Remember when we were told in the wake of the September 11th attacks that the extraordinary surveillance and investigative powers being granted to the Federal Government were intended solely to protect us from terrorist attacks ?
Well, perhaps someone can explain exactly how a 16 year-old in North Carolina constitutes a terrorist threat:
Oxford, N.C. — Sixteen-year-old Ashton Lundeby’s bedroom in his mother’s Granville County home is nothing, if not patriotic. Images of American flags are everywhere – on the bed, on the floor, on the wall.
But according to the United States government, the tenth-grade home-schooler is being held on a criminal complaint that he made a bomb threat from his home on the night of Feb. 15.
The family was at a church function that night, his mother, Annette Lundeby, said.
“Undoubtedly, they were given false information, or they would not have had 12 agents in my house with a widow and two children and three cats,” Lundeby said.
Around 10 p.m. on March 5, Lundeby said, armed FBI agents along with three local law enforcement officers stormed her home looking for her son. They handcuffed him and presented her with a search warrant.
“I was terrified,” Lundeby’s mother said. “There were guns, and I don’t allow guns around my children. I don’t believe in guns.”
Lundeby told the officers that someone had hacked into her son’s IP address and was using it to make crank calls connected through the Internet, making it look like the calls had originated from her home when they did not.
Her argument was ignored, she said. Agents seized a computer, a cell phone, gaming console, routers, bank statements and school records, according to federal search warrants.
“There were no bomb-making materials, not even a blasting cap, not even a wire,” Lundeby said.
And yet her son remains in custody in a juvenile facility in Indiana and the government doesn’t even feel obligated to explain the charges against him:
Passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., the Patriot Act allows federal agents to investigate suspected cases of terrorism swiftly to better protect the country. In part, it gives the federal government more latitude to search telephone records, e-mails and other records.
“They’re saying that ‘We feel this individual is a terrorist or an enemy combatant against the United States, and we’re going to suspend all of those due process rights because this person is an enemy of the United States,” said Dan Boyce, a defense attorney and former U.S. attorney not connected to the Lundeby case.
Boyce said the Patriot Act was written with good intentions, but he said he believes it has gone too far in some cases. Lundeby’s might be one of them, he said.
“It very well could be a case of overreaction, where an agent leaped to certain conclusions or has made certain assumptions about this individual and about how serious the threat really is,” Boyce said.
Gee, do you think ?
Here’s a report from a local television station in North Carolina about the incident:
Rick Sincere, whose post early this morning pointed me to this horrendous story, sums up all of this up quite nicely:
In addition to incompetences like this, government law enforcement agencies are extremely shy about apologizing for mistakes. (They almost never do so, unless by court order.) So Ashton Lundeby, no matter how strong the case for his innocence is, will likely be kept in jail for years as the government tries out new and more ridiculous charges against him, until they find one that sticks or they wear Ashton down so thoroughly that he confesses to crimes he did not commit (and probably did not occur).
Welcome to the new America, my friends.