"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
An e-mail threat that prompted the evacuation of more than a dozen Brandeis University buildings on January 18 led to an unusual standoff in a public library in Newton, Mass., a few miles from the Brandeis campus.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents tried to seize 30 of the library's computers without a warrant, saying someone had used the library's Internet connection to send the threat to Brandeis. But the library director, Kathy Glick-Weil, told the agents they could not take the machines unless they got a warrant first. Newton's mayor, David Cohen, backed Ms. Glick-Weil up.
After a brief standoff, FBI officials relented and sought a warrant from a judge. Meanwhile, Ms. Glick-Weil allowed an FBI computer-forensics examiner to work with information-technology specialists at the library to narrow down which computers might have been used to send the threatening message. They determined that three computers were implicated in the alleged crime.
Late that evening, the FBI received a warrant to cart away the three computers. According to Mayor Cohen, the warrant allows the FBI to view only the threatening e-mail message and the messages sent immediately before and after that message.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that "brief standoff." I'm sure it was a glorious thing.