Department of Homeland Security

DHS's 2014 Panty Raid Was Concocted by an "Eager" Federal Prosecutor

Homeland Security was defined-down even further in the form of a raid on a Kansas City lingerie shop over possible copyright infringement.

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Coming for your undergarments.
US Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

You may recall the widely-mocked raid staged by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a Kansas City lingerie shop, called Birdies, during the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series.

At issue was the store's alleged sale of underwear illegally-bearing the logo of the Kansas City Royals, whose first trip to the World Series in 29 years that year brought a huge boost in hometown demand for the team's apparel.

Nearly two years later, VICE Sports' Aaron Gordon reports that the raid was unsurprisingly not the result of some copyright-respecting do-gooder tipster, but "an extensive planned police action motivated by an 'eager' Assistant U.S. Attorney."

After Gordon filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, he came into documents which showed that DHS' Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency ran an ongoing operation called "Operation Team Player" in which ICE "worked with sports leagues and law enforcement agencies throughout the nation" to seize millions of dollars worth of counterfeit team apparel and merchandise. 

One of the FOIA'd documents shows one ICE officer writing to another that with regards to Operation Team Player, Kansas City's DHS office was "trying to get their numbers up and will accept any leads for controlled delivery in Kansas or Missouri, even if they do not meet the criteria because the AUSA Prosecutor is eager."

So there you have it, a federal bureaucracy needs to justify existence and a
"eager" prosecutor is willing to give them the go-ahead even if the required criteria isn't there. 

The emails also reveal that only a few days following the raid which netted the feds a grand total of 55 items (according to one of the internal government emails: "35 boy short underwear, 17 women thongs, 2 Men's boxers, and 1 men's underwear."), they sensed they were losing the narrative.

One officer wrote:

We're going to be all over the news tomorrow for all the wrong reasons. We'll obviously try to spin this as an opportunity to discuss IPR, but the panty raid jokes will make it hard.

Another officer replied:

We need MLB to step forward and throw some support for what we do. Let us get with our MLB contact and we'll be proactive as we can re: media.

When it was all said and done, no charges were filed against Birdies. The store's owner, Peregrine Honig, told VICE Sports that the whole ordeal ultimately gifted her business a windfall in free positive advertising because the story "made Republicans angry, it made Democrats angry, it made anarchists angry."

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  1. You know who else was an AUSA eager to throw his authoritay around?

    1. Well, have you ever seen Preet and Adolph together?

      1. Something something woodchipper something something.

        (Note to any overreactive AUSA’s: First, this was obviously a juvenile joke. Second, Fuck off.)

      2. Adolph who? Hitler? Are you saying Preet is Hitler?

        1. Well, he certainly thinks the First Amendment is an idea whose time has passed.

  2. I’m sure after that US Attorney was fired and the officers severely reprimanded for their parts in this frivolous bullshit, the rest of the DHS got the message.

    1. I’d settle for disbarment.

    2. Absolutely. This is a nation of laws after all. Take notice, for example, of the indictment of Hillary Clinton.

      1. Give him a big hand, folks, he’s hear all week. Tip your waitress.

        1. “here”

    3. Is this not well within DHS’s mission?

  3. Let the euphemisms commence.

    1. “panty raid jokes will make it hard”

      1. Are we not doing phrasing anymore?

        1. “Said Ripley to the android Bishop…”

  4. Oh, c’mon, they only spent a few thousand dollars seizing a few pairs of underwear to help justify spending a few tens of millions of dollars doing frivolous shit like seizing underwear – it’s not like they shot any dogs or flash-banged any babies.

  5. Um, why is ICE partisipating in counterfeit team memorabilia cases anyway? No wonder they don’t have time to enforce our immigration laws. Too busy acting like the Gestapo version of Sigma Nu.

    1. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (It’s the custom for cops to go after whatever easy targets present themselves.)

  6. At least it didn’t have a Cleveland Browns logo. Your breasts would be all droopy.

    1. Wouldn’t that be tightie whities with a skid mark?

  7. RE: DHS’s 2014 Panty Raid Was Concocted by an “Eager” Federal Prosecutor
    Homeland Security was defined-down even further in the form of a raid on a Kansas City lingerie shop over possible copyright infringement.

