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Using terrorism to make the extraordinary seem normal

We have been steadily observing over time the encroachment of the civil liberties and the violation of constitutional protections by the government, using fear-mongering about terrorism in order to get people to acquiesce. The government seizes any excuse to make inroads into our due process rights, often stampeding people at times of crisis, and terrorism is the best excuse they have.

Take for example the bombing at the Boston marathon. It was undoubtedly a dastardly act, but a detonation of a bomb would normally be considered a criminal act, like a mass shooting, and would be investigated as such. But because of the terrorism scare, we had the extraordinary spectacle of essentially martial law being declared in a major city and surrounding areas, people ordered to stay indoors, and police and other security forces in full military gear storming into people’s homes without warrants. While people acceded to these extraordinary measures at that moment, stampeded as they were by fear, the actions by the authorities set a troubling precedent, as Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn wrote in the immediate aftermath:

But as relief replaces fear, the debate about what this episode means for the future is already beginning. And one of the most unsettling questions is whether the violence-related lockdown of a major U.S. city — an extraordinary moment in American history — sets a life-altering precedent.

There are already worries that the effort to protect the people of Boston contained an element of overreaction. Local authorities told the city and nearby suburbs to “shelter in place” throughout the day and into the evening. They closed businesses, shuttered government buildings and suspended all public transportation in the metro area.

That decision concerned some political leaders and policy experts.

Former Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said it is “hard to imagine what could justify directing the entire population of the city to ‘shelter in place.’”

Matthew Rothscild, then editor of The Progressive warned about this in a June 2013 note (behind a paywall):

Every imaginable piece of SWAT team equipment was on display, and the populace was told to “shelter in place,” a new, extraordinary command that law enforcement and the media somehow made appear ordinary. [My italics-MS]

It’s possible that there will be similar bombings in the future, It’s inevitable that there will be mass murderers on the loose in major metropolitian cities. Are those cities going to automatically be put on lockdown from here on out?

When I saw the militarized response, it looked to me like the closest we’ve come to martial law in my lifetime.

The encroachment of constitutional protections can take place in other, less dramatic, ways too. For example, in the absence of some imminent danger, authorities are still prevented from barging into people’s homes and confiscating and searching their possessions without a warrant. But the government finds ways to circumvent that too, using the massive databases that it has collected on us and co-opting other government agencies to assist it in doing so.

So say the government wants to look inside your computer but doesn’t have the grounds for getting a warrant. What it then does is what happened to David House, who raised funds for Chelsea Manning’s defense. On his return from Mexico in November 2010, his laptop, camera, thumb drive and cellphone were seized and the data from the devices were then examined over seven months. House sued the Department of Homeland Security and as a result obtained documents detailing what had happened.

Newly released documents reveal how the government uses border crossings to seize and examine travelers’ electronic devices instead of obtaining a search warrant to gain access to the data.

The documents detail what until now has been a largely secretive process that enables the government to create a travel alert for a person, who may not be a suspect in an investigation, then detain that individual at a border crossing and confiscate or copy any electronic devices that person is carrying. [My italics-MS]

Although government investigators had questioned Mr. House about his association with Private Manning in the months before his trip to Mexico, he said no one asked to search his computer or mentioned seeking a warrant to do so. After seizing his devices, immigration authorities sent a copy of Mr. House’s data to the Army Criminal Investigation Command, which conducted the detailed search of his files. No evidence of any crime was found, the documents say.

This is naked authoritarian behavior on display, the government using all its powers to find ways to strip you of all your rights

We saw what happened to Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at London’s Heathrow airport, clearly at the instigation of the US government. . I don’t think that Greenwald and Laura Poitras, both US citizens, have attempted to enter the US or the UK since the Snowden revelations but if they do, I am sure they are ready to have their computers seized and even be arrested at the airport.

Matthew Rothschild says that the massive power that the government has seized in the wake of 9/11 is now being used against ordinary citizens exercising what should be their constitutional rights. He gives as another example how the government is spying on the Occupy Wall Street activists.

Thousands of public documents recently obtained by DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy add new evidence to an increasingly powerful case that law enforcement has been overstepping its bounds. The documents, obtained through state and federal open records searches and Freedom of Information Act requests, demonstrate that law enforcement agencies may be attempting to criminalize thousands of American citizens for simply voicing their disapproval of corporate dominance over our economic and political system.

