Detained, Removed From Airplane By Feds @ LAX

In the history of my advocacy, I’ve been kicked out of airports three times (for refusing to allow the TSA to “touch my junk”).  I’ve had airport police called at least a couple times. But having the feds come down the jetway just for me?  That was a new experience I had last Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport.

Grumpy Cat with SSI
An artist’s rendition of the TSM upon finding my documents

I went through the security line as usual, opting out of the nude body scanners, but one of my bags was flagged for extra screening.  Upon opening it, they were shocked to find… TSA documents, bound into several books, labeled “Sensitive Security Information” (“SSI”).  “These are our documents,” a sassy Supervisory Transportation Security Officer exclaimed at me before fetching the highest-ranking traveler molester TSA staff member at the checkpoint, a suited Transportation Security Manager (“TSM”) who wanted to know how I got those documents and why I had them.

As you guys probably guessed, I have them because the government sent them to me during litigation, and I was traveling with them because I have a brief due based on those documents in Corbett v. Transportation Security Administration, 15-15717 (“Can the TSA make the body scanners mandatory?”) next week.  They contained mundane details of how the TSA came to the decision to implement the body scanners and then to make them mandatory under certain circumstances, rather than any kind of epic secrets ISIS would moisten themselves over.  But I’ll be damned if I have to explain my reading material to the TSA, so I told them they were documents lawfully in my possession and I didn’t feel compelled to share anything further.

The bag check and the pat-down were soon completed, finding nothing other than my “concerning” documents, but I was instructed to “wait” and not to touch my bags, as airport police were on their way because they needed “someone else to make the decision.”  “How are airport police supposed to determine whether it’s a problem if I have ‘your’ documents,” I asked Mr. TSM.  He shrugged, and then airport police arrived and asked him exactly the same question, then wandered over to the side to let the TSA handle it.  Kudos to Airport Police for not buying into their bullshit as they sometimes do in other airports.

Unsatisfied, the TSM calls the Federal Security Director’s office.  The FSD is basically a “regional director,” typically overseeing several airports in a geographic area.  The FSD’s office sent an assistant to come to the checkpoint while they found someone who could actually clear me.  The assistant was friendly enough, and we spoke a little.  After about 45 minutes had passed and it was approaching final call for my flight, I said to her, “It’s really a shame that the TSA is going to detain me for this long and cause me to miss my flight over the contents of paper when they’ve already determined that I have no hazardous items,” to which she replied, “Oh, you’re not being detained.  We don’t detain people!”

Well that’s funny, since I was told to “wait” and not to touch my bags.  The current standard for whether or not one is being detained was first contemplated in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) as “whether a reasonable person would feel like they were not free to leave.”  I must disagree with the assistant, as it seemed clear to me that I was not free to leave until someone other than the TSM (such as the assistant) made the call, but I packed my bags, walked to my gate, and boarded my plane.

Of course, the story does not end there.  After boarding, putting my stuff in the overhead, and taking my seat, an airline employee comes on board and says, “Mr. Corbett, the TSA would like to speak with you off the plane, can you show me where your bags are?”  Ugh.  I do so, and meeting me on the jetway was a smiley man (along with the original TSM) who showed me his ID: “TSA Inspector.”  TSA Inspectors are the only TSA employees that are law enforcement officers.  His position is, essentially, equivalent to an FBI Special Agent, although I’m sure far less trained given the lower pay grade associated with the job.  He seemed to understand that the documents were for litigation and pressed me for a few minutes to explain my business, which I politely declined.  After copying down the information from my ID, he miraculously allowed me to return to the plane, to face the looks of the flight attendants (who, to their credit, largely seemed understanding that the TSA is absurd) and passengers.

So there you have it… how you can be harassed and treated like a terrorist for possessing “suspicious” paper.  The best part?  The documents I had didn’t actually contain any SSI — they were redacted copies for public distribution.  I’m tempted to print books with an SSI cover sheet and the U.S. Constitution underneath it.  Or, maybe just 100 copies of the 4th Amendment underneath the cover sheet, and I can tear one out and give it to them each time they think it’s acceptable to detain people without probable cause (let me know if you’d like one to travel with, perhaps I’ll print a few dozen and mail them out if there’s interest!).

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26 thoughts on “Detained, Removed From Airplane By Feds @ LAX

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  1. Keep up the great work. It’s funny the nwo attacked itself on 9/11 demolishing the buildings with cgi planes (yep) and attacking the pentagon with a missle fired from a us military jet. And they – as predicted – use this to justify the pre-tyranny we are seeing today. Sadly, as you connect the dots things aren’t going to be very nice in 20 (or fewer) years. But at least we will be able to say some of us fought them. The source of all this nonsense is the international fed reserve banking cartel that can find anything for any purpose out of thin air. And this entity was taken over by satanic psychopaths held up by zionists and Mason’s and other secret groups.

  2. Reading these accounts of yours, Jon, is infuriating. I’m so disgusted with this worthless agency and the millions of morons in this country who defend it. And I’m so sick of fighting this battle when I know that nothing related to it will improve in my lifetime.

  3. I love this one: “…to which she replied, “Oh, you’re not being detained. We don’t detain people!”

    Just like West Cooper on the TSA Blog insists that the TSA does not confiscate people’s property. In fact, he has written: ” TSA does not confiscate anything, and I have sent several messages up the chain to try and insure that none of our spokespeople use that word ….”

