Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ashton Lundeby

In what, on it's face, seems like a ridiculous overreaction, a sixteen year-old North Carolina boy has been held without charge since March 5th over accusations that he made a bomb threat. Does anyone know anything further about this story? For example, the story blames the Patriot Act for the boy's prolonged detention, but doesn't cite any particular article being used. I know the Patriot Act is a useful boogeyman to throw around when you want to accuse the government of overstepping its bounds, but I'm not aware of any section dealing with detention of US citizens. The article also mentions national security letters, the use of which was expanded by the Patriot Act, but NSL's are essentially an administrative warrant. They get you information, not people.

The story sounds horrific, but the sheer ridiculousness of the reaction, coupled with the lack of much factual detail/blaming the evil Patriot Act, makes me wonder what information is missing here. Is anyone aware of what legal authority would allow the government to hold a citizen without habeas corpus rights? Is anyone aware of any reason why ANYONE for ANY reason would be held for two months over an accusation of a bomb threat when no bomb-making materials were found, nor any reason to believe the boy actually made such a threat?