Wikileaks volunteer detained and searched (again) by US agents

Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher, Tor developer, and volunteer with Wikileaks, reported today on his Twitter feed that he was detained, searched, and questioned by the US Customs and Border Patrol agents at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on January 10, upon re-entering the US after a vacation in Iceland.

He experienced a similar incident last year at Newark airport.

An archive of his tweeted account from today follows.

• It's very frustrating that I have to put so much consideration into talking about the kind of harassment that I am subjected to in airports.

• I was detained, searched, and CPB did attempt to question me about the nature of my vacation upon landing in Seattle.

• The CPB specifically wanted laptops and cell phones and were visibly unhappy when they discovered nothing of the sort.

• I did however have a few USB thumb drives with a copy of the Bill of Rights encoded into the block device. They were unable to copy it.

• The forensic specialist (who was friendly) explained that EnCase and FTK, with a write-blocker inline were unable to see the Bill of Rights.

• 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.

• The CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) agent was waiting for me at the exit gate. Remember when it was our family and loved ones?

• When I handed over my customs declaration form, the female agent was initially friendly. After pulling my record, she had a sour face.

• She attempted to trick me by putting words into my mouth. She marked my card with a large box with the number 1 inside, sent me on my way.

• 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.

• There were of course the same lies and threats that I received last time. They even complemented me on work done regarding China and Iran.

• I think there's a major disconnect required to do that job and to also complement me on what they consider to be work against police states.

• While it's true that Communist China has never treated me as badly as CBP, I know this isn't true for everyone who travels to China.

• All in all, if you're going to be detained, searched, and harassed at the border in an extra-legal manner, I guess it's Seattle over Newark.

• It took a great deal of thought before I posted about my experience because it honestly appears to make things worse for me in the future.

• Even if it makes things worse for me, I refuse to be silent about state sponsored systematic detainment, searching, and harassment.

• In case it is not abundantly clear: I have not been arrested, nor charged with any crime, nor indicted in any way. Land of the free? Hardly.

• I'm only counting from the time that we opened my luggage until it was closed. The airport was basically empty when I left.

• It's funny that the forensics guy uses EnCase. As it, like CBP, apparently couldn't find a copy of the Bill of Rights I dd'ed into the disk.

• The forensics guy apparently enjoyed the photo with my homeboy Knuth and he was really quite kind. The forensics guy in Newark? Not so much.

• The CBP agent asked me for data - was I bringing data into the country? Where was all my data from the trip? Names, numbers, receipts, etc.

• The mental environment that this creates for traveling is intense. Nothing is assured, nothing is secure, and nothing provides escape.

• I resisted the temptation to give them a disk filled with /dev/random because I knew that reading them the Bill of Rights was enough hassle.

• I'm flying to Toronto, Canada for work on Sunday and back through Seattle again a few days later. Should be a joy to meet these guys again.

• All of this impacts my ability to work and takes a serious emotional toll on me. It's absolutely unacceptable.

• What happens if I take a device they can't image? They take it. What about the stuff they give back? Back doored? Who knows?

• Does it void a warranty if your government inserts a backdoor into your computer or phone? It certainly voids the trust I have in all of it.

• I dread US Customs more than I dreaded walking across the border from Turkey to Iraq in 2005. That's something worth noting.

• I will probably never feel safe about traveling internationally with a computer or phones again.

• None the less, safe or not, I won't stop working on Tor. Nor will I cease traveling. I will adapt and I will win. A hard road worth taking.

[first tweet in series / final tweet in series]


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

    I hope that’s a joke.

    1. If they think your arrival without cellphone or laptop is suspicious because you’ve been on Twitter the day before, I’m not surprised.

  2. The new police state is here. It is now, and it is not going away.

    The future has never looked scarier to me.

    Little brother help me.


  3. Could some apologists get on this thread fast and point out how this guy should just move to one of those lesser countries (i.e. those that are not the US) if he doesn’t like being searched? Or that he shouldn’t be worried because only guilty people go to jail in the US?

    I am seriously thinking of flying to Canada next time I have to visit and driving across the border. Flying directly in or out of the US is obviously just not worth it these days.

    1. Why would suggesting he up and leave the US permanently be something an apologist would say? The fact is that the harassment won’t stop until they get what they’re after so why give them the chance?

      I am Australian and if the government were harassing me in that manner relocating elsewhere would be my first order of business. You don’t owe the country you live in your allegiance.

      1. If he moves to another country because they keep harassing him when he enters the US, the US will just demand his extradition back here. The cat isn’t going to let the mouse go away.

      2. “Why would suggesting he up and leave the US permanently be something an apologist would say?”

        Murrayhenson is likely referring to the idea that the apologist of this case would consider this country to be perfect as is, and any action taken by any agency charged with our security or defense is totally justified regardless of the laws and freedoms it would jeopardize. If you’re going to complain about an action taken by the US military, police force, or homeland defense organizations, then you might as well just live somewhere else. It’s a sentiment expressed often, which is why it’s expected in this instance.

        1. It’s a sentiment expressed often, which is why it’s expected in this instance.

          I’ve actually seen Wikileaks supporters living overseas (or in Canada) express that sentiment more often than “apologists”. And some living here in US have suggested that we should expatriate.

      3. My family escaped from Hungary in 1956, after the revolution, crossing fields in the night while soldiers were in the woods. Some people my parents knew were shot, some were captured, interrogated and imprisoned.

        We came to North America in search of freedom, to replace the requirement of handing over your papers to any policeman who chose to question you; the obligation to report to the police station any time you went to another town for longer than X days; the inability to leave the country without permission.

        Hungary now feels freer than Canada and US.

      4. while you make a good point for leaving if you dont’ like the government…

        australia? are you kidding?
        have fun watching movies, porn, or playing video games. better make sure no one thinks you broke copyrights.

        oh, and what others have said about country!=government.

    2. Its not just the guilty that go down. The level of paranoia is so extreme right now that I believe they will break the boundaries of human rights first and work out how to justify it later.

    3. If it were only true that just the guilty go to prison in the US… We’re in a totalitarian state, friend.

    4. “… only guilty people go to jail in the US …”

      huh? i think Cornelius Dupree Jr. would disagree with that

    1. He can’t TRAVEL with them. He tweeted this as a recount after he got back to the states and had time to sleep.

      Also, little late boingboing but thanks for finally getting the news up!

  4. I think we all knew the searches weren’t random. I flew at some point not too long after 9/11 and when I went in to pick up my ticket at the e-kiosk it just pulled up this screen that said I had to go to an agent. She was immediately abrasive and asked me if I had changed my mind about flying—um no. Anyway, after asking her some questions she said you bought and then canceled the same ticket 30 times. I think I would have remembered that. She basically told me to put everything in my checked luggage (free back in those days) because I would be searched at every stop including the gate. After getting on the plane I remembered that the on-line ticket booking system was spotty when I had bought the ticket and each time I tried to purchase it, it said try again later we’re experiencing technical difficulties. I had just spent like 20 minutes entering all my info so naturally I hit the back button and tried again—apparently 30 times until it worked. In today’s world I would probably be on the no-fly list.

  5. Sucks for Jake. But I just flew in to the USA and I didn’t get the body cavity search or anything. People are paranoid, and spend too much time watching TV and reading stuff on the internet.
    I fly international all the time, and it’s NOT the police state everyone thinks it is.
    People need to realize that flying in and out of different countries is not a casual thing, crossing borders is no joke!
    That said, I salute Jake for not being intimidated!

    1. I think you’re missing the point here: as noted in this article, and in the earlier incident account on Boing Boing, Jake is specifically being targeted because of his past volunteer work with Wikileaks.

      1. The problem is this, Yes, Jake is most likely on some watch list, and he gets hassled when he flies in and out of the country. I understand that part. It’s shitty for Jake, and as someone who flies frequently and has been stopped by customs in different countries, I can empathize, it’s always a nightmare, but it’s a part of international travel. As our world becomes more connected, people need to realize that crossing a country’s border is not casual matter, and customs inspections is no joke!
        What worries me is this, people read about someone affiliated with Wikileaks getting harassed at the airport, and then they think everyone is subject to this kind of treatment, then they think it’s going to happen to them, then they are afraid to travel.

        I suppose I am looking at from the point of view of someone who travels frequently, and, people’s reactions to this article.

        (Sorry about the multiple postings!)

        1. Mostly it seems like you’re missing the point of the post and making it be all about you.

          1. Maybe I am, but I hope people don’t walk away from this article, and become afraid to travel overseas.

          2. Hey speedreeder, indeed, no one needs to worry about traveling overseas: as long as they be quiet little obedient government’s bitches that remain quiet when said government does atrocities, they’ll be able to travel just fine.

            But say something the government doesn’t like, and that government will threaten you with illegal searches, intimidation, etc, etc until you’re too scared to speak up and be their little bitch again.

            So, shut the hell up and be free!

            You’d expect this sort of harassment of citizens in a 1970’s film showing a cliche of Soviet life, not being done in real life by the defender of democracy and champion of freedom, the United States of America!

          3. I’m not afraid to travel overseas. I’m afraid of becoming someone my government labels as a threat, simply if I happen to exercise my rights of free expression and free association.

