What would you do if a police officer knocked on your door at 10 p.m. and asked to see your son, who was already in bed? And the pretense used by the officer to see your son was a lie?
Then a dozen government agents barged into your home and began searching it without first showing you a search warrant? And while this was going on, an armed federal agent dragged your pre-teen daughter out of her bed and into the living room?
What would you do if government agents then handcuffed your son, ransacked your house—taking a computer, cell phone, computer gaming equipment and personal papers—and took your son to jail? And, while this was going on, those same government agents refused to allow you to call an attorney?
Then a hearing was held early the next morning, before you were able to find an attorney to represent your son? And if, three months later, your son had not been charged with a crime but had been denied bail and was still being held in prison in another state?
When you hear of something like this, is your first thought that this is some third world or communist country? It’s surely somewhere other than the United States.
Well welcome to today’s America, my friends, courtesy of the USA Patriot Act.
Annette and Ashton Lundeby’s nightmare began March 5, when a North Carolina State Trooper knocked on the door of their Oxford, N.C., home at 10 p.m. and asked Mrs. Lundeby if she knew her son had hit another car and left the scene.
It was not true, and as she spoke to the officer a dozen FBI agents stormed past her into her house and began searching and demanding she get her 16-year-old son out of bed. When she asked about a search warrant the agents showed her one, but would not let her read it until later in the evening.
Her son was interrogated by FBI agents and her daughter was dragged from her bed and the family terrorized.
“I was terrified,” Mrs. Lundeby, a widow, told a WRAL television reporter. “There were guns, and I don’t allow guns around my children. I don’t believe in guns.”
As the evening progressed Mrs. Lundeby learned that her son, who had never been in any trouble with the law, was being accused of making bomb threats. The only evidence agents had was an email with the IP address of her son’s computer.
No bomb-making materials, wires or bomb-making literature was found in the home. What’s more, at the time Ashton was supposedly sending the threatening email he was attending a meeting at his church. After the meeting he and his mother cleaned the church building and then went to a grocery story on the way home. When he got home he went straight to bed.
Mrs. Lundeby believes her son is the victim of a computer hacker. She said the hacker has been at work for a couple months because she had received several strange calls prior to March 5. On one occasion the police called saying someone had called 911 saying there were drugs in her home.
All of these facts should be easy to confirm if an investigator cared to confirm them. But it seems authorities are more interested in persecuting Ashton than in finding the truth.
Under normal circumstances a habeas corpus hearing would be held that would force the government to present a case for holding Ashton. But the Patriot Act supersedes that. So Ashton remains in detention without being charged.
We wrote a few weeks ago about the liberty-infringing effects laws passed by Congress to fight terrorism and championed by a supposedly conservative president have had on Americans. Many of those commenting about that article disagreed with us on the deleterious nature of such laws.
Some of those comments called us “too right wing” for them and said they didn’t want to be a part of such a website as Personal Liberty Digest. But Ashton Lundeby’s case shows how, when given the power to deny rights, the government will do so every time.
It’s happened before in our country. In 1789 Congress passed and President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts which authorized the deportation of “dangerous” aliens and also made a crime the publication of “any false, scandalous and malicious writing.” Twenty-five men, many of them newspaper editors, were arrested. Included among them was the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin Bache.
President Abraham Lincoln did it too, locking up state legislators and newspaper editors who were against the U.S. waging war on the Confederacy. Most of them were held without trial and charges for the war’s duration.
And President George Bush did it, pushing through Congress the Military Commissions Act and USA Patriot Act, which deny due process to enemy combatants and, as evidenced in the cases of Jose Padilla and Ashton Lundeby, Americans as well.
Our Constitution has been shredded and it seems there are few willing to acknowledge it, and fewer still trying to do something about.
For those willing to study our country’s history, the oppressive nature of government is no surprise. We were warned by the founders, who broke away from an oppressive government and formed one that guaranteed certain rights.
As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The system of justice will either protect citizens from tyranny or be one means by which tyranny is exercised over them. A just society rests upon an equal application of the law to each and every citizen; it protects the rights of individuals regardless of the inconveniences caused thereby. It is of inestimable importance to the happiness and security of the people that justice be administered strictly, according to the established forms of the law.”
Unfortunately, those elected to represent us seem to either have no knowledge of history and our Constitution or are blatantly disregarding it to consolidate their power. Concerned citizens need to hold accountable those they elected, for tyranny rests at your doorstep.