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Circuit Boards + Soldering Iron == Terrorist? 330

Posted by Cliff
from the new-age-of-paranoia dept.
Search and Seizure asks: "This week, the local police contacted one of my co-workers and informed him that they had been contacted by the FBI who requested that they investigate his apartment. According to the police, while his apartment repair staff were checking his smoke alarm, they had noticed suspicious looking items in his kitchen and had called the FBI because they suspected that he might be a terrorist. What do you do when your landlord suspects that you might be a terrorist and reports you to the FBI?" If the law comes a-knocking, always remember that you can politely ask for a warrant.
"The police officer went on to explain that my co-worker had two choices:

1) Let the local police take a look and explain what the 'suspicious' items were for.
2) Don't let the local police in. The police will let the FBI know, and they will use 'Homeland Security' to come in and do a full search.

He opted for the less drastic choice, and showed the officer the digital camera guts, his in-progress circuitry to take automatic pictures, the tethered balloon that he was going to hook them up to so he could take overhead pictures, and the beer keg that he used to store his beer.

The police officer accepted his explanations and it appears to have turned out okay, but the whole situation is a little disturbing.

What rights do we have to experiment and create in this age of paranoia?"
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Circuit Boards + Soldering Iron == Terrorist?

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  • Rights? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gossy (130782)
    Well, the guy was still able to carry on "experimenting and creating", so his rights to do so weren't violated. This rights haven't changed.

    Privacy rights however are obviously something completely different, and 'in this age of paranoia', your right to privacy is one of the first victims.
    • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by amarodeeps (541829) <dave@LAPLACEdubitable.com minus math_god> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:33PM (#9285718) Homepage
      Privacy rights however are obviously something completely different, and 'in this age of paranoia', your right to privacy is one of the first victims.

      Yes, exactly. And now the government has a record of some of the interesting activity he's been engaging in. Perhaps he's gone in a file somewhere, a separate memo has been sent to some higher up State or Federal organization, he's being catalogued in a database...

      I think the thing that really scares the shit out of me is the implicit threat and removal of rights that the police officer put forth. Previously, from what I understand, someone could demand that they see a warrant, a judge would have had to specifically grant that warrant, and some rights were preserved. There were some checks and balances in place. Now, all of a sudden, the executive branch can just say "hey, we need to see your stuff, and if you don't let us do it, we'll get someone else to do it. Sucks to be you." Police state, you're looking more and more similar to what we have...

      • Re:Rights? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Judg3 (88435) <jeremy@@@pavleck...com> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @03:23PM (#9286291) Homepage Journal
        Yes, exactly. And now the government has a record of some of the interesting activity he's been engaging in. Perhaps he's gone in a file somewhere, a separate memo has been sent to some higher up State or Federal organization, he's being catalogued in a database...

        While I don't necessarily agree with it, I don't think having the poster's scenario documented in a Fed database is a horrible thing.

        I'll use myself as an example. When I was young (18 or so) I had several friends involved in breaking into telco boxes, cloning cell phones, etc. Well, they got caught eventually, and I was called in to be questioned by the FBI. I sat and talked with them for a good hour or so (Which made me late for work - and the FBI won't write you up an excuse either hehe) and they took the laptop my friend had given me, which later turned out to be stolen from his place of work (Office Max I believe). So here I am, in talks with the FBI about stolen property and cell cloning - I know I must be in a database or two somewhere, especially since a few of my friends where thrown in jail for it.

        But since then, I've worked for several federal and state government agencies as well as a half dozen Casinos (which really love to search into the background of people), so I've had many many state & federal record searches done on me. I'm sure there's a database somewhere that lists everything about me down to tattoos, blood type, allergies, surgeries, etc. But it's never been a problem. I've never had anyone ever say anything to me about that incident, not has it ever prevented me from getting a job.
        So really, even though I'm in a DB or twelve somewhere, it hasn't affected me in any way. But if I was a criminal, and had done some illegal things, then these database entries would help the authorities find me if they needed to and maybe even solve a crime I was involved in. Look at Ca, they record the DNA profiles of convicted criminals now and it's actually helped them solve a lot of 20+ year old cold cases.

        The only things you have to worry about these databases is that they don't get into the wrong hands. Any other worrying would be because you either did something wrong, or are thinking about it.

        I do wonder if I requested my file from the FBI if I'd actually get something - I've always been hesitant to stir the waters up with it hehe.
        • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

          I've never had anyone ever say anything to me about that incident, not has it ever prevented me from getting a job.



          Ah, but how can you be certain, comrade? Never been turned down for a job?
          • True, I can't be 100% certain of this, but the majority of the jobs I've been turned down for I don't think would run that type of intense background check. I base it only on the fact that I've gotten several different goverment jobs after this happened.
            So I don't know if I'm in a database that doesn't get searched usually (Like a "bystander in a crime, not an actual participant" type database) or my job functions didn't relate to what happened or maybe they just didn't give a damn about it.
        • Myself, I've had probably 1/2 dozen "FBI background checks" run me. There have also been a couple people considering me an evil hacker that have contacted the FBI and InterPol about me.

          All in all, I probably have a couple hundred records in the FBI's database for various things, none really accounting for anything, and no charges (and obviously no convictions). But what happens one day, when an evil hacker seems to be operating in the town I live in?

          I've openly discussed viruses, electronic desi
          • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ElectricRook (264648)
            If Bush gets re-elected, I expect this will happen sooner, rather than later.

            As I see the last election... There were two candidates. One whose wife's favorite charity is keeping her children out of jail, and the other whose wife's favorite charity is censoring music. But that's just me.

            • Re:Rights? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:38PM (#9291074) Homepage Journal
              But Gore, as Vice President, wasn't part to starting any world wars.

              Bush, while not being Vice President, nor starting any wars before getting into office, played (and won) on name value [imdb.com]. Well, not really won. More people voted for the other guy [fec.gov]

              Actual Votes:
              Bush: 50,456,002(47.87%)
              Gore: 50,999,897 (48.38%)

              Electorial Votes:
              Bush: 271
              Gore: 266

              This time around, maybe people will look at the record.

