Rock musician says DHS held his hard drive

Oct. 18, 2007 at 5:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security dismissed as "absurd" allegations that it confiscated a hard disk belonging to a rock musician for political reasons.

Guitarist and producer Chris Walla of the band Death Cab for Cutie told MTV News this week that a hard drive containing studio recordings and mixes for his new solo album was detained for examination by U.S. Customs and Border Protection last month.

"While I'm bummed about the whole thing, it could be a whole lot worse," Walla told MTV, noting, "I'm not at Guantanamo or anything like that. I mean, my drive might be. They could be water-boarding my drive for all I know."

MTV noted that Walla says his new album will be "very political" and is "packed with songs about issues both foreign ("The Score" tackles the war in Iraq) and domestic ("Everyone Needs a Home" deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina)."

"There have been allegations that the U.S. government seized this hard drive for political reasons," Mike Milne, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is part of Homeland Security, told United Press International.

"Those allegations could not be further from the truth. … They are absurd," he said. "We have bigger fish to fry."

Milne said the drive -- which was being carried by a courier firm from Canada, where Walla had been working on the album over the summer, back to the United States -- had been detained "for further inspection" on Sept. 18 or 19 when the courier sought to cross the U.S. border at the Peace Arch crossing in Blaine, Wash.

"That crossing is only for passengers," he said. "Any commercial traffic" including couriers or salespeople carrying samples or other commercial merchandise "has to cross a few miles down the road" at the Pacific Highway crossing.

He said the courier was issued a receipt and informed on Oct. 4 that the drive was ready for collection.

Apparently the couriers did not tell Walla, who told MTV this week that he "couldn't even venture a guess as to where (the drive) is, or what it's doing there."

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