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 Post subject: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Sat 06-20-2009 5:02PM 
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2 Second Summary: Lambert (STL International Airport) TSA decided to harass a Ron Paul supporter because he was carrying some $4000 in a lockbox from a political fundraiser. He used a pocket constitution and an audio-recording app on his iPhone to defend himself.

Also - the original story (quoted below) lists Lambert-St. Louis as being in Illinois. Apparently someone at CNN has never looked at a map.

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Cnn.com wrote:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Steve Bierfeldt says the Transportation Security Administration pulled him aside for extra questioning in March. He was carrying a pocket edition of the U.S. Constitution and an iPhone capable of making audio recordings. And he used them.
Steve Bierfeldt is accusing the Transportation Security Administration of "harassing interrogation."

Steve Bierfeldt is accusing the Transportation Security Administration of "harassing interrogation."

On a recording a TSA agent can be heard berating Bierfeldt. One sample: "You want to play smartass, and I'm not going to play your f**king game."

Bierfeldt is director of development for the Campaign for Liberty, an outgrowth of the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He was returning from a regional conference March 29 when TSA screeners at Lambert-St. Louis (Illinois) International Airport saw a metal cash box in his carry-on bag. Inside was more than $4,700 dollars in cash -- proceeds from the sale of political merchandise like T-shirts and books.

There are no restrictions on carrying large sums of cash on flights within the United States, but the TSA allegedly took Bierfeldt to a windowless room and, along with other law enforcement agencies, questioned him for almost half an hour about the money.

The American Civil Liberties Union has taken up Bierfeldt's cause and is suing Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, whose department includes the TSA. Their complaint alleges that Bierfeldt was "subjected to harassing interrogation, and unlawfully detained."

Larry Schwartztol of the ACLU said the TSA is suffering from mission creep.

"We think what happened to Mr. Bierfeldt is a reflection that TSA believes passenger screening is an opportunity to engage in freewheeling law enforcement investigations that have no link to flight safety," he said.

Schwartztol believes many other passengers have been subjected to the same kind of treatment, which he claims violates constitutional protections against unlawful searches.

The TSA wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, but said in a statement that the movement of large amounts of cash through a checkpoint may be investigated "if suspicious activity is suspected."

Unbeknownst to the TSA agents, Bierfieldt had activated the record application on his phone and slipped it into his pocket. It captured the entire conversation.

An excerpt:

Officer: Why do you have this money? That's the question, that's the major question.

Bierfeldt: Yes, sir, and I'm asking whether I'm legally required to answer that question.

Officer: Answer that question first, why do you have this money.

Bierfeldt: Am I legally required to answer that question?

Officer: So you refuse to answer that question?

Bierfeldt: No, sir, I am not refusing.

Officer: Well, you're not answering.

Bierfeldt: I'm simply asking my rights under the law.

The officers can be heard saying they will involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and appear to threaten arrest, saying they are going to transport Bierfeldt to the local police station, in handcuffs if necessary.

Bierfeldt told CNN he believes their behavior was inappropriate.

"You're in a locked room with no windows. You've got TSA agent. You've got police officers with loaded guns. They're in your face. A few of them were swearing at me."

But the officers did not follow through on their threats. Near the end of the recording an additional officer enters the situation and realizes the origins of the money.

Officer: So these are campaign contributions for Ron Paul?

Bierfeldt: Yes, sir.

Officer: You're free to go.

According to the TSA, "Passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry"

Bierfeldt contends he never refused to answer a question, he only sought to clarify his constitutional rights.

"I asked them, 'Am I required by law to tell you what you're asking me? Am I required to tell you where I am working? Am I required to tell you how I got the cash? Nothing I've done is suspicious. I'm not breaking any laws. I just want to go to my flight. Please advise me as to my rights.' And they didn't."

The TSA says disciplinary action has been taken against one of its employees for inappropriate tone and language

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Sat 06-20-2009 6:10PM 
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it sounds like he was being a dick, he could have just said they were campaign contributions. Instead he does the "know my rights" line for a question that does not incriminate himself. When people avoid simple questions thats when you become suspicious and grants the investigation.