              Bush: started two wars, killed lots of people
              Kerry: didn't start any wars, wasn't responsible for thousands of deaths.

              I spoke with one lady, who said "Bush isn't that bad, I'd vote for him again", who a few weeks later told me "I'm not voting for him again", because her son, a Staff Sergeant in the US Army Reserve with 6 years in, due to end his tour in August, is now being sent to Afghanistan in July for at least a year. This isn't abnormal, it's now policy [freeinternetpress.com]. Just because you're not in the military now, and have no plans for joining doesn't mean much [freeinternetpress.com]

              From what I've read, Hitler wasn't that bad of a guy, til he started his ethnic cleansing campaigns across Europe, and conquering other countries just because they were there. That became fairly well known after a while. Maybe you heard about it? World War II?
              • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Avihson (689950)
                I spoke with one lady, who said "Bush isn't that bad, I'd vote for him again", who a few weeks later told me "I'm not voting for him again", because her son, a Staff Sergeant in the US Army Reserve with 6 years in, due to end his tour in August, is now being sent to Afghanistan in July for at least a year. This isn't abnormal, it's now policy. Just because you're not in the military now, and have no plans for joining doesn't mean much

                Funny, this has been policy at least since the Carter years when I enl
        • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012@@@pota...to> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @09:19PM (#9287758)
          The only things you have to worry about these databases is that they don't get into the wrong hands. Any other worrying would be because you either did something wrong, or are thinking about it.

          That's some pretty big handwaving there. The ordinary citizen probably doesn't have to worry; nobody will bother digging up the dirt on them. But what if you decide to become politically active? Or if you get in the way of somebody with a lot of money and few scruples?

          It's a guarantee that databases like this will be misused; the only question is how much it happens.
        • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by abreauj (49848)
          The only things you have to worry about these databases is that they don't get into the wrong hands.

          You say that as if it were only a minor concern, as if the notion that the data could fall into the wrong hands is farfetched. That's kind of like saying not to worry about poisonous cleaners under the kitchen sink, because it's only a problem if the baby is curious and tries to taste them.

        • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Funny)

          by jrockway (229604) *
          > ADD [adultadd.com] isn't a joke, it's a serious problem. Treat it as such.

          God damn it. I forgot what I was going to say. Hey! Shiny object!!
      • There was no implicit threat to remove his rights. Odds are they would have gone to a judge and gotten a warrant Not a new thing to happen. If someone reportes that they think you are making a bomb to the FBI guess what? Would you rather they forget about it. They sent someone to ask He told them end of story. THat is they way it should work. If it was a police state they would have gone to his place of work and arrested him and then searched his home.
        Now the repair man snoppin around bothers me a lot more.
        • Obviously you missed it. The officer said the FBI would just come in under homeland security... which requires no warrant.
          • I do not belive that the FBI can wave illeagal search. They would have to get a search warrant. Can you show me a documented case of where the FBI just walked in without a warrant? Although this could be a case of probable cause. Someone claimed that they saw a "bomb" being made.

            • I think everyone is missing the extent of the implied threat. Under the Patriot Act, if they detain you for "national security" reasons, you might never be heard from again.
            • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Informative)

              by pyrrhonist (701154)
              Can you show me a documented case of where the FBI just walked in without a warrant?

              No, I can't. You can probably thank the 1969 case of Chimel v. California for helping everyone out there. This case placed more control over what the law enforcement could search following an arrest.

              There was a case that went to the Supreme court in which it was argued that an IR heat detector was a violation of the 4th ammendment. You can read about it on the FBI's page, in Kyllo v. United States [fbi.gov].

              I think the issue

    • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hungus (585181)
      There may have been no seizure but had he refused it possibly would have become an illegal search. I do encourage people to know the constitution and the rights it is supposed to provide and protect. And then I want all teh christians out there and especially Baptists (of which I am both) to remember as individuals we have no rights and are to fully allow such searches and seizures w/o argument (even though in myself I would be one of the first to fight back I need to learn to become less.

      And no this isn't
      • There may have been no seizure but had he refused it possibly would have become an illegal search.

        Then you call the ACLU, or talk to a civil rights lawyer about filing a lawsuit. Here is a link to a case describing what can happen to somebody who conducts an illegal search:

        http://www.judibari.org/imm_dec_pr.html

        • No I don;t call anyone ... I personally know my rights and thus am willing to give them up for a higher purpose. The ACLU is not the answer in all cases. In this cae your first step should be to the AGs office if you want to make an issue.
    • I grew up in the UK where terrorist bombs (at that time openly funded by US groups, BTW) were a real threat.

      Police always advise to report anything suspiscious, and they look into these reports. I never heard anybody mumbling about civil libertys in these cases, the police investigated what they had to investigate, and without abuse of thier powers because they realised that would be detremental to the real fight against terrorism.

      In the current climate, however, people have a right to be paranoid. It i

  • This is the problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apreche (239272) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:32PM (#9285712) Homepage Journal
    People have no balls. We all know this homeland security BS is totally unconstitutional, its not even a question. Here's what I would have done in the guys situation.

    1) I would have taken advantage of my rights to the fullest extent forcing them to use the patriot act.

    2) Gone to court eventually and claimed that the patriot act was unconstitutional.

    3) Next year or the year after I would be in the supreme court with my lawyer, it would be US vs. Me and the patriot act would be declared unconstitutional making the world a better place for everybody.

