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Posts Tagged ‘TSA’

TSA Releases VIPR Venom on Tennessee Highways

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Texas Straight Talk – A Weekly Column
Rep. and Presidential Candidate Dr. Ron Paul

If you thought the “Transportation Security Administration” would limit itself to conducting unconstitutional searches at airports, think again. The agency intends to assert jurisdiction over our nation’s highways, waterways, and railroads as well. TSA launched a new campaign of random checkpoints on Tennessee highways last week, complete with a sinister military-style acronym–VIP(E)R—as a name for the program.

As with TSA’s random searches at airports, these roadside searches are not based on any actual suspicion of criminal activity or any factual evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever by those detained. They are, in effect, completely random. So first we are told by the U.S. Supreme Court that American citizens have no 4th amendment protections at border crossings, even when standing on U.S. soil. Now TSA takes the next logical step and simply detains and searches U.S. citizens at wholly internal checkpoints.

The slippery slope is here. When does it end? How many more infringements on our liberties, our property, and our basic human rights to travel freely will it take before people become fed up enough to demand respect from their government? When will we demand that the government heed obvious constitutional limitations, and stop treating ordinary Americans as criminal suspects in the absence of probable cause?

The real tragedy occurs when Americans incrementally become accustomed to this treatment on the roads just as they have become accustomed to it in the airports. We already accept arriving at the airport 2 or more hours before a flight to get through security; will we soon have to build in an extra 2 or 3 hours into our road trips to allow for checkpoint traffic?

Worse, some people are lulled into a false sense of security and are actually grateful for this added police presence! Should we really hail the expansion of the police state as an enhancement to safety? I submit that an attitude of acquiescence to TSA authority is thoroughly dangerous, un-American, and insulting to earlier freedom-loving generations who built this country.

I am certain people will complain about this, once they have to sit in stopped traffic for a few extra hours to allow for random searches of cars. However, I am also certain it merely will take another “foiled” plot to silence many people into gladly accepting more government mismanagement of safety.

Vigilant, observant, law-abiding, gun-owning citizens defend themselves and stop crimes every day before police can respond. That is the source of real security in America: the 2nd Amendment right to defend oneself. The answer is for people to be empowered to protect themselves. Yet how many weapons might these checkpoints confiscate? Even when individual go through all the legal hoops of licensing and permits, the chances of harassment or outright confiscation of weapons and detention of citizens when those weapons are found at a TSA checkpoint is extremely high.

Disarming the highways and filling them full of jack-booted thugs demanding to see our papers is no way to make them safer. Instead, it is a great way to expand government surveillance powers and tighten the noose around our liberties.

Help Stop Virtual Strip-search Legislation

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Oh yes, those legislative busybody scanners are at it again, mandating that full body imaging x-ray devices be installed in every airport in the nation by 2013, under the illusory premise of increasing safety.

This is another unconstitutional tactic that Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to, but that doesn’t bother Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) who introduced S. 3536, the Securing Aircraft From Explosives Responsibly: Advanced Imaging Recognition Act of 2010, (SAFER AIR Act). “To enhance aviation security and protect personal privacy, and for other purposes,” is the leading line of the SAFE AIR bill text.

The goal of the bill must be “for other purposes,” because there will be no personal privacy when more and more travelers, both adults and children, are singled out for an extra security check that is in reality a revealing sneak peek at their anatomy, minus their clothes. Spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars on more machines will do little to “enhance aviation security,” either, as it as already been established that the Detroit bomber’s explosives would not have been detected by such a machine, and even firecrackers have been missed.

The facts remain the same: Having a complete stranger view your almost-naked body is a violation of your privacy and civil rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Adult and child images have been saved on these machines, even though DHS policy already forbids such practices. A weak reiteration of this policy in new legislation will have zero effect in curbing existing abuses and securing these images that are recorded and stored in the machines — machines that also have the ability to transfer those images at the click of a button. And transfer them they will, between themselves, as it says in the text of the bill:
“An image produced using advanced imaging technology that shows personal or nonstandardized images shall be transferred using a secure connection to a location that enables an employee of the Department of Homeland Security to view the image without risking the exposure of the image to the public.”