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Sat 06-20-2009 6:59PM 
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It sounds like they were sticking their nose where it shouldn't belong. Carrying money isnt a crime and why you pack certain things (as long as they're permitted and not going to endanger the safety of other travelers) isn't any of their business. I don't think money is going to bring a plane down.

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Sat 06-20-2009 8:12PM 
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Yeah I think the point is that TSA's job is to ensure the safety of airline passengers. If they notice something unusual, but which does not endanger anyone's safety - it's not their job to pursue it or detain someone (though they have the right to notify the authorities)

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Sun 06-21-2009 7:01AM 
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They're both wrong. The TSA agent didn't need to know what the money was from but the guy could've just answered and not made a big deal out of it. The only time the amount of cash you're carrying with you should be a concern would be at customs if you're re-entering the US and I think the limit is $10,000.

I wish our airport security was more like the airport security in Germany. The guys over there are friendly, don't hate their job and take it out on travelers and the best thing of all is you don't have to take off your shoes. I was in a long security line at Frankfurt but made it through in a couple minutes because they don't stall around asking dumb shit questions like why you have money on you.


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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Thu 06-25-2009 10:44PM 
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Are you really familiar with the airlines in germany, or have you been there twice. And coming back from europe we were able to get through customs very easily. A very long line and it took maybe 10 minutes to complete everything.

Also, any federal officer will want to ask you about questions, and if you answer nicely, you get through quick. When you decide to be a dick (not that being a dick is against the law), they will be a dick back. And the courts generally agree that police are allowed to be a dick back to you. Also, I am interested in what other agency's questioned him.

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Fri 06-26-2009 1:29PM 
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I've been through customs in Germany three times and found them on the whole more efficient and less intrusive unless you gave them a reason to be. People respect law enforcement more in Germany than in the US. Talking back to a police officer isn't even considered. For example, if you refuse to submit for a sobriety test, they will simply force you to give blood on the spot and take the test that way. And if the blood comes from your face after it smashes to the curb, it saves them the trouble of using a needle. German law enforcement always strikes me as brutally efficient. It wouldn't fly in the US.


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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Fri 06-26-2009 5:08PM 
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Patrick wrote:
I've been through customs in Germany three times and found them on the whole more efficient and less intrusive unless you gave them a reason to be.



I noticed that too when I landed in Berlin. I was questioned less there than I was re-entering the US. The customs agent just took my passport, glanced at it, stamped it and said "Welcome to Germany." And the line went very quickly, but that may have been because of Berlin-Tegel Airport's design and the fact that each incoming flight has its own custom's agent and there aren't huge lines to begin with.

The customs agents in the UK treat you like a criminal when coming in with all the questions. At least the one I had to deal with at Heathrow did, I don't know if that's the norm or not.


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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Fri 06-26-2009 8:03PM 
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The guy did exactly what he should've and the TSA can go fuck themselves for this. He wasn't being a dick at all, he just wasn't being a pussy and using his rights. I could see the being a dick thing except for he repeatedly asked what his rights were and if he had to answer questions and they just ignored him and kept asking him the same question. It's not like he was asking about the weather, he was asking what I think is a very pertinent question and they were being dicks to him by not answering. I might see the TSA point of view if there was some evidence as to a physical danger of the plane like finding a funny smelling liquid. I know it might not be the norm but I can't think of any way how cold hard cash can take down a plane. I can see how screwdrivers might cause concern.

It's not so much that the TSA violated his rights but while they were wasting tax dollars trying to figure out the financial habits of one guy, how many people did they let through with ball point pens?

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Sun 06-28-2009 5:40PM 
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The guy wanted to look shady and righteous at the same time. I bet if he said they were from a political event they wouldve been fine. Was it their right to ask him about it? no. If he really wanted to get by security, answer the question. Its not like it was incriminating.

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Sun 06-28-2009 6:12PM 
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LostBoyz wrote:
Was it their right to ask him about it? no.


They have just about every right to ask anybody any question. It's also his right not to answer the question. It's that they held him over such a stupid thing. Yes, I know that they have the right to detain you for a day or two without any reason at all but have some sense and waste tax money without picking on regular people in the process.

LostBoyz wrote:
If he really wanted to get by security, answer the question. Its not like it was incriminating.