            I’m afraid that I might, simply in the course of exercising the rights guaranteed to me by the constitution, end up on some government watchlist, and as a result, be harassed, be detained, be denied a lawyer, have my belongings searched and seized without probable cause (or a warrant)… and without any hope of redress.

            Simply, I am afraid of a government that cares little for due process, and even less for the rights of its citizens.

            Make no mistake: This is not about travel. This is about liberty.

            And before you level accusations of paranoia, let me say this. I’m not a volunteer for wikileaks. I’ve never been a member of a radical organization. I’ve never attended a protest…I’ve never done anything that would get me flagged for this kind of treatment. I can travel with my laptop and phone with a certain measure of (illusory) confidence. Except…except.

            If this could happen to one person, simply for being involved in something the government does not like (but cannot ban)…it could happen to any of us. Now is our chance to speak out against it.

            When it starts affecting ordinary, invisible people like you and me? It’ll be too late to do anything about it.

          4. Maybe I am, but I hope people don’t walk away from this article, and become afraid to travel overseas.

            What people are afraid of is not flying overseas but rather coming back to the U.S. or, if it’s an international flight, having the plane land there for a layover.

        2. Don’t worry Speedreader. I think everyone has got that this is not the treatment everyone gets. It’s the treatment reserved for political dissenters who haven’t broken any law. We’ve got that, but, er, it’s the problem!
          Freedom is always the freedom of the dissenter.

        3. I can empathize,

          evidence please. Being detained in a foreign nation is not the same thing as being detained by your own, for speaking out.

    2. “I fly international all the time, and it’s NOT the police state everyone thinks it is.”

      None are free until all are free. That this should happen to an American citizen—who has, let’s be clear, not been charged with a crime—even once, let alone repeatedly, demonstrates clearly that we do live in a police state.

      Make no mistake, power acts in the service of power, and the rights of individuals are no longer even of nominal concern when Empire thinks itself threatened.

      Do not minimize such transgressions – resist!

      1. Anon105 and 22, no I’m not a dissenter. I’m an ex-pat, and I am a frequent traveller, I’ve also been hassled by customs at least twice, and picked for random inspection (before boarding) more times than I can count.
        Sometimes, you get picked for inspection, and the CBP go through all your stuff, ask you what everything is, where and when you bought everything, why you travelled overseas, and why you are coming back. The whole time you feel really nervous, and wonder what you ever did to deserve this, and then an hour later the customs people tell you to go. Thats their job. They also stop people from bringing in sex-slaves, explosives, illegal drugs, fruit flies and tiger cubs.
        Disagree with it all you want, but all persons entering the USA are subject to inspection, that’s the law, and it applies in every other country as well.
        And guess what? Some countries customs officials are even worse than in the USA. That’s the reality of international travel.

        I wonder has Jake traveled anywhere and NOT gotten hassled? Is that also news?

        1. This guy was targeted for harassment not “inspection”. Its clear form your post that you arent stupid. You know exactly thats what this was about. The govt. is harassing this guy. This had nothing to do with border inspection.

        2. “I wonder has Jake traveled anywhere and NOT gotten hassled? Is that also news?”

          I wonder if you read ANY part of the original post?

          “I dread US Customs more than I dreaded walking across the border from Turkey to Iraq in 2005. That’s something worth noting.”

    3. They came first for the Communists,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

      Then they came for me
      and by that time no one was left to speak up.

    4. Seriously dude, just because it didn’t happen to you doesn’t mean it should happen to others. Brother’s keeper and all that? The point is that he has broken no laws and yet is being detained against his will. There have been people (Muslim of course) abjucted from American airports and rendered to torturing nations. That OK with you too?

  6. murrayhenson: as a US citizen, driving across the border has been even more intrusive in my experience (Vancouver and I think Houlton, ME crossings). Especially when there are few cars and many bored officers with free time to pull up the carpeting, go through the loose change jar, and grill you on your career choice.

    On the other hand, I have seen them catch bus passengers with suitcases full of undeclared squid.

    1. I’ve used the crossing at Houlton, ME for 30 years and always had good experiences. (never used the one at Vancouver). The absolute worst experience came at Buffalo. I will drive to other places and cross if I need to be in the Falls area.

    2. Even small border crossings can be difficult–and strange–
      They questioned my son and even had “info-ma-shun” about charges that had been dropped–thanks to Choicepoint–in Spokane…Wa…

  7. People are way too paranoid, and spend too much time getting scared because of shit they read online or watched on TV. I fly all the time, and as much as this sucks for Jake, I haven’t been harassed by TSA or whatever.
    But one is subject to scrutiny by a country’s border patrol, usually it’s without incident, but sometimes can be a hassle. As our world becomes more connected, people need to realize that crossing a country’s border is not casual matter, and customs is no joke!
    As shitty as this is for Jake, he would have gotten hassled a lot worse if he had been caught with some apples and oranges in his bag!

    1. Again, I think you’re missing the point.

      This is not a “TSA or whatever” story. this is a wikileaks story.

      Thankfully, I too have not encountered this sort of thing myself at airports, and I hope not to.

      The point is: this is a new incident in what is now becoming an ongoing pattern of targeted harassment of persons identified as being affiliated in some way with Wikileaks. Appelbaum was targeted before, and we’ve blogged about other US citizens believed to be Wikileaks volunteers undergoing similar detention, questioning, and search.

      1. while it MIGHT be about wikileaks. it might also be about Tor, which he’s been developing for much longer, and he implied that was probably the reason he was stopped in Newark.

        what others’ said about SpeedReader missing the point and/or just not appreciating that his/her rights are and have been slipping away due partially to fault of his/her own.

    2. Good for you. I have, numerous times, based solely (as far as I know, anyway) on travel to certain countries, or in certain patterns. And I recognize that it’s even worse for friends from afore-not-mentioned countries entering the US.

      While I’m sure you think it’s cute to make light of Jake’s situation by invoking the ol’ fruit detention bit, it’s not really funny, nor is it accurate.

    3. Some people get harassed. Some people don’t. What this tells me is that the people who don’t still could be for participating in legal activities. “It hasn’t happened to me [yet],” is not a good reason to be dismissive.

      “As our world becomes more connected, people need to realize that crossing a country’s border is not casual matter, and customs is no joke!”

      How does the internet/globalization justify targeted harassment? I won’t ‘realize’ your position (let alone accept it as a reason to stop being suspicious of the authorities) until you can explain it better.

  8. You would think that customs would know by know that people like Jake have taken strong counter-measures because they know they will be hit with computer forensics every time they fly. In fact the more they subject Jake to various computer forensics, the more information gets “out there” in public about exactly how Customs does their snooping, so the less effective their forensics will be in future.

    I also wonder, how can they detain him and prevent him from entering the country? There is no legal way to deny a US citizen entry to the country. What is their legal grounds for detaining him?

  9. I know that feeling that Jake describes. Crossing the Iron Curtain felt like that. One never knew …

    And one thing is sure: Mr Obama won’t tear down that wall.

  10. “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.”

    This is the line that really got me. So…access to a lawyer is not possible because he was not under arrest? And no one was tortured because U.S. law does not apply when in Gitmo? And if they spell it ‘:Illegal><Detention”: then the grammar removes the Federal power of meepzorp illegality and we are all blarg free la de do da?


    1. I think the answer to this is if I’m not under arrest then I am leaving goodbye—I don’t think they can legally detain you without arrest and they can’t stop you from calling your lawyer or whoever you want. The problem is most of their power relies on bullying, threat and the lack of detailed knowledge of those being harassed. It is similar to store security, they really don’t have legal power but use intimidation to do their job. Let’s just say a relative got dragged into the back room after a little 5 finger discount and made to sign a confession but in later talks with her defense attorney she was made aware that she could have walked away at any time, they can still prosecute you but they can’t arrest you or hold you in any way—-pretty sure the TSA can legally detain you but if you’re not under arrest then you should walk while you can—-same for dealing with cops.

    2. Access to a lawyer has never been permitted when you’re not under arrest. This isn’t new. This isn’t extra-legal. This is the way the law has always been. The law has never been any other way.

      1. If you are neither under arrest nor detained, how is it possible that anyone can effectively deny or permit you to consult a lawyer?

        What will they do, physically stop you? If not, and if you can ignore or disregard their commands, then granted ,you are not under arrest -and there’s then no way then can stop you or forbid you from consulting a lawyer: OTOH if you cannot so disregard or ignore their commands or prohibitions, then you are in fact detained or arrested.

        From where would anybody gain such an authority to deny you access to a lawyer, without you being under their compulsion or power: that is, under their control and/or direction, which must therefore sufficient to constitute detention or arrest?

        And once that in fact happens, your right to consult a lawyer is “triggered”, is it not?

        Or does US Law now just close its eyes for a spell when that happens?

      2. “Access to a lawyer has never been permitted when you’re not under arrest.”

        That statement is false.

        1. IMHO, if somebody , not you, has the power to deny or permit you to see a lawyer, then bu necessary implication, you are in fact sufficiently within their power to be considered to be under arrest or detention – with all the legal rights that that status brings with it.

  11. Some people get harassed. Some people don’t. What this tells me is that the people who don’t still could be for participating in legal activities. “It hasn’t happened to me [yet],” is not a good reason to be dismissive.

    “As our world becomes more connected, people need to realize that crossing a country’s border is not casual matter, and customs is no joke!”