There is also the question of health concerns over the radiation exposure, especially for frequent fliers, or anyone with medical problems, prostheses, etc.

Oh sure, the bill contains pathetic attempts to include privacy clauses. One section forbids TSA personnel from having cameras near the machinery, but they really wouldn’t need this precaution because apparently the screeners are adept at saving and transferring nude images generated by these devices, having practiced on 35,000 of them already. Passengers specially picked for extra attention can always opt out of the machine scanning and instead choose the ever popular personal groping session by a person of the same sex, if one is available.

Best thing to do with this legislation is contact your senators and tell them to throw out S. 3536 when it comes before them for the sake of real privacy, health, safety, and freedom.

Currently S. 3536 sits in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Urging the committee members to drop the legislation now would save a lot of time and trouble down the road.


Your friends at The John Birch Society

Ron Paul on Larry King – 1/4/2010

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Ron and others discuss terrorism, the TSA, and related issues.

Airport rules changed after Ron Paul aide detained

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times

An angry aide to Rep. Ron Paul, an iPhone and $4,700 in cash have forced the Transportation Security Administration to quietly issue two new rules telling its airport screeners they can only conduct searches related to airplane safety.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union is dropping its lawsuit on behalf of Steve Bierfeldt, the man who was detained in March and who recorded the confrontation on his iPhone as TSA and local police officers spent half an hour demanding answers as to why he was carrying the money through Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

The new rules, issuedin September and October, tell officers “screening may not be conducted to detect evidence of crimes unrelated to transportation security” and that large amounts of cash don’t qualify as suspicious for purposes of safety.

“We had been hearing of so many reports of TSA screeners engaging in wide-ranging fishing expeditions for illegal activities,” said Ben Wizner, a staff lawyer for the ACLU, pointing to reports of officers scanning pill-bottle labels to see whether the passenger was the person who obtained the prescription as one example.

He said screeners get a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches, strictly to keep weapons and explosives off planes, not to help police enforce other laws.

TSA was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to boost screening at airports, but the young agency has repeatedly bumped heads against civil libertarians, who argue officers overstep their authority.

TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said the new “internal directives” are meant to ensure their screeners are consistent. She acknowledged the policy on large sums of cash had changed, but wouldn’t provide a copy of either document. She said the directives would not be released unless a Freedom Of Information Act request was submitted by The Washington Times.

“TSA routinely assesses its policies and screening procedures to ensure the highest levels of security nationwide,” she said. “Currency alone is not a threat, and TSA does not restrict the amount of currency a traveler may carry through the checkpoint.”

TSA had earlier defended the search, though it had criticized officers’ abusive behavior.

The ACLU released the September directive because TSA included it in a public court filing, but said when TSA gave it the October directive it was instructed not to publish it.

That second directive tells screeners that “traveling with large amounts of currency is not illegal,” and that to the extent bulk quantities of cash warrant searching, it is only to further security objectives, the ACLU said.

The ACLU sued in June on behalf of Mr. Bierfeldt, who was detained after he sent a metal box with $4,700 in cash and checks through an X-ray machine at the airport.

He had the cash as part of his duties as director of development for the Campaign for Liberty, the offshoot group that Mr. Paul, Texas Republican, created from his failed presidential bid.

Mr. Bierfeldt recorded audio of the confrontation on his iPhone, including threats, insults and repeated questions about where he obtained the money.

“Are you from this planet?” one officer told him, while another accused him of acting like a child for asking what part of the law forced him to answer their questions about the money.

“The TSA has stated that their policy is going to change, which is basically what we were after all along,” Mr. Bierfeldt told The Washington Times.

Some civil liberties activists speculate that TSA wants passengers to be uncertain about its procedures because it gives more power to the authorities in an encounter.

The new directives don’t affect a situation where a TSA officer, in the performance of a regular screening, comes across evidence of illegal activity, such as a bag of illicit drugs.