    Sure it would be a pain in the ass. Sure it would be a lot more work than that. And sure it would probably "ruin" my life. But this stuff wont go away on its own. Somebody has to fight it. I'm just waiting for my chance. The rest of the people around are all wusses who wont sacrifice anything for the common good. I can't wait until the day big brother comes to get me. I want to have a digital camera take a picture of the looks on their faces when I give them the double deuce.
    • by amarodeeps (541829) <dave@LAPLACEdubitable.com minus math_god> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:37PM (#9285752) Homepage

      Maybe it's more complex than that. Maybe the people their targetting are generally selectively chosen based on race and religion. Maybe the people being targetted are being detained without their rights being recognized. Maybe these are people who are never getting into the position where they CAN fight it all the way to the supreme court. Maybe their citizenship is dubious or new, maybe their interaction with the larger mainstream society is such that they are not yet familiar with the way things can work. Maybe it costs a lot of freaking money to fight it all the way to the supreme court. I don't know, I'm just throwing some possibilities out there--because it seems like what you are talking about is easier said than done.

      • by secolactico (519805) * on Saturday May 29, 2004 @02:52PM (#9286138) Journal
        Maybe it's more complex than that. Maybe the people their targetting are generally selectively chosen based on race and religion.

        You hit the nail right on the head. Maybe the poster's co-worker was muslim, or had features similar to those of middle-eastern origin.

        Circuit boards and soldering iron doesn't sound threatening (can't really form a full opinion without hearing all parts), but given today's state of mind, his appearance might have tipped the repairmen's resolve to report him.
        • by sweetooth (21075) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @03:48PM (#9286407) Homepage
          Most people don't have a clue about circuit boards and soldering irons except what they've seen in some stupid action flick. It is highly plausible that some people would just assume that "there is some really wierd shit going on this apartment look at all these tools and wires and uhm... stuff I better call the FBI this looks like the bomb I saw in ."
    • by rigau (122636) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:39PM (#9285762)
      The USA PATRIOT Act is not unconstitutional. Maybe sections of it are but the whole thing is not. If you were to go to court on an issue revolving around the act more likely than not the courts would rule only on the section that deal with your particular problem not on the whole act. Courts tend to keep their decisions limited in scope and will only rule on the particular facts of the case at hand unlike a legislative body that passes laws that have a much more broad application.

      This is of course a generalization. Sometimes courts will decide on more general issues but it is ussualy done when the legislatures have avoided -most of the time on purpose- dealing with the issue themselves.
      • by 01D* (673795)
        The USA PATRIOT Act is not unconstitutional. Maybe sections of it are but the whole thing is not.

        So, some parts of the fruit are rotten but overall it's fresh and wholesome?
        Please explain how's that possible.
        • by Fjandr (66656)
          Welcome to American jurisprudence.

          The reason it works that way is because laws as written are not really complete. Mostly, they modify existing laws, and as such, do not make sense when taken out of the context of the original law they were written to modify.

          More than likely, the section of the PATRIOT Act that would be used would actually be a modification of an existing portion of US law. Ergo, the court would only declare that modification made by the PATRIOT Act to that specific section of law unconst
          • ...and that, kiddies, is why war is peace, slavery is freedom, and ignorance is strength. When less than half of us vote, the people in Congress don't have any reason to fear us. They can pass a law that we don't like, because they know that we won't care, and it probably won't ever get in front of a judge who can strike it down. So, we give away our freedoms, because we're too fucking lazy to keep them.

            Hey, anyone got a good recipe for salsa?

        • Oh no not at all i think most of it is fucked up. The thing though is that the act itself is not one whole cohesive thing. it is made up of hundreds of sactions and each section deals with different things. A lot of them are morally reprehensible and some are even outright wrong but not too many of then are outright unconstitutional if you look a the available case law from the SC.
    • by miu (626917) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @04:31PM (#9286635) Homepage Journal
      People have no balls. We all know this homeland security BS is totally unconstitutional, its not even a question. Here's what I would have done in the guys situation.

      Are you ready for the storm of hate they will pour down on you?

      Are you ready for anything wrong or embarrassing you've ever done to become fodder for the press. Have you ever downloaded porn? Have you ever cheated on your spouse? Do you have any relatives who are mentally ill? Are you non-white? Are you non-Christian? Do you have the money and connections to hire a good lawyer? Can you afford to take the time off work?

      Sure standing up to an evil system is exhilarating, but few people could stand up to the kind of microscope the government can put on your entire life, and then deal with the consequences of having the details broadcast. There is no moment of truth - no heroic battle, instead there is a wearing away of your will over a timescale dictated entirely by your enemy.

      • by shaitand (626655) *
        No worries here, under the partiot act the entire case is classified, nobody will even know your fighting until the supreme court makes it decision.

        His mistake is assuming the supreme court is actually an instrument of justice anymore.
        • by miu (626917)
          No worries here, under the partiot act the entire case is classified, nobody will even know your fighting until the supreme court makes it decision.

          Even if it stays out of the papers the FBI is gonna be blundering through your life, knocking things over, harassing your family and co-workers, and making certain that your life is a mess even if you are found innocent.

          His mistake is assuming the supreme court is actually an instrument of justice anymore.

          The current SC is packed with conservative hard

          • by astar (203020) <max.stalnaker@gmail.com> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @11:53PM (#9288265) Homepage
            Problems with the supreme court are a little more fundamental. You might note that the Nazis had a rule of law. Some of the laws they kept secret, because they were so bad that even the "good" German would be outraged. We are so degenerate that we make equivalent laws public, and few protest. But it was a rule of law. Their law theory came largely from a guy named Carl Schmitt who later went to the United State and was moderately influencial. Some like Rinquist use arguments identical to Schmitt.

            When you hear about some case that was decided on a "positive law" theory, you are hearing about something that is indistinguishable from Schmitt theories.

            Put another way, there was a fascist architecture and there was fascist music, hmm, see my web site [fircrestwa.com] and look at the Wagner article someone submitted. And there was fascist law, justified by a fascist theory of law, and that theory now pretty well dominates the US Supreme Court. And that fits, because the laws we are getting are in prominent occasions fascist laws. You are probably thinking I am thinking about the Patriot act, but what I have most clearly in mind is a civil service reform recently done at the federal level.

