Friday, April 3, 2009

Incident at St. Louis International Airport

At approximately 6:50 p.m. on March 29, 2009, a metal box alarmed the X-ray machine at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, triggering the need for additional screening. Because the box contained a number of items including a large amount of cash, all of which needed to be removed to be properly screened, it was deemed more appropriate to continue the screening process in a private area. A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee and members of the St. Louis Airport Police Department can be heard on the audio recording. The tone and language used by the TSA employee was inappropriate. TSA holds its employees to the highest professional standards. TSA will continue to investigate this matter and take appropriate action.

Movements of large amounts of cash through the checkpoint may be investigated by law enforcement authorities if criminal activity is suspected. As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property, including why they are carrying a large sum of cash. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry.


Bob

EoS Blog Team

Click here to view Comments 201 & above.

357 comments:

1 – 200 of 357   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

So $4700 is now the amount that will get you investigated? I thought it was $10,000. How much money am I allowed to carry before I have to fear an investigation?

Also, will the public be told the result of the investigation and any actions taken against the TSAs in question, or will it be quietly handled in the background and no punishment will ever be meted out, or acknowledged to the general public?

Anonymous said...

Bob, Bob, Bob, here we go again. As a TSM I can see what happened from our point of view and even I think this just looks bad for us. Please give more details because the complaints / recriminations are gonna start flyin.......

Anonymous said...

The tone and language used by the TSA employee was inappropriate. TSA holds its employees to the highest professional standards. TSA will continue to investigate this matter and take appropriate action.

Bob, will the TSA tell us what the results of the investigation and any actions taken against the employee? Or will this just be swept under the rug?

I've listened to the full 20 minute recording the passenger did not refuse to answer any of the questions asked. He wanted confirmation that he was legally required to answer them. Can you please provide the source for the "general rule" requiring passengers to answer questions at a checkpoint?

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

TSORon said...

Anon, It would be inappropriate to put an individuals corrective action into the public domain. All the public should need to know is that action has been taken. Demands for more are intrusive on the screeners privacy, and will still enjoy the same level of privacy as any other citizen.

Anonymous said...

Why should I have to answer any questions by the TSA regarding the cash I am carrying?

How can my cash present any danger to aviation?

And can you give us any hint as to where your mission creep is going to lead to next? TIA

Bob said...

As you can understand, the incident is still under investigation, so we can't say too much on the subject.

Also, please note that there was a TSO involved. Singular, not plural. The other voices you hear on the tape are police officers. Many are getting the impression that all of the voices are TSOs. Not so... TSOs do not cuff people or take them to the station.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Aaron said...

Bob, can you please explain why large amounts of cash are a security threat to other travelers?

I thought the role of TSA screeners was to keep us safe from violence and terrorism when flying. Is the TSA concerned someone might try to hijack an airplane using a stack of $20's?

Suzanne said...

Wonder how much of the cash actually made it out of the "private screening" room. Also, why is that TSA guy wearing a Rolex??

Anonymous said...

So Bob, it looks like we have a rogue TSO and a police officer more than willing to violate the Constitution of the US combined with the smoke and mirrors of obfuscation.

So much less than the $10,000 resulted in this confrontation with a non threatening passenger. What's the bottom level for cash on a passenger to avoid any questions by a TSO?

What right does that TSO have to violate TSA's policy or have the 'super secret rules of engagement' when dealing with terrorist suspects (aka flying public) been change again?

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight, the TSO made an "innapropriate comment" yet the law enforcement personel detained this person and were the ones questioning him and the public wants the TSO disciplined / fired / strung up?

Yup, and you wonder why we feel as we do toward the public.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused... Aren't the TSA meant to be protecting aircraft from threats like bombs, knives, and such?

How is $4700 a threat to an aircraft? Are you worried about deadly paper air-planes poking the pilot in the eyes?

It is just a huge invasion of privacy by an agency who's job it is NOT to investigate these things.

Anonymous said...

"Movements of large amounts of cash through the checkpoint may be investigated by law enforcement authorities if criminal activity is suspected."