Homeland Security Is the Terrorist?

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

In response to http://politicalaction.com/news/Homeland_Security.html

I completely agree. I’m tired of these Nazi’s that call
themselves Americans tearing suitcases apart for no reason and asking there stupid questions (same ones over and over).They scared my poor wife so bad we lived 6 months in another country as she was disgusted to come back to our home. I had to get a lawyer to get my confiscated items back. Apparently Sesame Street DVD’s are a matter of national Security as is Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.They kept his dvd’s and our cameras thru the Thanksgiving holiday , New years and Christmas holidays (no photos for us
to remember that year. Then they were suspicious because I got a lawyer to get my things back. The terrorists it seems is our government.


ACLU Sues DHS Over Unlawful TSA Searches And Detention

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Treasurer Of Ron Paul’s Campaign For Liberty Detained And Interrogated For Carrying Cash At St. Louis Airport

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is subjecting innocent Americans to unreasonable searches and detentions that violate the Constitution, according to a lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed the complaint on behalf of a traveler who was illegally detained and harassed by TSA agents at the airport for carrying approximately $4,700 in cash.

“Airport searches are the most common encounters between Americans and law enforcement agents. That’s why it is so important for TSA agents to do the job they were trained to do and not engage in fishing expeditions that do nothing to promote flight safety,” said Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “It is, of course, very important to ensure the safety of flights and keep illegal weapons and explosives off planes. But allowing TSA screeners to conduct general purpose law enforcement searches violates the Constitution while diverting limited resources from TSA’s core mission of protecting safety. For the sake of public safety and constitutional values, these unlawful searches should stop.”

On March 29, 2009, Steven Bierfeldt was detained in a small room at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and interrogated by TSA officials for nearly half an hour after he passed a metal box containing cash through a security checkpoint X-ray machine. Bierfeldt was carrying the cash in connection with his duties as the Director of Development for the Campaign for Liberty, a political organization that grew out of Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.

Bierfeldt was detained and questioned as he returned home from a Campaign for Liberty event transporting proceeds from the sale of tickets, t-shirts, stickers and campaign material. Bierfeldt repeatedly asked the agents to explain the scope of their authority to detain and interrogate him and received no explanation. Instead, the agents escalated the threatening tone of their questions and ultimately told Bierfeldt that he was being placed under arrest. Bierfeldt recorded the audio of the entire incident with his iPhone.

“I do not believe I should give up my constitutional rights each time I choose to travel by plane. I was doing nothing illegal or suspicious, yet I was treated like a potential criminal and harassed for no reason,” said Bierfeldt. “Most Americans would be surprised to learn that TSA considers simply carrying cash to be a basis for detention and questioning. I hope the court makes clear that my detention by TSA agents was unconstitutional and stops TSA from engaging in these unlawful searches and arrests. I do not want another innocent American to have to endure what I went through.”

“Mr. Bierfeldt’s experience represents a troubling pattern of TSA attempting to transform its valid but limited search authority into a license to invade people’s privacy in a manner that would never be accepted outside the airport context,” said Larry Schwartztol, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “Just as the Constitution prevents the police on the street from conducting freewheeling searches in the hopes of uncovering wrongdoing, it protects travelers from the kind of treatment Mr. Bierfeldt suffered.”

TSA officials have the authority to conduct safety-related searches for weapons and explosives. According to the ACLU’s lawsuit, TSA agents are using heightened security measures after 9/11 as an excuse to exceed their search authority and engage in unlawful searches that violate the privacy rights of passengers. The lawsuit also charges that unconstitutional searches and detention by TSA agents have become the norm.

The ACLU’s lawsuit was filed against Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which has authority over TSA. It was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Attorneys on the case are Wizner, Scott Michelman and Allen Hopper of the ACLU, Art Spitzer of the ACLU National Capital Area and cooperating attorney Alan Gura of Gura and Possessky, P.L.L.C.

More information about the case, including the ACLU’s complaint and an audio recording of Bierfeldt’s detention and interrogation, is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/general/39922res20090618.html