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November 28, 2007

Black Helicopters, "Fiery Rhetoric" From BDS Bloggers Cited In First Amendment Jurisprudence

A judge blocked DoJ subpoenas of a book-seller charged with tax evasion. The subpoenas were apparently issued so that investigators could determine if books really were sold or if the transaction was some sort of sham.

From the order:

In this era of public apprehension about the scope of the USAPATRIOT Act, the FBI’s (now-retired) "Carnivore" Internet search program, and more recent highly-publicized admissions about political litmus tests at the Department of Justice, rational book buyers would have a non-speculative basis to fear that federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents have a secondary political agenda that could come into play when an opportunity presented itself. Undoubtedly a measurable percentage of people who draw such conclusions would abandon online book purchases in order to avoid the possibility of ending up on some sort of perceived "enemies list."

[FOOTNOTE: I am not finding that such fears are well-founded, but neither can I find them completely speculative or irrational. Quite apart from any book buyer's personal fear of federal apparatchiks or black helicopters is the more commonly shared notion that living in the land of the free means that it's none of the government’s business what books people are reading.]

Taken a step further, if word were to spread over the Net — and it would — that the FBI and the IRS had demanded and received Amazon’s list of customers and their personal purchases, the chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America. Fiery rhetoric quickly would follow and the nuances of the subpoena (as actually written and served) would be lost as the cyberdebate roiled itself to a furious boil. One might ask whether this court should concern itself with blogger outrage disproportionate to the government’s actual demand of Amazon. The logical answer is yes, it should: well-founded or not, rumors of an Orwellian federal criminal investigation into the reading habits of Amazon’s customers could frighten countless potential customers into canceling planned online book purchases, now and perhaps forever.

Orin Kerr at Volokh explains why this is, to use a legal term of art, fucking retarded, at the link.

Speaking of books and BDS, Steven King has a bad case of it. The man who gives America nightmares wakes up in cold sweats due to thoughts of... Albert Gonzalez.

And waterboarding, of course.


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posted by Ace at 12:04 PM

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