Suspected by whom? How would a law enforcement officer suspect anything unless the TSA screener called one over? Does this mean that TSA screeners can initiate a criminal investigation if they suspect criminal activity? Are TSA screeners trained in law enforcement? Do they have arrest powers? I would think that TSA would have its hands full doing its own job without trying to be junior G-men.


"As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property, including why they are carrying a large sum of cash. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry."


Could you please explain what sort of "further inquiry" is required when a passenger is pursuing a perfectly legal, non-threatining activity? Just how much of a citizen's private business is of interest to TSA? Will I have to answer questions about the book I bring to read during the flight? Will I have to justify any political pamphlets I may be carrying? What about a "Kip Hawley is an idiot" baggie? Will that get me detained like what happened to Ryan Bird in Milwaukee?

I have no doubt that this egregious infringement of a citizen's rights will be swept under the rug.

T-the-B at flyertalk

RB said...

Bob, I will say this in a clear, precise manner.

It is not TSA's concern how much cash I wish to carry on my person.

Cash does not present any hazard to the safe operation of a commercial, passenger carrying aircraft.

The man that was removed from the screening line by TSA, then had police called, then interrogated improperly should take the whole lot of you people to court.

Anonymous said...

Quote:" Suzanne said...
Wonder how much of the cash actually made it out of the "private screening" room. Also, why is that TSA guy wearing a Rolex??"

Why was this allowed to be posted? It is a DIRECT violation of the policy stating "We will not post comments that contain personal attacks of any kind"

Uh, direct personal attack against TSOs with no basis in fact.

Way to go Blogger Bob!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I suspect that what will happen is that the TSO gets reassigned like Crabtree did, and the cop gets his hands slapped and the passenger gets put onto a new no fly list.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said "So let me get this straight, the TSO made an "innapropriate comment" yet the law enforcement personel detained this person and were the ones questioning him and the public wants the TSO disciplined / fired / strung up?

Yup, and you wonder why we feel as we do toward the public."

Sorry guy, you are way off base. The TSO did more than mand AN INNAPPROPRIATE COMMENT. The TSO caused a totally unnecessary incident to occur. There is no law in the US against carrying any amount of cash anywhere within the country. It is none of your business where I got my money, why I'm carrying it or what I'm going to do with it.

This is only one of the reasons the public would like to fire every single one of you. You are arrogant, rude, mean. I could go on.

Anonymous said...

"As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property, including why they are carrying a large sum of cash."

So if you travel with something that is legal and no threat, you can get "do you want to fly today" if a TSO doesn't like the way you answer a question.

And you wonder why people get upset!

RB said...

TSORon said...
Anon, It would be inappropriate to put an individuals corrective action into the public domain. All the public should need to know is that action has been taken. Demands for more are intrusive on the screeners privacy, and will still enjoy the same level of privacy as any other citizen.

April 3, 2009 3:59 PM

Disagree.

When a Police Officer makes a big mistake it is on the nightly news broadcast. Same for a Fireman, and other government workers.

Why should TSO's get a free ride?

It would do your agency well to let the public know that bad TSO's had been dealt with fairly, firmly and quickly.

Regardless, if other TSO's don't see the problem with what happened in St Louis then you guys have much bigger problems.

Like you, who thinks its against the law to take $10,000 out of the country.

Anonymous said...

Bob, would you tell me just what amount of cash is needed to jeopardize the safe operation of commercial aircraft?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Quote:" Suzanne said...
Wonder how much of the cash actually made it out of the "private screening" room. Also, why is that TSA guy wearing a Rolex??"

Why was this allowed to be posted? It is a DIRECT violation of the policy stating "We will not post comments that contain personal attacks of any kind"

Uh, direct personal attack against TSOs with no basis in fact.

Way to go Blogger Bob!

April 3, 2009 4:25 PM

.................
Name who was personally attacked?

Stephen said...

I have to echo the statements of others: Cash does not present a danger to aircraft.

These screeners and police were FAR overstepping their jobs here, and easily moving over into Civil Rights Violation.

If the TSA policy says this is ok on ANY LEVEL, then the policy needs to be changed. End of Story.

Cash is not a danger to aircraft. We can debate whether other security measures are reasonable, or "real security vs Security theater" but this is an indefensible action from moment 0.

I find this about as repugnant as if they were questioning him about the sex toys in his bag and whether he was planning to use them on his wife or someone else.

