31 October 2006

Heavy Handed

Can the FBI bring finesse to a solve a minor situation? Apparently not.

A doctorate student who is studying computer security read about a long known flaw in airport security. It has long been known that people can make fake boarding passes. So what does the guy do? He proves the theory and sets up a web page with script so that anyone can use it.

He puts a link to it on his blog and gets all sorts of publicity. The FBI came by and ordered him to take it down. By the time he could get somewhere to do it the government had already killed the site.

Okay, up to this point the reaction is proportionate.

The next thing the FBI did was raid the student's house in the middle of the night. The student was spending the night elsewhere so he doesn't know when it happened exactly (the FBI broke in), but the warrant was signed at 2 am. They took all the computers in the apartment and tossed the apartment.

Why? Is this guy such a terrible threat that the FBI needed to hit his house at night? Aren't there drug dealers or others (ooh, say real terrorists) for which they could reserve that tactic? Granted, the kid could have destroyed "evidence" (it's not like he denied doing this) but if he were going to do that he could have easily destroyed all his hard drives between the 7 pm when they let him go and the post 2 am raid. If there was going to be evidence it would have been there when they dropped by the next afternoon.


Anonymous said...


Restraint isn't FUN. I'm only sort of kidding. Just look what happened down in Chatham with Shaquille O'Neil and the wrong-house child porn raid:

If these local officers and US MARSHALLS were entirely serious about doing their jobs in a professional manner, then they would have left the celebrity at home. That he is allowed to participate at all is an indication that there is a bit of a Cowboy mentality at work and I don't think it is isolated.

Ken Lammers said...

Y'know, I can think of few people I'd want going through the door in front of me than Shaq. Of course, that is for a purely evil and selfish reason: there's just no way I'm going to be hit if something that big is in front of me.

I understand there's a cowboy mentality at work here. I'd even say you need a certain amount of cowboy mentality in an effective police force. In every law enforcement agencies there is going to come a time when somebody's got to breach that door or face down the guy with a knife. However, the hope is that there will be older and wiser heads to keep the cowboys in line.

In other words, why wasn't there a superviser somewhere in the mix asking the question, "If we hit this guy at 2 am do we gain more than we lose by generating sympathy for him?"