            The US is "administratively" fascist. What we are missing is a fascist mass movement. And it might be a left movement or a right movement. Then thing will really pop. The dynamics look like this: institutions continue to collapse, economic shocks dominate, people look for solutions and so new institutions come into existence. If there is not a vigorous positive alternative institution coming into being, then the fascist mass movement will take off instead. Do a reality check when oil hits seventy dollars a barrel.

            • You're well behind the times. You've been looking so deeply into legal theory that you haven't been looking at reality around you.

              Look up Christian Reconstructionism. Look up Rushdoony. Google is your friend. Christian Reconstrutionism is the core of the mass movement you couldn't find. The exoteric term for this is "the Religious Right". I presume you've heard of them? How far have they gotten in the past 20 years?

              "All these atrocities continue in spite of the fact that we now have the 'right' people i

    • Well, get some balls, and fight it. Except that you don't have any, and you won't. And neither will any sane, reasonable person.
    • by stevew (4845) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @06:38PM (#9287137) Journal
      Only a couple problems with concept.

      1) The patriot act won't be found un-constitutional.
      2) You probably don't have the funds to afford the lawyer.

      Isn't it just easier to tell the cops you are a hobbiest trying to fix his camera and put the matter to bed?

    • by ONOIML8 (23262)
      Yeah, you talk tough. The reality is that if they felt you were a threat, didn't have sufficient evidence to prove the threat and know (as they now do) that you would challenge homeland security, they have other ways to deal with you.

      Suddenly you find yourself accused of some sex crime. They don't even have to have evidence of an actual crime to start and investigation on you. The process of the investigation itself can usually be enough to destroy your family, your finances, your career. Oh sure, they
  • This is odd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rigau (122636) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:34PM (#9285722)
    What is intetersting about this is that the FBI asked him anything. They have the ability to perform a sneak-and-peek search without the need to show a warrant beforehand and they can also have the search happen and show the warrant much later. It seems strange that they would call ahead of time and give the suspect time to dispose of any incriminating evidence. The whole thing is odd.
    • Re:This is odd (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SagSaw (219314) <slashdot@mmoFORTRANss.org minus language> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @04:23PM (#9286597)
      It probably goes something like this.

      1. Maintainance worker sees circuit boards, gas baloons, etc. in circuit-board-guy's apartment.

      2. Thinking he's a hero and is about to foil a major terrorist plot, worker over-reacts and calls the FBI. (Note that the appropriate action if the worker suspects illegal activity would most likely be to call the local police.)

      3. FBI takes worker's report, along with many other reports of people possing items that might be used in an attack, but are probably harmless. They don't want to pull resources off of other, probably more important tasts, in order to check out circuit-board-guy. Instead, they relay the report to the local police (who should have been contacted instead of the FBI in the first place), just in case circuit-board-guy really is planning some kind of attack.

      4. Local police also assume that circuit-board-guy is harmless, but want to go take a peak just to be sure.

      5. Local police show up at circuit-board-guy's door. They tell him what's going on (why not, he's probably innocent). Circuit-board-guy explains his hobby, and everybody goes away happy.

      They way I read it, the FBI and the local police handled it well. Nobody had their door kicked down or property searched/seized involuntarily. The only place where something went wrong was worker's decision to call the FBI over a circuit board.

      There are a number of comments to the effect that circuit-board-guy should have told the police to f*** off unless they had a warrant. While that would have been circuit-board-guy's right, I don't think it would have helped anything. By letting the police in and explaining his activities, circuit-board-guy did two good things. First, he defused suspicion (hopefully) that he might be planning some kind of attack. Second, showed the police that there are valid reasons for innocent people to have circuit boards and soldering irons hangin around their homes.
      • Re:This is odd (Score:3, Insightful)

        The people who I know who've told the police to fuck off always get a weekend in jail. I've been confronted with the same exact situation and because I was polite and respectful (not 'submissive' so much as I treated the police officer like a human being, even though I had specifically been caught doing something illegal) I was just given a warning.

        Probably the police should get smarter about these things. The asshole who rants and raves and fights like a libburtardian on crack is probably not the guy th
    • Re:This is odd (Score:4, Insightful)

      by op00to (219949) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @04:30PM (#9286633)
      They asked because they didn't have any evidence. It's an old cop trick. When in doubt, ask if you can violate the subject's rights to fish for evidence. When the cops say "Now, we will either have to get a warrant to come into your house or you can let us in peacefully..." What they're really saying is "We don't have anything on you, please please be stupid enough to let us in to fish for evidence!"

      • Re:This is odd (Score:4, Insightful)

        by alienw (585907) <<alienw.slashdot> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @04:51PM (#9286725)
        Just so you know, the PATRIOT act does not require them to have a warrant. And the cops can really fuck up you, your house, and your life if you piss them off. You would be stupid to piss them off without any reason to do so.
        • Re:This is odd (Score:2, Informative)

          by sadler121 (735320)
          uh actually the authorities, still need a warrent, the problem is they can get that warrent in secret and not even tell you about it till way after you have been searched/had things seized. So to the outside observer, AKA YOU, it appears that they do not need a warrent when in fact they have gone in seceret to a judge and gotten a warrent, and that warrent is held in seceret because of "national security"
  • Hysteria (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:37PM (#9285753) Homepage Journal
    A coworker was on a plane recently where a aged, somewhat dark skinned Italian man pulled out a rosary and began praying. The young woman across the aisle was obviously distrubed, called the stewardess and had a whispered conversation. The stewardess started coming by and taling to the man asking questions like was he nervous about flying. On the next leg of the flight the flight crew got a burly, surly "steward", who was obviously an air marshal.

    In the end, this incident just wasted some public servant's time. Same as the circuit board incident. Unless or until people get good at recognizing what a bomb detonator really looks like, things like this are bound to happen. I'd say a friendly show and tell with a local cop isn't so bad in the scheme of thigns. What I don't know is how muslims manage to live in this country given the climate of hysteria, having to pray five times a day. Imagine coming under suspicion of preparing yourself for a suicide bombing several times every day.
    • Re:Hysteria (Score:3, Interesting)

      by XO (250276)
      Working in the largest Arabic city in the world outside of the Middle East (Dearborn, MI).. I can tell you.. that a large quantity of them just don't follow the old prayer rules.