    How does the internet/globalization justify targeted harassment? I won’t ‘realize’ your position (let alone accept it as a reason to stop being suspicious of the authorities) until you can explain it better.

  12. My sympathies to Jake for having to deal with this. I’m glad he’s speaking out about it even though he’s probably not making friends at Homeland Security by doing so. I’m not a target (yet) for this kind of thing, but it’s good to know what this entails so that we can a) complain the government that should be representing us and b) be prepared if it happens to us. Just knowing that my laptop and cell phone can be confiscated at customs for an unknown period of time certainly changes my packing habits.

  13. “• The forensic specialist (who was friendly) explained that EnCase and FTK, with a write-blocker inline were unable to see the Bill of Rights.”

    Maybe the forensics guy was being sarcastic, as in, “We don’t recognise the Bill of Rights here”.

  14. “What worries me is this, people read about someone affiliated with Wikileaks getting harassed at the airport, and then they think everyone is subject to this kind of treatment, then they think it’s going to happen to them, then they are afraid to travel.”

    They came first for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.
    -Martin Niemöller

    1. Thanks for the quote. Niemoeller, Bonhoeffer, and others had the guts to stand up to Hitler, even at the cost of their lives. We may have to do the same if we want to reclaim our lost democracy.

  15. Regarding forensics software: interesting note released today by the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs (in Spanish)

    It’s an apology for naming an anti-terrorist police operation “Linux”, causing some confusion and “bad press”. In fact they chose the name because they use Linux for forensics :)

  16. Wow, I’m surprised. They searched him!? How could they…

    Appelbaum decides to go on an innocent vacation to Iceland (which we all know is actually the Island of Dr. Assange) during a time when a pissed-off US government is preparing their case against Wikileaks. And Appelbaum happens to be a volunteer with Wikileaks.

    I don’t think Appelbaum is facing espionage charges, but maybe something related to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. What the govt. will have to do is to prove that Appelbaum has helped Wikileaks in a political or “quasi”-political capacity, that is, he’s been lobbying for Wikileaks. I don’t know if the FARA can stretch beyond “lobbying” the Congress. But having a foreign PM as political sponsor for Wikileaks won’t make it easier for US nationals volunteering for Wikileaks.

    1. mm. i think you may misunderstand FARA and it’s application. if you volunteer to work for wikileaks, you’re not actively representing the interests of a foreign power. granted, foreign governments may benefit from wikileak’s activities, but they’re not funding it. far from being the “island of dr. assange,” iceland is creating a legal framework to benefit journalists, even radical ones like the wikileaks crewe. but i think you would have a hard time demonstrating that iceland’s govt is providing material support for the purpose of lobbying congress. well. at least not on the wikileaks issue.

      1. I haven’t misunderstood anything. Here is the law:

        22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq.

        DEFINITIONS […]

        (b) The term “foreign principal” includes–


        (3) a partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country.


        (c) Expect [Except] as provided in subsection (d) of this section, the term “agent of a foreign principal” means–

        (I will post the subsection (d) part here as well)


        (1) any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal, and who directly or through any other person–


        (ii) acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal;

        (iii) within the United States solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of such foreign principal; or


        (d) The term “agent of a foreign principal” does not include any news or press service or association organized under the laws of the United States or of any State or other place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, or any newspaper, magazine, periodical, or other publication for which there is on file with the United States Postal Service information in compliance with section 3611 of Title 39, published in the United States, solely by virtue of any bona fide news or journalistic activities, including the solicitation or acceptance of advertisements, subscriptions, or other compensation therefor, so long as it is at least 80 per centum beneficially owned by, and its officers and directors, if any, are citizens of the United States, and such news or press service or association, newspaper, magazine, periodical, or other publication, is not owned, directed, supervised, controlled, subsidized, or financed, and none of its policies are determined by any foreign principal defined in subsection (b) of this section, or by any agent of a foreign principal required to register under this subchapter;


        (o) The term “political activities” means any activity that the person engaging in believes will, or that the person intends to, in any way influence any agency or official of the Government of the United States or any section of the public within the United States with reference to formulating, adopting, or changing the domestic or foreign policies of the United States or with reference to the political or public interests, policies, or relations of a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party;

        So, no, I haven’t misunderstood anything.

        1. look at the first section and explain how ioerror is an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal, and who directly or through any other person– blah blah blah.

          1. Or if you’re not happy with it, then this might help you: “or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal…”

            It’s watertight, buddy. If I were “ioerror”, I would have my lawyers at ACLU have a serious look into the matter. The government might slap him from a direction he or the ACLU would never expect. And it means that even the FARA might be a too small a stick for the taste of the government. Shit, this was ONE law I, as someone who has no interest for the law, could come up with. Imagine what the government is cooking up.

          2. Um… how does Jacob act “at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal”?

            He is not working FOR Assange or anyone else and Wikileaks is not “a partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country” which would define it as a foreign principal.

          3. Um… how does Jacob act “at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal”?

            He’s a Wikileaks volunteer. Wikileaks is a “foreign principal” by the definition set in the law. Wikileaks is “an international non-profit organisation” (from the Wikipedia article). It obviously doesn’t have its seat in the US, or Appelbaum wouldn’t have had to go on “vacations” to Iceland.

            Just RTFL: 22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq.

          4. Does volunteer = agent? (For agency is the relation the definition in the Statute you cited is aiming at).

            Whether or not whatever this guy does for Wikileaks falls within the words of this Law is a question of fact, not of job title….and therefore the presumption of innocence kicks in: they need to prove that he’s Wikileaks’ agent as a matter of fact, for this Statute to apply.

            If the Statute wanted to catch “volunteers” or “donors”, it would say so plainly and simply.

          5. Oh I see: FARA is a useful relic of the 1950s era “commie witch-hunt” legislation.

            Whippin’ up fear of foreigners, eh?

          6. No. “The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938.” (In an obvious effort to curb Nazi influence.)

            But for the “Commie witch hunt” stuff.. You’re still off by a decade. It wasn’t until December 1962 that the DoJ forced the Communist Party of USA to register as a Foreign Agent.

        2. Interesting. So FARA would apply to James Richardson, since he’s written at least one op-ed for the Guardian, right? Wonder if he gets searched at the border…

          1. Oh, I just went from the 1951 USSC decision date upholding the Constitutionality of the Statute….


            …US vs Peace Information Center, 97 F.Supp 255 (D.D.C. 1951).

            This is the first time I’ve ever even heard of the thing: and I really have neither the time nor the interest to peruse it.

            How Americans choose to dis-advantage foreigners under their Laws is their own business, anyhow.

        3. …under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal,…

          is the part where you’re wrong. As a volunteer his livlihood is not derived from a foriegn power or agent. In lieu of that, you’d have to prove some other enticement that he was being ‘supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized.

          And once that isn’t the case, the rest of your justification, which rests on the above, falls apart entirely.

          thanks for playing.

    2. That Wikileaks has not committed any crime is to be noted. Think about it: if Edward R. Murrow were alive today, he’d be either in prison, or on the presidential assassination list. Same for Ron Ridenauer.

  17. yup. it is REALLY strange that 10 years ago in-Q-tel invested in a startup whose products made it easy for chinese dissidents to smuggle info past the great firewall. and yet they never upgraded their humint and opsec processes here to deal with the inevitable leak of sensitive information.

  18. He’s cute.

    Oh, and, ahem, yeah. Entering the US is a nightmare. I dislike that the Land of the Free has my fingerprints on file, while my own country (the UK, which I’m informed is a fascist police state) doesn’t.

  19. It’s unfortunate how CBP is breaking the protections afforded to US Citizens; I agree with SFSlim’s sentiment that none are free until are free. That this sort of injustice doesn’t happen to everyone isn’t as important as it happening to someone. We should all be wary though, if the CBP cannot be honest to inform someone if they have been targeted for a search versus being randomly searched, or honest about someone being denied rights without criminal charges.

    However, perhaps Mr. Appelbaum should take the opportunity to arrange for his lawyer to meet him at the airport on future returns from international trips as a possible deterrent? I may have misunderstood his tweetes, but it sounds like most of the incident occurred after baggage claim, a typically open area of the airport. It’s disappointing that it should come to that, but appears as though it may be necessary.

    1. “it sounds like most of the incident occurred after baggage claim, a typically open area of the airport”
      Not for an international flight. You need to have your bags with you, along with your customs declarations, when you re-enter the country.

    2. Jacob was intercepted by a CBP agent at the gate. Any attorney, ACLU included, won’t be allowed in the secured area unless they happen to be traveling with him or they are flying to somewhere else.

  20. When the right to oppose the ruling political power is curtailed we no longer have democracy.

    When an organisation is classed as a ‘terrorist group’ or harrassed by the Government for non-violent acts that raise transparency, it is the Government’s objective to reduce transparency.

    Lack of transparency curtails our ability to oppose; we simply don’t know what’s happening.

    Don’t be fooled into thinking this is NOT a serious serious issue!

    Any Opposition party would recognise how serious this was if one of their members were treated this way. It is how opposition is treated in non-democractic African and Asian nations.

