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If we let anyone fly planes, the terrorists have won...
December 23, 2002 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Buy a Flight Manual, Get a Grand Jury Subpoena? A guy qualified to fly and instruct on the Boeing 737 buys a CD on Ebay that contains the ground course for the same plane. Then the FBI gets involved, and, courtesy of section 501 (d) of the "USA Patriot Act", he can no longer even discuss the issue. [more inside]
posted by Irontom (24 comments total)

 
bring it.... bring it....
posted by folktrash at 8:00 AM on December 23, 2002


I expect that this is likely to devolve into the same argument as the thread on the guy in the Portland airport, but I still think it's important.

I served in the armed forces, and I'm a pretty damned patriotic guy, but things are starting to scare me around here. Basic freedoms that we have lived with all of our lives are being eroded, and it doesn't seem like any of my elected representatives care.
posted by Irontom at 8:02 AM on December 23, 2002


Stupid timeout!
posted by Irontom at 8:03 AM on December 23, 2002


Why doesn't the guy make himself a copy, return the original cd to the seller and get a refund?
posted by stifford at 8:10 AM on December 23, 2002


Stifford, I think that you are missing the point. He is being investigated now for trying to buy it in the first place.
posted by Raichle at 8:16 AM on December 23, 2002


stifford: the FBI should be approaching your location as we type...
posted by folktrash at 8:17 AM on December 23, 2002


I hate to say it (well, not really I guess), but this is what happens when people assign different values to rights they feel are important versus those they don't think are important. . .

Proper form for the feds would have been to ask questions about the potentially suspicious (these days) transaction and either charge somebody with a crime or leave it alone. But if we believe this person, it looks like it fell into the realm of the "gone too far." I think they're also reacting to pressure put on them from the congressional committees by doing things more aggressively; they're afraid of being labelled as discriminatory, so they're being heavy-handed toward everybody. It's also possible that the agents in question are just being jerks.

Yeah, it's wrong. But what are you going to do about it? *Keep* calling/faxing/e-mailing/postal mailing your representatives. Let them know you'll be watching how they vote on bills that affect personal liberties. Make issues like this a no-exceptions litmus test for anybody you vote for. Most importantly, get involved in your local/regional politics - your support or lack thereof will carry much more weight with politicians if they know that you are somebody who is actually involved and can influence other active citizens. And it's the only hope you ever have of competing with the so called "special interests" and big money donors.
posted by BrandonAbell at 8:30 AM on December 23, 2002


I was just pointing out the easiest way out of the situation. I would figure that once the author could show that he was a pilot, the fact that he possesed a manual would not be a big deal. (I would expect the guy on Ebay selling flight manuals to whoever bid the most might have more of a hassle). Admittedly, if the FBI was trying to ban flight manuals, that would be some shit. But from what I read in the article, the Feds were just checking shit out, they weren't throwing people in jail just having the manual cdroms, right?
posted by stifford at 8:37 AM on December 23, 2002


I think I'm going to be sick.
posted by Cerebus at 8:39 AM on December 23, 2002


The big thing here, I think, is the subpoena. All they have to do is send you a piece of paper, and your first amendment rights are gone.
posted by jpoulos at 8:48 AM on December 23, 2002


>any of my elected representatives care.

Move to Wisconsin because only Russ Feingold seems to give a damn.

(Must remember to mail Russ a thanks.)
posted by rough ashlar at 8:49 AM on December 23, 2002


Remember GW's words...
"With my signature, this law will give intelligence and law enforcement officials important new tools to fight a present danger,"

Did you believe him then? If so, do you believe him now?
posted by holycola at 9:07 AM on December 23, 2002


the bush administration sicks duck. o<
posted by quonsar at 9:23 AM on December 23, 2002


Remember GW's words...
"With my signature, this law will give intelligence and law enforcement officials important new tools to fight a present danger,"

Did you believe him then? If so, do you believe him now?


