Former Mozilla CTO was detained at US border and told he had no right to a lawyer

Not to speak for @MikeKStar, but I read that as:

“Knowing that this particular threat was bogus might help you keep your cool if you are ever in this situation.”


“Learning more about your rights can give you something to hold onto when someone’s trying to confuse you about which end is up.” Just my interpretation.


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Have not been to the USA since 2008 and don’t intend to visit until things change down there.


Occasionally wishing that I could emigrate to a sane country. The closest approximations I can think of are Finland, Norway, Scotland and Australia; the last mostly because the place is honest about the fact that everything is trying to kill you. Here in the US, the regressives smile and give a mildly sympathetic look to the cameras while putting effective healthcare out of reach while suppressing wages and alllowing housing to skyrocket. “It’s for the best,” they murmur as I starve to death while also dying of preventable diseases whose treatments are priced as high as the market will bear. “Gotta protect the shareholder dividends…”


Lately, my standard teaching material for my security students includes brief notes on best practices when traversing National boundaries, and best practices for handling “Nuke” passwords:

When selecting devices to take on an International trip:

  • Don’t take it, if you can’t afford to lose it. Any device or data taken on a trip may be lost, stolen or imaged.
  • All info on a device should be backed up somewhere else before traveling.
  • NEVER trust a device that has been taken from you and then returned.
  • If your device is taken from your posession for an hour, then returned, it has probably been imaged. It probably also has malware.

Suggested best practices when traversing a national border or interacting with agents of a government:

  1. Your best approach is to blend in. Do preparation to ensure that important devices, sensitive access, or sensitive information is not present, and not exposed. Don’t volunteer anything. Comply with every order. Don’t worry, be happy! Let them seize whatever, make their copies and plant their malware. None of it is important. You can wipe or replace everything later. You won’t lose anything important. Your goal is to not waste time or draw attention to yourself. It is easier to move information around the Internet, then it is to get a fingernail clipper past a hostile TSA agent.
  2. Avoid puting all your eggs in one basket. Complete access to sensitive info should never be a possible outcome. For example, don’t travel with BOTH encrypted data and knowledge of encryption keys. Don’t put the access and the data together in one, easily seized location. If you ARE complete access, then change the access before entering into dispute. When dealing with agents of government, it is best to be able to truthfully say: “I do not have access to protected, sensitive information. I don’t know the password or I can’t do the 2-factor. At some time in the future, my business verifies that everything is OK, then they give me access.” If you have a lawyer, then you can get significant protection during a dispute by giving him control over access to sensitive material.

Suggested best practice for handling “Nuke” passwords:

  1. The best (probably only) time to use a Nuke password is BEFORE you lose control.
  2. Nuke passwords will NOT destroy data after it is properly imaged and handled by a trained forensic specialist.
  3. ALL governments actively prosecute anybody who lies and says a Nuke password is his real password. NEVER claim that your Nuke password is your real password.
  4. The best way to utilize a “Nuke” password after you lose control, is place it where your adversary will discover it.

Err, “Could be”…?


I was expedited and banned entry to u.s for 5 (plus?) years for basically intent to busk. and sternly told by the customs officer “you can’t do that to America” I spent 6 hours detained and listening to the ice agents gleefully brag to each other with their best stories of catching families at the border.

and they laughed maniacally.

well they didn’t laugh maniacally

but I could’t resist adding that , but they did laugh and maybe just slightly almost a little bit maniacally, and regrettably in leaving I did sing them a song about smiling and being happy and I thought for moment they would shoot me as they chased me running along side my car on foot as I drove back to other side.

  1. “I explicitly invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.”

  2. “I want a lawyer.”

  3. “I want to talk to a judge then.”

  4. GOTO 10


I wonder if you could call the local police on the CPB, in that situation. It seems like CPB only respect force and if you’re “just” a citizen, they do what they want.

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Talking of groupings, someone here linked to something the other day that resonated with me.
It was a definition of Conservatism. But I think it is as much a definition of the Establishment, or in this day and age, whoever has power.

It stated that Conservatism was defined by there being two groups in society - an in-group who are protected by the law but not bound by it, and an out-group who are bound by the law but not protected by it. The membership of the out-group is being expanded, it seems. And ultimately we know where that ends, when a certain type of in-group has power.

First they came for…

If you tolerate this…


It’s because of cases like this that GOTO is Considered Harmful:

Update: See also Recursive attorney disorder:

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Indeed. There’s no exit from that after being released.


CBSA can and will do that to people. “Dismantle and leave in pieces” isn’t just restricted to US customs.

Border guards have more powers than police.


I like Canada. I traveled a lot at one point for work and the Canadian border people were always very professional.

I was thinking of going to Montreal to play poker and eat poutine but between the shutdown and general assholery of BCP lately I just visited a friend here in the states. (I am always mindful of keeping this account psudo-anonymous so forgive me if I don’t leak exactly where I flew instead :slight_smile: )

I’m a US citizen, so it’s always a combination of terrifying and amusing when they get shitty coming home. Yeah, you can search my stuff but at the end of the day I am coming in, mwhahaha

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Rather off-topic, but this reminds me of crossing the Afghanistan/Iran border, travelling west, in the late '70s. I was in a bus. Drove past guy going the same way in a VW Combi that had been taken apart on the Afghani side of the border and who was slowly putting it all back together again. Door panels, seats, entire interior contents, engine cover, you name it.

The guy next to me said “He did well. At least he’s here to put it back together, which means they really tried but didn’t find anything - coulda been a whole lot worse”. We were detained for an hour or so making the crossing. As I looked back when we left, he was still at it.

During the hour waiting we examined the customs trophy case. It was quite amazing what people had tried to hide stuff in. Yeah, customs and border guards can be real jerks and it has ever been thus. But smugglers are jerks too. Sadly today’s ‘contraband’ seems to be data and opinions.


Now with 2-Day Right to a Jury Trial !

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There is this notion among law enforcement both military and civilian as well as within the signals and intelligence agencies that there are places and situations whereby the limitations our constitution places upon the power of government no longer apply.
We must disabuse them of this notion at every turn. The government cannot decide that the limitations placed upon it are in any way malleable.


Are you sure that you’ll still be alive, though?

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Well it already did, a long time ago and repeatedly since, and the country has always greeted this travesty by yawning and rolling over.