  21. PlaneShapber wrote, “perhaps Mr. Appelbaum should take the opportunity to arrange for his lawyer to meet him at the airport on future returns from international trips as a possible deterrent”

    On January 9, Applebaum stated:

    After a good deal of thought, I’ve decided to fly home from Iceland tomorrow to Seattle as planned. The ACLU will meet me at the airport.

    On January 12, he stated:

    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.

    1. Thanks for the earlier reference, I didn’t understand the context of that tweet meant they were waiting for him at the airport. I wonder if he refused to cooperate with the CBP agents, would they place him under arrest and therefore be unable to deny him the right to his lawyer? Of course I say that as though they were legally able to deny him the right to speak with his lawyer while not under arrest, which they are not. There is not supposed to be some third option which executive agencies can use to prevent a US Citizen from contacting legal aid while still maintaining physical custody. Of course, there are too many instances where that is the case.

      Mathdemon, I suppose it depends on the crowd we both place ourselves in as to which we observe making more statements of that kind. I won’t say there aren’t Wikileaks supporters that express that sentiment, but the context of Murrayhenson’s original post suggests s/he wasn’t referring to them. Personally, I would believe that there are simply numerically more “apologists” than Wikileaks supporters, international or domestic.

  22. PlaneShaper: ever travel internationally? The way it works is:

    1. Exit plane
    2. Passport check
    3. Pick up luggage
    4. Drop off customs declaration and potential luggage search
    5. Exit to waiting area

    You don’t get to see those picking you up until step 5. It is not at all the same as domestic travel.

    1. Anon, I’ve only traveled overseas for military service which I already expect to be different from standard domestic travel.

      No, I did not realize that customs would allow you to get your bag prior to the waiting area. I would have expected customs to perform whatever searches it wanted to with your checked luggage before it was already back in your physical control, rather than giving it to you just to (potentially) inspect it again. Thank you for the additional information.

      1. You have me curious, as a military traveller are you saying your luggage is checked between when you hand it in at departure and pick it up at arrival WITHOUT YOU PRESENT, or is it JUST NOT CHECKED?

        Both seem more than a little questionable to me; how about anyone else?

        I mean, WOW!!

        1. Though my experiences are probably different from military personnel who reenter the country through civilian airports, I’ve never reentered the US through anything other than a military base. Yes, we had CBP agents and military police inspecting our baggage, but you can expect a different setup just because of the different environment (like, being in a hangar versus being in a terminal, and flying on military transport planes versus commercial airliners).

          I don’t see why you’ve emphasized having luggage searched without being present, though? This happens all the time in domestic travel; once you hand your bag to the TSA agents they can perform a wide array of searches on it without you being there. Probably about 25% of the time I get my checked baggage back with a little flyer inside that says it was inspected. I assumed (apparently wrongly) it would be the same for international travel and if they wanted to inspect your checked baggage, they simply would while they have control of it.

          I really don’t have issue with a physical inspection of things for safety’s sake. I do have a problem with electronically searching digitally recorded data using disingenuous reasoning to incite some sort of moral fear, prevent access to legal aid, detainment well beyond necessity to identify citizenship or possible physical threats, and dishonesty by officials charged with enforcement.

          1. In domestic travel your luggage is inspected once on departure for dangerous items like bombs. There is no need to inspect it again on arrival.

            In international travel to the USA your luggage is inspected by the foreign country for bombs. Then it is inspected on arrival for even more dangerous items like weed or porn.

            You have to collect your bag from the belt and then present it to a customs agent. They don’t search bags and then shout out in the baggage hall “hey whose bag is this? It’s full of weed!”

          2. If something was found in your luggage during a search when you where not present, like say a large quantity of drugs, and you did not place it there, what would your defence be?

            The bag should really be sealed before you hand it in at departure and if when it arrives at the destination you notice the seal is broken, you should notify authorities right at the pickup point and before you open it. That gives you a defence.

            It is known that airport baggage handlers sometimes ship stuff to other baggage handlers when they see a bag going ‘where-they-need-it-to-go’ and they have friendly recipient handlers at that destination. People are rotting in jail NOW who claim not to own what their luggage was found to contain. You need to be able to prove you don’t own it!

            Lock your bag and if possible use tamper-proof security tape so you can tell whether your bag has been tampered with, or YOU will be guilty of possession for whatever the bag contains!!

          3. Lock your bag and if possible use tamper-proof security tape so you can tell whether your bag has been tampered with, or YOU will be guilty of possession for whatever the bag contains!!

            The only problem with that is that you’re now required to use locks that the TSA can open. If not, they can break the locks and/or the bag if they feel like opening it for inspection. The fact that your bag went through the baggage system unsecured, as it is required to do, should introduce sufficient reasonable doubt.

  23. it’s worth noting CPB has a tear-sheet re: custom’s enforcement at

    it lists “reasons why you’re getting inspected” as well as “what US law allows us to search your crap (and presumably hold you while we’re searching your crap, or in ioerror’s case, hold you while we search your thumb drives and wonder why you don’t have a cell phone. i mean seriously, who doesn’t have a cell phone these days, what are you some kind of pinko communist?”

    i’m not a lawyer, or an expert in international trade by any means. but following the links to US law listed on this doc might be informative.

  24. over the past 3-4 years i have travelled fairly extensively in europe & also the usa as a single male traveller going on brief holidays as a tourist. i always travel with just hand luggage, to save time checking in/out bags. in europe, with my uk passport, the trip thru checkin, security, customs etc is a breeze at both ends, usually i am the 1st person from the plane to leave the destination airport.

    at washington dulles & lax however, my disembarkation card gets highlighted with a number that sends me through a very slow exit, with mildly aggresive interrogation, full emptying & search of my bag, finally departing the airport as the last passenger from the plane, with a miserable & grudging “enjoy your trip to the usa” from the security man

    so it’s not just alleged “wikileaks” people, it’s also a profiling system that has put me off going to the states unless absolutely necessary. this will long term be of detriment to the usa, which was built on immigration but now seems to be going the opposite direction towards exclusion & paranoia. a shame as i’d rather america led the world rather than russia, china extreme islam etc

  25. The layout in SeaTac is:

    You get off plane, and are diverted to a long hallway, down an escalator, to Passport Control where you wait in a long line. At that point, they check passports and that you have the appropriate declarations form.

    Then, once past that you go down again, collect your bags, and typically talk to one or two agents who are circulating and asking questions while you proceed to wait in another long line to talk to another agent who will either let you pass or direct you to where they inspect luggage.

    Then, once past that, you check your bags again. If you’re connecting to another flight, you go through security. If not, you get to go in a special train car and get to the main terminal outside security, (at which point, you can meet anyone coming to greet you) and then your bags will show up in the international arrivals carousel.

    FWIW, CBP has been more professional there than the TSA.

  26. “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.”

    I’m not going to address Jacob’s specific incident here, this catch-22 is what worries me most. What grounds do they have to deny you access to your lawyer REGARDLESS of arrest or detention? If I want to talk to a lawyer NOW, since when do I have to be under arrest to exercise that right??

    1. 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.

      “Great. Since I’m not under arrest, you won’t mind if I make a phone call then?”

    2. Um, Anon, you haven’t been paying attention. Hundreds, maybe more, of US citizens are being ‘detained’ without charge and without access to legal counsel. 19-year-old US citizen Gulet Mohamed (he turned 19 in detention) is being held in Kuwait without charge, at the behest of the US government, tortured and interrogated. His crime seems to be that he has a middle eastern name, and relatives abroad – who he was visiting on winer break.

  27. Governments are jerks but the funny thing is they are at the worlds technical mercy.

    We (civilians) inspire, create and innovate all the time. Keep up the good fight. It keeps the rest of us Free.

    If I were you… I would look into distributed computing as a way to disseminate information… like say a bit torrent type architecture.

    And… it looks like the more you expose our enemies… the less our beloved US government can ‘legally’ oppose you.

    Good luck! Keep on keepin the peace or making it happen!

  28. Just a wish for better times for you all. It’s good USA (and the rest of the world)have guys like you to stand up for freedom.
    Even here in Norway we can see how it must be over there.
    Only problem is that norwegian gov. is adapting US ways to fast, guess it’s our turn next.
    Keep it up!

    1. It shouldn’t surprise us, though it should terrify us, that the world is following the US in lock step as our civil liberties are abolished. It is the capitalist giant, released from all constraints, that owns our governments now. Our votes mean nothing, since all politics is funded by the capitalist market.

  29. One more reason for me to ignore going to the states, unfortunatelly govs still have too much power but we can all make it change

  30. Unjust treatment, whether a search at an airport or illegal rendition, is so damaging to the US’s worldwide reputation that it is now used as legal defence against extradition to the US.

    SEE for full article:

    “1pm: Glenn Greenwald has a post following on from the Assange legal team’s invocation of the possibility of extradition from Sweden to the US:

    And now we have the spectacle of Julian Assange’s lawyers citing the Obama administration’s policies of rendition and indefinite detention at Guantanamo as a reason why human rights treaties bar his extradition to any country (such as Sweden) which might transfer him to American custody. Indeed, almost every person with whom I’ve spoken who has or had anything to do with WikiLeaks expresses one fear above all others: the possibility that they will end up in American custody and subjected to its lawless War on Terror “justice system.” Americans still like to think of themselves as “leaders of the free world,” but in the eyes of many, it’s exactly the “free world” to which American policies are so antithetical and threatening ”

    This is not about inconvenient security checks, it’s about the loss of basic rights of fair trial and application of the law.

