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Professional Troublemaker ®

 Jonathan Corbett, Civil Rights Attorney

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TSA – Assorted Assholery

TSA Abuses Rape Survivor, Sent to ER

Anything for our safety, right?

And then they discovered an “anomaly” in her bra, so she needed to be patted down on her breasts. This freaked her out even more. She asked for a private room and for me to be there, and it was obvious that this pissed off the female assist TSO. As she started shaking and sobbing in the room as the TSO began to touch her breasts, I gently touched her arm. Big mistake – the TSO yelled that I couldn’t touch her and that I’d need to go through screening again.

Source: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/checkpoints-borders-policy-debate/1374235-pat-down-ended-my-wife-up-er.html

This is the organization who just claimed the right to detain citizens and read through their documents (paper, electronic, or what have you). This is the organization that claims the rights to inspect your genitals. This is the organization that has its employees arrested for felonies on a weekly basis.

“For our safety.”

TSA Refuses Drivers License, Demands Passport

Before I describe what happened, let me first explain why it is important that the TSA accept any valid government ID presented (and actually, is legally required to allow you fly even if you have no ID at all!). First, the TSA is not Customs, and has no right to ask me to provide any information before allowing me on my way. A passport contains much more information than a drivers license does: it’s a history of everywhere I’ve been. This can be used in a discriminatory fashion (“Oh, you’ve been to the middle east, eh?”) and I have the right not to share it. Second, even Customs has no right to ask for my passport as I leave the country. By law, we impose no “exit controls” on our borders, and such controls have frequently been used as tools of oppressing the people. Finally, the TSA search that we are required to undergo is permitted only to seek potential weapons. The TSA has been repeatedly accused of abusing that limited search in order to unconstitutionally further other interests — most often to find drugs, but in this case, keeping track of how much money travelers are moving in and out of the country. There is no basis for the TSA not only conducting such investigations, but maintaining records as travelers arrive with more than a few thousand dollars in cash. Those records, of course, are archived in a database and distributed outside of the TSA.

So last week when I flew out of JFK on an international flight, I was surprised by the TSA ID checker asking to see my passport after I presented her with my valid Florida drivers license. I assured her that TSA policy requires her to accept any valid government-issued photo ID presented, and she can check with her supervisor if she was unsure. She skips away to find STSO Egbert Haynes.

When Egbert arrives, he informs me that the original “officer” has the right to ask for “another” form of ID — which would be true if they were doing it, for example, because they were unsure of the validity of the first ID, rather than for the purpose of forcing me to show a passport. Prepared with many forms of ID besides my passport, he then proceeds to reject two additional forms of government photo ID — a Florida concealed weapons license and my old (but not expired) New York drivers license, both of which I’ve flown with as my sole ID in the past on domestic flights (incidentally, I’ve also seen the TSA accept non-government and non-photo IDs, such as credit cards and student IDs, as secondary identification when, for example, a traveler presented an expired drivers license). Eventually, he admits that I’m being treated differently solely because I’m traveling internationally, but I’m still given the choice of showing my passport or not flying.

Once again, the TSA has invaded my privacy. While this particular invasion is perhaps less offensive than photographing me using a nude body scanner, like the nude body scanners, it serves no lawful purpose. Those body scanners are great for finding large amounts of cash, drugs, and large penises, however utterly fail at finding the only thing the TSA is lawfully permitted to look for: weapons.

Of course, I record every interaction I have with the TSA. Audio and text transcription below:

STSO: Uh, the officer… I’m a supervisor, my name is Egbert Haynes. The officer has the authority to ask you for another piece of ID.
Jon: I’ll give you another piece of ID.
STSO: She’s asking for a passport, sir.
Jon: Well, she doesn’t have the authority to ask me for a passport, she has the authority to ask for an additional ID.
STSO: Uhhh…
Jon: TSA rules don’t allow you to ask for a specific form of ID.
STSO: Uh, are you sure about that, sir?
Jon: Yes, I’m sure.
STSO: How certain are you?
Jon: 100%. Is that the TSM? *points to guy in suit* [a TSM is a Transportation Security Manager, and is Egbert’s boss]
STSO: Well, I’m a… I’m a supervisor.
Jon: Yes, so if you want a second form of ID, I have it. The TSA doesn’t have the right to ask for a passport. *inaudible*
STSO: Uh, what are we looking for in your passport, sir?
Jon: Nothing.
STSO: Well, there is something in your passport, and the fact that you are flying international, the officer does have the right. If you were a domestic traveler, the additional piece of ID would be granted.
Jon: Ok. I’ll give you a concealed weapons license from the State of Florida.
STSO: Ok, well that’s actually not something that would be acceptable.
Jon: Ok, well do you accept drivers licenses?
STSO: Yes, we do, we do. And I don’t know, that [CCW] may also be issued by DMV and that would be…
Jon: It’s issued by the state.
STSO: We do accept some government IDs, but I’m unsure of the concealed weapons.
Jon: Well here’s a New York drivers license.
STSO: So we have 2 drivers licenses, now we have some issues. We can engage a document specialist. Why do you have two drivers licenses?
Jon: I used to live in New York, this is an old document, but it’s not yet expired.
STSO: So was this [NY DL] supposed to be turned in when you got this [FL DL]?
Jon: It’s not valid for driving anymore, but it’s still me.
STSO: Um, we only accept what type of IDs? Valid. [While not valid for *driving*, the person in the ID is still me even if I moved to another state.]
Jon: I will give you guys the passport, but I will be filling in a comment card. [By comment card, I probably mean lawsuit… :)]
STSO: Roger that.

Audio (.mp3)

No Screening Required at LGA Today!

To any frequent flyer, this is a familiar scene: the “one way” hallway between the secure area and the baggage claim. What is conspicuously missing, however, is the person at the desk on the left side to ensure that this stays a “one way” hallway. There are no auto-sensors or anything at LGA to ensure that no one can pass. I’m not even sure there are cameras here. Anyone walking this way would have had all-access to the terminal with no screening at all.

$1B spent on machines to digitally strip search you, in the process making children cry, causing sex abuse survivors to have flashbacks, humiliating the disabled, and trashing our constitution… all for nothing with the back door left wide open.

TSA VIPR Team Spotted at… Detroit Music Festival??

Pass the message on to the “If you don’t like the TSA, don’t fly!” crowd: the TSA is bent on expanding to all modes of transportation: subways, trains, buses, and even the open road. We’ve already seen them in a Texas bus system, Tennessee highways, Georgia Amtrak station (“accidentally” screening passengers who simply wanted to leave the station!), and Florida Greyhound stations.

You can add to this list the following terrorist-rich environment: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival (“DEMF” or “Movement”). An electronic music producer myself (in between sessions of suing and embarassing the TSA, and my day job, I find a little time), I attend a large number of music events across the globe each year. So you can imagine my surprise when I was wandering from the festival to my car when I ran into a group of 5 men who looked like police officers, but one of whom was wearing a bulletproof vest with the large letters: TSA. Upon closer inspection, all of the men were DHS employees, and at least 2 were armed law enforcement officers (yes, the TSA has armed law enforcement officers — but don’t confuse these with the guys confiscating your toothpaste in airports, all of which are not actually law enforcement).

Naturally I had to see what was up. I approached them and asked if something was going on — if they were on some kind of joint mission with local law enforcement — and they gave me an ambiguous, “Well, maybe Detroit police are a little short-staffed.” When I followed up by asking them if they were a VIPR team, they perked up a bit, and were as shocked as I was to see them that a member of the public knew what they were up to. It turned out that, as best I could gather, this was just an ordinary patrol for them.

Granted, these men were entirely friendly and seemed to be wandering the path below the elevated train tracks near the festival, rather than stopping and searching anyone. But, the question is: do you want to be conditioned to accept armed TSA “police” roaming about your neighborhood? Do you approve of the TSA stopping people in bus and train stations and demanding to search their bags? Will you actually be surprised when a nude body scanner shows up at your local subway station?

