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Ioerror's tweets after yet another detention (this time in Texas) (exquisitetweets.com)
164 points by neilk 2412 days ago | hide | past | web | 59 comments | favorite

Might want to FOIA / Privacy Act request them for the information in your file. It should make for interesting reading. The person who'd be authorized to say "no" to that has very, very different motivations in life than a ground-level security screener. For example, they're paid to avoid bad PR, and "The Privacy Act, which was established to prevent government abuses of power like the secret files the FBI kept on folks, does not prevent us from keeping secret files on you" is the definition of bad PR. They would also have to commit to that position in writing. Every bureaucrat learns very quickly that things which are not written down never happened. The events described by those tweets? Never happened. Get a signed logbook entry, though, and you have instant chain of evidence going back to God Almighty.

This is, generally, one of those "letters on paper can be used to hack bureaucracies to one's advantage" kind of things.

c.f. http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/admin/fl/foia/reference_guide.xml

The above is mostly motivated by an enduring interest in the inner mechanics of complex systems, not by any particular feeling with regards to Wikileaks.

IIRC, he has done both. They refuse to release the contents or even tell him the name of the right file to ask for.

The EFF and ACLU have both tried to get something to happen here...

Also, check out the DHS TRIP program: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/customer/redress/index.shtm. It's intended for this sort of thing. If nothing else, it may force someone to commit something to paper.


"I would really love to know the contents of the CBP file on me. It's too bad that they refuse to disclose it via TRIPS or any other system."

TRIP is primarily for cases of mistaken identity. DHS has identified the person they intended to identify in this case.

I suspect that homeland security does not fall under FoI but I could be wrong

1 + 1 != 3, Customs and Border Protection is indeed subject to federal law. They publish a list of requests (with details elided) on the Internet:


Again, you could imagine them asserting one of the exemptions to the Act, but that would require them committing to a damaging position in paper. That is a major purpose of the exercise. The existence of that piece of paper would be a news story. (Man Claims Feds Out To Get Him On The Internet is not a news story.)

I don't think the feds are denying that they're out to get him. He's connected to the Wikileaks cable leak, the US government position is that this man is linked to what Hillary Clinton called, "ot just an attack on America's foreign policy interests ... it is an attack on the international community"[1].

[1] - http://hillary.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/11/29/clinton_wi...

yes but all those things can just been seen as politicians blustering. Politicians are very good at twisting words to say something while implying another thing. You get a bit of paper from the government saying "You there, you are not entitled to this", is worth way more.

Yesterday: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2430465

ioerror: I'm flying back through Texas in a few hours from Serbia. I wonder if this article or any of the others will change the way that Customs and the rest of the Federal Government treat me? I'm guessing "no" - care to take any bets?


I wonder if there is some kind of official annotation that can be added to a person's record indicating that they should be inconvenienced and harassed? If so, are officials "officially trained" to perform this function?

Or else, is this a case of local officials seeing that someone notorious is passing through and abusing their discretion to harass them and cause them to miss flights?

Presumably, there's a memo box that says wikileaks, since I doubt these guys knew him by name.

I was ok with wikileaks when I first heard of them. After seeing the type and character of their opposition? I'm now a rabid supporter. What they do is legal, this has been upheld in the supreme court, and these people are being fundamentally unamerican in the 1st amendment sense by trying to extrajudicially harrass people.

EDIT: See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Times_Co._v._United_St...

That court case may not be a slam dunk defense. For a different perspective, I found this article interesting.


Eh, I think that's just a linkbait headline. It's materially different to wiretap private individuals for the purpose of defamation than it is to publish federal documents. There's no such thing as "defaming the govt" under law, for example.

The more important facts, imo, were the six different opinions written and that while the court refused to grant a pre-publication injunction, they didn't actually grant immunity from post-publication prosecution. The summary of the Pentagon Papers case is not "publishing secrets is ok".

Good call. This is where I put on my IANAL hat :) I guess I made an assumption based on the fact that Ellsburg never got prosecuted for anything.

More the latter, I suspect. Your file is flagged "up to no good". Nobody wants to be the official that let the terrorist get away, so they all do sufficient screening that if anything happens later they can say, "There was nothing I could do to prevent that. We questioned him for a few hours, but without a warrant we needed to respect his rights and let him go."