  31. I wonder if shipping electronics via a carrier would be a better idea. There is probably more thrill in shaking down a traveler than in inspecting thousands of packages.

  32. way back in the day I used to get “randomly” selected every single time. this was following the notorious “Battle in Seattle”. it is not a good feeling.

  33. Y’know, I was always terribly cynical about the Obama presidency, expecting him to be a lukewarm centrist in roughly the same mold as Clinton. I never expected the civil liberties situation to become *worse*, drastically worse for American citizens who haven’t been charged with a crime. And with no provocation whatsoever, no new terrorist attack to provide some veneer of justification.

    I’m an American expat who typically travels back to the US a few times a year. No more. It feels obscene to even participate in such a system. I’m sure Appelbaum could do the same – find an employer in Iceland or wherever, acquire a long-term residence permit, and just stay the hell out. (For those who mentioned “extradition” – again, that would require being charged with an actual crime.)

    In the meantime, I really hope he and the ACLU are pursuing every legal avenue available in challenging this flagrant violation of basic rights.

  34. Never before have I wished so much that a divine force exists somewhere in this universe.

    Because honestly, I don’t see any possible way anymore, even in the USA, of ever getting due justice where needed. The existence of a God or Gods, hopefully benevolent, someday punishing these overbearing, authoritarian, Orwellian assholes that hypocritically claim to promote “freedom” and “justice” for their hypocrisy as I view it, in their own personal hell, is all the happiness I have left to hope for.

    Because this proves hypocrites are everywhere, abusing their power, engendering fear into innocent, intelligent, and well-meaning people who try to exercise the rights they are said to have.

    Fuck these assholes, fuck their masters, fuck their hypocrisy, fuck their ignorance of reason and the reality of law, fuck their smug overbearing attitude, and most of all, fuck their harassing of innocent people and helping to create a police state mentality.

    People like this, along with the weak-minded assholes who selectively choose to ignore this constant abuse, despite constant stories about it, are the reason the US is becoming, will become, and in many places already is, a police state.

    1. Instead of ranting and raving and leaving it in some divine hands why don’t you actually do something about it.


      1/ protest loudly, visibly and publicly; write a letter to your Congressman, or

      2/ if you know of illegal or unethical activities that you can prove send the proof, real hard documented evidence not suspicion or rumour, to Wikileaks, you will be anonymous.

      That is why we poor little bastards need Wikileaks and why those in power hate it like they’ve never hated anything before!

      It is also why the media hates Wikileaks, it shows that they cannot be trusted to keep you anonymous.

      Wikileaks ONLY exists becaue the media has failed!

      1. Greg,

        I agree. But what I don’t think you don’t realize is, I make a point of discussing these issues as much as I can when they happen with the people around me.

        However, I’ve learned since the incidents in 2001 that:

        1. Once fear overtakes people, irrationality sets in. People who can see reason or cared in the first case will care more, and go out of their way to shout about being reasonable. By the same token, people who were otherwise never given much opportunity to show their inherent irrationality, stupidity, or ignorance of things around them become even more irrational, even more stupid, and almost zealously ignorant, as if it were a badge of honor. Or because they just can’t cope anymore with the reality around them. This happens to people on both sides.

        Basically, people since 2001 have become markedly more zealous in being ignorant, or in my case, zealously aware of terrible things like this.

        2. The point:

        I’ve learned that, in my own experience, the people around me care even less about their rights and the possibility of a police state than they did before 2001, and that I care even more makes it WORSE.

        I’ve become more polarized toward what I see as injustice, and the people who were willfully ignorant to begin with around me care even less about hearing what I have to say, because I point out so many glaring examples of people wiping their ass with other’s privacy and civil rights so often, they don’t want to hear it anymore when they do understand, or don’t care to care because it takes so much more vigilance to remember all these instances and circumstances that they can’t keep up, because they think all is already lost.

        So what the hell am I supposed to do???

        Write my congresscritter? Have you been paying attention to how little they write the laws to get rid of this stuff? How little they know about the internet and technology? I’m not trying to sound condescending, if I do, I’m sorry, but writing a congressman doesn’t do shit. They are the people who wrote things like the Patriot Act, and passed it WITHOUT READING IT! They have consistently proven the most willfully ignorant of all of us! Maybe THATS why their approval rating has been in the can for the last decade- they are hurting all of us through ignorance, but we’re all too damn ignorant to notice enough to fix it!

        I’m sure my theory is right, as everyone else I knew before 2001 that was like me in caring about this stuff has exhibited the same symptoms as me, to similar degrees. And the people who didn’t care before 2001 that I knew well also have gotten worse.

        I wish I could help Wikileaks. I would renounce my citizenship out of years of disgust and live on a boat at sea in international waters if I thought I could actually do real good for Wikileaks in a measurable capacity, but I can’t.

        Greg, and everyone- what we really need to figure out more than anything else, if we want to change things, is to stop believing popular theories.
        Theories like “You can change things if you vote!”, and “Voting X into office will change things!”, or “I’m moving to X country cause it’s better there, and people doing so en masse will make my point clear to the rest!”

        It’s all bullshit. What humanity itself needs is a genius of caring. A school of thought or person to act as a catalyst for real change, like the hippies were to their generation, but we need them to do this:

        Answer finally how to erase the exaggerations of mankind’s ego and fear following crisis, and get people to see, collectively and strongly, the danger in irrationality and ignorance.

        What we need to reverse all of this is to find a way to get people to care about things again, and how to react to tragedy with some form of REASON, and actually learn from history.

        We need a modern day, international Socrates. Or some kind of movement that harnesses people returning to and embracing public discussion and reason!

        That’s my contribution, sorry to rant, please don’t devoule me BB! I care so damn much, but I feel powerless to change anything. All I can do is speak from my little soapbox, and hope someday people will listen and care as much as me or more.

        1. Its nice you care.

          Sounds like the events of 2001 were a turning point for you.

          My advice for what its worth is to just keep talking about your views with friends and collegues (without becoming annoying or sounding like some sort of preacher). You’d be surprised how much difference it does actually make.

          I have friends that have slowly come around to some of the points I have made – and occasionally you get someone who has had a change of thinking and unwittingly quotes you back to you. Thats a good feeling!

        2. I hear you, but what is being experienced is not new; remember Kent State and why it happened. See

          One of America’s best-loved dissidents, Henry David Thoreau, in the 1849’s wrote about this issue, and while it is not all pertinent, and in today’s terms he would be seen as a madman or maybe even terrorist, it is amasing how similar the situation that he complains about is.


          See his classic 1849 piece “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” at or grab an audio version here:

          I don’t have the answer, I just know I need to resist. Do anything you can, it is much more than most will do.

          Whatever you do, do not give up.

          1. Greg, thanks- I will never give up. “I don’t have the answer, I just know I need to resist”- I will be quoting you at some point. That’s how I feel in a nutshell.

            I’ve read more books than most libraries hold in my short lifetime, and I haven’t read Thoreau yet- but I’ve certainly heard of him. Those links are gems- I will definitely be reading those. The summary on the audio page of the text is exactly how I feel about it all. I had a feeling there were others before me who felt the way specifically I did, it’s nice to know not everyone has forgotten history.

            I feel like Dr. Who in that I’ve seen all that’s gone wrong from reading history, and it’s all happening over and over, but I can’t seem to figure out how to stop it all by getting people to understand history.

            I am so aware sometimes, I’m aware I must sound preachy, and I try not to be. I intentionally hear everyone out, and then try to bring up my view. I agree with people whenever they’re right, even if I don’t like the answer, because I know only a logical progression of signifying what’s right will ever get us anywhere. It’s the only way of living I can consider logical, and not have people call me a nut.

            I hope Thoreau is something like that, as I’ve heard a lot of people quote him.

          2. I picked up this edition of ‘Walden and Civil Disobedience’ when I was 16 or so, at the height of the late 90’s protest movements, and it was a huge influence on me. Since then I’ve turned away from the (perceived) fatalism of much of that philosophy towards government abuse, but I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.

            And don’t forget John Stuart Mill!

            And hell, I can’t leave out Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging.

            For BastardNamban especially, all three can be had used for about $4 shipped each. +/- a dollar or two if you use eBay.

          3. That Ecotopia Emerging synopsis is eerily nice to my ears. And John Stuart Mill FTW!

            Thanks for the book recommendations. If I ever start to think I’ve read too much, I’ll just remember I haven’t read enough. At some point though, I need to hear other people have read and understand this stuff, so I know I’m not the only one who thinks anymore.

            No one seems to listen anymore, or try to learn the causes behind things. I’m convinced too many Americans really are content to just watch TV and not care anymore, like my parents. Everyone seems to be in a cynic spiral of reassignment or disillusionment, the idea that we live in a police state now is dismissed as a crackpot zing now with the same feeling people have had for ages that politicians are all assholes.

            How did such a specific concept with much factual backing in specific examples become so blasé? Surely I can’t be the only one noticing this. Are we all so numb to it after 8 years of Bush, and now Obama’s non-transparency that it’s just a given? When enough people worry about something, shouldn’t that worry alone be some sort of indicator, a cause for alarm that some truth or something lies in it, and that at the very least, we should address that at some point?

