanation for the holding. The latter is basically a statement of views, but the holding itself has legal force. It's true that they are often mixed up, by the public, press, lawyers or even other courts in descending order of frequency; that's why there are higher courts, and even the Supreme Court sometimes reverses a previously held judgment.

The law has not changed, and the law is quite clear in requiring a warrant.

No, it has not changed, but nor is it as clear as you think. We do not know whether or not a warrant was obtained in this case, but current law (as held recently) is that if the car is accessible to the general public, then sticking a tracking device to it does not require a warrant, any more than a stakeout does.

It is very important to recognize that the courts do not create law, and they cannot change the meaning of the law with rulings (otherwise there would be no purpose in having separation of powers.)

This is so, but the courts do have the sole power to decide how the law should be interpreted, should the meaning of the law be unclear. The Constitution (III.2) says that '[t]he judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity [..and..] the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact...'

Jurisdiction means, literally, stating the law. The separation of powers is embodied in this decision-making power of the judicial branch - Congress makes laws, the Executive makes decrees, the Courts make judgments. And that includes judgments about the meaning of the law, which is why the Constitution draws a distinction between 'Law and Fact.' If the courts were only able to evaluate matters of fact, then every dispute over the meaning of law would have to be resolved in Congress, a task which would be hopelessly burdensome.

This is sort of how it works in countries with a civil law system; courts are mainly triers of fact and apply the law without analyzing it in any great detail. But even here they sometimes make adjustments, if errors or contradictions exist which would lead to an absurd result. The United States has a common law framework, which is partly why we still have the notion of judicial 'circuits' (which in the distant past involved judges traveling around and setting up temporary courts called Assizes to judge cases wherever they stopped). Common law is where we get our notions of precedent and the reason we look back to earlier decisions (and the lengthy explanations given for them).

Why can't you find anything about the common law in the constitution? Because it was left to Congress to specify regulations for the Courts. Which they did in the Judiciary Act of 1789, during the first Congress, under President George Washington.

http://www.constitution.org/uslaw/judiciary_1789.htm

Legislation is always incomplete because it is impossible to anticipate all future situations. By resolving ambiguities and contradiction via an orderly process, Courts can fill in the gap where the legislation does not provide a clear answer. If Congress disapproves of a court's interpretation, then it can and does issue new laws to update or clarify its intent. If it chooses not to, then the Court's holding remains in force; if the public is unhappy with the result, it must elect a Congress which more closely aligns with its opinion.

For instance, the existence of the FBI is unconstitutional

Rubbish! Who told you that? By that logic the Air Force would need to be disbanded immediately, since the Constitution has nothing to say about flying machines or new branches of the military.

Go read Article II, which mentions 'executive Departments' without spelling out what they should be, and 'Officers...whose Appointment is not herein provided for, and which may be established by Law...' - are the departments or offices in question enumerated? No, it's assumed that Congress will create them as it sees fit. And if you think something they do or create is unconstitutional, then you seek the decision of a court, because only courts have the authority to make such determinations. Congress can't certify its own output as constitutional, nor can the executive state its decrees or decisions to be so.

Seriously, if this is your own interpretation then you need to do some more study, or if you got the idea from someone else then you were badly misinformed. the US constitution is the first word of American law, not the last. The idea that if you can't find something in there then it doesn't exist is terribly misguided.

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You're a fucking idiot, and a liar. If you had responded to what I actually said, I might have given your arguments consideration.

FWIW, the socialist system you advocate is circling the drain. IT is a race between Europe and the States to see which collapses first, but it is, yet again, proof of the consequences of your immoral ideology.

You've obviously never read the US constitution. So, go fuck yourself.

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Sure, and if you're sued and the courts spell your name in all capitals you're not bound by the judgment, either rolls eyes.

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It is astounding that those so ignorant of the law are so smug about their ignorance. I am not putting forth some random theory, I am pointing out what the law says. It is black letter law.

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If you attach it to my property, I just might feel the need to discard it. Good luck suing me for losing your shit. And in the case of a GPS unit I'd be making very sure I discarded it far away from the place where it was last functional.

You (as in you the law enforcement agency) might be in the right to attach stuff to my car, but I as the owner of the vehicle am not responsible if your stuff goes missing in action.

And if you do it without a warrant I'll make sure you have bigger problems.

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You (as in you the law enforcement agency) might be in the right to attach stuff to my car, but I as the owner of the vehicle am not responsible if your stuff goes missing in action.

[you are both right, if only you listened to each other]

Version 1 (Jacques): if the GPS tracker disappears and no one can prove that I had anything to do with it, then I'm not liable. True.

Version 2 (Roel): if I destroy the GPS tracker and tell the court that yes, I found it, I knew it wasn't mine, and I destroyed it, then I am liable. True.

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Yeah that about sums it up I think.

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You don't seem to understand.

"You (as in you the law enforcement agency) might be in the right to attach stuff to my car, but I as the owner of the vehicle am not responsible if your stuff goes missing in action."

Wrong, If the owner of the car on purpose destroys the agencies property, he is legally liable for those damages. How could it not be so? How could the fact that a tool is used unlawfully detract from the ownership? When the agency attaches the tool to the car, there is no transfer of ownership.

Secondly, I'm not sure what you are imagining that the absence of a warrant means, in theoretical and practical terms. In our country, illegally obtained evidence will usually cause at most a small reduction of the sentence. A complete dismissal is quite rare.

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> If the owner of the car on purpose destroys the agencies property, he is legally liable for those damages.

Prove it.

> Secondly, I'm not sure what you are imagining that the absence of a warrant means, in theoretical and practical terms. In our country, illegally obtained evidence will usually cause at most a small reduction of the sentence. A complete dismissal is quite rare.

That is a structural problem with your legal system. Besides that, I've done nothing wrong as far as I know (other than maybe dropping your GPS unit on the back of a truck bound for Afghanistan) so much good luck in prosecuting me.

