Below are two posts from Blogger Michael Arrington on his website http://uncrunched.com/.
It tells you everything you need to know about the people who run and work for the Department of Homeland Security. They are stupid, arrogant, bullying, lying, dangerous thugs.
YESTERDAY’S INITIAL POST:
I live a fairly simple life and that didn’t change much after I sold TechCrunch in 2010. I didn’t buy a new house or even a new car. The one thing I did splurge on was a boat.
Nothing too fancy or large. I live near Seattle and there’s a big boating culture up here. I found a small company that builds boats specifically for this area called Coastal Craft. I ordered it in 2011 and planned on writing about the experience after it was delivered.
I named her Buddy. It has state of the art electronics and a fairly new highly efficient propulsion system that the TechCrunch audience would be interested in.
Today was the day that Buddy was going to be delivered. That didn’t happen, because the Department of Homeland Security seized the boat.
Buddy has to clear customs, part of the DHS, since she was built in Canada.
My job was to show up and sign forms and then leave with Buddy (WA sales tax and registration fees come a week later).
DHS takes documents supplied by the builder and creates a government form that includes basic information about the boat, including the price.
The primary form, prepared by the government, had an error. The price was copied from the invoice, but DHS changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars.
It has language at the bottom with serious sounding statements that the information is true and correct, and a signature block.
I pointed out the error and suggested that we simply change the currency from US $ to CAD $ so that is was correct. Or instead, amend the amount so that it was correct in U.S. dollars.
I thought this was important because I was signing it and swearing that the information, and specifically the price, was correct.
The DHS agent didn’t care about the error and told me to sign the form anyway. “It’s just paperwork, it doesn’t matter,” she said. I declined.
She called another agent and said simply “He won’t sign the form.” I asked to speak to that agent to give them a more complete picture of the situation. She wouldn’t allow that.
Then she seized the boat. As in, demanded that we get off the boat, demanded the keys and took physical control of it.
What struck me the most about the situation is how excited she got about seizing the boat. Like she was just itching for something like this to happen. This was a very happy day for her.
So now I have to hire a lawyer to try to figure all this out. And I will figure it out, eventually.
My point in writing this isn’t to whine. Like I said, this will get worked out one way or another.
No, it’s to highlight how screwed up our government bureaucracy has become.
A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today. And when I didn’t do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.
What would you have done? Maybe most people would have just signed the form. The U.S. and CA dollars are almost the same value right now (although they weren’t when I made most of the payments on the boat), so what’s the bother?
Well, to me it’s the principle involved, being told to sign and swear to something false, or else.
And it would have been SO FUCKING EASY to just correct the form so that I wasn’t swearing to something that was false.
As usual, I took the “or else” option. And the bastards stole my boat.
I’ll probably get droned now, too.
Update to yesterday’s post. A day after Buddy was seized by DHS I now have my boat in my possession and at my slip.
This all happened while I was still trying to sort out a lawyer and had nothing to do with anything I did. Coastal Craft, the builder, took extraordinary steps (and expense) to get possession of Buddy from DHS.
I sat down to write this quick update just to let everyone know that things worked out.
But when I logged in to WordPress I saw a really curious comment from someone claiming to work for DHS in the same office that I dealt with. And the comment includes enough specific information that I’m inclined to believe him.
Okay all, the rest of the story(I was there). 1. The amount on both invoice and CBP form were in U.S dollars correctly completed on the form. 2. Just because someone has $$$ and posts something first on the web, doesn’t make them true. 3. The officer in question did not act gleefully, in fact SHE called back to the office and vessel manufacturer several times to verify the stated value. 4. The officer in question vilified by this rich individual now has to endure all the grief posted here and elsewhere by Mr rich guy and explain why she followed the LEGAL document value and wouldn’t cow to his brow beating. 5. Coastal Craft ended up paying for a broker to perform what should have been a personal importation and guess what The value on that entry was EXACTLY the same as on the CBP presented form. 6. Mr. Rich guy will probably post everywhere now that HE was right due to the fact that he has his boat and did not sign anything, but the fact is that the company took the high moral ground and due to ALL the false posting by Arrington, they paid for the paperwork to be processed. 7. We are all at the mercy of individuals who feel (right or wrong) that they can put out whatever they feel and get hundreds of all of you all worked up about the big bad government, fact is the is/was correct and all of us had to jump thru hoops due to arrington’s posts and written falsehoods. 8. I am proud to work with this office/officer and all of you should be ashamed for vilifying her/DHS without knowing the facts. 9. Most working folds have bosses and we are no exception sadly we had to answer many questions for correctly performing our sworn duties due to all the bad press put out by someone who feels entitled or above the public servant. Shame on you.
Just a few questions.
1. You state you work for DHS, correct? And you work in the office I had to deal with?
2. You say you were there. Are you claiming you were actually at the boat when this happened? Or do you just mean you were “there” in general (back at the office)? Because you were most definitely not on the boat (where everything happened) at any time I was there.
3. If you do, you really feel “vilified” when the net result was your office seized private property? I mean, hey, you got my boat. That had to be some consolation.
4. Is it appropriate for you to post private information about Coastal Craft? I won’t ask about my information since I started the debate and hey, I’m just a fucking schmuck citizen. But them? Do you see this as an abuse of your position?
5. You say “all of us had to jump thru hoops due to arrington’s posts and written falsehoods” – what hoops were jumped through exactly?
6. You say “she followed the LEGAL document value.” You realize she was holding an invoice in CA$ in one hand and the DHS document in US$ in the other, and seemed to have no understanding that they were two different currencies, right?
7. Did she tell you how she wouldn’t face me or look me in the eye or let me speak? Did she tell you how she wouldn’t let me speak with her superior to explain things? It was just “sign this or we’re done. Actually, we’re just done. Give me the keys.”
You have to realize how angry I had to be to write this. First, I don’t like talking about my personal business. Second, I had to take a lot of negative feedback from people over this, too. And third, for fuck’s sake, you are the Department of Homeland Security. What happens to me the next time I got through TSA at the airport, or try to cross the border into Canada? Do you think I may perhaps be on a “list” and have some difficulties? Do you understand that I am so upset about how the government is treating its citizens that I was willing to accept that I’ll now be subject to further abuse?
I’m terribly sorry that I upset you and your office over all this. But all I did was post what happened on my personal blog. I have the right to do that under the Constitution. That thing you’ve sworn to uphold and protect.
And one other thing I missed the first time. You say “The amount on both invoice and CBP form were in U.S dollars correctly completed on the form. 2.”, suggesting that the form your office created was identical to invoice. This is just another outright lie. The invoice was in CA$.
For you, the government, to outright lie like this, and engage in a personal attack, and discuss private information, is disgusting.
That follow up comment really addresses the whole crazy in his comment. He’s saying there was no problem at all with the paperwork. So why wouldn’t I sign? And why would it be necessary for her to apparently call all these people to verify the value?
And another thing he doesn’t mention is this whole broker business. The reason Coastal Craft had to hire a broker (which is something like $10,000) was because DHS told them they had to do it to get the boat out of seizure. That’s what Coastal Craft told me today, and that’s what officer Marr told me yesterday on the phone.
I can’t wait until the next time I have to cross a border or go through TSA at the airport.