  4. If you go looking for trouble you will surely find it. Stop holding other passengers hostage with your bullshit.

  5. SSI is important to keep secure. If YOU are the asshole flying with SSI then YOU need to be ready to explain yourself. You’re not some civil rights hero, you’re just another entitled annoyance in the skies. If your documents are redacted then SAY THAT. Don’t waste everyone’s time with your nonsense and if you feel that’s too difficult for you then the alternative is simple: DRIVE.

    1. Dear “you’re no hero”. You’re misinformed,nand stupid. SSI is the bogs trick DHS pulls to enforce and maintain secret laws. Perhaps YOU want to live in such a country. I don’t, and neither does Jon Corbett. Fortunately the Constitution empowers heroes like Jon to fight this tyranny. You just go back into your sleep chamber and wait ’till they come for you.

    2. You’re making the fundamentally flawed assumption that what the TSA does is sensible behavior. Furthermore, TSA is **supposed** to be about airplane security. About the only threat his stuff posed would be that it could be used as fuel for a fire.

  6. So TSA can deny entry to the sterile areas of an airport for things other than WEI?

    Seems TSA just handed you a slam dunk case.

    1. But will a judge actually do anything meaningful even with a slam dunk case? His past track record shows the judges aren’t interested in actually doing their job and smacking down the TSA hard.

      1. Good question. High level government employees compromise highly classified material and don’t even face charges while everyday folks find fighting government to be most difficult. Justice does seem blind, blind to citizen rights.

  7. Yes you are no hero just another trouble maker who takes advantage of your lawyer training to bully others and give headaches. You disguise yourself as a hero when you simply are looking for an excuse to nothe follow rules, again using your lawyer training to do it. What a shame. Nonetheless good article, interesting, it’s also a shame that’s TSA response was also completely uncoordinated

  8. I think I’d love a PDF scan of the SSI sheet. I could make a coloring book for my daughter with that as the cover. Or just blank pages and if they dared to open it, it’s all blank and I could quip that since they were unable to read it, they clearly don’t have the clearance to need to know.
    Or a Shakespeare monologue and cypher it. Again with a quip of ‘if you can’t read it then you aren’t cleared to know.’

  9. You’re not being detained, I guess you just needed a break and decided to sit and waste your time with non other than the insane TSA. The TSA and the fools who love them march on.

  10. Customs and Border Protection Fails to Meaningfully Address Risks of Gathering Social Media Handles:

    Last month we submitted comments to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, opposing its proposal to gather social media handles from foreign visitors from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries. CBP recently provided its preliminary responses (“Supporting Statement”) to several of our arguments (CBP also extended the comment deadline to September 30). But CBP has not adequately addressed the points we made.


  11. Soon everyone’s baggage will be scanned bi DHS’s new ‘RadSeekers’

    Symetrica Inc. announces that the first regular shipments of the Smiths Detection RadSeeker featuring Symetrica’s OEM Discovery Technology Sub-System will begin this fall as the first part of a contract with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Deliveries will run into early 2018, as the first major installment of the IDIQ (indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity) contract awarded to Smiths Detection in January by the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), for the delivery of the next-generation radioisotope identifier (RIID).

    RadSeeker is the result of several years of collaboration between Symetrica and Smiths Detection to develop a next-generation RIID suitable for secondary screening, small-area search and rapid mobile identification. RadSeeker excels in real-world environments and provides the operator with quick, simple, specific information for threat assessment.

    Symetrica’s Discovery Technology at the heart of RadSeeker provides best-in-class identification of threat materials in shielded, masked or concealed situations through the coupling of advanced spectrum processing and identification algorithms with state of the art detectors with automatic stabilization and calibration, eliminating annual maintenance.

  12. 11 cities plan to force cops to disclose secret surveillance technologies used:

    If governments are using vans fitted with mobile x-ray technology, such as Z Backscatter vans, in non-emergency situations without a warrant, scanning vehicles, pedestrians and innocent bystanders, then “that would be a major constitutional violation.”

    If law enforcement is using radar or a similar technology which can see into buildings and through walls, was a warrant obtained first? Otherwise, the ACLU said it “may increasingly be deployed as an improper tool for looking into private homes without court oversight.”


  13. Congress Wants TSA to Secure Amtrak, Buses:

    Several U.S. senators want the TSA to focus more attention and resources on rail, highway, and marine transportation, which would mean greater security oversight at such places as Amtrak stations and Megabus coach stops. A bipartisan bill introduced Thursday by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) would require the TSA to use a risk-based security model for these transport modes and to budget money based on those risks. It would require a wider use of the agency’s terrorist watch list by train operators and more detailed passenger manifests along with tighter screening of marine employees. The legislation also would increase the TSA’s canine use by as many as 70 dog-handler teams for surface transportation.

    Lest you begin hyperventilating, it’s virtually impossible to envision airport-style screening detectors or security queues snaked around America’s train and bus passenger depots.


  14. Proposed laws would expand travel controls from airlines to passenger railroads:

    Legislation has been introduced in both the USA and Belgium to subject rail travelers to the same sorts of travel surveillance schemes that are already being used to monitor and control air travelers.

    If these proposals are enacted into law, passenger railroads would be required to collect and enter additional information such as passport or ID numbers and dates of birth (not currently required or routinely included in US or European train reservations) in Passenger Name Records (PNRs), and transmit rail travel itineraries and identifying information about passengers to the government, in advance.


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