      Just like the Christian religions are selectively followed, so are the other faiths. (I have a Muslim employee who refused to drink water to help cure his hangover during Ramadan... lol)

    • Re:Hysteria (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @04:07PM (#9286534) Journal
      In the end, this incident just wasted some public servant's time. Same as the circuit board incident. Unless or until people get good at recognizing what a bomb detonator really looks like, things like this are bound to happen.

      Since you are obviously expert in all things bomb-detonator, what does an "average" bomb detonator look like?

      Oh... wait! I remember - I saw it in a movie! A "Bomb detonator" is that black box, about 9 inches long, 4 inches wide, and about 2 inches tall, with the big, red lettering on the top that says "Bomb Detonator" on the top of it, and has a few red and white snap wiring terminals on the side, right?

      No?

      Are you sure?

      We live in a modern-day paranoia. We've been abusing the people of the Middle East selfishly for decades in order to satiate our wasteful addiction to crude oil, and now we pay the price of bad karma.

      What really sucks is that there are real solutions [slashdot.org] to our energy needs. Linked is but one example with a total initial cost of about $169 billion, about as much as the $162 billion the most recent Iraq war cost [bbc.co.uk] to wage that would almost completely eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and dramatically reduce the Carbon Dioxide production of the United States.

      I just hope and pray that someday, we find a leader that will actually lead us towards a better world, because we sure as hell don't have one today.
      • I wish I had mod points.
      • couldn't do, posted a comment myself already.
      • Re:Hysteria (Score:5, Funny)

        by Halfbaked Plan (769830) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @05:16PM (#9286825)
        Aw, comeon. Everybody knows that a bomb detonator is a 555 chip with a really big timing capacitor.

        I suppose the cheapos would just use some junk opamp or comparator instead of the 555, but they don't really count!
      • Re:Hysteria (Score:3, Funny)

        by hey! (33014)
        Since you are obviously expert in all things bomb-detonator, what does an "average" bomb detonator look like?


        *sigh*

        I really miss the days when people still understood irony. Perhaps I should give some more obvious clues like this:

        *** WARNING: THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS IRONY ***The above paragraph was ironic.*** END OF IRONY ***

        As it happens, I completely agree with your point about energy dependency and its poisoning of our policies, and don't see how my original post could be taken as a defense of the
    • Re:Hysteria (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AnwerB (255422) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @04:21PM (#9286587)
      > What I don't know is how muslims manage to live in this country given the climate of hysteria

      Well, what I did when the FBI called me and asked me to come in for questioning is call a lawyer.

      They called me in the middle of the day at my office, knew everything about me and started asking questions about my brother, family, etc.

      They then told me that I could come into their office for questioning... or if more convenient, they would come to my office and question me there.

      After asking them what they wanted, they finally told me that with the upcoming war in Iraq (this was about a year ago), they wanted to know if I had any knowledge about weapons of mass destruction (really, I'm not joking). I told them that I was 3 at the time I had left, but they wanted me to come in anyway.

      Apparantly, they were just on a fishing trip. So I got a lawyer to find out what this all meant. She called and they immediately said there was no need for me to come in anymore, and they didn't have any specific questions but they would contact me if they could think of any.

      Anyway, I've been in the US a while and know my rights as a citizen, but I know it would have terrified some others to be taken in for questioning - they have this way to make you feel that something ominous is about to happen.

      P.S. I'm a computer geek, and don't show any terrorist tendencies :) - just in case someone suggests that they had reason to be suspicious.
  • by Mr. Piddle (567882) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:38PM (#9285754)

    Just like zero-tolerance policies in schools, when a person puts themselves into a situation where they are governed by idiots (in this case, an idiot landlord or idiot repair people), just living their ordinary life becomes a risk.

    E.g.: "Oh dear, little Johnny boy brought nail clippers or Advil to school, so we just have to punish and expel the bastard for his evil deeds. May little Johnny boy burn in eternal hell for wanting to be well groomed."

    • Vote in November? What the %^%&& is that supposed to do? Neither of the major candidates will oppose the Patriot Act. You could vote Libertarian, who vehemently oppose the Patriot Act, and other intrusions on our rights. My solution: join the Free State Project. We're getting 20,000 liberty lovers together to move to New Hampshire to reduce the government to its constitutional bounds. Local authorities do have the power to reject the Patriot Act, or provisions of it they find intolerable. Lo
      • Just like state authorities have the power to decriminalize marijuana for medicinal purposes?
        • Well, anyone who's glanced over the Constitution (*cough* federal supremacy clause) knows that things can't work that way, but states and communities can make important stands through "civil disobedience". Get enough people protesting by flagrantly ignoring the law, and that law just might be changed.
      • Any particular town/city in NH, or just in the state? I know libertarian-leaning people who work in Boston so it might be viable for them if it's either anywhere, or in a southern town.

        I checked the site but couldn't find an answer to the above. It's cool that they've surpassed 5,000 people and chosen a state (currently 5,777 members).

        Reading further it says the vote was taken in August and September of 2003, which was almost a year ago; to have only gotten another 777 members in 9 months doesn't soun

        • although it's nice to see that they don't have seatbelt or helmet laws

          No one has ever told me what the deal is with people not wanting to wear seatbelts. So now I'm asking you... what's the deal with not wanting to wear seatbelts?
      • Vote in November? What the %^%&& is that supposed to do?

        Well, at least it will add my opinion to the mass of opinions out there who out of the canidates should be President/Senator/Representative/Councilperson/et c . There isn't a great deal beyond voting that I can do to shape the government. I'm certainly not the type to be a canidate myself, nor am I willing to move to NH. Also, when we have 300,000,000 people milling about across 50 states, it is pretty much inevitable that people like G
    • Just like zero-tolerance policies in schools, when a person puts themselves into a situation where they are governed by idiots (in this case, an idiot landlord or idiot repair people), just living their ordinary life becomes a risk.