The officials are thinking less about how this process inconveniences the traveler and a lot more about the shit storm that will ensue should they let another underwear bomber on a plane.

Though the 'underwear bomber' didn't board a plane in the US.

You have two ways of doing this, the No Fly List and the Secondary Security Screening Selectee (SSSS) list. I imagine that there may be a cross-check with the FBI on either list (although I don't know) but there's enough heat on him to trigger whatever it is that they want with him.

Is there a legal defense fund I can donate to? If anything, it's time to start FOIA-ing the files.

Seriously, how is this legal?

Like, can't somebody be sued here? This guy apparently lost some basic rights for saying stuff?

Unfortunately, courts are willing to give pretty broad authority to the government to detain/search/etc. people reentering the country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception). There are some sort of outer limits to the authority, but not much in the way of real enforcement from the courts so far. I would guess that they'd punt on this one as being national security + borders = defer to the executive.

Well, maybe it needs to be re-tested in court with a nice egregious example. From your wiki link:

Although border-searches are exempted from the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement, they are still subject to the amendment's reasonableness requirement.[3] Whether a border search is reasonable depends on a judicial analysis that balances the intrusion into an individual’s legitimate privacy and dignity interests against the government’s legitimate interest in the subject of the search.[4]

If Mr. Ioerror's reading and can figure out who to sue, I'm good for a few hundred bucks on the legal fund.

You would have to prove he lost his rights for saying stuff. The govt would probably respond that he lost his rights for associating with and participating in a movement with the purpose of undermining the government.

All the movement in question does is publish stuff. See my Pentagon Papers supreme court cite above/below.

As far as associating with a movement.. it's legal to be a Nazi if you want. There's a supreme court case for that, too.

"publishing stuff" is not incompatible with undermining the government, it is the means by which the mining under is accomplished. From a govt perspective, Assange is just a guy publishing stuff like bin Laden is just a guy making video tapes. They are interested in knowing if he is doing more than just publishing stuff.

I'm not particularly thrilled with the way the government is reacting to WL etc., but I also recognize that it's rather difficult to tell apart real threats from unthreatening people who behave in many ways like the real threats would. Appelbaum can say he's not going to hurt anyone, but that's what any terrorist can say. His actions may be perfectly legal, but also probably constitute probable cause.

He hasn't been arrested, he's been searched. That is exactly what I'd expect the police to do in such cases. Your neighbors report a blood curdling scream from your house? The police come and check it out. It's not illegal to scream, but you'll still get asked a few questions.

When does it become harassment? We've probably crossed that line, but what's the solution? Once you're screened and land successfully, you're exempt from future screening? That'd be a pretty big security flaw.

Bin Laden was A) not a citizen and B) I think he did a little more than make videotapes.

Let's be honest here, the problem with wikileaks isn't the (nonexistent) threat to national security, it's their politics. These meatheads at the airport weren't concerned with national security, they were concerned with teaching this liberal pansy a lesson. Short-cop-syndrome writ large.

Honestly, I don't think the meatheads at the airport even knew he was a liberal pansy. I could believe somebody at the top put him on the security watchlist knowing what happens at the bottom, but I really doubt the meatheads keep their own list of people needing lessons.

Did you read the tweets? The border patrol dudes were former army and sounded pretty personal about it. If it mentioned wikileaks in the dossier (which I presume it did), then these guys have heard of it, and specifically have heard of the collateral murder video.

Do you think the tweets are an unbiased objective account of the events that transpired? I view them as a sort of color commentary. Anyway, which ones do you think were personal? His experience doesn't sound any different from what I expect anyone who gets bonus screening to get. It's inconvenient and adversarial. I assume that's the rule, not the exception.

Did you notice how they held him until the minute his connection left and then let him go?

It sounds way more like harrassment than screening to me.

Welcome to your government (excuse me if you're not American, I'll assume you are). This is one of many standard MO's I've seen all through this exchange between CBP and Jake.

I'm a foreign citizen working in US on a visa, this has happened to me in the past - and I'm just here to work. I'm not suspected of doing anything illegal.