            Maybe I’m just insane. I’ll leave it there and get to sleep.

          4. Funny what shows up jsut when you need it.

            The link to this speech by JFK was Tweeted just a short while ago.

            Send this to your friends and ask them if this is how they see their Government behaving today.

            I have not confirmed its validity but it seems authentic.

          5. Damn some of the charlatans on the web; I have now reviewed the full text (here ) of the speech on the Youtube link provided earlier and find it has been edited to present only half the speech. My apologies.

            Though the full speech includes a request that the Press show restraint in what it publishes on the basis of national security, I still find the statements on secrecy are powerful.

            I leave it to you to judge whether JFK’s comments on secrecy are negated by his comment on Press restraint for the purposes of national security. I do not feel this is the case though the comment on press restraint certainly changes the overall tone.

            Again, please accept my apologies, and again, damn the charlatans; I do strive to remain above the dissemination of half-truths they feel is acceptable.

        3. How is it possible that so many people are willing to give the government control of every part of their private lives, give up the democratic process without a peep, and yet won’t stand for government participation in equitable healthcare for all, or decent public schooling?

  35. I used to fly regularly (one year I spent two months traveling, quite often not in any single city for more than a day). After 9-11 I always traveled armed. Always. And since I flew one way all of the time, I always got inspected, and they never once turned a hair at the weapons I was carrying.

    In other words, the Canadian, American, and Chinese airport inspectors are all incompetent in my opinion.

    Now, if I were you, I’d always carry lots of books. Philosophy is good. Take up Latin, and carry lots of works from western Roman empire, there’s some entertaining stuff, and it will confuse the hell out of them.

    Or Sevententh century science. Some of it is fascinating, especially the stuff where they were trying to work out exactly how reproduction worked. Some of the theories were, um, entertaining.

    Books terrify them, but they are legal…

  36. After reading this I will never be taking my laptop with me on flights. My cell phone on the other hand is a must. Ill just wipe it before hand.

  37. Applebaum we appreciate your sense of humor, persistance, and what you have done. Kudos.

    Next time put the Bill of Rights in a format the rubes can decode.

  38. One thing a lot of people seem to be forgetting:

    Until you actually pass through the Customs and Border checkpoints in an airport, you technically haven’t entered the US.

    Legally, they were not required to allow him to speak to a lawyer. The Bill of Rights and Amendments are not in effect until you officially “enter” the US.

      1. The concept of “entry into the US” at an airport is a legal one, not a physical one. You’re on US soil the moment you land, but you haven’t “entered” the US until you’ve cleared Customs and Imm.

        Until you enter, your rights are non-existent. This is why the CBP has the authority to do things like warrantless search and seizure of property.

        1. The concept of “entry into the US” at an airport is a legal one, not a physical one. You’re on US soil the moment you land, but you haven’t “entered” the US until you’ve cleared Customs and Imm.

          Until you enter, your rights are non-existent. This is why the CBP has the authority to do things like warrantless search and seizure of property.

          I wish people wouldn’t make up things about how the Constitution works and repeat them as if they were facts. This is completely incorrect. Your Constitutional rights are in full force at the border.

          The reason warrantless searches are allowed is because the 4th amendment doesn’t require warrants. The 4th Amendment prohibits “unreasonable” searches and it prohibits the issue of warrants without a showing of probable cause. It doesn’t actually say when a warrant is required, and there are a bunch of contexts where the courts have (for better or for worse) determined that “reasonable” searches don’t require warrants. The border is one such context.

          If or exactly how the 4th amendment limits border searches of electionics has not been deteremined by the courts and is a matter of controversy, but the court’s jurisprudence in this area is shockingly deferential to the power of customs agents, allowing full body cavity searches and multi-day detainment of people merely upon “reasonable suspicion” which is a much weaker standard that probable cause. (IE “well she kinda looks like she might be a smuggler” is good enough.)

          Many of these contexts are regulated by statute rather than the Constitution. Laws like FISA and the ECPA require warrants and other kinds of judicial oversight in places that the Constitution does not. Congress needs to pass a law limiting border searches of electronics. They will not do so unless enough of us start demanding it.

  39. The US has not been “free” for quite some time.

    This first became apparent to me when ABC attempted to censor the broadcast of “the kiss” on “Roseanne”.

  40. Addendum- I’m not saying anyone here cares less than me, including you Greg. I’m not trying to insinuate a moral pissing contest.

    I just don’t know how to fix things, and that’s my take on it.

  41. “I think the answer to this is if I’m not under arrest then I am leaving goodbye—I don’t think they can legally detain you without arrest and they can’t stop you from calling your lawyer or whoever you want.”

    the problem with that is they can do ANYTHING they want, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. They are bullies and the law is what they say it is. I speak from experience on this, it dosn’t matter if you’re in the right, if you have all your paperwork in order, print outs from their own damn website, etc., they can just ignore everything you say or present. I got threatened, yelled at and escorted by armed gentlemen just for disagreeing with a border official.

  42. Interesting that he would write this up for a 30-minute delay. The last couple of times I made an international flight, I was help up for over 3 hours each for questioning (what was I doing on vacation – all the details of every city, etc., where was my money coming from (in general), etc.) as my friends and family waited past customs for me at the airport, here in Vancouver, Canada. Assuming I was a drug dealer, or something like that, from the way I was dressed, they broke apart or stole some of my handmade gifts which had gotten for friends and teachers, assuming that they contained some minute quantities of I have no idea what, threw my clothes hazardously around the place, etc. 3 hours! (30 minutes is nothing). I can only imagine what it might be like to have a cavity search etc. (thank goodness!), or be an attractive female – could the “questioning” go on all night, gang-rape style? Really. I agree with the author, that the problem is being in an apparently legal “no man’s land” when you are at customs. You’ve just been on vacation or business, you’re tired, you want to be home, and your loved ones are waiting, wondering what’s happened…

    The problem in my case, was, as the questioning went on, I really began to dislike the man who was questioning me, and got the feeling that he disliked me from the start, and the way he was treating me. The problem was in such a case, I could see any way out. Answering one question lead to others, and they went on and on and on. Were we two men on the street, I would of fought him physically, or likely walked away. With guns, tasers, rooms, etc. on the side of customs, it would be nice to have a layer present in these silly cases.

    If I were being groped by a TSA agent, I would certainly want a layer and witnesses present to press sexual assault charges, or else a friend present to hold me back, should it be my kid that was being grouped, and not myself.

    Good luck to this man, anyways. I’ve certainly cut back on my travel since running into Canada customs. It takes all the joy out of vacations, if you can’t pleasantly return home.

    You really feel you aren’t a citizen anymore.

  43. Well, we don’t fly through the USA. We just pick airports in Canada and abroad to get around, because I don’t want my loved ones molested by their security brutes.

  44. As a Resident Alien who has crossed from Canada in to the US hundreds of time both before becoming a registered alien and after. The border agents are incredibly inconsistent and the policies they enforce are just sometimes made up on the spot. I was once asked was I or had I ever been a homosexual. If I was specifically a target from those people beside just a weird looking I would be sweating buckets every time I had talk to them. I had more respect for Israeli agent that performed my cavity search back in the 90’s at least he was being getting off on the power he had over me.
    Jacob I applaud your courage and conviction.

    Jason ?

  45. kmoser,

    was he saying that? No matter, the U.S. does whatever it pleases, where ever it pleases.

    And again, if you find yourself in a situation with border officials, there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO. Oh I suppose you could try to walk away, call your attorney on your cell phone, scream for help, but about that time you would be thrown to the ground, roughed up and cuffed. Hell, they could just shoot you dead if they choose. :) And why not, they wouldn’t face responsibility or charges. Powertripping at it’s finest.

  46. I got my first legal molestation at SeaTac on Tuesday night after traveling at least once a month since 911. Obviously I’m not on the list yet.

    Anyways, I was thinking that if you are going to go through all this shit for the rest of us, maybe the least we can do is see you off or welcome you back as you travel. I am thinking at least a few people, maybe a few cameras – anything we can do to support your work and your stand.

    I admit that this thought just crossed my mind and don’t know of any ramifications that could appear. So if I am out of line or for some reason it would be worse for you, just don’t reply to this.

    Otherwise, I think tour shirts and lots of publicity are in order. I have to think that many Sounders feel the same.

    If it works for you, let us know your SeaTac dates / times and again thanks

  47. I seriously need to get back on board supporting the ACLU and relatedly the EFF. Even with my current under-employment, I need to make some sacrifices not just merely for my own online and analog civil liberties but especially/moreso to support organizations like the ACLU that directly support and defend people like Mr. Jake Applebaum.

    1. Anon #112:

      “Receipts count as “data”?????”

      Sure they do: almost anything may do so.

      Whether or not such data is also in any way useful, is an entirely different question – as well as being a much more important one.

      For if it’s not useful, why bother to gather it at all?

  48. Wait a minute, to all these people that seem to think that crossing a border is no joke. So we are going to a global world, but only for big corporations and not citizens. Citizens should just remain prisioners within their borders?