      You're not kidding. The subway (not food) recently passed around flyers saying "Be suspicious of people with the following attributes: [...] sweating [...]".

      So now when I run to catch the train, people think I'm a terrorist. WTF, I gues IHBT by the authorities...

  • Well (Score:3, Funny)

    by mattboston (537016) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:40PM (#9285763) Homepage
    If "your friend" hasn't done anything, "he" shouldn't have anything to worry about. BTW, why are all these stories about someone's friend??? Maybe they're really about you and you just won't admit that you're one of the terrorists. Screw the Patriot Act, track down his IP address and arrest him.
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fmaxwell (249001) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @03:03PM (#9286196) Homepage Journal
      If "your friend" hasn't done anything, "he" shouldn't have anything to worry about.

      You aren't doing anything illegal when you go into the bathroom to take a dump, so you have nothing to "worry about" if the FBI wants to send agents in to watch you. You aren't doing anything illegal when you dress up like Tinkerbell and prance around your house, so you shouldn't mind Homeland Security agents watching you doing it. If you aren't doing anything illegal, you should not mind the government sending agents over to read your e-mail, rifle through your personal belongings, listen to your phone conversations, and tail you when you drive somewhere.

      I recognize the humorous aspect of your post, but that first sentence really summed up a scary, but all-too-commonly-voiced, sentiment about this subject.
      • by dubl-u (51156) *

        If "your friend" hasn't done anything, "he" shouldn't have anything to worry about.

        I recognize the humorous aspect of your post, but that first sentence really summed up a scary, but all-too-commonly-voiced, sentiment about this subject.

        Agreed! The implicit assumption is that government workers never make mistakes or do anything improper. Even in the best of times this is a dubious notion. and it's especially unlikely to be true during times of crisis.

        Take, for example, the big abuses of power by the FBI

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's not to clear from the writeup whether this guy let the police in to search his house, or just to explain the situation.

    If it's the former, it raises alarm bells. The fact that the officers went down their without a warrant means this kind of thing happens often enough that they expected to get away with it. This is probably because people routinely submit to searches without warrants. If people always refused unwarranted searches, those officers would have made sure they got one before going down t
    • But if you let them in you can also make the rules about what they can do.

      State up front that only one officer is allowed in; that everything he moves he must return to its original position; and that he must leave the instant you ask him to.

      If they get a warrant, they can bring many officers and toss everything within the scope of that warrant.

      If they come to you first, it saves them having to go to a judge, and they will probably be much more likely to treat you with courtesy.

      Back to the original post
  • by Mordant (138460) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:52PM (#9285823)
    Slashdot Is Not A Law Firm. ;>
  • by Inoshiro (71693) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @01:55PM (#9285836) Homepage
    .. pointed at me, was when I walked across the Peace Arch crossing from Canada to the US.

    The US is a rogue state, with a military police mentality running everything, along with paranoia and hysteria rampant. The terrorists won a long time ago, and all that's happening now is that the US has to live in the bed it's made by not going through resistance to the crazy, right-wing that dominates everything.

    If this example shows anything, it's that there needs to be another American revolution, one which breaks up the Union into a set of smaller unions where the federal government isn't so separated from the people as to allow these constant abuses of the original US constitution. I like a strong federal government as much as the next person, but only in the cases where it makes sense (such as actually instituting proper public health care), not in cases where people have their landlord call the fucking FBI on them.
    • Ever heard of John Titor [johntitor.com]?

      He was supposedly a time travelor from 2036 that made his way around a few message boards between Nov 2000 - Mar 2001.

      Most people seem to take him as a crock of shit, but many things he predicted are starting to happen. One thing he said:

      Why are you so interested in the Constitution?

      After the war, the United States had split into five separate regions based on the various factors and military objectives they each had. There was a great deal of anger directed toward the Fede

    • by Anonymous Coward
      .. pointed at me, was when I walked across the Peace Arch crossing from Canada to the US.

      So? The first time I had one pointed at me is when I got off of a plane in Frankfurt Germany in 2000.
    • by Syncdata (596941) <syncdata71 AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @02:51PM (#9286137) Journal
      I am 26 years old, have lived in the US my entire life, and have never had a firearm of any kind pointed at me. That said, were I crossing a border into another nation, say mexico, there is an understanding that firearms might be present.

      As for having the rifle pointed *at* you, I strongly suspect that you are exagerating, or made one of those hilarious jokes that security folk love so much, like "Look out for the bomb in my luggage."

      If you're curious why America is so "militant", it's because not too long ago, over 3 thousand people died in an attack that destroyed more commercial space then exists in all of San Francisco. Ask yourself how you might feel if, oh, say, downtown Ottowa was utterly leveled.

      I'm no fan of certain clauses of the patriot act, including the allowance for feds to search property without presenting a warrant. But to suggest that there is no reason for this, other than to create a militant police state ignores facts which are fully in evidence.

      But I forgot, that I'm not allowed to cite the events of September 11th, because doing so makes me a Jingoist. Curse our surly, greedy, unrefined society!
      • search property without presenting a warrant

        they still need a warrant. nothing in the PATRIOT act allows law enforcement officers to search without a warrant. the real issue is when the warrant has to be served. You probably are thinking of section 213 of the PATRIOT act that gives: "AUTHORITY FOR DELAYING NOTICE OF THE EXECUTION OF A WARRANT ."
        • Every time I've been searched and asked for a warrant, the policeman just pulls out a blank one. Doesn't seem to make much difference, for all the hoorah about warrants...
      • by Inoshiro (71693) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @03:20PM (#9286279) Homepage
        point a loaded weapon at me.

        I'm in no way exagerating. I was walking across the grass field under the peace arch with my then girlfriend. We were travelling from Vancouver to Seattle to catch a plane at Seatac. As I didn't feel like spending 400$ on a cab between Vancouver and Seattle, I arranged to have a friend from the US pick me up at the border crossing, and took a (less expensive 80$) cab from Vancouver to the arch.