The anti-terrorist apparatus that the U.S. government established after 9/11 has now been turned against law-abiding citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. This apparatus consists not only of advanced surveillance technologies but also of “fusion centers” in state after state that coordinate the efforts of law enforcement up and down the line and collaborate with leading members of the private sector. Often, the work they do in the name of national security advances the interests of some of the largest corporations in America rather than focusing on protecting the United States from actual threats or attacks, such as the one at the Boston Marathon on April 15.

It is interesting how the way that US reporters cover other countries, which they do much more aggressively than they do the US, especially if the other country is considered unfriendly, sheds light on the motives of the US government too. A few days ago NPR had an interesting item about what the Chinese government censors. It apparently allows people to criticize the government but suppresses any attempt by people to mobilize others. What it fears is people organizing themselves.

People getting together around issues is what authoritarian governments, whether the US or Russia or China, fear the most and this is what the massive surveillance apparatus in the US enables them to control and suppress. If they know early on what people are up to, it becomes much easier to disrupt them, as in the case of OWS, and thus stop any democratic movements that might threaten the oligarchy from gaining strength.

Comments

  1. trucreep says

    I’ve often thought the huge overreaction to the dawn of the internet is due to governments’ fear of it. When people from two different countries can speak with each other relatively easily without concern for borders, it erodes the image of one another that each has been given by their respective governments.

    I have way more in common with a 20-something from Iran than my government would like me to believe. The more you dwell on that, the more you start asking “why _______?” And that’s the last thing your government wants, especially if they don’t have an acceptable answer.

  2. sosw says

    Apparently Laura Poitras was subject to regular extended attention when traveling even before becoming involved with the Snowden revelations.

    Not sure whether it’s been linked here before (pretty sure I ended up there via Bruce Schneier’s blog), but here is an interesting (quite lengthy) article on the topic.

  3. wtfwhateverd00d says

    You can disagree with the request or order that Boston residents stay sheltered, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to declare that to be martial law. It’s not even clear that it was a “lockdown” or that the governor met or exceeded his order months earlier placing a travel restriction on Boston on pain of arrest when “the winter storm Nemo descended” on Boston.

    http://nation.time.com/2013/04/19/was-boston-actually-on-lockdown/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_law#United_States

  4. elpayaso says

    trucreep–

    “there is no room in Crusades, especially at the command level, for people who ask “why?”

    hunter S. Thompson ca. 1972

  5. says

    ———————–Quote———————-
    This is naked authoritarian behavior on display, the government using all its powers to find ways to strip you of all your rights
    —————————End Quote———————

    No. It’s what happens when you run off to Russia and China with massive amounts of Top Secret material.

    Seriously, what do you expect the authorities to do in this case?

  6. Mano Singham says

    Even taking your reasoning at face value, the factual premise is wrong. David House did none of those things.

  7. says

    We don’t know what David House did, or what information the authorities had about his activities. Perhaps “the Government” over-reached. That’s why we have courts and a free press. And the Internet.

    House associated himself with the largest leak of military secrets in history. And, yet, he walks free and we all know his story.

    -You- maintain that “The Government” is authoritarian and repressive. And yet. You publish your opinions openly, under your own name, without apparent anxiety. You would not be doing that under a truly repressive government–Russia, China, Iran, any Middle Eastern monarchy, etc, etc ad nauseum.

    My objection is to absolutism, Libertarian nonsense and Recreational Paranoia.

    The differences matter. No government is completely open. The Libertarian’s paradise descends into chaos. But, some governments are open enough to allow open discussion and criticism of “The Government”.

  8. Mano Singham says

    So you are saying that anyone who ‘associates’ with Manning can have their constitutional rights circumvented. What does ‘associate’ mean? Signing petitions? Writing in support? Joining public protests? You are right that I do not know what House did. But neither do you. That is why we have due process and courts to enforce them. Note that they did not even bother to indict him or charge him with anything. So we may have the courts, but if the courts are sidelined, then it is as good as not having them. In this case, on the face of it, the government went around the courts to seize his property for engaging in constitutionally protected acts. The released documents don’t say otherwise. If the government has a basis for charging him, they ahve the burden of proof.