Bottom line is that he was traveling with his property, property that could be demonstrated to be both legal (it says right on it "Legal Tender for all debts public and private") and of no threat to the airplane.

He was right not to cooperate. Honestly, I wish more people would stand up for themselves and not cooperate when authority figures overstep their bounds.

This man should be given a medal of commendation....and an apology.

-Steve

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said "So let me get this straight, the TSO made an "innapropriate comment" yet the law enforcement personel detained this person and were the ones questioning him and the public wants the TSO disciplined / fired / strung up?

Yup, and you wonder why we feel as we do toward the public."


You (TSOs) are in a position of authority and are expected to behave accordingly. Like it has been stated before ignorance of the law is no excuse. The STL TSO who brought in LEOs overstepped his bounds. Personally I hope that he sues everyone involved and wins.

Anonymous said...

"As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process"

what does this mean? as a general rule, am I required to pay taxes? I think I'm required by law to pay my taxes. So, am I required by law to answer the questions of the TSA, or is it that the TSA has no authority to be able to legally compel me to answer their questions, but they can refer to law enforcement who can?

Dunstan said...

As a member of the Jewelry Industry, I sometimes find myself traveling with valuable merchandise. My friends include gem, and watch sales people who risk their lives every time the travel or visit a client.I really don't want attention brought to myself at security check points, it could endanger my life. That is why I find the TSA's lack of interest in secure check in luggage so appalling. Disgusting, really. This intrusive incident really deserves the light of day. It is really revealing of how little concern TSA has for the lives, privacy and safety of passengers.

RB said...

Bob said...
As you can understand, the incident is still under investigation, so we can't say too much on the subject.

Also, please note that there was a TSO involved. Singular, not plural. The other voices you hear on the tape are police officers. Many are getting the impression that all of the voices are TSOs. Not so... TSOs do not cuff people or take them to the station.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

April 3, 2009 4:03 PM

...................
Who alerts police in one of these events?

The first line TSO?

Or is the TSO's suppose to alert a superior before calling police?

How did police become involved in this case and was the actions taken to alert police a correct step by step procedure?

Sandra said...

"So let me get this straight, the TSO made an "innapropriate comment" yet the law enforcement personel detained this person and were the ones questioning him and the public wants the TSO disciplined / fired / strung up?"

Yes we do because he had NO BUSINESS QUESTIONING this person about the amount of cash he was carrying. The screener started it and now he needs to pay the piper as well as the police officers involved.

Bob said...

Anonymous said... Why was this allowed to be posted? It is a DIRECT violation of the policy stating "We will not post comments that contain personal attacks of any kind" April 3, 2009 4:25 PM
-------------------------------
Speaking in Volleyball terms, that was a "set." A "set" is the tactical skill in which a ball is directed to a point where a player can spike it into the opponent's court.

So way to go Blogger Anon. You just spiked the ball in your own court by not responding to how ridiculous that comment was.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

RB said...

So way to go Blogger Anon. You just spiked the ball in your own court by not responding to how ridiculous that comment was.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

April 3, 2009 4:46 PM
.................
Bob, we know your reading so again just how much cash does it take to jeopardize the safe operation of a commercial aircraft?

RB said...

Bob, this is gonna need a bigger pot!

Alan said...

The treatment of this passenger was shameful. The TSA needs to focus on identifying real threats to aviation. $4,700 is not a threat to anyone.

Anonymous said...

How soon before you guys are shut down? It's none of your business how much cash I may choose to carry, none whatsoever. Suspecting that I may be a criminal is not enough to warrant violating my civil rights and wasting my time. What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"? The TSA is an abomination to the Constitution of this country.

Fetchy said...

"He was right not to cooperate."

If asking questions means that he was not cooperating, what has this world come to!?!

He without a doubt in my mind WAS cooperating. This gentleman RARELY got his questions answered and never got a straight answer except when he asked if he was being taken in(from the partial call I heard on fox news).

I am with everyone else, how is this any danger to anyone. Are they trying to be the police and tracking down any drug money? They are NOT the FBI and DEA. TSA cannot possibly think that everyone that goes through there with cash is considered to be doing illegal business and needs to be questioned!?!