        We apparently chose the cars-only side to walk up to, because a solier inspecting a car snapped up from his work, aimed his automatic rifle at us, and yelled at us to go around to the other side. When I tried to talk to him, to ask him to put the gun down among other things, he just screamed harder at me.

        When we did go inside, the US military guys tried to play good cop/bad cop on why I felt the need to enter the United States. It was complete BS, and an example of exactly how silly US customs is. On the way back, the Canadian border guard was nothing but courtieous to us. I don't even think they had M-16s!

        As for Sept 11, Canada had the whole FLQ thing in the 1970s. Trudeau invoked the war measures act. However, once the situation was taken care of, the war measures act went away. Why isn't the patriot act going away? Why must the US continue to militarize and occupy foreign nations not related to the terrorist attack?
      • I am 26 years old, have lived in the US my entire life, and have never had a firearm of any kind pointed at me. That said, were I crossing a border into another nation, say mexico, there is an understanding that firearms might be present.

        In Europe where I live, I have never had a gun pointed at me, wether I entered Greece, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, or for that matter Russia.
        Have you been outside the US?
        Seems to me you guys are so accustomed to crap like the TSA, guns, the patriot
        • I'm a US citizen and am fairly well travelled. I've entered a lot of different countries under a lot of different circumstances. I've also had a lot of guns pointed at me. Nevermind that I have a spotless record (not even a traffic ticket, or even any misconducts while in college... and who doesn't have a few of those?), I tend to get singled out at border crossings, customs, whatever, and of course every time I get through without a problem. I can't really say I mind that much - a moderate amount of securi
      • Well, that depends. Could you please explain how any of the provisions of the Patriot Act could have prevented the events which unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001? Could you please point out which terrorist attacks the Patriot Act has prevented?
      • by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012@@@pota...to> on Saturday May 29, 2004 @09:37PM (#9287811)
        I'm no fan of certain clauses of the patriot act, including the allowance for feds to search property without presenting a warrant. But to suggest that there is no reason for this, other than to create a militant police state ignores facts which are fully in evidence.

        Really? A quick quiz then: Which portions of the PATRIOT Act, had they been in force in early 2001, would have prevented the 9/11 attack?
      • I've had a total of 4 firearms pointed at me in my entire life.

        1) Photographing a blood-red moon setting behind a school. Great shot. Cop pulls up behind my car about 500 yards away (hazards on flash). I head over so he won't give me a ticket.... and end up getting the business end of a riot gun aimed at me. Apparently someonecalled in a 'peeping tom' and he thought I was a suspect (uhh, yeah. leave my car outside with flashing lights... right.)

        2) Trying to cross the road in France a sub machine gun a
    • by bergeron76 (176351) * on Saturday May 29, 2004 @04:29PM (#9286626)
      there needs to be another American revolution, one which breaks up the Union into a set of smaller unions where the federal government isn't so separated from the people

      This is inevitable. The US will segregate itself based on state laws. In fact, it's happening right now. Gay people can wed in some states but not others (at present). As a result, Gay people will tend to 'migrate' to those states that allow it.

      On the other side of the coin, but on the same token - States like Utah (which outlaw alcohol), tend to draw more religious right wing people. California (particularly San Fran.) tends to draw progressive people to it; and LA tends to draw plastic/fake people that value their apperance and little more. Florida draws old people seeking serenity, and Vermont draws people looking to go back in time.

      Granted there will always be people that aren't happy where they live, however, in general I think that a cultural revolution/migration is taking place now. Within a few generations the separation is going to become much more apparent. The federal government is going to become increasing called into question as it's forced to see-saw among the left and right wings. The power struggle between the left and the right will eventually crumble under its own momentum shifts (picture an amplified wave).

      This is, of course, just a theory...

    • It was Frankfurt airport and I was getting on a plane to JFK. I was only 17 years old, but I was wanded, my carry-on was searched, and I had to identify my bags on the tarmack before they were loaded and I was able to board the plane. You know how many other people had to do the same? All of them.

      Three years earlier I flew into Brussels from London without any such searches. That time I missed seeing a car bomb detonated in Belgium by 30 minutes. It is very strange to see the alley side of two building rip
  • the people here aren't keeped in fear by the mass media that much.
    • I know exactly what you mean. I mean, the way that the government has surveillance cameras in public places is just creepy. Or how about the complete insult to freedom of religion when they started banning Muslim head scarves in our schools? Not to mention the extrordinary stupidity of when they required the characters in Contra to be changed from people into robots because it seemed to violent for the children.

      Oh, no, wait. That's Britain, France, and Germany. I recognize that Europe does tend to kee

      • partly you are right. but i think, banned muslim head scarves are okay. as far as i know, they even banned the crucifix (!) in bavaria schools (!!!).

        the state and the church are separated. and it is imho a right thing.

        there are no surveillance cameras (yet) in my town (dortmund, the seventh biggest city in germany). and i hope it won't change.
        • "there are no surveillance cameras (yet) in my town (dortmund"

          Really?
          When did they remove the cameras that were there in 1979? Seriously.
          Germany (The old FRG) was the worlds leader in surveillance throughout the country due to Baader-Meinhof and Red Brigade in the 70's and early 80's not to mention the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972.

          Duzfreund because you do not see them watching does not mean they are not, I suggest you take a second look at the street lights and the traffic signals.

          Alzo you pay t
      • Re:move to europe (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hak1du (761835) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @03:42PM (#9286380) Journal
        Or how about the complete insult to freedom of religion when they started banning Muslim head scarves in our schools?

        Every nation, including the US, imposes limits on what is acceptable under freedom of religion. France imposed a minimal dress code in schools and they banned all religious symbols. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

        Furthermore, keep in mind that this is a pretty recent phenomenon, brough on by significant immigration into France. But people who come to France know what kind of culture they are getting into, namely a mostly secular culture with Catholic roots. France is not, and never pretended to be, an American-style multicultural society and it draws its lines differently. France's choice may well speed up integration and help Muslims assimilate culturally, while they develop new traditions for their religion in a French cultural context.