    The reason no one bothers with me is because I am unimportant blogger. I have absolutely no illusions that if I were ever to be considered a serious threat, the government would do to me what they did to House, Laura Poitras, Jacob Applebaum and others.

    Glenn Greenwald describes how the government does this kind of thing in order to create a compliant populace, people who like you are willing to give up your rights and liberties and accept the government’s assertions at face value, despite their notorious history of lying. People like you think that the government will never come after you because you don’t do anything that threatens their power. And you are probably right. But the government does not care about ‘good’ (i.e., docile) people like you. What it wants to do is deter people who might be considering resisting it from doing anything that challenges its power in any serious way.

    I written many times before about this argument that ‘people who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear’. That is the essence of the authoritarian argument, the basis of the national security state, that keeps people in fear.

  9. says

    ————–Quote———-
    What does ‘associate’ mean? Signing petitions? Writing in support? Joining public protests?
    ——————-End quote————–

    According to the Ninth Circuit, it means a “reasonable suspicion” for a computer search at the border:
    http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/03/08/09-10139.pdf

    Very likely that was not met for Mr. House—but, he gets his day in court and we can read about on CNN.
    That’s not what would be called totalitarianism in most parts of the world.

    Manning committed a major act of espionage. He probably got some of his fellow soldiers killed. Unless you take the position that there are -no- legitimate functions of Government, you have to accept that Manning and people around him are going to get attention from the cops.

    ————–Quote———-
    I written many times before about this argument that ‘people who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear’. That is the essence of the authoritarian argument, the basis of the national security state, that keeps people in fear.——————-End quote————–

    Privacy is important, even if you have nothing to hide. But, whose privacy has been violated? Are there concrete examples. Or simply paranoid fancies?

    Terrabytes of data -sound- dangerous and Orwellian, but are more likely useless than dangerous.

    And, for pity sake, show me somebody who is afraid of this Big Bad Wolf! To intimidate people, you have to -tell- them you are watching. And you have to lock some people up.

    —–

    There are immediate and real threats to democracy and freedom. But they are absolutely not secret. We are one Supreme Court vote from a total takeover by Radical Right ideology. Libertarian billionaires have spent vast sums on Right Wing agitprop and disinformation. We can very easily see our institutions fall into the hands of a radical right that will not give it back.

    This glorification of Hard Right Libertarians by progressives is a distraction from real issues. It is Recreational Paranoia–like going to the Halloween Haunted House and getting scared by fake ghosts and eyeballs made of skinned grapes.

  10. Mano Singham says

    I am sure that you do not have any fear and I can perfectly see why. If you want examples of how the government creates a climate of fear, take a look at this article and the links therein for the stories of those affected. Here’s a quote from it that I think is quite apropos:

    In essence, the bargain offered by the state is as follows: if you meaningfully challenge what we’re doing, then we will subject you to harsh recriminations. But if you passively comply with what we want, refrain from challenging us, and acquiesce to our prevailing order, then you are “free” and will be left alone. The genius is that those who accept this bargain are easily convinced that repression does not exist in the US, that it only takes place in those Other Bad countries, because, as a reward for their compliant posture, they are not subjected to it.

    Incidentally, House did not get his day in court. His computer was seized without any prior court authorization. What he got was the release of some documents after the fact.

  11. steffp says

    @ mervinferd, above
    If there is a “reasonable suspicion”, authorities must open preliminary proceedings, which may or may not result in a warrant. That’s legal procedure. Skipping that procedure and getting what they want by factual action is a circumvention, and illegal. And it doesn’t matter if the subject is a man suspected to be a murderer, or a traitor, or whatever medieval paraphrase you prefer to describe someone who collects money for the legal defense of a whistleblower.
    There is no verdict that Ms Manning

    probably got some of his fellow soldiers killed.

    As that’s not true, you may just have commited a defamation, punishable in most states. Would you like to relinquish your civil liberties, have your computer taken away with no explanation? I bet not. But of each and everyone “connected” to a whistleblower you expect us to tolerate it.