I do agree that the PD officers involved should also be publicly investigated along with the TSO. These people are PAID by our tax dollars. We deserve to know who and what actions will be taken to prevent this from happening again. It happens to police, fire, and any government position on a daily basis. TSA should not be excluded.

Even with the intense security these days, im glad to see that someone was able to pull off recording this, if not, nothing probably would have been done.

Im sure in a closed TSA room, audio recording of PD units, TSOs, or any LEOs is most likely illegal, but certain times, like this I will applaud this young man.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...

Anon, It would be inappropriate to put an individuals corrective action into the public domain. All the public should need to know is that action has been taken. Demands for more are intrusive on the screeners privacy, and will still enjoy the same level of privacy as any other citizen.


So why wouldn't we call anything out of TSA a 'whitewash' when we've witnessed the lengths some TSA managers go to in order to hide political hot potatoes? Folks wondered what happened to Crabtree when he brought a gun to work. Something? Nothing? I suspect he was transfered from Denver to a smaller airport, but that is conjecture on my part.

Anonymous said...

Maybe large amounts of cash are subject to investigation for the same reason that snow-globes are prohibited: They look like explosives on the x-ray.

Note the paper of the hollowed out book in these images.

Jim Huggins said...

Bob ... amidst all the usual banter here, let me say this.

It is unusual these days to here any organization admit that it, or its employees, did something wrong. TSA's official statement above does exactly that. Kudos to the TSA for having the courage to say so.

Now, back to the banter ...

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Rather than try to spin this, the TSA needs to do 3 things.

1. Admit it made a mistake
2. Make an UNQUALIFIED apology to the passenger
and
3. Assure the rest of the traveling public that this will NEVER happen again by disclosing what type of re-training ALL TSA personnel will undergo

Anonymous said...

Enough stuff from TSA has been swept under the rug, that the bulge, now is pretty noticeable. Suspect that this incident might cause an increased amount of oversight by our government.

Anonymous said...

Quote:
" Bob said...
Anonymous said... Why was this allowed to be posted? It is a DIRECT violation of the policy stating "We will not post comments that contain personal attacks of any kind" April 3, 2009 4:25 PM
-------------------------------
Speaking in Volleyball terms, that was a "set." A "set" is the tactical skill in which a ball is directed to a point where a player can spike it into the opponent's court.

So way to go Blogger Anon. You just spiked the ball in your own court by not responding to how ridiculous that comment was.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

April 3, 2009 4:46 PM"

-----------------------------
Bob,
WHAT?

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes:

Rather than try to spin this, the TSA needs to do 3 things.

1. Admit it made a mistake


This was done in the original statement. "The tone and language used by the TSA employee was inappropriate."


2. Make an UNQUALIFIED apology to the passenger


I'm not going to comment on this, not having heard the incident.


3. Assure the rest of the traveling public that this will NEVER happen again by disclosing what type of re-training ALL TSA personnel will undergo


This may be premature. We don't know (yet) if the problem here is one rogue TSO, or a systematic problem that requires re-training of the workforce.

There's nothing I hate worse than having to sit through a mandatory lecture at work, because someone in some other department was a [expletive] and did something hideous that none of the rest of us would ever do. That may, or may not, be the situation here.

I know it's fun to bash the TSA, and I probably do it far too often here myself. But let's hold off on the pitchforks for a bit and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

if i may address the currency issue as the bank secrecy act is my specialty and has been for over the past 20 years....

the "magic limit" is $10,000.01 and not $10,000 and it is not illegal, verbotten or otherwise against any law to bring on your person an amount of u.s. currency or currency equivalent (i.e travelers' cheques, cashier's checks, foreign currency) which exceeds the threshold and bring the currency and/or currency equivalent either into or out of the united states provided you declare it and complete fincen form 105: http://www.fincen.gov/forms/files/fin105_cmir.pdf"

from the instructions on the form:

WHO MUST FILE:
(1) Each person who physically transports, mails, or ships, or causes to be physically transported, mailed, or shipped currency or other monetary instruments in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time from the United States to any place outside the United States or into the United States from any place outside the United States, and

(2) Each person who receives in the United States currency or other monetary instruments In an aggregate amount if i may address the currency issue as the bank secrecy act is my specialty and has been for well over the past 20 years....