Immigration/Border Patrol in China is far, far more friendly than the US's. If Citizens don't like it and feel it is harassment then they should be campaigning to change it.

It may be legal for a US citizen to be a nazi, but it also is one of those questions on the entry questionnaire that indicates that the immigration authorities are interested in whether you are.

Actually, that question is only asked of those requiring visas and visa-waivers.

A US citizen re-entering America wouldn't be asked that question. The specific question also pertains to specific Nazi activity C1939-1945 rather than Nazi'ism in general.

Does any bill or article of the constitution talk about undermining the govt., and what it means?

> Seriously, how is this legal?


... remember the good times when the excuse was "communist! Go back to your 'papers please' country"

Can someone give us some context here?

The US Government Keeps Harassing a UW Researcher Who Speaks for WikiLeaks:


Basically, a University of Washington researcher associated with WikiLeaks is detained for several hours without reason every time he goes through a US airport. He goes by 'ioerror' here and on Twitter, among other places.


See, for example, the section titled, "Investigation and Detainment".

See previous discussions: "The US Government Keeps Harassing a UW Researcher Who Speaks for WikiLeaks" this guy "Jacob Appelbaum" is ioerror.

   - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2430090
   - http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/obsessed-with-jacob/Content?oid=7560624

...context needs to come beyond the previous hacker news threads and what has already been said.

CBP can be pretty terrible (I'm a foreigner living in the US and I've personally been on the end of their interrogation myself) but really we need FULL context of Jake's detainment before we jump to too many conclusions.

We still don't know:

1) Whether he has committed/suspected of committing/claimed to have committed any further or specific acts that would give CBP reason and justification for detainment.

2) Whether during detention Jake has been particularly provocative/inflammatory to CBP officers - which is only going to cause more delay and less expectation to fair treatment.

His tweets regarding him conversing with CBP officers who have personally served in Iraq seemed insensitive and inflammatory.

Regardless of your position on USA in Iraq, being disrespectful to people who have served in the Iraq seems counter-productive. I'm not a US citizen, I'm not pro-war in Iraq but one could empathize they probably feel betrayed by wikileaks and concerned for the security of their colleagues still in the warzone. My point is if the task at hand is to get out of that room and into freedom, some tact and decency in such a situation wouldn't go amiss rather than making personally inflammatory remarks about their serving of their (and his) country.

Here's yesterday's thread on "The US Government Keeps Harassing a UW Researcher Who Speaks for WikiLeaks" http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2430090

CPB agents much to young to know what 'Jack Boots' are, who wore them and what 'Papers Please' really means.

You don't need to go back to 1936 to find examples of this behaviour. Try talking to an African American who was involved in the struggle for civil liberties in the 1960s.

I have to wonder why one would continue to return to the U.S under these conditions. Then again I wonder the same thing about TSA screenings, health care and gun control.

Can he not get a restraining order against CBP? I say this, obviously, in jest, but one wonders: how exactly does the rule of law protect against this?

Well... His harassment is obviously systematic.

Joseph N. Welch and Edward R. Murrow managed to shame the red-baiters into some semblance of quiescence. I fear that American authorities and those they serve are now immune to shame.

Cheer me up; please adduce some evidence to the contrary.

Off topic, but I really appreciate the layout of this site. Reordering the tweets to read from top-to-bottom makes it much easier for me to parse.

As much as I appreciate the content, it feels like maybe Twitter is not the right format for a post like that.

Don't know if it's legal or not, but would be fascinating if he snagged an audio recording of the entire process next time.

The use of recording and communication devices is forbidden in the customs and immigration areas of US airports.

I don't know if it has the force of law. It does have the force of "lots of official looking signs".

Only by airport policy I believe... Not 100% sure

Sorry for being dense: is he being detained going into/out of the country (that is, international flight) ; or is this a domestic flight?

EDIT: per another comment, seems he is flying from Serbia to USA.

Usually when they meet you at the gate instead of at the customs checkpoint the random screening isn't so random.

Let's imagine they randomly meet people at the gate ;-)

Anyway, this is so wrong on so many levels I am astonished it's happening.

>Q:It sounds like a CBP joke in the making, right? What's do you call being stopped, harassed, insulted, delayed, unable to call a lawyer, etc?


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