So, “if you don’t like it,” the solution is clear: don’t leave your house. Or, you know, you could make your disapproval of TSA antics known now, before the TSA can expand in this absurd fashion and say, “Well you let us do it in the airports, so why can’t we do it in train stations?” “…at bus stops?” “…as you’re driving down the street?” “…whenever we want to.” If we don’t demand the Fourth Amendment in airports now, can you really, truly believe that I’m just talking hyperbole about what will happen next?

One more note: I’ve never seen a VIPR team in-person before this, and since I sued the TSA a year and a half ago, I’ve been to at least a dozen major cities in the US. Detroit is a pretty abandoned city these days, and it’s not a place I would expect federal resources to be spent on security. Unless, of course, they are profiling the large Muslim community that lives here.

TSA Accuses 4 Year Old of Attempting to Smuggle Gun

First, a TSO began yelling at my child, and demanded she too must sit down and await a full body pat-down. I was prevented from coming any closer, explaining the situation to her, or consoling her in any way. My daughter, who was dressed in tight leggings, a short sleeve shirt and mary jane shoes, had no pockets, no jacket and nothing in her hands. The TSO refused to let my daughter pass through the scanners once more, to see if she too would set off the alarm. It was implied, several times, that my Mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter.

My child, who was obviously terrified, had no idea what was going on, and the TSOs involved still made no attempt to explain it to her. When they spoke to her, it was devoid of any sort of compassion, kindness or respect. They told her she had to come to them, alone, and spread her arms and legs. She screamed, “No! I don’t want to!” then did what any frightened young child might, she ran the opposite direction.

That is when a TSO told me they would shut down the entire airport, cancel all flights, if my daughter was not restrained. It was then they declared my daughter a “high-security-threat”.

Two TSOs were following her and again I was told to have no contact with my child. At this point, I was beyond upset, I disregarded what the TSO had said to me, and I ran to my daughter. I picked her up. I hugged her. I tried to comfort her…

I was forced to set my child down, they brought her into a side room to administer a pat-down, I followed. My sweet four-year-old child was shaking and crying uncontrollably, she did not want to stand still and let strangers touch her… A TSO began repeating that in the past she had “seen a gun in a teddy bear.” The TSO seemed utterly convinced my child was concealing a weapon, as if there was no question about it. Worse still, she was treating my daughter like she understood how dangerous this was, as if my daughter was not only a tool in a terrorist plot, but actually in on it. The TSO loomed over my daughter, with an angry grimace on her face, and ordered her to stop crying. When my scared child could not do so, two TSOs called for backup saying “The suspect is not cooperating.” The suspect, of course, being a frightened child. They treated my daughter no better than if she had been a terrorist…

http://consumerist.com/2012/04/4-year-old-gets-tsa-pat-down-following-hug-from-grandma.html

How many times has the TSA promised that they would stop molesting children at airports? That parents would never be separated from their children? That their employees would be more sensitive when working with children? That the public won’t be treated like “suspects?”

This is an agency that cannot — does not — tell the truth. It has made no progress in any of the regards it has claimed it would. Instead, the abuse keeps flowing harder and faster. It absolutely amazes me that a parent has not become violent with a TSA screener after abusing their child or demanding separation from their child. In no other place would a parent put up with this shit.

For more details on this article and a picture of the little princess/suspect, Amy Alkon did a great write-up.

TSA: Large Amounts of Currency Will Be Referred to Law Enforcement

I came across some old legal docs the TSA filed, and found some interesting remarks in this one:

http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/TSA.Switzer_Decl_attachments_1_2_and_3_0.pdf

Page 19: “When currency appears to be indicative of criminal activity, TSA may report the matter to the appropriate authorities. For all flights, factors indicating that cash is related to criminal activity include the quantity, packaging, circumstances of discovery, or method by which the cash is carried, including concealment.” Continues to state that TSA will verify you’ve reported to CBP if >$10K is flying internationally.

Page 24: “When TSA discovers contraband during the screening process that is not a TSA Prohibited Item, the matter should be referred to the local Law Enforcement Officers as appropriate. An Enforcement Investigative Report should not be initiated. Examples of such contraband include: … Large amounts of cash ($10,000).”