Here (.nl) cases that rely on evidence gathered in illegal means get thrown out with some regularity, even if the rest of it is ironclad.

Not that long ago a bunch of car thieves was apprehended and in a first sitting convicted based on information taken from a license plate scanning experiment. The case was rock solid, except for one little detail, that data should not have been in the hands of the police, so the whole thing was thrown out without a chance for a 'do-over'.

Tainted evidence is the last thing the police here wants in their cases, and throwing out the whole case keeps them sharp.

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"Prove it."

What? You're the one with the extraordinary claim. I've already repeated several times in this thread that unlawful use of something doesn't change the ownership of that something. Someone who, on purpose, destroys or damages other people's property is held to compensate for it. What's the incredulous part in that?

"That is a structural problem with your legal system."

Well I on purpose used "our", since "my" legal system is also the Dutch one. Also, I'm one paper away from finishing my degree in Dutch law - not to argue by authority, and I'm certainly no expert on criminal procedure, just pointing out that I do have some basic knowledge of Dutch criminal and property law.

Anyway, "Here (.nl) cases that rely on evidence gathered in illegal means get thrown out with some regularity, even if the rest of it is ironclad." is, to put it mildly, open for debate. Sure, blatant violations like fishing expeditions (which was the case in the license plate scanning) will be dismissed. Smaller infractions (like retroactively applying for a warrant) much less. And don't forget that the Dutch 'reasonable suspicion' threshold is quite low. An anonymous phone tip will do. And hey, if that phone call happens to come from a phone booth across the street from the police station, who cares.

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> What? You're the one with the extraordinary claim. I've already repeated several times in this thread that unlawful use of something doesn't change the ownership of that something.

No extraordinary claim involved, prove that I'm the one that 'illegally disposed' of your or someone else's property that you attached surreptitiously to my car.

I'm not claiming I own it, I'm just making the point that if I destroy something that I'm not supposed to even know I've got then I don't need to prove that I own it, I can just conveniently lose it or destroy it in a way that would make it very difficult for you to prove that I did so. If only because you'd have to prove my possessing it in the first place, which does not mesh well with a device attached to follow my whereabouts in an unobtrusive way. Unless you plan on sticking a watch team with cameras on me as well, but in that case you wouldn't need a GPS unit.

A GPS unit is basically a way to track someone without further surveillance.

> "That is a structural problem with your legal system." > Well I on purpose used "our", since "my" legal system is also the Dutch one.

Ok, so that makes it a funny situation then, two Dutch people arguing US law, personally I wouldn't have any compunction dealing with such a device in a very destructive manner on the premise that I don't know who does own it and if someone 'loses' their stuff under my car they only have themselves to blame if it gets lost or damaged.

> Also, I'm one paper away from finishing my degree in Dutch law - not to argue by authority

No, but you do mention that to bolster your argument.

> and I'm certainly no expert on criminal procedure, just pointing out that I do have some basic knowledge of Dutch criminal and property law.

So do I. So what. Transfer of property requires in most cases a consent on behalf of both parties and preferably a bill of sale or a deed of gifting. Other than that ownership is a pretty murky business from a legal point of view, I could make the case that if you attach something to my car that I assume possession of it, and if you don't agree with that you'd have to sue me. But first you'd have to get me to agree that I acknowledge that the device was there in the first place, but my whole argument rests on the fact that I have absolutely no intention to do so.

So the proof that I had your goods in my possession would have to come from you, and that might be a very difficult thing to do. After all, if I didn't know about it but you and your buddies did then why should I be the one to be held responsible for loss, damage or theft by some unknown third party.

> Smaller infractions (like retroactively applying for a warrant) much less.

Cite a case please, and name the defendants lawyer, that way I can be sure to avoid them.

retro-active warrants are very much frowned upon here, prosecuting party would have to meet pretty stringent levels of proof that there was an element of speed involved of such magnitude that the normal procedure could not be followed. In any case a competent lawyer will use that to his advantage.

> And don't forget that the Dutch 'reasonable suspicion' threshold is quite low. An anonymous phone tip will do. And hey, if that phone call happens to come from a phone booth across the street from the police station, who cares.

I agree that anonymous tips are not good enough to meet the standard, but from what I've seen of the Dutch legal system the police is not in a habit of going across the street phoning in illegally obtained evidence in order to 'launder' it.

If you have any evidence to the contrary then I'll accept that as incidental, not as structural. In other words, no doubt that there have been such cases but I do not feel that this is a thing that happens with great regularity, and I would hope for those cases where it did happen to be exposed and the responsible police officers to be removed from service.

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Too late to add this, but it is funny to see this in the news today:

http://www.telegraaf.nl/binnenland/7882974/__Hennepteler_ont...

Hemp growers acquited after police enters their house after anonymous phone call.

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"prove that I'm the one that 'illegally disposed' of your or someone else's property that you attached surreptitiously to my car."

Ok then I misunderstood your remark, I thought you meant I had to prove "he is legally liable for those damages". But yeah if you turn it into a matter of evidence, anything goes, it becomes purely based on the specific circumstances. I was arguing the theoretical fundamentals.

"ownership is a pretty murky business from a legal point of view"

Eh no it's not. Transferring ownership is very widely studied, specified and understood. There is no discussion that the tracked subject doesn't get ownership. He does get possession, obviously. Nobody would argue otherwise. Again, if you bend this into an evidence case, all bets are off. In the concrete case the guy posted a picture of himself holding the device on the web. All the armchair lawyers saying 'oh he shouldn't give it back! it's now his!' don't know what they're talking about. I was in my original comment merely pointing out that this guy has no leg to stand on - he should just return the thing to the feds (well, he did) and save himself a lot of trouble.