    Our tax dollars at work.
    No comedian is clever enough to make this shit up.
    Don’t these ass wipes in Homeland Security have more important duties to perform than invade a small shop keeper’s establishment and check women’s underwear?
    I guess not.
    Now we can sleep well at night our wives, sisters, mothers, et al are wearing copyright protected underwear.

  8. We’re going to be all over the news tomorrow for all the wrong reasons. We’ll obviously try to spin this as an opportunity to discuss IPR, but the panty raid jokes will make it hard.

    Whether intellectual property rights are legitimate or illegitimate, it never occurs to this cop even for a second that an armed para-military raid is probably not the least aggressive or intrusive means of advancing the discussion of ‘IPR’ when a pencil necked bureaucrat with a clipboard would be more than sufficient for the task.

    1. I believe this is a job for the copyright office and their attorneys not an armed police force.
      Talk about overkill!

      1. It’s called justifying your overly large budget.

        Frankly, I think shit like this should result in a 50% cut in next year’s appropriation.

  9. The store’s owner, Peregrine Honig, told VICE Sports that the whole ordeal ultimately gifted her business a windfall in free positive advertising…

    We need to ban the profit of private businesses off the backs of bureaucratic fuck-ups. Where’s Chuck Schumer?

    1. Where’s Chuck Schumer?

      Trying on officially licensed (natch) MLB team logo bras?

  10. DHS: defending the homeland from the scourge of illegal undies. /sarc

  11. Let us get with our MLB contact

    Why does the DHS have an MLB contact?

    1. Probably something to do with security for large sporting events.

    2. My understanding is that those shiny new metal detectors they installed at SafeCo a couple years ago (and, presumably, other ballparks elsewhere) were courtesy of the fine folks at DHS.

  12. I don’t agree with (the existence of) copyright law, nor with heavy-handed raids, nor for that matter with the existence of most if not all federal policing agencies.

    Buuut, I also think its a pretty lame tactic to go fishing through emails for weak scare quotes to attack people with, like the fact that some chowderhead considered the DA “eager” in some email to some other random weirdo, or that they skipped some completely-undefined “criteria” which we can only guess at anyway. Just reminds me of the annoying crap prosecutors do.

    1. I dunno, this looks like fair game to me:

      One of the FOIA’d documents shows one ICE officer writing to another that with regards to Operation Team Player, Kansas City’s DHS office was “trying to get their numbers up and will accept any leads for controlled delivery in Kansas or Missouri, even if they do not meet the criteria because the AUSA Prosecutor is eager.”

      I really don’t see a problem with it. If we can’t call them out on the stupid shit they actually put in writing, what can we call them out on?

      1. That’s the very part I was talking about. All I see is impolitic language for stuff which, as far as I know, is completely fine. They should be eager to dispense justice (presuming for argument’s sake that siezing legit counterfeit merchandise was actual justice). Success in this endeavor might indeed be measured by higher performance numbers. Imagine their job was to investigate missing persons or something. And we have no clue what the criteria” are or why violation of them should be treated as sinister. Maybe the “criteria” says only help Clinton donors.

        1. I for one am entirely confident in the proper dispensation of justice when the goal is to get one’s numbers up.

          1. Whereas I don’t much care if he’s motivated by trying to get higher numbers, gold star stickers, or getting laid. Just like in the private sector. Of course it’s a motive for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, blah blah blah. Hence the “gotcha” quotes and sinister-sounding innuendo. But you need more than a motive to have a crime, you also need the crime itself. Second degree criteria violation I guess. Perhaps involving a conspiracy.

  13. DHS’s 2014 Panty Raid Was Concocted by an “Eager” Federal Prosecutor

    eager beaver

    1. Sized with the federal prosecutor in mind…

  14. Dear Mr. Fisher,

    In “that with regards to” should be “that with regard to”.

    In “even if the required criteria isn’t there” the subject is plural and so should be the verb: aren’t.

    Regards,

    brec

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