the "magic limit" is $10,000.01 and not $10,000 and it is not illegal, verbotten or otherwise against any law to bring on your person an amount of u.s. currency or currency equivalent (i.e travelers' cheques, cashier's checks, foreign currency) which exceeds the threshold and bring the currency and/or currency equivalent either into or out of the united states PROVIDED you declare it AND COMPLETE FinCen form 105: http://www.fincen.gov/forms/files/fin105_cmir.pdf . That’s the law period and no one has the right to confiscate any amount less than the threshold unless there is proof and/or a suspicion reasonable (n.b. proof and/ or reasonable suspicion) that a crime has been committed and if no crime has been committed or no proof can be made or established, any currency (or currency equivalent) seized (short of not filing FinCen From 105) MUST be returned to the person it was taken.

From the instructions on the form:

WHO MUST FILE:
(1) Each person who physically transports, mails, or ships, or causes to be physically transported, mailed, or shipped currency or other monetary instruments in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time from the United States to any place outside the United States or into the United States from any place outside the United States, and

(2) Each person who receives in the United States currency or other monetary instruments In an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time which have been transported, mailed, or shipped to the person from any place outside the United States

exceeding $10,000 at one time which have been transported, mailed, or shipped to the person from any place outside the United States

George said...

@TSORon: It would be inappropriate to put an individuals corrective action into the public domain. All the public should need to know is that action has been taken. Demands for more are intrusive on the screeners privacy, and will still enjoy the same level of privacy as any other citizen.

Actually Ron, if an official statement that "TSA holds its employees to the highest professional standards" means anything, the public needs to know that the TSA actually holds its officers accountable for those standards. That means we do need to know what action the TSA took to hold this misbehaving officer accountable. Invoking "privacy" concerns is merely shielding the officer from accountability. And statements about protecting TSO privacy are particularly difficult to stomach when every passenger automatically surrenders their privacy when they enter a TSA checkpoint.

TSOs are indeed entitled to privacy. But if they break the law, violate rules, or abuse their authority, they forfeit their privacy just like a member of any other profession who commits a violation. That's especially important because their violations and abuses adversely affect the public as well as the perception of the entire agency.

A mere statement that "action has been taken" is meaningless. It could mean that the TSA did a pro forma investigation and held the officer blameless. The "action" could even be a public commendation. We've already seen exactly that, such as that nipple piercing incident where the TSA issued a press release commending the officers. We will never have any confidence that the TSA actually holds its officers to "professional standards" if the disposition of any violation is hidden behind the TSA's veil of secrecy, with only a meaningless statement in the passive voice as accountability.

(It would also help to know what those "professional standards" actually are, so passengers can know if a TSO is violating those standards. If the answer is "that's SSI," it effectively means that there are no standards at all.)

More important than the disposition of the officer's behavior, I think the public needs to know why this incident happened at all. If the TSO properly investigated an alarm and found cash, why did he feel the need to bring in the police? Is there a (SSI?) policy requiring TSOs to call in the police whenever they find more cash than would fit in an ordinary wallet? What was the violation and/or threat to aviation the required law enforcement involvement? While we surely don't know the full story, what we do know suggests a problem with the TSA policy concerning cash. This really needs to be brought out from behind the veil of secrecy and investigated, since there seems to be a large potential for abuse.

The Anonymous TSM (April 3, 2009 3:54 PM) is quite right that this looks bad for the TSA. And if the TSA's leadership sweeps this under the rug claiming "privacy concerns for the officer" or "SSI," it will look even worse. How many more "incidents" must happen before the culture changes?

Sandra said...

Anonymous wrote:

"the "magic limit" is $10,000.01 and not $10,000 and it is not illegal, verbotten or otherwise against any law to bring on your person an amount of u.s. currency or currency equivalent..."

except, sir or madam, for the fact that the TSA has declared >$10,000 to be CONTRABAND, whether carried domestically or internationally.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...
Anon, It would be inappropriate to put an individuals corrective action into the public domain. All the public should need to know is that action has been taken. Demands for more are intrusive on the screeners privacy, and will still enjoy the same level of privacy as any other citizen.