"Cite a case please, and name the defendants lawyer,"

http://www.rechtspraak.nl/ljn.asp?ljn=BH9929 http://www.rechtspraak.nl/ljn.asp?ljn=BM1166 http://www.rechtspraak.nl/ljn.asp?ljn=BM1192

You can find the names of the lawyers in the various instances in the history of judgments.

These are just the cases where the judgments have been published, and where they were explicitly mentioned in the case. Also cases are only published when they have legal relevance, routine cases are not (they're not even written up if there's no appeal). Obviously most of these cases are handled 'behind the scenes'. Nobody ever knows that not everything went 100% 'by the book'. One case where (part of the) evidence was thrown out was when the police picked a guy up from work, threatened him, bullied him into silence after he repeatedly asked for a warrant, entered his house (without a warrant) through the neighbor's balcony, cuffed the suspect and threatened him and his mom to arrest him until he gave permission to search the house. This is about how bad it needs to get before evidence is excluded. I have no reason to believe these policemen were sanctioned.

"the police is not in a habit of going across the street phoning in illegally obtained evidence in order to 'launder' it."

Well it's all hearsay from here on, so we can go 'yes!' 'no!' for hours. I do think though you remember the IRT case; that's only 15 years ago! Also read accounts like http://www.koudbloed.nl/content/docs/robzijlstra.pdf.

Like I said, from here on it's no longer based on verifiable facts, not worth the trouble. I do think you have a too rosy picture of the practical workings of the justice system, though (note that I'm not making a moral judgment; I think overall it works pretty well. I'm just saying that it ain't like on Law and Order).

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> there is no transfer of ownership

This is true, but if someone places something on your car, I'm not sure they can have a reasonable expectation that they will receive it back in one piece. It is reasonable that if someone found a GPS device attached to their car that they would want to remove it.

If I placed something under your car, why would I assume that I'd be able to retrieve it back again? It could become dislodged. You could have hit a bad pot hole and it fell out. It could have been disabled by going through a car wash.

It would still be the agency's property; however, I wouldn't be liable for anything that happened to it.

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Correction: guy's family wasn't organized crime, I misremembered - father was a Muslim leader. No mention of what that entails more specifically. Still without knowing more it does seriously detract from that part of my point.

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There is something about the tone of what you just wrote that deeply annoys me. Had the boys father been a Christian leader would you have been concerned by what exactly that entails?

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If the father had been a Westboro Baptist Church or Branch Davidian style sect leader? Of course. We don't know what happened. For the guy to post to Reddit starting off with a 'look I'm being investigated because I'm Arab! FBI is racist!' post while not giving any information on the circumstances, that just sounds like a PR spin.

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I don't know about this, Muslim leader could mean anything from successful business man to radical leader. The news was sparse on who the father was. And frankly, nothing in the article shows that his father was the reason they followed him. The article states that one of his friends wrote something on his blog. I wouldn't put it pass the FBI to investigate everyone who knew the friend in question for no other reason than they play halo together.

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I guess it's a matter of interpretation, but when someone says 'Muslim leader', I personally interpret that narrowly, as in this person having a 'position of authority in the religious sense, within the Muslim faith', and not so much 'person from Muslim cultural background who is in some form of power'. The 'article' I mentioned was the original Reddit post. Apparently the kid thought the Muslim angle was important enough to deserve a mention.

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Did you know that, when David Koresh discovered the ATF was asking about him and asked about him at the gun store where he did business, he proactively called the local ATF office and offered to come in and have a chat with them?

Koresh was not hiding anything. This is why he, and all the men, women and children, in there had to be killed at the end of that siege. So that these facts would not be made publicly known.

You talk about "Branch Dividian style sect" and most americans have a completely false perspective on those people and that event because they were fed government lies during the entire period.

And afterwards, when the truth came out, it was no longer news.

Enough of that, and you start thinking that it is ok to illegally spy on americans.

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"Muslim Community Association" is what was mentioned in the article. A paragraph explaining the organization and it's activities would have helped. Maybe a link to it's website and profile pages for its board of directors. Just to be sure. I'm being sarcastic if you couldn't tell. I think the description is detailed enough for a newspaper article that is not focused on the organization.

This frustrates me as well. I hope the ACLU challenges this.

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Challenges what? The warrantless gps tracking, or the feds wanting their equipment back? Because it's that second point I originally responded to, and that's (imo) a quite clear case and not a civil liberties issue.

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The warrantless gps tracking is what I meant.

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I don't know much about US law and I'm wondering what could have happened if he didn't hand them over the damn device without some sort of proof of ownership or a formal request.

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On the Reddit post they were repeatedly asked to get a lawyer or go to ACLU.

I am not sure whether they did that or if it would have made a difference.

http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/dmh5s/does_this_...

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The FBI does not need a warrant to plant a GPS tracker on your car, for much the same reason as they do not need a warrant to surveil you from a car or helicopter. This bothers people for reasons I can understand, but I think the concern is irrational; the alternative (having agents manually tail people) is error prone, subjective, incredibly expensive, and no less intrusive.

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> I think the concern is irrational; the alternative (having agents manually tail people) is error prone, > subjective, incredibly expensive, and no less intrusive.

Don't underestimate the role of the "incredibly expensive" part. The physical and resource constraints for tailing people limit law enforcement's ability to do that. In this way GPS trackers are more intrusive than traditional surveillance methods, in the sense that they can be deployed indiscriminately at a much larger scale.

(For a related example, in "Code" Lessig argues that the US founders didn't need an explicit right to privacy since it was implied by the search-and-seizure and trespass constraints. Prior to electronic surveillance methods, it was difficult to invade one's privacy without already violating trespass or similar laws.)

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The expense is a good thing. They need to be focusing rather than throwing dragnets. Expense forces prioritization.

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The are focusing. You may disagree with the object of their focus, but the alternative (e.g more broad surveillance of the general public) is far less pleasant.

