9th Circuit Misunderstands Observed Public Internet Activity

Oddly it is ok for our military to provide grenade launchers and armored assault vehicles to our public schools, but if they observe the public exchange of child pornography on the Internet, then that somehow crosses the line and causes offense.

In U.S. v. Dryer, a special agent of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) was conducting an investigation into publicly observable BitTorrent criminal activity focused on the state of Washington. The agent found evidence of the exchange of child pornography and when it was determined the party was not in the military, turned the evidence over to civilian law enforcement officials who conducted further investigations and prosecuted the defendant Dryer.

In a case in which the defendant was convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography, the 9th Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of a suppression motion and remanded for further proceedings holding the NCIS investigation into publicly observable conduct was in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA), 18 U.S.C. § 1385, which “prohibits Army and Air Force military personnel from participating in civilian law enforcement activities.”

Opinion:  US v. Dreyer, 13-30077, (Sept. 12, 2014, 9th Cir.)

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