"What's the problem? You don't have anything to hide, do you?" He knows he didn't have anything to hide but he didn't feel like waiving his 4th amendment Constitutional right just to please a bunch of dick TSA agents. Maybe this time it's about the cash, maybe next time it's about that health procedure that is officially covered under privacy laws but would make the line just oh so much smoother if you tell someone who doesn't have any business with your health history to begin with. Even though I may not personally think that an issue is private, I respect other's wishes to keep that private and support their use of the 4th amendment to keep it private.

Swing it the other way and say people refused to answer stupid questions like this guy did with the cash. Of course the lines wouldn't run as smooth but maybe they'd get the message that asking about legal things is a waste of time and they should be getting back to their real job, like screening people. Then again, they'd probably get a budget increase for more agents because of all of the "non-compliers" at the airport who hold up the line.

You have rights. Use em or lose em.

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Sun 06-28-2009 10:23PM 
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Why cry wolf? His rights were not being squashed, they asked him a question and he acts as though the answer would incriminate him, this obviously raises suspicion. The information asked of him was neither incriminating or personal in nature. His reaction to know his rights was a waste of his time and the TSAs. If you think its the sole defining proof that the TSA is worthless, you are quite naive.


The mere fact the guy has an iphone and is a hardcore ron paul supporter tells me he is an asshole...or he just wants to get on digg.

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Tue 06-30-2009 1:42AM 
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LostBoyz wrote:
Why cry wolf? His rights were not being squashed, they asked him a question and he acts as though the answer would incriminate him, this obviously raises suspicion. The information asked of him was neither incriminating or personal in nature. His reaction to know his rights was a waste of his time and the TSAs.


The point is that they don't have the right to harrass you. Even if you look suspicious. And the supreme court has upheld that refusing to answer (or even going so far as to plead the fifth) can NOT be used to assume anything.

Just for the record - it didn't wasn't always considered to be rude or dick-ish to exercise your rights. Even if the guy was being a jerk or just baiting TSA - he has that right (he's a private citizen). Government employed officials, however, do NOT have the right to harass you for no reason (and I think everyone here can admit that there was no reason).

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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Tue 08-11-2009 9:04PM 
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That guy COULD have answered the question and moved on. It is possible that nothing has happened. But I think the ACLU is right, that there maybe some "creep" in their mission. TSA's rule is that you have to complete the security screening to the satisfaction of the TSA employees (before you can leave or proceed). This may be a metal detector, pat-down or additional questioning. I think what they are saying here is that if they pull you out of line, take you to a room and guard the door, you are effectively under arrest (which means you have the right to remain silent, attorney presence, etc). I could almost see a miranda type requirement coming out of this. Anything beyond the basic screening the TSA would have to read you your rights (though they may be different than the "miranda rights").

Yes, cooperation to make them happy is probably the best plan to catch your flight. I do see this as being a legit concern.

It's my understanding that when you are entering the US, citizen or not, you have no constitutional rights. That is why they can ask you whatever they want and you are essentially required to answer and do that truthfully. I could be wrong for this section.

Obviously I'm not a law expert, but I have taken a couple criminal evidence classes.


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 Post subject: Re: TSA Harassesment Recorded on iPhone
PostPosted: Wed 08-12-2009 5:51AM 
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FrankieM wrote:
It's my understanding that when you are entering the US, citizen or not, you have no constitutional rights. That is why they can ask you whatever they want and you are essentially required to answer and do that truthfully. I could be wrong for this section.


When re-entering the US, if you're a citizen, you have the right to re-enter the country, they cannot turn you back. If you've done something stupid, they could haul your ass off to jail as soon as you re-enter but as long as you have a valid passport they can't tell you that you're not allowed in and send you back where you came from.

I don't think you have many other rights until you're past immigration, but really, you don't need them. I've re-entered this country a few times, and they usually ask 3 questions. Where did you go, what did you do there, and how long were you gone? If you're going to be Mr. Constitutional Tough Guy and not take the 10 seconds to answer those questions then to be honest, you deserve whatever you get. It's not like "London. Vacation. A week" is personal information.

Non citizens, of course, have no rights and can be turned back at the border. Hopefully their home country will take them, if not, they're fucked, just like this guy.


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