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  One of the agents produced a printout of a blog post
  that Afifi’s friend Khaled allegedly wrote a couple 
  of months ago. It had “something to do with a mall 
  or a bomb,” Afifi said*
The nickname of the friend of this student, who posted the story on reddit is "khaledthegypsy", and he posted this comment couple of months ago: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/ciiag/so_if_my_de...

Seems like FBI didn't bother to check the context of that comment.

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The comment doesn't justify any sort of spying. It's not a threat, but a seemingly true observation. Schneier has said essentially the same.

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Call me a cynic but I think they did. His comment is right, the "war on terror" is and always has been bullshit. The people who benefit from convincing the public that there is some imminent terrorist threat would probably love to shut people up who point out why there isn't.

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The FBI probably has a spider bot which searches for keywords. Ooh, they are high-tech. Too bad they don't review the effectiveness of the "threat" detection.

Our tax dollars being put to good use.

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NEVER have a "conversation" with law enforcement if they are questioning you about ANYTHING, regardless how casual it seems.

In court, law enforcement is allowed to testify to whatever they "recall" during conversations with you. And you won't be able to challenge it whatsoever. You are testifying against yourself when you do this, even if you are 1000% innocent - they might "recall" differently. And then you are screwed.

Everything from "do you know how fast you were going" to something much more extreme like this case.

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It's not so much lousy memories, it's that law enforcement are compelled to give evidence against you (as Miranda and various worldwide cautions spell out) but they do not legally have to say anything that proves your innocence.

At least that's the bit that convinces me there's no good to be had in talking to law enforcement.

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I'm not sure about the rules for the cop himself.

However, the prosecution, meaning the DA and his office, are required to disclose to you and your attorney anything that would support your innocence (known as exculpatory evidence).

I'm not a lawyer, so it's not clear to me how this interacts with the cop's role. As a witness, I guess he wouldn't have to offer anything. But as the guy who arrests you, I'd think that he's part of the "prosecution team", and thus would be covered by the rules of exculpatory evidence. Anybody know more than my supposition?

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In theory they do. In practice, there's no consequence if they don't, and it might gain them more convictions.

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This is a great talk on that topic by Professor James Duane: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4097602514885833865

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Best defense of the fifth amendment I've ever seen.

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Yes it's great. The follow-up talk by Officer George Bruch of the Virginia Beach Police Department is also very informative: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6014022229458915912

The gist of it is that he completely agrees with Professor James Duane that talking to the police always goes against your best interests, and goes on to discuss practical interview techniques that the police use to get suspects to talk.

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I've always in theory supported this position. But it's completely impractical. If you don't cooperate, you're going to get a ridiculous treatment. I remember a story I read recently about a guy dealing with border agents at an airport in the states. He refused to answer any of their questions and complied only up to what was lawfully required. And that did not go well. I can't find the link though.

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http://knifetricks.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-am-detained-by-fed...

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Thanks!

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Actually in this case, talking to the police worked out just fine. They concluded he was "boring" and left him alone. If he'd clammed up they would have concluded he had something to hide.

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I'm not so certain they aren't still checking him out. That sentence was very odd at the end of that discussion. They wouldn't be placing a device there for fun (I hope)

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Funnier famous example in Britain from the 60s/70s.

The communist party HQ found a bug and removed it, and were subsequently prosecuted for destroying government property. While the government denied in court spying on them, and even denied the existence of MI5, the agency involved.

The case succeeded on the basis that those being spied on believed the government were responsible and therefore intended to destroy government property.

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Any links? I am curious how they would go about prosecuting for this if they did indeed destroy the device, which would presumably be the evidence.

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Apparently the bug is on display in the "People's History Museum" of the CPGB:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/features/0505cpgb.html

Can't see any reference to where this is located on the CPGB website:

http://www.cpgb.org.uk/

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"One of the agents produced a printout of a blog post that Afifi’s friend Khaled allegedly wrote a couple of months ago."

Is it really that easy to tie up so many federal resources? They knew everything about this guy and dedicated a team to him just because he was the blog posters friend (edit: a Reddit commentors friend). Amazing and inefficient.

The real terrorists can drown themselves in noise by flooding the intel agencies with fake posts from real people and real names. I wouldn't be surprised if they are not already doing this.

Dedicating entire teams to follow all the friends of every semi-threatening blog post doesn't scale.

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Is it really that easy to tie up so many federal resources?

Yes. The Secret Service came to my house, with guns, because of a one-sentence Slashdot comment I wrote.

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After that you've got to provide a link so we can see what you said. Or have you got something to hide :)

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http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1602664

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You'd expect the secret service to be more discriminating when it comes to spending their time, there are quite a few presidents that you could have picked from.

I'd be a lot more worried about people that are not posting unspecific threats openly in nerdy forums. And if they would then 'watch' would be a much more appropriate response than 'alert to being noticed'.

"Secret service" apparently means do things without much secrecy.

For the record, I'm going to kill the president too. But to make it a bit harder I'm also not going to claim of which country.

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>You'd expect the secret service to be more discriminating when it comes to spending their time...

Haha! It's not their time(money) so they don't give a shit. It's our money.

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I also never claimed which country, and I didn't even capitalize the P.

If people were better at grammar, the taxpayers would have slightly more money :)

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Hah, score one for the ambiguity of the English language, I meant 'also' as in 'just like jrockway'.

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Did they request your IP from slashdot or did they find some other way of independently tracking you down?

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Yes, they got the IP from /.

(The Slashdot FAQ used to say, "we don't store IPs", but this silently disappeared.)

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Obviously they didn't do much to you. How did it an out? Take you in, made you wait for days, a few questions here and there.......

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Now I know what to do if I ever need to test my super-anonymity shield.

I am going to kill ..

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Perhaps that was the anonymous tip the FBI referred to?

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one of only a few people known to have found a government-tracking device on their vehicle

I think all citizens need government-tracking devices.