When a police officer violates official guidelines they are subject to an investigation and the results are made public. To ensure that we can continue to trust the entire police department. I fail to understand why the TSA thinks they are above the same kind of disclosure.

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

Anonymous said...

Re: Jim Huggins -

"Rather than try to spin this, the TSA needs to do 3 things.

1. Admit it made a mistake"


This was done in the original statement. "The tone and language used by the TSA employee was inappropriate."

----------------------

Unfortunately, TSA did not admit it made a mistake.

TSA's error was not the "tone and language used by the TSA employee"; rather, it was the mission creep practiced by TSA that tells screeners to detain, question and bully anyone who happens to be carrying a sizable sum of cash. This despite the fact that it is perfectly legal to carry any sum of cash domestically (and internationally, provided the proper paperwork is filed). Also despite the fact that a wad of currency constitutes absolutely no safety or security threat whatsoever. The "mistake" that TSA needs to acknowlede and address has nothing to do with "tone and language" and everything to do with a severe case of "Barney Fife syndome".

We will wait a long time before TSA is willing to admit that this incident was due to institutional arrogance. It will be much longer before that arrogance is addressed.


T-the-B at flyertalk

Anonymous said...

Jim

saying "The tone and language used by the TSA employee was inappropriate."

is not admitting all the mistakes made.

The passenger was carrying nothing illegal or dangerous. There was NO reason to involve the police in the first place.

"We don't know (yet) if the problem here is one rogue TSO, or a systematic problem that requires re-training of the workforce."

Bob tried to imply in another post, that only 1 TSO was involved.

Do you really believe that when police get involved that TSA Supervisor's don't also get involved? I'm not sure which would be worse, knowing one TSO could do this alone, or knowing TSA Superviser's were involved.

TSARon's post in another blog entry show other TSO's also don't understand the laws regarding transport of currency and that it is OK just to make laws up.

Blogger Bob posted suggesting that the traveler was at least partially at fault for not answering questions in a way "agreeable" to the TSA.

All this points to a systemic problem in the TSA.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes carry large amounts of cash on myself during travel. I too would refuse to answer any questions. Furthermore, if a TSO attempted to detain me or my money, I would have no other option except to conclude that they were attempting an illegal detainment of my person or an illegal seizure of my property, and I would have to place them under citizen's arrest, using whatever force was necessary to accomplish that.

Anonymous said...

As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process.

"As a general rule"? But, the person involved is not talking about rules, but about LAWS. Rules that TSA and/or any other organization has are different than laws.

Simply make known the LAWS that the TSA are following. Publish these secret laws.

Anon, It would be inappropriate to put an individuals corrective action into the public domain.

Why would it be inappropriate for an employee receiving nothing but tax dollars as pay to have not only pay, but disciplinary proceedings against them as public? The TSA/TSO involved is/are a public employee(s) and signed up for the job knowing they were in the public. They should expect public scrutiny.

Also, please note that there was a TSO involved. Singular, not plural. The other voices you hear on the tape are police officers. Many are getting the impression that all of the voices are TSOs. Not so... TSOs do not cuff people or take them to the station.

I'll remember this. "TSOs do not cuff people"

So, who, exactly, was threatening to cuff this person? If they were taking him to the station, were the people taking him police? Or TSA/TSO? Is this simply passing the buck?



Let's face it, TSA is tasked with the job of keeping travelers safe, but is a front for any number of other law enforcement activities. Cooperation of agencies is merely for the purpose of making sure that some jurisdiction SOMEWHERE can arrest uppity passengers for "SOMETHING".

Call me Bob.

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose he was going to bribe the captain to fly into a bldg?

Tomas said...

Blogger Bob did apologize for the language and tone used by the TSO, thank you.

No apology has been made for the presence of LEOs (I assume at TSA's request) or the demands made.

The questions directed at the traveler about the reason for having the money, where he got it, and what he intended to do with it can be asked, lawfully, but it is unlikely that answers can be demanded lawfully.

I know of no basis in law that would allow the traveler to be detained for not answering those questions, lacking probable cause of a crime having been committed (the presence of the money is NOT probable cause).

The refusal of the TSA/LEOs to answer the traveler's quite legitimate questions, and the LEO's repeated threats to detain him without adequate cause also needs to be addressed.

