Space Shuttle Columbia arrests - bullshit

ABC News is reporting that there has been TWO arrests in relation to the debris of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Yes, the crash is tragic. I mourn with the rest of America. However, have we become so fascist after 911 that we arrest people for picking up the debris? Wouldn’t it be easier to just say to them “hey, we are going to need that back, OK”?

Why arrest them?!

That’s bullshit. True, it’s a morbid souvenir, but this isn’t what we did after the Challenger disaster. Just take the damn part, not the person who found it - even if he or she is trying to hide it in the closet. What the living fuck?

Well, there are some people who wish to take advantage of the situation.

The fact that it blew up doesn’t mean the Columbia ceased to be Federal property, and therefore “trying to hide it in the closet” could reasonably be considered theft.

Opening scene: a quiet house in the suburbs of Texas. A black vehicle pulls up, and a few men get out. They walk up to the door, knock, and wait.

The door opens, and an older gentleman is there. He is well dressed, though a bit rumpled.

Gentlman: Can I help you gentleman?
Agents: Are you Bob Smith?
Gentleman: Yes I am.
Agents: Do you have here in your posession debris alleged to be from the Space Shuttle Columbia?
Gentleman: Uh… No sir.
Agents: But you are advertising them on E-bay, are you not?
Gentleman: I want my lawyer!
Agents: You’re under arrest for disturbing evidence, evasion, and profiteering, as well as being an idiot.

[sub] dramatization[/sub]

I have no problems with it. What if some tard is holding the circuit board that has the key clue to tell us what happened?

Would the same thing have happened if it was a piece of Mir? Spacelab?


There is a better way.

“We need that, asshole”, would have worked just fine.

To illustrate:

Something falls in my backyard out of the sky. I don’t notify authorities immediately. Should I be arrested?!

In most cases, no. But unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know full well that you are not entitled to keep the shuttle debris and that it is a federal offense to do so. I don’t believe for a second that the vast majority of these people are ignorant at all about what they are doing.

So, NASA needs that debris, fast. They need all of it. It will help them determine why the accident happened, to help solve this mystery. And we need the mystery to be solved. It’ll help the shuttle missions get back on track again. The sooner the better.

So they need to scare the shit out of any yahoo that thinks that they can squirrel a bit of it away. “What can they do to me? Take it away? Big deal!” That isn’t much of a deterrant. Being hauled off to jail is.

But do I advocate them putting one of these morons in prison for a long time? Unless they were selling on eBay or being blatantly callous and obvious, no. I think it would be pretty drastic to put someone away for years for hiding a bit of shuttle debris. Just some community service—that sounds fine. And the big scare of getting arrested in the first place.

Yeah. It wasn’t enough that it was announced that a) they were gonna need the debris for analysis and b) you should stay the fuck away from it and c) it’s possible that the debris is pretty hot and giving off some fumes and d) stay the fuck away from it.

I have no sympathy fro the nutjobs who were arrested for doing what they were told NOT to do.

Things like Mir and Spacelab didn’t come down unexpectedly. NASA needs every piece to conduct their investigation. The authorities would get similarly pissed if you stole pieces of a mysteriously crashed airplane.

Interfering in a federal investigation.

Theft of government property.

Trafficing in stolen goods (In some cases).

But nothing illegal…

Sure, people shouldn’t be keeping debris that may be useful for the investigation. 10 years in prison is a bit much though. I see it as another example of “zero tolerance” policies run wild. If they know someone has debris, they just have to get get it.

It seems to me that the government is a little too happy to put its citizens in jail lately. Jail is for crimes. Picking up a piece of toasted crap that fell into your yard isn’t hurting anyone.:rolleyes:

I think it’s been pretty well demonstrated that not only is it a federal crime, but that in denying the investigators access to the debris, you are hurting people, namely, future shuttle crews. Did you not read the thread before posting?

I saw a blurb on MSNBC about the maximum punishment for removing debris from an accident scene is a $250,000 fine and 10 years in jail.

“Hi it’s my first day here, what you in for?”
“I killed my mother and stuffed her in a footlocker. What are you in for?”
“I hid a heat tile in my closet. Can I buy a shank from you?”

A simple way to avaid the 10 year sentence: Don’t steal the fuckin’ debris.
That said, I would be amazed if these morons actually did hard time. More likely a fine and probation.

Federal officials said that they had a similar problem in 1986 when people were trying to sell pieces of the space shuttle Challenger.

From the following news story:

Arresting these fools seems to be a total waste of resources.

Wouldn’t simple beatings send a clearer message?

Ten bucks says these guys don’t do any time after trial, even if they’re found guilty.

This is one of those ‘message’ arrests to get people to behave while the feds are busy. Pop a few now and hopefully things go smoother during the cleanup.

Indeed, the Feds are saying that if you turn anything in that you picked up before Friday, they won’t prosecute you.

Oh, and more than just the lives of future astronauts depend upon finding out what happened. Anyone who lives under a shuttle flight path is also depending upon the knowledge gained. This time people got lucky and no one on the ground was killed, next time (and there will be one, no matter if the shuttles or their replacements are the next to fly) we might not get so lucky.

IAC, what these folks are doing is the same as carving off a hunk of The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the USS Arizona, or making off with WTC debris. It’s theft, and being disrespectful for the dead. (Personally, I equate it with trying to swipe holy relics from a religious site, but that’s just me and I realize that not all folks take the space program as seriously as I do.)

I agree that a person who doesn’t turn in debris is a putz of the highest order, is possibly endangering future flight crews, and is morally in the wrong, but I do see how some could feel that an object that falls from space (even from a gov’t owned object) into their property should become their property.

Under other circumstances, like perhaps a controlled purposeful burn like that of MIR, then people should be able to keep their souvenirs. In this situation, though, since lives are in danger, then there is no excuse.

I wonder what salvage laws have to say on the subject? I bet federal laws on the recovery of gov’t property supercede any salvage law.

How about this? Suppose someone heard a gunshot in, oh, I dunno, the Washington D.C. area. He goes out and finds a spent case from a .223 rifle and surmises that it was evidence from a serial killer who has been terrorizing the city. This case could be instrumental in linking the victim to a gun to a killer. If he decides to keep it so he could sell it later on eBay – “Actual bullet case used by D.C. Sniper!” – he is imeding an investigation. If his actions resulted in a delay in catching the killers and the killers are allowed to kill for another day, another week, another month… then his taking of a piece of evidence for a souvenier or for profit is costing lives.

Is Farmer Bob a rocket scientist? Is he a crash scene investigator? Is he a metallurgist or aerospace engineer? Probably not. Certainly most pieces of a crash, of Columbia or a passenger plane or whatever, are not critical to an investigation. But how do laymen know which pieces are? Not talking about Columbia specifically, but for illustration: Suppose someone finds a sheared rivet. No other rivets from the same area are found, for whatever reason. Why did it shear? Is there a flaw in it? Were all of the rivets in the structure where this rivet came from defective? Who would even know to find out, if a souvenier hunter takes the onely one to be discovered? Until a piece of debris is ruled out as a critical piece, then it is de facto a critical piece.

Put another way:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

A nail found in a field is a worthless thing. But how would we know that the kingdom was lost becuase of it, were it not for finding the nail? How will we know what caused the loss of Columbia if someone steals a piece of seemingly-worthless debris that by coincidence happens to be a key clue?