The TSA is empowered by Congress ONLY to find weapons, explosives, and incendiaries. They often times report people for drug possession, arguing that they were searching for WEI but just “happened” to find drugs, and therefore it’s cool. But cash?! Cash isn’t illegal at all, and assuming malintent or trying to enforce customs rules is NOT within the scope of their mission.

Best part: they’re more likely to refer you to law enforcement if you conceal your cash. If you leave it in plain sight for the TSA to steal, it’s much more acceptable.

Underwear Bomber Victim: US Government Intentionally Allowed Bomb on Plane

Guys, this post is important. The TSA, in its media propaganda and legal arguments, has repeatedly justified the nude body scanner and pat-down molestation program with the Christmas 2009 “Underwear Bomber” attack, in which a man boarded a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam with an explosive that failed to fully ignite when he tried to detonate it over US soil.

At the sentencing hearing for the terrorist, one of the victims on that flight is adamant that this man was allowed on to the plane intentionally by US authorities, either with hopes of tracking him to accomplices (just like Fast & Furious), or in his opinion, he was provided the defective bomb and sent on that plane to scare us into accepting the nude body scanner program.

Please read his statement, which is in full here:

I wish to thank the Court for allowing me these 5 minutes to make my statement. My references to the government in this statement refer to the Federal Government excluding this Court and the prosecution. On Christmas Day 2009, my wife and I were returning from an African safari and had a connecting flight through Amsterdam. As we waited for our flight, we sat on the floor next to the boarding gate. What I witnessed while sitting there and subsequent events have changed my life forever. While I sat there, I witnessed Umar dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, being escorted around security by a man in a tan suit who spoke perfect American English and who aided Umar in boarding without a passport. The airline gate worker initially refused Umar boarding until the man in the tan suit intervened. The event meant nothing to me at the time. Little did I know that Umar would try to kill me a few hours later as our flight approached Detroit. The final 10 minutes of our flight after the attack were the worst minutes of my life. During those 10 minutes I sat paralyzed in fear. Unfortunately, what happened next has had an even greater impact on my life and has saddened me further.

When we landed, I was shocked that our plane taxied up to the gate. I was further shocked that we were forced to sit on the plane for 20 minutes with powder from the so called bomb all over the cabin. The officers that boarded the plane did nothing to ensure our safety and did not check for accomplices or other explosive devices. Several passengers trampled through parts of the bomb as they exited the plane. We were then taken into the terminal with our unchecked carry on bags. Again, there was no concern for our safety even though Umar told the officers that there was another bomb on board as he exited the plane. I wondered why nobody was concerned about our safety, accomplices or other bombs and the lack of concern worried me greatly. I immediately told the FBI my story in order to help catch the accomplice I had seen in Amsterdam. It soon became obvious that the FBI wasn’t interested in what I had to say, which upset me further. For one month the government refused to admit the existence of the man in the tan suit before changing course and admitting his existence in an ABC News article on January 22, 2010. That was the last time the government talked about this man. The video that would prove the truth of my account has never been released. I continue to be emotional upset that the video has not been released. The Dutch police, meanwhile, in this article (show article), also confirmed that Umar did not show his passport in Amsterdam which also meant that he didn’t go through security as both are in the same line in Amsterdam. It upsets me that the government refuses to admit this fact.

I became further saddened from this case, when Patrick Kennedy of the State Department during Congressional hearings, admitted that Umar was a known terrorist, was being followed, and the U.S. allowed him into the U.S. so that it could catch Umar’s accomplices. I was once again shocked and saddened when Michael Leiter of the National Counter terrorism Center admitted during these same hearings that intentionally letting terrorists into the U.S. was a frequent practice of the U.S. Government. I cannot fully explain my sadness, disappointment and fear when I realized that my government allowed an attack on me intentionally.