One last thing: I can understand the box alarming and needing to be opened, and I can understand the traveler's desire to do so in private (because of the cash). What I don't understand is why the LEOs were involved.

In the past, any TSO could call in law enforcement, but I understand the procedure now requires escalation within TSA first unless there is an immediate threat.

Does this mean that a TSA lead, supervisor, or manager called in law enforcement (or another possibility I just thought of: was this TSA employee recorded actually the lead, supervisor or manager)?

In any case, the TSA employee involved did not have any right to use the language or tone in the recording, nor did he have any right to DEMAND information about source, destination, or reason for there being $4700 in the lockbox.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

"As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property, including why they are carrying a large sum of cash. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry."

...and I have a constitutional right not to incriminate myself. ...and you have a SWORN DUTY to uphold that right, in accordance with the BILL OF RIGHTS to the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, the SUPREME law of the land.

Slam Dunk! :D

Anonymous said...

I don't want the TSA screening people for ordinary (non-terrorist) crimes. I want them to assume everyone is innocent and concentrate on doing one thing: ensuring that travel is as safe and secure as they can make it.

If they're distracted by chasing after everything that maybe, might be, possibly, a hint of an ordinary crime, then they aren't doing what the public wants them to be doing. Instead, they're using the fact that they get to search EVERYONE as an excuse to violate the Bill of Rights and go fishing for the occasional guy who just might be breaking a law if they dig deep enough into stuff they ordinarily wouldn't have access to. If they're going to do that, they might as well institute random house searches.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me why I stopped flying for pleasure after 9/11.

It's moments like this that remind me that I'm far more likely to be injured by my own Government and its agents than from anything some terrorist in Pakistan or Afghanistan can conjure up.

• LEOs that routinely murder innocent civillians through excessive force and "tasers";
• "Constitution Free Zones" in 90% of the country, and 100% of our commercial aviation airports.;
• Checked baggage routinely rifled through and pilfered… just to name a few.

No wonder the Aviation industry is hurting. They have only the TSA to blame!

So, thank you TSA. Thank you for saving me so much grief and aggravation (and saving me from "junk fees" and "security fees" and all those other "fees".)

How sad is it that I can drive from Atlanta, Georgia to upstate Ohio in the same amount of time as it would take me to fly? And, without once ever having to worry about whether my civil rights or liberties will be violated in the process.

Kudos, and thanks again!

GregT said...

That’s the law period and no one has the right to confiscate any amount less than the threshold unless there is proof and/or a suspicion reasonable (n.b. proof and/ or reasonable suspicion) that a crime has been committed and if no crime has been committed or no proof can be made or established, any currency (or currency equivalent) seized (short of not filing FinCen From 105) MUST be returned to the person it was taken.

I assume simply possessing any amount of money under the 10000.01 threshhold is not reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed and the person does not have to answer as to the reason behind his possession of that amount of money to ANY authority figure outside of a court of law. We're complaining about the incident because it involves the TSA here, but more broadly, if you're going into a concert with a large amount of money and the sercurity guard detains you, its the same principle that is being violated. Just because it is abnormal for someone to carry a large amount of cash does not give the authority figure "REASONABLE SUSPICION" of a crime. That is de facto "guilty until proven innocent"

TSO-Joe said...

"As a member of the Jewelry Industry, I sometimes find myself traveling with valuable merchandise. My friends include gem, and watch sales people who risk their lives every time the travel or visit a client.I really don't want attention brought to myself at security check points, it could endanger my life. That is why I find the TSA's lack of interest in secure check in luggage so appalling. Disgusting, really. This intrusive incident really deserves the light of day. It is really revealing of how little concern TSA has for the lives, privacy and safety of passengers."

AAt MSP, we've had jewlers come through with their stock with no problem. They ask for a private screening and it is done. I've had jewlers ask for a screening AFTER they have flown just to make sure their stock has arrived ok.

As for checking jewelery into luggage, I'd never recommend it. As stated in other blogs, we do not watch luggage after we screen it, and there are way too many hands that touch your luggage.
Down in Dallas, they just busted a guy who would grab bags off the carosel from arriving flights. He'd watch until a bag went around once, then walk out with it, usually 1 each day. He went to Houston, then up to OK, grabbing one bag at each airport. Over one month, he had over 400 bags!