  49. Why is this tagged ‘Julian Assange’? It isn’t about him. The ‘wikileaks’ tags is sufficiently scoped.

  50. Be under no illusion. This is a story about states (not just US) using low level, I’ll-informed, officers to intimidate and silence people who are a threat to power (for perhaps a labyrinth of reasons). Hearing of someone’s legal rights being bent and stretched in such a manner should provoke each individual to take action. While people sit back and buy into ‘national security’ rhetoric, your rights and liberties are being eroded bit by bit. I am not suggesting that genuine national security issues be ignored, but wikileaks is about ‘information’ that might influence how you think. The issue for governments is that it is no longer in their control. Governments are made up of ordinary people. If you come across a friend of yours who tries to intimidate you into keeping silent about something you know, what would your reaction be, and what do you think their motivation might be? More importantly what would your reaction be when they follow you around indiscriminately, and tell you that they are doing it in your best interests?

  51. The man ain’t no mother-fuckin’ MC / I know everything he’s got to say against me / I am white, I am a fucking bum / I do live in a trailer with my mom / My boy future is an Uncle Tom / I do got a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob / Who shoots himself in the leg with his own gun / I did get jumped by all six of you chumps / And Wink did fuck my girl / I’m still standing here screaming “Fuck Amerika!”

  52. I can understand him not wanting to waste more time with those “off”icers with the /dev/random disk. But a fun ‘thumb drive pinata’ filled with the Bill of Rights, /dev/random, and a file would make for an fun search party anytime, just Encase.

  53. If he’s flying to Seattle from Pearson Airport, he won’t go through customs at Seattle. He’ll be “pre-cleared” in Pearson before he enters the US departures terminal. It will be yet another set of US agents. On the plus side, they’ll be operating under Canadian law with no arrest powers; if they really want to arrest him they’ll have to persuade the Canadians to do it for them. (Contrary to what people often assume, you are not on “US soil” after you get pre-cleared; an airport terminal is not like an embassy.)

  54. Fair play to Jacob for having the nerve to travel when it’s good bet that the state is hoping to pick him up. And his writing up of his experience helps keep the spotlight on government activities which in turn contributes in a small but important way to placing limitations on the arbitrary nature of the security services.

    The best place for a dissident to hide is in plain sight. As Chomsky said the security apparatus will know about you if you’re in any way involved in dissident activities. You are safer having some public knowledge about you, particularly if you can translate that knowledge into support.

    The last part is easier said than done, especially in a time when left wing progressive ideas have low levels of support amongst the population of the western world. But it is worth plugging away as seeking support from trade unions, progressive churches, women’s groups could make a difference. It will be necessary to go beyond geeks and civil liberties lawyers.

    The logic isn’t so much that your colleagues and neighbours will physically defend you – at this point it’s too big an ask – but that targeting you increases the probability of a negative reaction (from the government’s point of view) from them. This negative reaction would be a translation of passive to active support, increased radicalisation, participation in dissent etc.

    Authorities are usually not afraid of a few dissidents or far leftists. They are worried about such people gaining significant support from housewives.

    Wikileaks has taken on the global empire and Appelbaum is enmeshed in a dangerous situation and that itself brings a lot of pressure, not least of it psychological, but having public support and awareness does put some limitations on the action of the US government. It doesn’t mean he’d be scot free; they could still move against him but it’s something they’ll have to weigh up.

    Given the dark path the United States is travelling and given that Wikileaks is public enemy #1 – its unveiling of US machinations erodes the USA’s image as a force for freedom around the world, which itself was a huge source of its influence – and given the extreme threats that senior members of the US establishment have made against Wikileaks and Assange, I would encourage Appelbaum to consider his options abroad. That is, permanent exile.

    It’s true that he could still face extradition or extraordinary rendition, but it at least makes it harder for the USG to have their way with him.

    Whether he pursues that option or not, it is very sad for the United States, given its history as a place of refuge from oppressive governments, that exile is seriously being put forward for consideration.

  55. Jacob, you are a helper of an enemy of the state.
    The state is hardly going to greet you with a brass band.

    1. Hmmm, interesting observation.

      What if anything would distinguish an “enemy of the state” from an “enemy of the people”?

      All in all, IMHO both phrases sound strange, coming from the mouth of an American.

      Was John Dillinger an “enemy of the state”? An “enemy of the people”?

      Isn’t it more accurate to simply describe him as a criminal?

      I had always thought that as far as Americans in America go, one is either a criminal, or one is not.

      And that one could NOT exist in a sort-of “twilight zone” between the two: an “enemy of the State”, without NECESSARILY being a ACTUAL (or accused) criminal at the same time.

      Or has it become possible to be a purely “political criminal” in the USA?
      That is, that one can now be an “enemy of the state”, even though one has committed no crime?

      I simply do not believe that that is so.

  56. Last night’s episode of Off The Hook was about the same subject. Apparently, Emmanuel had a very similar experience (though with less computer forensics). He noted that they had run into Appelbaum during a stopover, accidentally. Given that Emmanuel’s job (like that of the writers at boingboing) is essentially journalism, I’m not entirely sure your luck will continue — especially if you accidentally run into someone directly connected with wikileaks or TOR on the way.

  57. From what I linked to above:

    “The 1966 FARA amendments broadened FARA’s coverage to include as agents those persons who seek to influence legislators and American public opinion by lobbying for economic and political interests of foreign entities.”

    How does this apply to Wikileaks at all? Who is “lobbying”?

    Or does “lobbying” = “speech of any type”?

    I note too that FARA is intended as an “information-gathering” statute.

    Information which once gathered is then to be kept secret from Americans, no doubt?

  58. Wikileaks is a journalistic organization. It is not attempting to influence American policy. It is not engaged in political lobbying in the US. Its intent is attempting to inform people so that, in democratic nations, they may make their own democratic decisions based on facts.

  59. How’s about some more real criticism about how FARA works, again from the piece I linked to above:

    “The informative purposes standard for agency is overly encompassing in that an agency may be found despite the fact that there is no legally binding relationship between the American representative and the foreign interest.”

    So as I thought, the question of actual agency is a live one under the Statute.

    Does Wikileaks “control” Appelbaum sufficiently to engage FARA requirements to provide information?

    I say “No”.

    1. If you’re a “bona fide” newspaper, magazine, or other type of press agency and you comply with that section and title, then yeah, you’re OK under FARA.

      Now, IF the US government decides to pull the FARA against Appelbaum, they will have to prove that Appelbaum has collected money for Wikileaks, or acted like a spokesperson, or done “propaganda” for them, or done any of the other activities listed under the definitions. From what I have understood of the FARA, Wikileaks is a “foreign principal”. It’s nature is political, and it is run by foreigners, and in one or more foreign countries.

      I said earlier that slamming Appelbaum under the FARA is plausible, but it might not be satisfactory for the US government. Them pursuing Wikileaks in silence is a pretty good indicator that they’re pissed off. Depending on how pissed off they are, they might decide to slam Appelbaum with something else. But if the govt. is smart (and Appelbaum is lucky), they will slap Appelbaum’s fingers, show him the FARA, maybe fine him $10,000 or so, and leave him alone.

      But that will probably not deter Appelbaum from traveling to Iceland for his “vacations”, so the cat and mouse game will continue. Then after some time, the govt. might say, “Hey, we gave you a chance, you didn’t listen” and slam him either with the same thing, but with a heavier sentence, or with something completely different. I really don’t know.

      The absolute nightmare scenario for Appelbaum is if the govt. decides to put Wikileaks in some kind of “terrorist organizations” list.

      An interesting article with both the Wikileaks cables and FARA mentioned in them:

      Foreign agents lobbied on issues raised in Wikileaks cables

      1. Until Wikileaks engages in some actual physical violence, or threatens to, or advocates such, I think that there is zero chance of them being designated a “terrorist organization” by the US Government.

        I find it intriguing that a Statute originally intended to shed light on foreign lobbying taking place in the USA would be used to aid an attempt to prevent the public revelation of what look to be various lobbying efforts by the US government, on behalf of US companies, in other countries. After all, the few leaked cables I’ve looked at seem to be all about business and commerce.

        …or do I mean “ironic”?

      2. Hey thanks for the most interesting link.

        It seems that the goal of the FARA legislation, and that which Wikileaks claims is its own, are not actually that far apart: both aim at providing greater transparency in popular government.

  60. It’s amazing that our government can’t even hack into the Bill of Rights. Hopefully, Mr. Applebaum will sue and Julian Assange’s lawyers will address this outrageous targeting of a U.S. citizen. And, there are rights that prevent these thugs from illegal searches and seizures. Good to know we’re paying our government to watch Mr. Applebaum on Twitter. I hope they don’t attempt to put him on a “rendition flight.” He doesn’t have a right to an attorney? I disagree. He was detained, wasn’t he? The fact that he can’t travel with a computer or cell phone is a real interference with commerce. The Obama is transparent now and what is going on with the young man in Kuwait? Can you legally jut add someone to a no fly list to interrogate them and crush them? I don’t think so. The DOJ probably does because they represent themselves and God knows what they are doing or attempting to do. They seem absolutely out of control and desperate. Mr. Applebaum should move out of this country permanently.

  61. And, after work, the agents go home to their families and, over supper, tell their kids about the cyber terrorist they not only caught but tortured and waterboarded too. And the kids will say, “Wow! Cool!” And mom will say, “My hero!” And then, after supper, he’ll fall asleep on the couch with a Bud in one hand, the remote in the other and NFL Primetime droning away onscreen. The next day he’ll go back to touching people’s junk until the next cyber terrorist passes through and he can be a hero all over again.