    My dad, in the seventies, used to tell the story about the Soviet-Russian journalist who toured the states. After a while he remarked to his, let’s say guide: “Now I’ve met so many people, and in general, they all have the same opinion. Back home in the USSR, we have to pull fingernails to get the same result. How do you do it?”
    The article Mano cited above says it in great detail…

  12. says

    ———————Quote————————-

    If there is a “reasonable suspicion”, authorities must open preliminary proceedings, which may or may not result in a warrant. That’s legal procedure. Skipping that procedure and getting what they want by factual action is a circumvention, and illegal.
    ———————————-End Quote—————-
    In this case “reasonable suspicion” was required to search the computer at the border. That’s a low standard, but was not met by the Government in the referenced case. The system worked.

    ———————Quote————————-

    you may just have commited a defamation, punishable in most states.
    ———————-End Quote——————

    Baloney. Manning was convicted of very serious crimes. He released a vast amount of secret information. If that did not get any of his comrades killed, it wasn’t due to his diligence.

    ———————Quote————————-

    Would you like to relinquish your civil liberties, have your computer taken away with no explanation? I bet not. But of each and everyone “connected” to a whistleblower you

    ———————————end quote————–
    Baloney and strawman.
    The Government misbehaved in the computer seizure and was sanctioned by the courts. That’s how it works.

    However, if you are directly involved in major acts of espionage, expect attention from the guys in trench coats. That’s how it works.

    Snowden and Greenwald are playing the media and naive liberals for all the attention they can get.

  13. says

    ——quote——
    Back home in the USSR, we have to pull fingernails to get the same result. How do you do it?”
    ———-end quote——-

    This discussion is getting stale, but one final comment:

    Who is intimidated? Certainly not Greenwald or his partner! You? Mano? I’m certainly not scared. Free expression seems to be flourishing around here.

    Get real.

  14. Mano Singham says

    Not only do you seem to be missing the point Greenwald was making, you seem to be inadvertently supporting it. Of course you are not scared. Why should you be, when you are such a stalwart defender of the government’s actions?

    And how can you say that David Miranda was not intimidated? Have you not read his post-interrogation interviews?

    You know why I can write what I do? Because I am old. I no longer have job or career worries or ambitions, my children are grown and independent and I no longer have family responsibilities. So basically I can afford to not give a damn. But I am well aware that that is a luxury that few have. If I were younger and just starting out in life and had job and family to worry about, I would definitely be much more circumspect in criticizing the government. You would be surprised at how many people in my social circle are unduly impressed that I have the ‘guts’ to contribute to WikiLeaks and say so openly, even though that should be considered an innocuous act. And these people are by no means radicals, just ordinary folks, pillars of society in fact. They have a vague fear that it would put them on the ‘wrong’ side of the government or get them on some list (like the notorious no-fly list) that will be used against them somehow.

    Greenwald too does not seem to give a damn but he is much younger than me. I applaud the Greenwalds and Snowdens and Mannings and Ellsbergs and Poitrases and all the other whistleblowers for risking so much at such young ages. What they did takes courage, unlike what I do.

  15. says

    ———————quote—————-

    Why should you be, when you are such a stalwart defender of the government’s actions?
    —————————————————

    I am NOT a defender of “the Government’s actions”. Not that I want to compare sizes, but I will wager I’ve been on the government’s radar rather more than most of the Manning/Snowden groupies.

    I -am- a defender of the necessity of Government and its police power as a necessary part of a civilized community. Which would be taken as an axiom too obvious to mention, except for the rise to prominence of Libertarian ideology which denies this obvious truth.

    Whistleblowers and civil disobedience are important and necessary safety valves against government misconduct. Had Manning and Snowden released selective documents revealing government crimes or wrongdoing, I would be backing them.

    But, that is not what happened.

    Manning was a soldier (a volunteer) in a battle zone. His comrades were dying every day. But, he gathered up all the secret information he could find—field reports, diplomatic emails–and made it available to the world. He could -not- have known what damage that would do.

    Snowden is a less clear case, but his apparent goal is to override the judgment of courts and elected officials and to prevent the NSA from continuing -legal- activities. (And to make of himself a world figure.) If the goal had been to start an important debate and inform the public, Snowden -could- have released selective documents, remained anonymous, or remained in the country to defend his actions. Instead, he copied massive amounts of secret data and ran off to two of the least open major countries in the world.

    Even if you still see Snowden and Manning as legitimate ‘whistle-blowers’, it is not reasonable to think that the authorities could not prosecute them. That’s not how it works. If your conscience requires it, you do the deed and and accept the consequences.

