Fully Briefed: Can The TSA Force You To Speak To Fly Home?

lipssealedAfter being told that I wouldn’t be allowed to board a flight back to the U.S. without cooperating with a “security interview” last December, I filed suit against the TSA in February challenging this program on Fifth Amendment grounds.  We all have the right to remain silent AND the right to return to our home country, and we should not have to give up one to use the other.

The TSA has already backtracked on the issue, telling the court that whoever told me I’d be denied boarding (a TSA representative, an airline representative, and the interviewer himself) was mistaken.  So, in some ways, this issue is already won, but the problem remains that the TSA’s written policy is ambiguous as to what should happen to someone who refuses to speak, and so airlines and their interviewers may not know that the TSA’s position (now that they’ve been called out on it in court) is that denied boarding is not required.

The case is now fully briefed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which means that all sides have spoken and the court may now rule on the matter.  Or, it may order additional argument, orally or in writing, before it makes its decision.  There is no set timeframe, but it will likely take “a few months.”

The docs:

Corbett v. TSA III – Opening Brief (.pdf)

Corbett v. TSA III – Administrative Record, Vol. 1 (.pdf, 14 MB)
Corbett v. TSA III – Administrative Record, Vol. 2 (.pdf, 18 MB)

Corbett v. TSA III – Respondent Brief (.pdf)

Corbett v. TSA III – Reply Brief (.pdf)

Fighting the TSA in court is expensive!  Want to contribute to the fight against TSA assholery? Donate via PayPal, Venmo, Chace QuickPay, Bitcoin, or check



12 thoughts on “Fully Briefed: Can The TSA Force You To Speak To Fly Home?

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  1. DHS/TSA’s 2015 Data Mining Report:

    DHS’s Privacy Office discussed the following Departmental programs that engage in data mining, as defined by the Act:

    (1) The Automated Targeting System (ATS), which is administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and includes modules for inbound (ATS-N) and outbound (ATS-AT) cargo, land border crossings (ATS-L), and passengers (ATS-UPAX);

    (2) The Analytical Framework for Intelligence (AFI), which is administered by CBP;

    (3) The FALCON Data Analysis and Research for Trade Transparency System (DARTTS), which is administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE);

    (4) The FALCON-Roadrunner system, which is administered by ICE; and

    (5) The DHS Data Framework, which is a DHS-wide initiative.

    This year’s report, covering the period January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015, provides updates on modifications, additions, and other developments that have occurred during the reporting year.Additional information on DARTTS and the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight Program’s use of ATS is being provided separately to Congress in two annexes to this report.

    Click to access 2015%20Data%20Mining%20Report%20FINAL.pdf

  2. I am still almost mesmerized by your time investment into this. Thank you, thank you, thank you…

  3. DHS employees use their own judgment to put Americans on Do-Not-Fly list:

    DHS’s 2015 Data Mining report, reveals that TSA, CBP or all DHS employees are using their own judgment to determine who’s put on a government watchlist!

    “While each program described below engages to some extent in data mining, no decisions about individuals are made based solely on data mining results. In all cases, DHS employees analyze the results of data mining, and then apply their own judgment and expertise to bear in making determinations about individuals initially identified through data mining activities.”

    I’m way off-base you say? The government, would never let law enforcement put people on a watchlist using nothing more their judgment?

    Below, is an example of police using their ‘training and experience’ to conduct unlawful home drug raids.

    “A Washington Post review of 2,000 warrants served by D.C. police between January 2013 and January 2015 found that 284 — about 14 percent — shared the characteristics of the one executed at Taylor’s apartment. In every case, after arresting someone on the street for possession of drugs or a weapon, police invoked their training and experience to justify a search of a residence without observing criminal activity there.”


  4. DHS Records Reveal Officials Ordered Terrorist Watch List Scrubbed:

    Judicial Watch announced that it obtained 183 pages of documents from the Department of Homeland Security revealing that the Obama administration scrubbed the law enforcement agency’s “Terrorist Screening Database” in order to protect what it considered the civil rights of suspected Islamic terrorist groups. The documents appear to confirm charges that Obama administration changes created a massive “hands off” list. Removed data from the terrorist watch list could have helped prevent the San Bernardino terrorist attack.


  5. Terrorist Watchlist Errors Spread to Criminal Rap Sheets:

    The watchlist includes hundreds of thousands of names. Getting arrested and going through airport security are currently the only ways for individuals to find out if they are on the terrorism watchlist, since the list is only seen by law enforcement and is not available to the public, even to those included on the list. There are no available numbers for how many criminal defendants are on the terrorist watchlist.

    The placement of terror watchlist notations on rap sheets highlights the broad dissemination of the list, which has ballooned in size since the September 11 attacks. Every police force in the country has access to the NCIC, which includes files of information on people collected from lists like the sex offender and terrorism databases. When a police officer enters a name into this database, any watchlist information associated with that person comes up. This is how a routine traffic stop can turn into a terrorism investigation.


  6. Do we know if these same procedures are used in train stations? Are the security lines crazy there too with the feel ups, shakedowns & radiation stuff?

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