January 13, 2011


No, the United States is not China. Not yet. But hey, even Rome wasn't built in a day, right? And if you are following the continuing adventures of Jacob Appelbaum, WikiLeaks volunteer and security researcher, you might get a good idea as to how long it will take for somebody in America to be detained forever and unlawfully for, uh, you know, asking for the bill of rights to be still in place.

See, Joe Appelbaum has now twice been detained illegally, without a warrant and without being charged with a crime by his own country at the airport, taking away his cell phone and laptop at the first instance without having the right to do that (or maybe it is in the bill of rights, that, written in invisible ink).

Now, at the second instance, Mr. Appelbaum's adventures are turning, well, I believe the best phrase, if also woefully overused these days, is Kafka-esque. You can see the entire tweeting of his latest experience with US agents at the Seattle airport over here at Boing-Boing, but allow me to take out a few of those tweets and show them here, so that we have them on as many servers as possible. Who know? There may be a secret order by a Virginia judge to take them down at one point as an incitement to terrorism. After all, they are on Twitter, right?

• I requested access my lawyer and was again denied. They stated I was I wasn't under arrest and so I was not able to contact my lawyer.

• While waiting for my baggage, I noticed the CBP agent watching me and of course after my bag arrived, I was "randomly" selected for search.

• Only US customs has random number generator worse than a mid-2007 Debian random number generator. Random? Hardly.

• During the search, I made it quite clear that I had no laptop and no cell phone. Only USB drives with the Bill of Rights.

• The CBP agent stated that I had posted on Twitter before my flight and that slip ended the debate about their random selection process.

• The CBP agents in Seattle were nicer than ones in Newark. None of them implied I would be raped in prison for the rest of my life this time.

• The CBP agent asked if the ACLU was really waiting. I confirmed the ACLU was waiting and they again denied me contact with legal help.

• All in all, the detainment was around thirty minutes long. They all seemed quite distressed that I had no computer and no phone.

• They were quite surprised to learn that Iceland had computers and that I didn't have to bring my own.

The "best" of those tweets is the first one. So you are detained, you are not allowed to leave, but you are not under arrest and therefore they don't have to give you Miranda, nor do they have to give you access to a lawyer?

That is a classic Gestapo line. I mean, literally, classic. I can write an entire scene around that line, and if I were to put it in Germany, 1938, all of you would nod and say, "yes, that is what happened. Horrible things that happened, back then. Thankfully, we no longer have that."

Why don't you good people just get it over with, then, call him an enemy combattant, and throw him into Gitmo? I mean, you don't have to charge terrorists, right? Especially not "high tech" terrorists who help - for free! - the Dr. Evil of all high tech terrorists, Julian Assange? And didn't he just return from the Island of Dr. Evil, uh, Assange? Iceland? Where you already want to essentially piss on democratically elected members of parliament in a country that isn't yours?

I swear, this would be funny... if it wasn't another indication of a state seriously overstepping its bounds.