    ———————quote—————-
    And how can you say that David Miranda was not intimidated?
    ————————End quote————

    I did not say he was not intimidated. I said he deliberately put himself in a situation where the authorities would interrogate him. Snowden committed a major act of espionage (whatever you think of his motives). The authorities want Snowden and the information he stole. Miranda visited Snowden and then landed in London with devices that could contain computer files. Of -course- the authorities stopped him. They would be incompetent if they did not.

    Miranda felt violated, but he was not physically injured or thrown in prison, as would happen in a truly repressive state.

    ———————quote—————-

    You would be surprised at how many people in my social circle are unduly impressed that I have the ‘guts’ to contribute to WikiLeaks and say so openly, even though that should be considered an innocuous act.

    ———————end quote—————-

    You have rather timid friends.

    I don’t see how there can be any government where challenging the powerful carries no risk at all. That the American government does not conform to the (rather juvenile) LIbertarian ideals of Snowden et al is not a real criticism. Perfection is not a thing we will see in human institutions.

  16. says

    Correction: Miranda was returning from Berlin. His connection to Snowden was indirect.

    The British Authorities were very probably abusing the laws, but they -were- operating within their legal system. Miranda has his story published in the BBC and access to the British courts.

  17. says

    —————-quote———-
    Which is it?
    ——————-end quote———–

    OK. You got me. 5 points.

    Greenwald’s partner certainly found the interview unpleasant and ‘intimidating’. He was not ‘intimidated’ from associating himself with Snowden and Greenwald. Or from taking his story to the press.

    As (now) international celebrities, these guys incur no hazard beyond interrogation at the airport. As martyrdom for the cause goes, this is not really up in the top tier. How many years was Gandhi in prison?

    Sorry. But I can’t understand these guys except as grandiose narcissists making themselves the center of world attention for a doubtful cause, and at negligible risk.

    There are many American children hungry, lacking medial care and education. To lots of academic liberals or progressives, that’s a real annoyance. But, to generate OUTRAGE!!!. Interrograte Greenwald’s partner at the airport for a few hours. That’s horrible. Tyranny! Repression!

    Gimme a break.

  18. Mano Singham says

    There is not a fixed amount of outrage so that being outraged at one injustice means one has less outrage for another. You will find plenty of other outrages being spotlighted on this blog alone. But even if it were not so, there are a huge number of causes to fight for and people pick and choose which battles to fight based on many factors. The fact that one focuses on one set cannot be used to infer that one does not care about the others.

    Using your argument and your example, one could argue that Gandhi got off lightly and was not a ‘martyr to the cause’ because he was not killed by the British like some other protestors were, and that he was also a ‘grandiose narcissist’ who was protected from torture and being shot or beaten to death by the British because he cunningly made himself ‘the center of world attention’, just like that other ‘grandiose narcissist’ Nelson Mandela.

    When you are fighting governments that have overwhelming power, public opinion is one of the few weapons one has to counter it and one must use it. Why do you think Rosa Parks deliberately refused to move? Was her act not one of courage because she actually chose to defy the rules and was not beaten and jailed for a long time? Was she a ‘grandiose narcissist’ for allowing civil rights activists to publicize her action as part of the struggle?

    To excuse wrong actions because they could have been worse is to go down a road for which there is no end.

  19. says

    —————-quote———-
    There is not a fixed amount of outrage so that being outraged at one injustice means one has less outrage for another.
    ——————-end quote———–

    There is a fixed amount of media attention, donatable money, organizational skill, winnable votes. There are also issues that help win elections for progressive candidates and defeat dangerous ideologues. And, issues that divide and confuse and elect those dangerous ideologues.

    The places where “the Left” has placed its emphasis over the last few decades have not been optimal (shall we say).

    —————-quote———-
    Gandhi got off lightly and was not a ‘martyr to the cause’ because he was not killed by the British——————-end quote———–

    Gandhi, King, Mandela were dealing with truly repressive regimes that -were- killing or imprisoning their opponents. They knew their lives were at risk and went ahead. And, they were trying to correct concrete and immediate conditions–people denied basic necessities–food, shelter, dignity. For each of these famous organizers, there are thousands of unknown people who were killed or imprisoned.