Yes, I believe him. The only problem is that the tool they've chosen to use too often is a sledgehammer. . . Bureaucrats will abuse perks and power up to the point that their superiors make clear that their jobs are in danger if they continue. You can't trust them to be discrete in the methods they use to "do their job."
posted by BrandonAbell at 9:23 AM on December 23, 2002


Better watch out what you post about the Patriot Act. If you start talking too negatively about it you may be deemed UN-patriotic and have your first amendment rights taken away. Personally, I think it's a great system *cowers in the corner*
posted by Degaz at 9:31 AM on December 23, 2002


They'll get my copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 when they pry it from... wait, there's someone at the door....
posted by 2sheets at 9:43 AM on December 23, 2002


Bureaucrats will abuse perks and power up to the point that their superiors make clear that their jobs are in danger if they continue

Ah, so it's all the bureaucrats, then. The poor, oft-maligned politicians who make and enforce the laws are blameless. Hmm.
posted by rushmc at 10:22 AM on December 23, 2002


Ah, so it's all the bureaucrats, then. The poor, oft-maligned politicians who make and enforce the laws are blameless. Hmm.

No, I didn't put together a complete analysis of the problem in that three sentence blub. Give me a break. . . Of course the politicians have responsibility in the matter; if you'll read my earlier comment further up in the page here you'll see that I am pleading with my fellow readers to hold the politicians' feet to the fire on this stuff.

When it comes down to it though, the electorate bears responsibility for who they allow to be in office and what they do. Not doing anything to stop it (the restrictions on freedom) is essentially the same as promoting it.
posted by BrandonAbell at 10:37 AM on December 23, 2002


This is a case of an abuse of discretion. Of course I did write a whole post about compromise and highlighted why I felt that an FBI or CIA agent would have made this call. However, I erased it. Why? Because I am a member of left with an open mind, but I fear that those on the left that post on MIFI do not have an open mind. I really didn't feel that expressing my point of view what worth being branded a supporter of the Bush Administration or some sort of right wring crazy. I’m sick of people simply posting platitudes rather than picking a part why something happens or why our leaders made decisions. Well, it's too bad that the left is so hell bend on chilling my first amendment as well the right.

I urge my lefty allies to discuss issue and not just advance troll.

P.S. Grand juries have always dropped a veil secrecy on investigations, that part of the sky fell way before 9-11...perhaps our government and the public officials would pay more attention if our claims if they grounded in common sense.

*goes back to listening to NPR*
posted by Bag Man at 1:06 PM on December 23, 2002


Before Bush got elected, I was afraid of what might happen if he won. His administration has successfully surpassed even my wildest imagination of what the worst case scenario could be.

We've got scores of "isolated incidents" of obviously innocent people having their rights violated, we have the TIA which aims to record everything about you from your financial records to your medical records, and to be able to electronically identify everybody by a combination of their gait and their face by the year 2004.

America is supposed to be a special country because we aren't monitored, because we're supposed to be free to see who we want to and say what we want to. It seems to me that the only worthwhile freedom I'll likely hold in a few years is the freedom to move to Canada and revoke my US citizenship.

Here's to hoping that sanity prevails.
posted by mosch at 1:24 PM on December 23, 2002


Before Bush got elected, I was afraid of what might happen if he won. His administration has successfully surpassed even my wildest imagination of what the worst case scenario could be.

Not to be a jerk, since I think I agree with you to some extent, but do you really think it would be that much different with any of the other "viable" presidential candidates in office? That's not intended to be a rhetorical question; I'm actually curious about that. And it's scary that I have to ask that in this day and age. . .

Also, for all the nostalgic people out there, What Would Clinton Do? :-)
posted by BrandonAbell at 1:52 PM on December 23, 2002


Meanwhile, the guy who prevented Coleen Rowley from investigating Zacarias Moussaoui before Sept. 11 has received an award for "exceptional performance" and a cash bonus. Lovely.

On the bright side, for what it's worth, "nearly two dozen cities around the country have passed resolutions urging federal authorities to respect the civil rights of local citizens when fighting terrorism. Efforts to pass similar measures are under way in more than 60 other places. While the resolutions are largely symbolic, many of them provide some legal justification for local authorities to resist cooperating in the federal war on terrorism when they deem civil liberties and Constitutional rights are being compromised."
posted by homunculus at 10:36 PM on December 23, 2002


On the bright side[...]

Heh.
One more bomb, and people will be signing over their rights as fast as the government can print up the deeds.
posted by Opus Dark at 11:56 PM on December 23, 2002


"Are you, or have you ever been a member of the aviation community" asked George W McCarthy holding the patriotic guy in his icy (and somewhat vacant gaze).
"What about when you were in college, did you ever play or own a flight sim programme"?

Swallowing hard the startled American in handcuffs, flanked by G men replied "Sir, I cannot tell a lie, I did own a flight sim in college, but I only used it once and I never flew, I only ever taxied"!
posted by DrDoberman at 8:23 AM on December 24, 2002


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