(if it's not immediately clear, the writer misused that hyphen, which changes the meaning into something that might actually be more appropriate, given the story)

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A black, unknown object that looks like it could be a pipe is attached to the bottom of my vehicle. I'd just call in and report a bomb.

See if the authorities can figure it out.

On a more serious note, California is in the 9th Circuit which recently ruled you have no expectation to privacy regarding your car parked in your driveway or an open lot.

I doubt the FBI agents had a warrant.

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They would take the object away, blow it up, and hold a press conference to say that nobody is safe, and more government power is needed to meet the threat.

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Probably do a controlled detonation of your car.

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The 9th Circuit is absolutely famous for being lovers of government power. They like privacy and police power issues, as seen here. They're also quite anti-business. All-in-all, the 9th Circuit is the most-overturned circuit in the country.

Why is it that it's so lopsided? Since it's the president (I think) who is nominating all of these justices, rather than a local leader, I would expect that the demographics of each circuit would be fairly similar (generally reflecting the preferences of the preceding few presidents, rather than any geographic tendencies).

If I could be excused for wearing a tinfoil hat for a moment, it makes me wonder if it's some kind of long-term strategy to manufacture (and get us used to) wildly liberal case law.

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9th Circuit is the most overturned circuit because it's the biggest with the most cases and most judges. The cert rate is in line with the other circuit courts.

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For anything they think might be a bomb, they don't try to disarm it or anything like you've seen on the movies. They do a controlled demolition of the object.

I don't think you want them attempting a controlled demolition of your car, especially if you know that it's really a tracking device.

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Don't worry, you're boring.

Seems like a waste of my tax dollars to put a tracking device on his car then...

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My first reaction to that quote was, get a lawyer now and never speak to them again.

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That statement makes me think the FBI is going on fishing expeditions now. Or do they use metrics on how many cars they had to track to help justify more funding?

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The device was paid for and they had nobody more interesting to track... The tracking itself is automated and, most probably, nobody would ever look into the data.

I'd probably find a desert and draw something very confusing for them.

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Said: Don't worry, you're boring Implied: Don't make this news, we don't want the public to know us thugs harass any kid off the street for no reason.

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In his original post on reddit, the guy admitted to having a supply of weed in his apartment along with the GPS tracker.

This could have went south pretty quickly.

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Sounds like they still will be tracking him to me. The "don't talk to a lawyer, you're boring" thing just seems like a pretty lame attempt to say, "just forget this happened," so that they can surveil him more. Personally, I think they feel he will lead them to someone 'big' or 'of interest,' which is why they also didn't bother busting him for weed (or they just didn't read the Reddit post).

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If him having weed is his biggest crime then I would hope the FBI would have bigger fish to fry than catching a college stoner. What a waste of resources.

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Tell that to weev. (Raided by the FBI over the ATT iPad/goatse thing, and then prosecuted over small quantities of drugs found in his apartment)

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Sounds like Harold & Kumar wasn't too far off.

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Is anyone else surprised at how huge that thing is? I would've expected something around the size of quarter... not a walkietalkie connected to a clarinet...

Guess I watch too much (70's era) James Bond...

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I was! That's the first thing I thought: "I could make a way smaller one of those with a GPS shield on an arduino."

http://www.ladyada.net/make/gpsshield/

I figure the bulk is in the battery pack. Altho that baffles me, if I was tasked with building one I'd make it splice into to the tail lights power like a cheap tow adapter kit.

edit: Damn, I had to add "make a lojack style tracker for my truck" to my project list. Just seems too easy to create something that updates truck location to a private twitter account whenever the engine is started/brakes applied.

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This is what a police state looks like.

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A police state looks like: instead of putting a tracking device on his car, they would ram down his door, shoot his dog, and arrest everyone in the house instead of just tracking a vehicle.

Oh, WAIT... they do that now and then in the US, but you have to be someone REALLY dangerous, like a pot dealer.

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Coming from someone who lived in one, trust me when I say - you have no idea what you're talking about.

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A 'police state' is not a binary proposition.

There are elements to it and one of those elements includes the arbitrary tracking of citizens without warrants.

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It could always be worse, but thanks for the requisite jingoistic "america- fuck yeah!" comment.

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No, a police state has checkpoints and men with semiautomatic weapons clearly visible during most daily commutes. This is a very bad thing, but it is not a police state. Nothing was done.

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Nothing was done? This person's privacy was violated, and the country I love is slipping away in some ways. That's what was done.

No, it's not a police state, but yes, it's very bad to have things going in the direction they're going. We MUST stand up and STOP this kind of stuff. We must not let it keep getting worse.

EDIT: To quote Picard, "the line must be drawn HERE!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGF1NP-FrCU

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That's a terrible choice for a Picard speech for this topic. What happens in "The Drumhead" is much more applicable:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8ZZyJCqkg4#t=3m43

But watch the entire clip for context.

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You're construing his "Nothing was done" to fit your point, but you're obviously being too literal about it.

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By your completely arbitrary definition of a police state, then NYC is a police state as are americas airports.

Reality is, this country is a police state, it is the modern one, and it is pumped full of government propaganda about how it isn't a police state and how all these police state actions are justified so that people are able to continue to delude themselves.

Frankly most of the police abuses are simply never reported in mainstream media.

But the reality is, depending on where you draw the line, either this is already a police state or it is well on its way.

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Firstly: America's airports represent a minority of the daily commutes in America. In order for America's airports to be police states, they would have to be states. They're not. They're airports.

Secondly, while there are 'checkpoints' of sorts in NYC, I don't believe they're the variety staffed by heavily armed guards. I haven't been to NYC in around 5 years, but as I remember it interacting with police, heavily armed or otherwise, would be an extraordinary event on a daily commute.

Of course my definition is arbitrary, but I stand by it.