    For Rosa Parks, getting arrested was necessary to the plan. If the police had ignored her, there would have been no bus boycott. The repression was not the arrest: that was the police doing their duty. The repression was the segregation.

    There have been periods of genuine repression in the US. The McCarthy era, the Vietnam era, African-Americans in the south all the time. But, there has never been a time when dissenting voices could not be heard and published.

    Against this background, Greenwald’s complaints about detention at airports ring hollow. As with Rosa Parks, he has challenged the laws. But, unlike Rosa Parks, he complains about the expected consequences. Greenwald has advanced his career enormously, at very little actual risk.

    I am obviously on weak grounds with a psychological diagnosis. But, I just cannot see these guys as serious activists interested in making the world better.

    —————
    As I have said before, in my perception there is a tin-foil hat, unreality to this business.

    =>Greenwald, an openly gay male married to another male, is publishing Top Secret information from an admitted act of espionage and giving interviews to major news outlets. And, he writes in major outlets, we are seeing a progressive erosion of our civil liberties? WTF?

    =>Various people are interrogated at airports or have their computers inspected. This is Repression! Outrage! But, we read about it on CNN and BBC and the courts make the government give the stuff back. Need I say that in a truly repressive environment, we would never hear of this?

    =>Most importantly, it is not at all clear what evil the NSA is doing, or capable of doing. Or what might be their motive for doing it. NSA got a court order (!) to collect telephone records that were already in the hands of corporate bureaucracies and that were available in more useful form to any police agency that asked. This was legal under existing law (whether it -should- be legal is separate question). There are no reported examples of abuse of this information and it is not clear what evil thing they -could- do with it.

    Yes, they -might- start surveiling us. But, that requires staff and money. And motive. And, to intimidate us (as I have said here many times), THEY HAVE TO TELL US THEY ARE DOING IT.

    If we register assault rifles, the government -might- come and take them all. But, that is a paranoid delusion. As is most of this fear of the NSA.

  20. says

    ———————Quote—————–
    I am sure that you do not have any fear and I can perfectly see why.
    ——————————————–
    Really? I was out in the streets when Nixon and the FBI had folders on most of us and the National Guard was shooting students at Kent State. That’s intimidation and it didn’t work.

    In Russia, members of the band ‘Pussy Riot’ are still in prison for defaming the state. And an artist recently fled the country because of painting showing Putin in women’s underwear. That’s intimidation and it is working, but not as well as under the Bolsheviks.

    What actions of the US Government are remotely comparable to these actions? (Meaning suppression of free expression).

    Manning and Snowden committed crimes. Perhaps, those acts can be justified as civil disobedience, but they -were- crimes. And, the authorities reacted; that was there job. That is the point of Civil Disobedience–you disobey some law and you accept the consequences to force change.

    Prosecuting the act of civil disobedience is not repression; it’s how it’s supposed to work. It is repression if the protestor disappears without a trial, or the prosecution is disproportionate to the offense.

    Greenwald is an absolutist Libertarian who manufactures outrage for his own purposes. He acknowledges no legitimate purposes of the state and therefore sees nearly all activities of the state as repressive. He, and Snowden, have gone to great lengths to make themselves international celebrities. I really don’t see much evidence that he is intimidated.

    Let’s make things concrete: the original Snowden ‘revelation’ was that NSA had obtained a court order (sic) to obtain telephone records from Verizon. Those records are not protected by the 4th Amendment (by Supreme Court decision). Police can get them anytime they want.

    The NSA says these are useful in stopping Mad Bombers. Unless you are a Mad Libertarian, that is a Good Thing. I really want my Government to stop crazy people from setting off bombs.

    So, NSA gets terabytes, or maybe petabytes, of data, which would be available in more useful form to any police agency that wants it. There is potential for abuse, but there are no reports of any -actual- abuse. There is also potential for a colossal waste of money. But, I honestly can’t see the potential for intimidation or suppression of dissent.

    This is Recreational Paranoia and Fantasy Outrage.

    ———————Quote—————–
    House did not get his day in court.
    ——————————————–

    Well, yeah, he did.

    With the assistance of the ACLU, he got a consent decree from the government that required destruction of seized data and release of documents. Clearly, the government was acting improperly, but they got caught and hopefully will change their practices.

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