        Besides, head scarves are more cultural symbols rather than religious symbols anyway. They are supposed to express modesty, but in a different cultural context, they achieve the opposite effect. Just because people claim that they are religious symbols doesn't make it so.

        Not to mention the extrordinary stupidity of when they required the characters in Contra to be changed from people into robots because it seemed to violent for the children.

        Well, and what about the extraordinary stupidity of banning nudity and sex in US media? Every culture has its sensitive spots. Banning violence seems no less reasonable than banning sex and nudity.

        I mean, the way that the government has surveillance cameras in public places is just creepy.

        In the US, the only difference is that it is private companies that do it. The US government can get the same information out of that, but they aren't even subject to the same kind of public oversight as the UK government.
  • An interesting question struck me while reading this article, and since I'm not all that familiar with the relevant laws, I don't know the answer. Perhaps one of the law buffs (lawyer or no) can help me out.

    Let's say a police officer were to appear at my door without a warrant, wanting to search my house. If I allow him to enter, can he use anything incriminating that he finds as evidence, even though he conducted the search without a warrant?

    A slightly more complicated situation, what if instead of sim
    • Let's say a police officer were to appear at my door without a warrant, wanting to search my house. If I allow him to enter, can he use anything incriminating that he finds as evidence, even though he conducted the search without a warrant?

      In the days of my youth (sharing a house with two other guys who might have who knows what kind of illegal substances about), the conventional wisdom was that once you let the officer in the front door there was little you could do to constrain their subsequent act

  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @02:47PM (#9286120) Homepage Journal
    There are lots of people that don't have the 3 things to battle in courts. They pay the parking tickets, they take plea bargains, they can't miss work, the list goes on.

    You are too busy to your life to worry about your rights. Sad when you realize you don't have those rights at the end of the day.

    I've hoped technology could correct this, e-voting, instant polls, communications with elected officials, but it hasn't.

    Sad.

  • Flow on effect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stillman (185591) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @06:58PM (#9287224) Homepage
    Now, I don't want to come off as anti-american (though it is fairly easy to feel that way these days), but do you US citizens realise that this sort of stuff is starting to flow on to the rest of the world? Many of us live in countries not governed by religious, paranoid, low-iq, war-fetishists. We like that we don't need to go around pretending there are terrorists everywhere in order to "exact vengeance" for ONE incident (which, lets face it, PALES next to some of the things that the US have done to other countries) 3 years ago.

    Because the US is so influential on the western political stage though, we almost have to fall in line with your head lunatic. PLEASE get rid of this fucker. PLEASE vote for someone with some intelligence. And also, if you know your neighbours or friends are morons who will vote for any asshole who can wave a flag and spout some jingoistic bollocks, please have them killed. Cheers.
    • Re:Flow on effect (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrpuffypants (444598) *
      Dude. We're trying. Not all of us feel the way that way about the rest of the world and actually DO see the far-reaching consequences of our current administration's actions, coupled with a long-standing attitude in America about the rest of the world.

      Mark my words. Rome fell. Greece fell. The british empire fell. The USA will rot from within, eventually collapsing on itself. I hate to say that, but without radical changes NOW then nothing can save us from the grip of people who only want money and power.
  • by nathanh (1214) on Saturday May 29, 2004 @07:25PM (#9287373) Homepage

    Look at it like this. If the police really thought your friend was a terrorist, there's no way they would have given him a warning. They would have just called Homeland and his house would have been searched while your friend was away from home.

    The fact that they turned up, asked nicely, and gave him a choice, means that they thought your friend was innocent but they were under an obligation to investigate all reports.

    Annoying, yes. But when I was a youngster I once got stopped by the police at 2am while I was walking home. They asked me who I was, where I was going, asked to search my backpack (and I let them), etc. I fumed and thought "fascist pigs" at the time but in hindsight, they did the right thing. Here was me wandering around suburbia at 2am with a big backpack and computer gear under my arm. Suspicious? I think so. The police would have been remiss if they hadn't asked nicely. They probably thought "he's too dorky to be a thief, but we better check anyway, because THAT IS OUR DUTY".

    Same here with your friend. Somebody reported him. It's not up to the police to ignore reports from the public. They _should_ investigate. That is their purpose.

  • Untwist your panties! This isn't about Homeland Security or the PATRIOT Act or Ashcroft or any of your other "Bush is sooo evil" conspiracies. This is normal everyday US fear-induced authortarianism that's been around for quite a few decades. And this attitude is hardly limited to the US. Imagining this scenario happening in enlightened Europe or Asia is easy to do. Of course I'll be modded down by the last sentence, but I don't care anymore.

    I'll give you an extremely accurate analogy, but one that doesn't
  • yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kanasta (70274) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @01:16AM (#9288463)
    you have the right to ask for a warrant, and we will come back using some national security law and turn your house inside out.

    Or you can just let us in now voluntarily without a warrant.

    Doesn't that sort of remove the point of having a system of needing warrants?
  • by sakusha (441986) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @05:17AM (#9288851)
    I worry about my own circumstances as a photographer. For the last 30 years, I've made photo prints using antiquated photographic processes. Many "alternative processes" use highly toxic chemical compounds that include cyanide, chromium, etc. and some of these toxic processes like Cyanotype are quite common, I remember learning how to make Cyanotypes in High School.
    I bought large stocks of chemicals about 30 years ago, because it was almost impossible to buy them in smaller quantities. And by "large stocks," I mean like a small bottle of about 500 grams, which I've used about half of in 30 years.. So if the FBI ever decides to turn my house upside down, they'd probably find enough toxics to kill a small city full of people. I hope I don't ever run out, I can buy the chemicals from places like Photographer's Formulary, but I'm sure that the FBI gets a look at all their hazardous chemical purchases.

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