During this time, I questioned if my country intentionally put a known terrorist onto my flight with a live bomb. I had many sleepless nights over this issue. My answer came shortly thereafter. In late 2010, the FBI admitted to giving out intentionally defective bombs to the Portland Christmas Tree Bomber,the Wrigley Field Bomber and several others. Further, Mr. Chambers was quoted in the Free Press on January 11, 2011 when he indicated that the government’s own explosives experts had indicated that Umar’s bomb was impossibly defective. I wondered how that could be. Certainly, I thought, Al Qaeda wouldn’t go through all of the trouble to plan such an attack only to provide the terrorist with an impossibly defective bomb.

I attended nearly all of the pretrial hearings. At the hearing on January 28, 2011, I was greatly disappointed by the prosecution’s request to block evidence from Mr. Chambers “as it could then be able to be obtained by third parties, who could use it in a civil suit against the government”. It really bothered me that the government apparently was admitting to wrongdoing of some kind as it admitted that it was concerned it would be sued. It further upset me to know that the government was putting its own interests ahead of those of the passengers.

When I attended the jury selection hearings, I questioned why versions of the same two questions kept coming up, those being:

1. Do you think whether you’ll be able to tell whether something is actually a bomb? and
2. Do you realize that sometimes the media doesn’t always tell the truth?

I continued to be greatly saddened at this point as I felt the truth continued to be hidden.

When Umar listed me as his only witness, I was happy to testify, not on his behalf, but on behalf of the truth. I never expected to testify, as my eyewitness account would have been too damaging to the myth that the government and media are putting forward. A mere 5 days after I was announced as a witness, there was an inexplicable guilty plea which exasperated me as I no longer would be testifying.

In closing I will just say that regardless of how the media and government try to shape the public perception of this case, I am convinced that Umar was given an intentionally defective bomb by a U.S. Government agent and placed on our flight without showing a passport or going through security, to stage a false terrorist attack to be used to implement various government policies.

The effect this matter has had on my life has been astounding and due to this case, I will never trust the government in any matter, ever.

In regards to sentencing, nothing I’ve said excuses the fact that Umar tried to kill me. He has waived his valid claim to the entrapment defense. Umar, you are not a great Muslim martyr, you are merely a “Patsy”. I ask the court to impose the mandatory sentence.

Source: http://haskellfamily.blogspot.com/2012/02/victim-impact-statement.html

If either of the two scenarios that involve the US allowing this man on the plane are true, this fraud makes Fast & Furious look innocuous in comparison. The government has given us no reason to do anything but believe this man. Airports are full of cameras, and the “man in the tan suit” could easily be confirmed or denied. The failure to deny is a deafening silence.

–Jon

TSA Re-Names SecOps Center to — Get This — “Freedom Center”

This happened several months ago, but I think it was quietly enough that no one noticed:

On June 21, TSA’s primary operational hub was re-named the Freedom Center, symbolizing the agency’s commitment to protecting the nation’s transportation systems against terrorist threats

Source: http://www.tsa.gov/press/speeches/freedom_dedication.shtm

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. The TSA stands for the exact opposite of freedom: “securing” our nation by giving up our freedoms at airports and, increasingly, train stations, subways, bus stations, and highways. One has to question whether the TSA management has read Orwell and is applying it intentionally. But, one would first have to question whether TSA management can read.

Disgusted.

–Jon

Three People Arrested, Strip Searched for Looking Middle Eastern

http://shebshi.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/some-real-shock-and-awe-racially-profiled-and-cuffed-in-detroit/

Appauling.

If we do not ALL stand up against this NOW, it won’t just be “middle eastern-looking people” that get this treatment. It’s going to happen to all of us. Please don’t give your freedom willingly, and take proactive steps to retain it. Demand from your elected officials that this stop.

Along those lines, I try to keep this issue apolitical because it doesn’t matter who or what party is promulgating this invasion — it’s wrong and needs to be stopped either way — but the fact of the matter is that the president is in control of these out of control agencies. The TSA, the rest of DHS, and apparently even the FBI are now all activitely participating in the infringement of our rights, and let there be no mistake that it is happening on Obama’s watch (and yes, regardless of whether the wheels were set in motion by the previous administration, they were accelerated rather than shut down by the current). We need to hold accountable politicans that either actively or passively support or allow these tactics to continue, and it’s time that we start asking for change from the top.

–Jon

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