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>In order for America's airports to be police states, they would have to be states. They're not. They're airports.

You are a good german. A useful idiot. The kind that enthusiastically joined the nazi party and made snotty arguments to anyone how expressed concern.

It is you, and the millions of unthinking bovine people like you in this country that are enabling the destruction of capitalism and the massive loss of life that it will entail.

You do not belong on this site, since you are obviously a socialist troll.

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This isn't the appropriate forum for such childishness. If you would like to compare and contrast historical police states, then by all means do so, but don't just put out the same trite "everything is ruined forever" bullshit.

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He opined thoughtfully, resplendent in his wizard robe and tinfoil hat.

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Afifi’s encounter with the FBI ended with the agents telling him not to worry.

“We have all the information we needed,” they told him. “You don’t need to call your lawyer. Don’t worry, you’re boring. “

They shook his hand and left.

Yep, don't worry, no need to call a lawyer everything's cool. High five?

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Yes, isn't this the best time to call your lawyer (when you're innocent and want to protect your rights?) Or should the fourth amendment only be invoked by criminals?

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The kid sounds like he is indeed boring, but also not the sharpest crayon in the box. It's too bad, really, because it would be great to have someone that was a little more aware of his/her rights to try to take the .gov to task for this kind of shenanigans.

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take the .gov to task for this kind of shenanigans

Easy to say that sitting behind a keyboard.

When the FBI knocks at your door and screams "terrorism" to your shock, all you want to do is want that moment to disappear forever and hope your family is ok.

Taking the gov to task is pretty low down on the list of to-dos.

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And that is why those who do stand up for their rights should be recognized for their courage on our behalf.

Personally, were I to discover such an item on my vehicle, it would go directly to my lawyers office; it wouldn't get posted on reddit.

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I strongly disagree about posting on reddit. If needed they can shut you and your lawyer up but they can't make potentially millions of people un-see something.

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I'm not sure I'd be willing to turn my life upside down, and possibly destroy it, on a hopeful chance of pushing back against the weight of the US government. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that people who do that are brave but foolhardy - probably not the sharpest crayons in the box.

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I don't get it. 9/11 was a disaster and humiliation for security agencies. Now they just do their job in the best way they can and their job is to ensure the security of US citizens. Why making their job more difficult ? I would cooperate and help them focus on real potential threats.

Are we talking about torture ? About secret detention for months ? About deprivation of elementary defense rights ? Organization defending citizen rights should be helped to focus on real threats and problems too, like this fishy 9/11 event.

I'm not US citizen, don't live in the US and have no particular connections or interests in the US. I just wanted to let you know that the reactions to this incident where it seem defending peoples own right has priority over defending peoples security gives an impression of selfishness and short sighting.

The other thing I don't understand is why the discovery and the device wasn't immediately reported to the police. It could have been put there by black hat people on to something on his behalf. According to his profile, this would be very plausible. Something like turning him into a terrorist, or whatever.

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Since 1990 3,179 people were killed and about 8,000 were inured in 20 terror attacks on US soil [1]. Three major terror attacks [2] were the WTC bombing (6 dead, 1042 injured), the Oklahoma City bombing (168 dead, 680+ injured) and of course the 9/11 terror attacks (2977 dead, 6000+ injured).

10 attempts failed or were foiled [3].

That’s all in all about 160 deaths per year. In 2007 accidental discharge of firearms killed 613 people in the US. Accidental drowning killed 3,443 people. Accidental poisoning killed 29,846 people [4].

Law enforcement should of course try to prevent terror attacks but given those numbers I don’t see why US citizens should give up much of their liberties in return.

[1] I used the list of terrorist incidents on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents) as a source which means that those numbers are not necessarily exact but close enough for the purpose of this comment.

[2] Responsible for more than 99 percent of the dead and more than 97 percent of the wounded.

[3] That number seems very low. Has anybody better numbers or can anybody confirm that number?

[4] All numbers: Jiaquan Xu et al. (2010): Deaths: Final Data for 2007. In: National Vital Statistics Reports, Table 10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (PDF: http://www.cdc.gov/NCHS/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_19.pdf)

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>I'm not US citizen, don't live in the US and have no particular connections or interests in the US. I just wanted to let you know that the reactions to this incident where it seem defending peoples own right has priority over defending peoples security gives an impression of selfishness and short sighting.

Eh, a lot of Americans feel like personal rights should be a higher priority than security. A very famous and admired American once said

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

So yeah, I guess that is selfish, but it is also a very American value; when you get down to it, we are a selfish people, and to some extent we are proud of that selfishness and independence.

I strongly disagree that it is short sighted. The thing is, governments have a way of getting out of hand if the citizenry doesn't keep it in check. I think that long term our distrust of our government will serve us well. In general, I think in any organization, listening to the dissenting voices is good for the health and long term viability of the organization.

Edit: Yeah, we probably are a little bit different than the rest of the world in this regard; part of that, i think, is that it's been so long since any other country posed anything like a credible threat to us. We have to worry about our government like everyone else does, but unlike everyone else, there's really no realistic chance of anyone else posing anything like a credible threat to our safety.

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I agree with our analysis and opinion. There must be a mean to check people who check people, and make them accountable for what they do. This is obvious to me.

My point is that I don't think this incident is a significant citizen right threat and while you focus on it, all the other much more dramatic threats to your democracy and nation ideal gets unnoticed and go on.

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>There must be a mean to check people who check people, and make them accountable for what they do.

In this case that mean (means as in a 'way' or man? either way, something) is us. well, the news media and us. In a democracy, the ultimate "watchers" are "the people"

This watcher is certainly not perfect, but it's what we've got. To understand the American you must understand that he is deeply suspicious of authority. Yes, the government has it's own checks and balances... but I trust them about as far as I can spit.