    Wish my life was that exciting.

    I suggest Mr. Appelbaum bug sweep his baggage and all of the clothes and other items they removed from his possession for any length of time, if he hasn’t already done so.

  62. I have spent much time in countries with unstable/oppressive governments.

    So, comparatively, and in my experience, to suggest that the USA is a police state is just lazy left wing hyperbole. It’s pretty obvious/common for Boing Boing commenters to use these (as Moz would say) “Heavy words lightly thrown” but it’s far from my experience, and I find these broad strokes of indignation pretty laughable.

    Far as I can tell, from his postings and from what I understand about the Law, Mr Applebaum was detained and searched legally.

    If, as Xeni has suggested, Mr Applebaum is being targeted for his association with Wikileaks, well I’d at least ask for some proof? None has been presented here.

    Not surprising though…

    1. I hate to belittle Jake’s experiences but some of the posters here are right – much as we may agree with Wikileaks and their function, and the necessity of it – from a LEGAL STANDPOINT IN THE UNITED STATES- it is NO DIFFERENT than Sinn Fein, Medecins Sans Frontiers, Falun Gong, Aum Shinrikyo or any other FOREIGN political, social or activist organization. And to boot, it has given the US government the proverbial finger.

      So yes, Jake’s treatment however distasteful it is should not be unexpected.

  63. There’s an irony is suggesting people leave the US if they don’t like how the government is behaving- That’s exactly how the nation got founded, populated, and a frequent reason for immigration to the US. Also: I strongly supect this has to do with Wikileaks, since the US government is desperately searching for anything at all to link Assange directly to Bradley Manning.

  64. I’m sure that Applebaum was targeted by the CBP because of his involvement with Wikileaks, but this sort of thing is rapidly becoming the standard treatment for *anyone who does activism* that travels internationally. Anti-war organizing, environmental activism, free speech causes — if you engage in any of these activities and travel internationally, you are treated as a potential enemy of the state.

    I’ve been involved in peace protests for years, and I have friends who are stopped and harassed in ways similar to this every time they travel.

    This is not just a case of overzealous security procedures gone awry, it is a deliberate policy to target and intimidate activists who oppose U.S. policies.

  65. @Speedreeder;

    Recently, around post 70, I left a response to a Speedreeder. I am happy to see it removed. Yes, people actually do disconnect from the internet and continue to mull over issues and ponder their ignorant position.

    Speedreeder, I apologize. I reacted only to responses to your posts and that was irresponsible and morally unethical.

    I am posting this message to let the community know I learned a lot about Homeland Security and its underlying agencies after actually reading Speedreeder’s posts. They may be simple conclusions, but it is a start.

    Speedreeder’s number 12 post is the only post that defines this whole issue as Border Patrol functions and defining any point of entry as a Port of Entry. Makes sense to me

    Pre 9/11 there were two types of inspections: I.N.S’s INTEX and Custom’s COMPEX. Each had different parameters that sound utterly ridiculous, like gun detection at high school but not junior high. In 1970 Air Marshalls entered the picture, Applebaum could have been sitting next to one. Later on jets started to be outfitted for protection against humans such as the “Cooper Vane”. At the end of 1972 the Federal Government ordered the FAA to implement and immediate, literally one month, a passenger inspection program. 15 years later electronic devices became suspect and are now inspected. Every single one of these levels of protection were in response to hijackings.

    We know we are dealing with people who are willing to die for what they believe in. So “random” does not rally work in this scenario. We are experiencing this with drug mules; just replace the drugs with bombs. The bad people count on shipment interception and know statistically that enough gets through to fulfill the demand. What stops a faction from doing the same? The THREAT of POSSIBLE search is the true definition of RANDOM. Right now its a simple game of “maybe they will and maybe they won’t”.

    Speedreeder reminds us to realize that agents are hired to protect us. So what is the government’s definition of “protect” and “us”? The following is a quote contained in a GOA letter:

    “Most inspections consist of a brief interview and a cursory document check that takes only a matter of seconds. If intelligence reports, targeted enforcement operations, or the inspector’s suspicions lead an inspector to believe that the traveler may be committing a violation, the inspector will refer the traveler for a more intensive “secondary inspection.”

    And what is Targeted Enforcement Operations? Applebaum is a small bird caught by simple phrases and words that cast a wide and far-reaching net. “Material”, “protection”, “Contraband”, “Intelligence”, “Threat to national security” “May be committing a violation”, “at the inspectors discretion”, “suspicion”. All of these are malleable to form and fit any situation at any point of entry. Like Newark and Seattle.

    I’m in healthcare. We practice a thing called Universal Precautions. We simply assume everyone has the most infectious disease. That’s the only solution for the best kind of protection. Those loose words and phrases simply mean, “We can search anyone at anytime for any reason”, a Universal Precaution. What is being argued now is the inclusion of “anywhere” and if that were to happen who knows what may follow. Applebaum is now an I.C.E favorite and will most likely continue to be selected for the Targeted Enforcement Operations pat down again. Applebaum does not inform us how often he travels. Two times may not be a big deal, or even a non issue for an Information Anarchist.

    Finally, using that drug = bomb analogy: “Has anyone unknown to you asked you to carry an item on this flight?” The fact that the question is still being asked since 1972 should be telling.

  66. Maybe the forensic guy was making a pun? Like, EnCase and FTK couldn’t see the bill because there was a /right/-blocker in-line?


  67. My bad on earlier post, looks like you posted this right when it was breaking, I just found it late. Good job Boingboing, sorry to be so quick to judge when I am the slow one. :-)

  68. Jake, I’ve been following your volunteer work and applaud you. Stay strong. I moved away 20 yrs ago and now that WikiLeaks volunteers are having their computers and phones taken, I am afraid to travel into or through the US just because I support WikiLeaks. Around 2008 I was arrested, handcuffed, and given a full body search UNDER all my clothes by the side of the Dulles Access Road outside DC, then taken before a judge, because I did not have my VALID driver’s license with me. This was a $10 misdemeanor, fully dismissable when I presented my license. I was neither drunk nor speeding (no other violations). For all those that think the alarm over loss of privacy and free speech and the encroaching police state is blown out of proportion, when it happens to little ‘ol white ladies in professional dress, your turn is not far behind. By the time you finally get it, it will be way too late.

  69. It wasn’t his association with WikiLeaks that was of concern. It was that he was vacationing in Iceland and they were concerned about his sanity.

  70. “There’s an irony is suggesting people leave the US if they don’t like how the government is behaving- That’s exactly how the nation got founded, populated, and a frequent reason for immigration to the US.”

    I think it’s just the natural cycle of how nations become great, and then in it’s “middle years” start getting more xenophobic, paranoid, and fearful of losing its place and power in the world. When it passes its apogee maybe the state start to become more and more unlivable and people start to leave for a better place.

    In the next 15-30 years, I can see large amounts of people leaving the U.S. for somewhere better esp. the way the nation is going right now.

  71. Moderator note: For those who are having a hard time honing in on the subject of this post, it’s about harassment of a Wikileaks volunteer, not a free-for-all about your horrible experiences with the TSA. It’s not like we’re not sympathetic, because believe me, we are, but we have had about a hundred posts on that subject.

  72. You’re an American citizen working for the functional equivalent of a hostile foreign intelligence service. Welcome to the rest of your life. You deserve every bit of it.

  73. I agree with the assertion that these so called “random” checks are not random at all.

    The last time I flew to the USA on a flight with over 300 people on it, I was the only person who was randomly selected for a customs check upon my arrival.

    What were they looking for?
    Because I was a white man with dreadlocks. No other reason. There was no possible reason to suspect that I was in possession of anything other than stereotype profiling.
    I was subjected to a bag search (involving 2 large men emptying my bag onto the floor and then forcing me to go through every item in it and show them it), which still didn’t satisfy them.
    So then they brought sniffer dogs to sniff through all of my stuff.
    Still nothing.
    Next, having left me to repack my own bag, I finally got outside of the security check area, to be greeted by a member of the DHS, who took me into an office and proceeded to do the exact same checks again!
    After all this, they finally confiscated my tobacco and my lighter, informing me that it was a security risk to be carrying it around!
    A security risk! I could walk out of that office and go into any number of stores within the airport and buy the exact same products.

    Eventually, with no reason to keep me there, they let me go, around 2 hours after I’d picked up my bag. This caused me to miss my connecting flight and I ended up having to stay at an airport hotel for the night (which to be fair, the very kind representative from the airline organised for me for free.)

    Land of the Free? Bollocks.

  74. Random number generator? Isn’t Debian one of those electro-mechanical penetration devices Howard Schtern likes so much?

    Anyway, they both have the same effect, and purpose.

  75. I remember going through hell entering the US from Canada into Detroit. I was bringing alcohol I purchased in Canada back and nothing more but the Agents on duty were 100% sure I had drugs.
    Went through the whole good cop/bad cop thing for four hours while they ripped my car apart looking for what was never even there. In the end I was let go with nothing confiscated and my car never was right after that. They were even nice enough to leave all the door panels unscrewed from the interior just laying in the back seat! They can be total d***s when they want to be, found this out first hand. lol

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