Did TSA go to far?





Dino

VERITAS - AEQUITAS
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#1
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.

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 (Missouri) 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.
 

jch364

Registered
#2
sounds to me like this guy did this on purpose to bait them and it worked. now he gets headlines and of course the communist aclu is all to happy to file a lawsuit. THis is bs...having said that however the tsa folks could have conducted themselves better in this situation
 

Postal

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#3
Most TSA agents are good around the country. Here is what I think the issue is/was.

STL is a weird city. I grew up just across the river in IL and worked in STL for years before moving to DC. In all of my years of business travels around the world, since 9-11 especially, no airport has proven to be more idiotic than the TSA at STL International airport. They act like a bunch of cowboys who think they are going to single-handedly catch Osama Bin Laden or the next major terrorist. To me it's just a simple-minded arrogance that the TSA displays at that airport. I actually had them take a tube of toothpaste from me because it was "too full." I was like.... what? too full? It is under the ounce size that you specify (size of container), it's just new, I just bought it, and it is in a plastic bag. The TSA agent said I was being un-ruley and I was going to be searched and questioned if I persisted. I had to bite a hole in my lip to keep from telling him what a moron I thought he was being. Anyway, be aware if flying through that great, intellectually avanced airport in STL.

P.

(just my 2-cents by the way)
 

Dino

VERITAS - AEQUITAS
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#4
What exactly is B.S. about it? I do personally think the TSA overstepped it's bounds and should be diciplined. So what if he baited them, they were still wrong.

What rights do American Citizens have when being questioned by TSA?
 

rubber2burn

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#5
I understand that after 911 the TSA has ramped up their security efforts. But I think they push stuff to far. It has become more of a hassle to fly now than ever before. I think they could do a good job and make things safe for folks to fly with out pushing stuff to the edge. I do think that this gentleman could have made things easier on himself by just answering the questions but I also think that TSA could have done a better job at conducting themselves with the CUSTOMER!!!
 

Dino

VERITAS - AEQUITAS
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#6
Most TSA agents are good around the country. Here is what I think the issue is/was.

STL is a weird city. I grew up just across the river in IL and worked in STL for years before moving to DC. In all of my years of business travels around the world, since 9-11 especially, no airport has proven to be more idiotic than the TSA at STL International airport. They act like a bunch of cowboys who think they are going to single-handedly catch Osama Bin Laden or the next major terrorist. To me it's just a simple-minded arrogance that the TSA displays at that airport. I actually had them take a tube of toothpaste from me because it was "too full." I was like.... what? too full? It is under the ounce size that you specify (size of container), it's just new, I just bought it, and it is in a plastic bag. The TSA agent said I was being un-ruley and I was going to be searched and questioned if I persisted. I had to bite a hole in my lip to keep from telling him what a moron I thought he was being. Anyway, be aware if flying through that great, intellectually avanced airport in STL.

P.

(just my 2-cents by the way)
Unruly for toothpaste? You deviant.

I for one hate taking off my shoes, it is a waste of time and proves nothing. The whole heightened security we deal with is a joke that provides the perception of security to the law abiding citizen. Anyone who wants to do something will find a way.
 

Dino

VERITAS - AEQUITAS
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#7
I understand that after 911 the TSA has ramped up their security efforts. But I think they push stuff to far. It has become more of a hassle to fly now than ever before. I think they could do a good job and make things safe for folks to fly with out pushing stuff to the edge. I do think that this gentleman could have made things easier on himself by just answering the questions but I also think that TSA could have done a better job at conducting themselves with the CUSTOMER!!!
Why should he answer the questions without being informed of his rights?
 

Spectre

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#8
ugh... one of the few times i'm actually WITH the ACLU. i probably would have done something similar, especially since what i'm carrying (like the cash in this story) is neither illegal nor dangerous.

it's amazing at how many people don't know their rights...
 

mikeu

Registered
#9
TSA may have over stepped but what do you want them to do, be mean ONLY to the bad guys? I'm not buying the political contribution story either. The guy was looking for trouble, probably knew the TSA would see the wad of cash in the xray.
 

Dino

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#10
TSA may have over stepped but what do you want them to do, be mean ONLY to the bad guys? I'm not buying the political contribution story either. The guy was looking for trouble, probably knew the TSA would see the wad of cash in the xray.
Is asking to know your rights before questioning "Asking for trouble"? If you believe it is, why do you think that?


Have we become so brainwashed with the idea that there is a terrorist behind every rock and bush that we no longer even question (or know) when our rights are being violated?
 
#11
Obviously, the guy provoked and exacerbated the confrontation. Nonethesless, TSA has disciplined it officer(s). Therefore, yeah, they went too far. That said, the guy should've friggin' answered the question.
 