As for this particular incident, well, most Americans consider their car to be the most private of property. Some places you'll get shot for messing with another man's truck. It's just not something you do. Regardless of what some court says, nearly every American on the street would consider attaching a tracking device to his car a major violation of his privacy and dignity.

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Ok. This is indeed a significant cultural difference with the one I have living here in France.

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There is no security threat. It's almost all nonsense. 9/11 was a legitimate terrorist attack just like the previous world trade center bombing was but there is no global terrorist network and there never was. It was just a tool to get more control of society. Look at what laws have changed since 9/11. Have you ever noticed these things get passed by people saying "don't worry, it's just to fight terrorism" but it's always actually used against citizens for non-terrorist activity?

If there really is some global terrorist network I think it's safe to say at this point that they're so hopelessly incompetent as to not be worth worrying about. There are countless vulnerabilities in the US [1], why would terrorists be so stupid as to only attack our hardest point? Criminals don't act that way. A mugger doesn't walk past 100 old ladies with gold jewelry to rob the most dangerous looking person he can find.

[1] For example, US sea ports. They check every hundredth container if that (Walmart wont tolerate delays on shipping).

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If there really is some global terrorist network I think it's safe to say at this point that they're so hopelessly incompetent as to not be worth worrying about.

There's one other issue that stops them: the suicide-bombing-kind of terrorists who are actually capable of pulling off an attack can only do it once.

I mean, really, it's not a strategy for long-term success is it?

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Not only is there a global terrorist network, they are so elite that they broke into CIA head quarters, rifled all their files until they found one market "Top Secret" that was a list of mujahadeen fighters in afghanistan in the 1980s that were on the CIA payroll, and decided that this was really cool. So they looked on the file and saw that the code name for this list of fighters was called "Al Queda" and so they decided to name their own organization using this top secrete CIA code word for mujahadeen fighters! Aren't they so elite, to have done all that?

Their very name is proof of their eliteness! (or the gullibility of americans.)

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Haha.

Or they could have just listened to the first WTC bombing trial where the prosecution made up the name "Al Queda" so they could charge Osama bin Laden In absentia under the RICO laws.

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Rights have to have priority over security, for without rights, there is no security. The rights are, despite there being debate about how to interpret them (that's what the judicial branch is for), spelled out, whereas anything can be done in the name of security, including attempts to take away rights.

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Voted back up (to zero).

This point of view is asinine. However, it's very common, and it's the position that the authorities themselves hide behind.

If we want to win this battle to preserve our rights, we need to listen to, and understand, what those who would throw away our rights are thinking.

And I'll throw in a favorite Ben Franklin quote as my own comment on the parent post:

Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

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More than 200 years ago America broke off from England because Americans believed that the English government was violating their rights. The replacement government that the Americans set up has in its Constitution safeguards to ensure that government does not violate their rights. Since the founding Americans generally have softened and allowed their government to encroach on many of their rights but some Americans still make a fuss when they see government commit a particularly egregious violation.

The violation in this case would be of the Fourth Amendment, which basically forces the government to obtain a warrant before conducting most searches. Although courts have ruled that GPS tracking of cars is not covered by the Fourth Amendment, not all Americans share this view.

I don't agree that putting rights over security is selfish or short-sighted. The biggest threat to most people (especially Americans) comes from their own government. Without constant vigilance and assertion of rights, governments tend to act in their own best interests to the detriment of their people's interests. Law enforcement needs to be specially watched because it's much easier to search and arrest to get evidence (this is a violation of rights) than to get evidence first and then search and arrest (this is legal) and this is especially hurtful to liberty.

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Afifi said he often travels for business and has two teenage brothers in Egypt whom he supports financially.

And that right there explains the entire story. He's being investigated because he's sending money into Egypt.

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Sending money to a foreign country is not a federal crime.

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No kidding. He wasn't charged with a crime. He raised the suspicions of the FBI who investigated and found no crime. That's pretty much their entire job. Investigate and if evidence of a crime is found, to pass it off for prosecution. I'm not really seeing anything wrong here, other than the fact the tracker may have been placed without a warrant.

And even that is currently legal.

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Sending money to a foreign country is not probable cause to investigate a federal crime.

"He raised the suspicions of the FBI who investigated and found no crime. That's pretty much their entire job."

Statements like this evince a complete misunderstanding of the role of law enforcement in a democratic society.

The FBI's job is to respond to proper complaints of violations of the law, and to investigate where there are clear and articulable facts that lead them to believe a crime has occurred.

Their job is not to surveil the citizenry for signs of aberrant behavior.

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>Their job is not to surveil the citizenry for signs of aberrant behavior.

So practically then you're saying most crime should just be allowed to happen as it can't be detected without taking a proactive approach.

For example, CCTV at a gas station shouldn't be installed until after the place is robbed.

I'm expecting the come back to be "Oh, but that's a private business, it's only bad if government do it?". Why is it bad if the government (ie the people working en masse) try to prevent harm to private citizens but not bad for individual or small groups of citizens?

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"So practically then you're saying most crime should just be allowed to happen as it can't be detected without taking a proactive approach."

Where any approach to law enforcement conflicts with the fundamental principles of ordered liberty, including privacy, that approach is improper. If we attached video cameras to all citizens that would prevent a lot of crime, but it would be a tremendous violation of privacy rights.

"Why is it bad if the government.. try to prevent harm to private citizens but not bad for individual or small groups of citizens?"

Because the government is unlike any other organization. It has a monopoly on the use of force. If a gas station uses CCTV cameras, and I feel that violates my privacy, I can choose not to use that gas station. If the government decides to enact a law mandating installation of CCTV cameras in your living room, you can't refuse.

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>If the government decides to enact a law mandating installation of CCTV cameras in your living room, you can't refuse.

Unless you live in a democracy.

>Because the government is unlike any other organization. It has a monopoly on the use of force.

