Is that $4700 in your pocket or are you just a criminal?
Pardon the partial paraphrase, but it is nice that the ACLU has finally decided to take notice of some things...
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A lawsuit filed Thursday against the Transportation Security Administration alleges a Ron Paul supporter was unreasonably detained at the St. Louis airport because he was carrying about $4,700 in cash.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of Steven Bierfeldt, director of development for the Campaign for Liberty, an organization that grew out of Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign.
The organization had hosted an event in St. Louis that included the sale of tickets, T-shirts, stickers and other materials and Bierfeldt said he was carrying the cash proceeds in a metal box when he was detained at Lambert Airport for about 30 minutes on March 29.
The lawsuit does not seek money but asks the court to declare the TSA's actions unconstitutional and to prohibit the agency from similar searches when there is no evidence aircraft are endangered.
I am going to take a leap here and assume that the issue started when the metal box went through security. I am going to further assume that the money, and perhaps other objects, looked suspicious in the Xray.
"It's obviously important that the safety of flights be ensured," Bierfeldt said in a telephone interview. "But subjecting innocent travelers like me who are doing nothing wrong — I think it diverts TSA away from its core mission of safeguarding air travel."
TSA spokesman Greg Soule said the agency would not comment on pending litigation.
Bierfeldt said he refused to answer when a TSA official asked what was in the box. Another TSA official arrived, and Bierfeldt was taken into a separate room where he used an iPhone in his jacket pocket to record the officials' questioning.
An audio clip provided by the ACLU includes repeated questions from a TSA official about why Bierfeldt was carrying so much money, and his repeated refusal to answer. On one occasion, the questioner swears and asks, "Is there any reason you're not answering questions?"
Now I am going to assume that Bierfeldt, or the TSA, had opened the box. And I am going to assume that Bierfeldt, a Paul supporter and likely Libertarian was radiating hostility when:
Bierfeldt answers, "Am I legally required to answer the question?"
I admire his grit and see his point, but I wonder if a simple 30 second explanation wouldn't have sent him on his way. Not, mind you, that I am not glad he did what he did because it may lead to some clarification.
Soule said while there is no limit to the amount of cash a person can travel with domestically, travelers must cooperate with the TSA screening process.
A few years back I was questioned about the amount of cash I was carrying. When I just said I liked cash, nothing happened. When I asked if their was a limit a person could carry I was told they could seize it if was over $5000.
And about two January's ago a professional poker player, on his way to a World Series of Poker event in Tunica, MS, was stopped in Detroit and his money seized. The amount was around $15,000. He missed his flight but his money was returned and he was sent on his way after he had explained why he had the money.
That we get conflicting answers from government officials shouldn't be a surprise. And I have to agree with this.
"Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property," Soule said. "A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry."
True, but what was Bierfeldt going to do with the money that would cause damage to the flight he was going on? Slap the flight attendants in he face with it?
Bierfeldt's attorney, Ben Wizner, said the lawsuit does not challenge TSA's authority to search and detain those suspected of taking weapons, explosives or other dangerous objects onto planes.
"That's the whole purpose of airport searches," Wizner said. "These are not, however, open-ended criminal searches."
Of course that is exactly what some of them have become. That, and a power trip by the agent.
But the real thing that I find of interest is that this hasn't really made the news cycle. Oh I know that AP reported it, but I haven't seen NBCObamie or WhiteHouseABC opining about the evil of the administration. I mean perhaps someone on the Left has said something about this administration destroying our rights but I haven't seen them. Can someone show me??? I would take that as a sign that the Left, especially the Libertarian Left has started to understand who Obamie is.
But having condemned the TSA let me add a small note. Our legal system, in fact our society, runs on a lubricant called courtesy and cooperation. Wouldn't it have been easier for Bierfeldt just to say it was proceeds from fund raising? And then raise hell if the agent went further? Yes, TSA was wrong, just as they were wrong in Detroit and just as they were wrong to question me.
And I especially wonder that in matters of security if it wouldn't be better for the ACLU to sue because TSA routinely lets young ME males glide through security while searching grandmothers, all because they are forbidden to profile.
But that would make too much sense.
Link to source article.