#13
This has happend before with a kid who put a video camera in his car and taped a police officer being extremely rude, cursing and threatening him... I think its on Youtube actually. There are a few things that come in to play here...
1. if the guy is bating the guy for this them fine... he can he has his rights and that is certainly guaranteed to do so.
2. In the case that i mentioned... No where in or outside the law does it say that you do not have the right to use recording devices inside your personal property or an extension of it.
3. Personally I wouldnt cary cash in a metal box into an airport, but again that might have been him baiting the TSA...

Still I think that every once in a while law enforcement needs to be humbled a lil bit as to keep their ego in check... Clearly this is one of those times...

Oh and I don't believe that the aclu needs to be suing Janet Napolitano... they should just file the complaint and pursue a civil suit against the officer in question...
 
#14
Unruly for toothpaste? You deviant.

I for one hate taking off my shoes, it is a waste of time and proves nothing. The whole heightened security we deal with is a joke that provides the perception of security to the law abiding citizen. Anyone who wants to do something will find a way.
I'm with you on the shoe inspection and its contribution to the appearance of security..
Although I disagree with being told to take off my shoes, I save myself some drama by wearing easily removed slip-ons.
 
#15
This has happend before with a kid who put a video camera in his car and taped a police officer being extremely rude, cursing and threatening him... I think its on Youtube actually. There are a few things that come in to play here...
1. if the guy is bating the guy for this them fine... he can he has his rights and that is certainly guaranteed to do so.
2. In the case that i mentioned... No where in or outside the law does it say that you do not have the right to use recording devices inside your personal property or an extension of it.
3. Personally I wouldnt cary cash in a metal box into an airport, but again that might have been him baiting the TSA...

Still I think that every once in a while law enforcement needs to be humbled a lil bit as to keep their ego in check... Clearly this is one of those times...

Oh and I don't believe that the aclu needs to be suing Janet Napolitano... they should just file the complaint and pursue a civil suit against the officer in question...
The suit needs to draw the attention of major oversight. If the officer was individually sued, it would imply a singular flaw, easily eliminated by termination. This action forces the organization to rethink its tactics and implement retraining for all agents.
 

head east busa

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#16
Even if it was a bait I agree with it the simple fact is we are losing freedom every day safety and security is a smokescreen. Just because you aree not bringing explosives or knives on a plane does not make it a secure place. It is a false sense of security to maintain control. The reality of it is there is always a way. And I stand behind him asking what his rights were aren't we entitled to them isn't that why they are called "rights":rulez:
 

mikeu

Registered
#17
Is asking to know your rights before questioning "Asking for trouble"? If you believe it is, why do you think that?


Have we become so brainwashed with the idea that there is a terrorist behind every rock and bush that we no longer even question (or know) when our rights are being violated?
Do you believe the "Director of Development for the Campaign for Liberty" didn't know his rights? He knew his rights and this will just turn into some political headline grabbing thing.
You hit it exactly we should KNOW our rights, not ask our accusers for advice.
Maybe the TSA should have stopped the interview at that point and let the guy sit there. The TSA could have taken the money and put a down payment on a new busa, then everybody wins.
This was probably the point of the event to create headlines and get the pot stirred up.
 

captain

Dis in my way!
Staff member
Administrator
#18
Last time I checked the TSA was there to make sure air travel was safe period. If they come across another crime that is obvious then they would have the authority and duty to act. In this case I just can't fingure out what the crime would have been, a copy of the constitution, FANTASTIC someone is reading it! 4700.00 in cash is not really considered a large amount of cash... He could have been going to vegas, surely they see this much money on a frequent basis...

My two cents in the end is that you had a TSA agent that was just looking to do something for personal gain, maybe a promotion, whatever! If he didn't think that the guy was going to beat someone with the money or it was a new explosive then his reasoning for detaining him becomes moot....

Bad call for stopping him, good call on the man for validating his rights!

Cap
 

Dino

VERITAS - AEQUITAS
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#19
Do you believe the "Director of Development for the Campaign for Liberty" didn't know his rights? He knew his rights and this will just turn into some political headline grabbing thing.
You hit it exactly we should KNOW our rights, not ask our accusers for advice.
Maybe the TSA should have stopped the interview at that point and let the guy sit there. The TSA could have taken the money and put a down payment on a new busa, then everybody wins.
This was probably the point of the event to create headlines and get the pot stirred up.
He cretainly knew his rights and exercised them in asking what is obligation was when asked the question. Lets not forget that he did nothing wrong. THere is nothing wrong with carrying a locked money box on a plane or even large amounts of case. It was only 4700.00 to some that is not a large amount of cash.

So you are saying that the TSA should have detained an American citizen did nothing wrong and simply asked for a clarification of his civil rights under questioning? And they should have taken his money?
 
#20
The customer asked an honest question in which he deserved an honest answer. TSA was completely in the wrong, I would be willing to be if he had asked for legal consul that line of questioning would have kept right up. There are lots of reason you could have that much money, and unless you have done something criminal you have no reason to need to answer for it.
 

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