In a democracy of course the government is the combined (in some way) will of the people. It bemuses me when people rail against "the government" and forget that means "the people's expressed (in some way) demands" in a democracy; I'm not saying that you're forgetting that part about democracy BTW.

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It can be depending on the foreign country and/or the recipient.

AND Authorities investigate people in order to determine IF they are committing / have committed a crime. Being investigated and investigating is normal healthy part of our justice system. (btw, IMO warrantless surveillance is not)

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Absolutely true, but the so-called "money laundering" statutes at the federal level are written in such a way that they can convict anyone under them for any financial transaction. This is by design, because it gives the government a free hand to get warrants, seize assets and convict people that they otherwise would not be able to because they lack evidence of a real crime.

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Don't real terrorists receive from rather than send money to such countries?

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Afifi [...] asked a series of questions – did he know anyone who traveled to Yemen or was affiliated with overseas training? One of the agents produced a printout of a blog post that Afifi’s friend Khaled allegedly wrote a couple of months ago. It had “something to do with a mall or a bomb,” Afifi said. He hadn’t seen it before and doesn’t know the details of what it said. He found it hard to believe Khaled meant anything threatening by the post.

“He’s a smart kid and is not affiliated with anything extreme and never says anything stupid like that,” Afifi said. “I’ve known that guy my whole life. “

The agents told Afifi they had other agents outside Khaled’s house.

“If you want us to call them off and not talk to him we can do that,” Afifi said they told him. “That was weird. [...] I didn’t really believe anything they were saying.”

When he later asked Khaled about the post, his friend recalled “writing something stupid,” but said he wasn’t involved in any wrongdoing. Khaled declined to discuss the issue with Wired.com.

So Afifi was completely wrong about Khaled, he did write a post, clearly views he was hiding (or Afifi would have guessed it to be true) and he wasn't prepared to answer for it to the press.

My leaning is with the spooks on this one - but we need more details to know anything substantial.

It amazes me that people are so negative about those who take on the task of covert civil protection.

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I don't think there are many people on the internet who haven't written anything "stupid" at one point or another. Especially when involved in commenting on a social news site.

I wonder what percentage of Digg/Reddit/Slashdot/HN readers have made at least one comment that could justify investigation? Keeping in mind that even a vague statement like "I wish someone would kill (x)" has been considered justification for some police departments to investigate the author. Probably a nice big percentage.

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>even a vague statement like "I wish someone would kill (x)" has been considered justification for some police departments to investigate the author

In limited circumstances I'd think that does call for investigation. Have you ever made a post like that, asking for someone to be killed? In what context?

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Apparently this is the "blog post" the article refers to:

http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/ciiag/so_if_my_de...

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Yes, I'd read that was the case. But how do we know this is not simply PR/spin on behalf of the accused?

If I was shopped for a inflammatory post suggesting terrorist activity and wished to win public support, eg to allow by supporters to riot and be supported by public opinion should I be detained. Then I'd whip down that post and put up something inane to point at and say what idiots the FBI are. (I'm not saying this is the case, just that there is very real doubt as to the true story).

Timeline on all this is presumably only attainable from the FBI and/or the accused.

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Is giving back the device the right thing to do in this circumstance? Shouldn't FBI produce proof of ownership of the device? What if sometime after FBI leaves, CIA shows up and says it was their device and they want it back?

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The same thing has happened in New Zealand, I can't find a reference right now but it was last year/year before and drug squad police who attached the tracker.

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Is that the case where the police said it wasn't theirs, then complained when he put it up for sale on Ebay?

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I'm unsure about the 'ownership' of such a device.

If someone denies ownership of something, do they loose all rights to it? "Is that your $20? No? Ok, must be mine."

Furthermore, if you trespass upon someone's property and leave something that you feel is important ($20) while trespassing, can you demand it back?

Also proof of ownership is something I wonder about. Surely the FBI has serial numbers, but the person with the 'device' could deny them to enter their private property to inspect such. If i haven't done a crime, then you can't get a warrant to search my place for such a device.

Should i find such on my motorcycle, I'll simply attach it to the nearest 18-wheeler I find, or mail it around the country.

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Reminds me of an episode of The Wire with Herk trying to recover his camera.

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I went for a job interview about a year ago - one of the strangest I've ever had - in which precisely such a secret vehicle tracking device was described. Apparently they broadcast at a very low baud rate in order to reduce the amount of energy emissions which could be detected by counter-surveillance operations.

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Does anyone else hate the following transpiration:

Afifi asked, “Are you the guys that put it there?” and the agent replied, “Yeah, I put it there.” He told Afifi, “We’re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don’t cooperate.”

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This story has a positive side. It inspired me, and probably many others, to renew their long-expired EFF (http://www.eff.org) memberships. They and the ACLU have expressed interest.

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He only found the big one. That was the one they wanted him to find.

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I would find it quite tempting to destroy it, but I guess that satisfaction wouldn't be worth the opportunity cost.

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I would report it online and then "lose" it on a Greyhound or something.

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So, what would it take to detect such a device?

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I am not from the US nor am I a lawyer but what were his rights in such a situation?

Could he have decided not to hand over the device immediately and ask for proof of ownership and ask to see a warrant or whatever-else is needed for the FBI to track him?

Feds telling him "you don't need a lawyer, you are boring" sounds a lot like they actually did something incriminating, he caught them and now they are worried about legal actions against them. This seems to fit with the threatening to get the device back - no device, no evidence, no case in court, government will deny knowledge.

When the feds or the police come knocking on your door, do you have the right to NOT let them inside without a warrant? Do you have the right not to answer any questions and immediately get legal help, thus creating legal documents which might serve as evidence later on?

Really, what rights and freedom do you people in the USA have against the "terrorism" witch hunt or do the feds practically have "carte blanche" now?

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He should have gotten a lawyer when the FBI said: "your fine, nothing to worry about, don't get a lawyer".

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