11th Circuit: TSA May Read Your Documents At Checkpoints, Not Responsible for Assault by Its Screeners

Last week, the 11th Circuit heard oral arguments in my case against the nude body scanners and pat-downs, but in the meantime, the judges in my other TSA case, challenging whether officers may:

  1. Read through your personal documents at checkpoints
  2. Threaten travelers with false arrest and forcible search
  3. Conduct retaliatory searches that last for up to an hour
  4. Refuse to identify its screeners at checkpoints
  5. Lie about the existence of checkpoint videos in response to a FOIA request

…ruled that the TSA may indeed do all of the above. In its 32 page opinion, the court ruled that it’s perfectly reasonable for the TSA to read through your documents (maybe even digital documents) because it might prove that you have a fake ID, or it might provide additional suspicion if you have literature that the state doesn’t like. [Update:] I want to be clear that, perhaps most disturbingly of all of this, the court specifically ruled that the TSA may consider what you read as a basis for subjecting you to additional searches. Wrote the court on page 15, “a TSA screener could have reasonably factored the contents of a book possessed by a passenger into the totality of the circumstances relevant in determining whether the passenger presented a security threat.” And, the court left wide open the door for the TSA to now search electronic documents — your laptop, cell phone, iPad, etc.

The court ruled that TSA screeners are not “officers of the United States,” even though they call themselves “Transportation Security Officers,” and this distinction means that the government is not liable (and neither is the screener individually, of course) if they, say, punch you in the face, unlawfully invade your privacy, or cause emotional distress, so long as they are doing so in the course of their official duties. The court ruled that there’s nothing to be done about lying in FOIA responses, other than force them to not lie, which means the government now has every incentive to lie in the first instance. And the court ruled that the TSA can hide the names and faces (for example, from checkpoint security cameras) of its screeners. Quite simply, this opinion was a complete rout, save for a somewhat unusual note at the end that the defendants will have to pay their own costs in fighting the case (hey, at least I don’t have to pay the TSA to be told that they can do whatever they want).

This is an abomination. The court has given the TSA free reign to do, essentially, whatever it wants. I will be petitioning the 11th Circuit to re-hear this case en banc (in front of all the judges of the 11th Circuit instead of a 3-judge panel). If you are a part of a rights organization that would like to file an amicus brief, please contact me.

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36 thoughts on “11th Circuit: TSA May Read Your Documents At Checkpoints, Not Responsible for Assault by Its Screeners

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  1. What was everyone saying about the constitution again? Something about rights? Uphold? Protect? Nah. Lemme know when that government of yours decides to limit itself and not abuse its powers.

  2. Here’s why Federal judges are just about all bad. Get ahold of yourself, this may be a hard ride. On Google images, see “President Pilgrims Society.” The President, going back generations, unknown to the public, is an “honorary” member of this Crown sponsored group. Since Colonial and Revolutionary War times, the Crown has had collaborators here. The Federal Reserve was modeled after the Bank of England. Since the President is in the vest pocket of these Crown collaborators, all judges appointed by various Presidents will be “screened” for compatibility with Pilgrims Society intentions. This group includes the top attorneys in Wall Street, and various Federal judges have been members, including William Taft and William Rehnquist of the Supreme Court. The Crown intends to retake its “colonies” here, so we must be disarmed, stripped of other rights, and treated as serfs without property. The Pilgrims Society refuses to release rosters into public view. I have made more info available on this (secret society) than any other source—by far. All trends towards tyranny are coming from this one organization, and its sponsors—The British Crown, who are the world’s largest landowners. Pilgrims Society members have been all over the USA legal system, including American Law Institute and many more. The 17th Amendment allowed The Pilgrims Society to achieve working control over the Senate over a century ago. The main backer was Alden Freeman, Pilgrims Society, son of a treasurer of Standard Oil Company. Tyrannical trends here are definitely all being directed from London and their “Pilgrim Partners” here, including Henry Kissinger and Paul Volcker.

  3. The court actually blames you, Jonathan, for the length of your detention by the TSA?! And the court approved of “thought crimes” investigations by screeners?!


  4. Newest McCarran security fast-pass to depend on biometrics, memberships:

    Travelers willing to pay an annual fee could have an easier time making their way through security checkpoints beginning later this summer at McCarran International Airport.

    Clear, a New York-based technology business, announced today that McCarran would be the 10th airport in the country where prescreened members can use their Clear Card to speed through security checkpoints.

    The company uses government-approved, advanced-biometric technology (fingerprints and iris recognition) to verify the identity of Clear Card users.

    1. I travel to McCarran several times a year…the last four trips we did fast check…basically they said it was prime time lots of traffic so we did not have to remove computers and all the other B.S. they normally do like take off shoes and jackets and such they made us do none of that…they didnt even check my CPAP machine…..Which Proves two things…

      1. TSA is a scam and a joke.

      2. If a person was a terrorist they could fly during “Rush Hours” Busy times and make it through no problem.

  5. DHS has also trialled similar technology entitled Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), a program that would subject Americans to pre-crime interrogations and physiological scans to detect “malintent” at sports stadiums, malls, airports and other public places.

    The system works by using a computer program that studies physiological indicators of a person, such as heart rate and the steadiness of a person’s gaze, and then uses the data to make a judgment on whether that individual has “malintent”.


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