Anonymous said...

Why are law enforcement always making bad examples of themselves on Youtube?

This should serve as caution to all those who hold positions of authority: Be professional.

Anonymous said...

Incidents like this continue to reinforce why people hate the TSA more than any other federal agency. This is dispicable. Cash is not a danger to an aircraft.

Bob, what is the limit on how much cash I can bring through a checkpoint per your written policy that your screeners must follow?

Bob, when will I be arbitrarily turned over to a police officer for a non-threat, or in this case, NOTHING ILLEGAL?

Anonymous said...

If this is an ongoing investigation that's inappropriate for you to comment on, then why are you commenting on it?

While you make a feeble attempt at damage control regarding this minor incident which happens to be bad for your PR department, why don't you instead post a blog on some of the more significant violations of our privacy:

http://www.tsa.gov/press/releases/2009/0331.shtm

Anonymous said...

Why am I not surprised that this occurred in STL?

Anonymous said...

Result of investigation: TSO did wrong.
Result of the result: Business as usual and a promotion for the TSO.

Anonymous said...

@Bob "As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property ..."

Does this mean I have to explain any questions a TSO has about the pictures in my photo albums? The contents of my diary? The numbers on my credit cards? Who exactly is paper and the symbols on paper a threat to aviation?

Anonymous said...

And by "as a general rule" you really mean there is no law compelling it, however voluntary compliance makes our job easier and you less free, so don't ask the question of whether you are legally compelled to answer simply because it will be more convenient. Right?

svrdhd said...

Missouri is one of the 38 states that do not prohibit one-party recording of electronic or personal conversations, as long as the recorder is one of the primary parties.

Tyler From Tucson said...

The TSA failed in their lawful responsibility to answer the question posed to them by the individual who was being detained.

The question was very simple: "Am I legally required to answer that question?"

The appropriate answer required of TSA personnel is this: "No, you are not required to answer this or any question. However, we do have the authority to turn you over to police for questioning."

The reason the TSA were criminally complacent in answering that question is because it reminded them that they were not law enforcement officers, period.

It is also important to note that not at any time did the detainee ever become rude, belligerent, use foul language, or become aggressive.

This cannot be said of the TSA. These men abused their authority and should be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Missouri is a one-party state, meaning that only one-party must have knowledge that a recording is taking place.

I am just an average truck driver, but, I usually always carry at least 5,000 with me at all times. If I am traveling I would always carry at least 5,000. Money orders, traveler's checks, credit and debit cards can be a hassle at the wrong time.

When I travel to Asia I carry 9,000 with me. I don't flash it. I do object to having to take it out in front of other passengers. I once asked if there was somewhere we could do this in private, which immediately got me suspicious treatment.

I don't feel it is any of their business. When asked why I have so much cash I answer, "because I want to carry it".

I have never been detained and I don't feel that this gentleman acted inappropriatly.

RB said...

Bob, I asked earlier just how much United States currency it takes to jeopardize the safe operation of a commercial aircraft?

In reflection I realize that that answer is probably SSI.

So lets try a different angle on the question, How much United States Currency does TSA permit a citizen to accumulate?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Missouri the "Show Me" state? - Just sayin...

Leah said...

The FULL Audio is here & worth listening to
http://www.dailynewscaster.com/2009/04/02/audio-full-version-steve-bierfeldt-detained-and-questioned-by-st-louis-tsa/comment-page-1/#comment-10181

TSA has a whole office & Special Counsel to deal with incidents like this, and you can also find out how to file a complaint here:
http://www.tsa.gov/research/civilrights/civilrights_travelers.shtm

From http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/crcl_third_quarter_report_to_congress_FY_2008.pdf

The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Pub. L. 110-53, requires the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) to report quarterly regarding: (1) the number and types of review of Department actions undertaken; (2) the type of advice provided and the response given to such advice; (3) the number and nature of complaints received by DHS for alleged violations; and (4) a summary of the disposition of such complaints, the reviews and inquiries conducted, and the impact of these activities.1 In accordance with this requirement, this report serves as CRCL’s third quarter report, covering the period from April 1, 2008, to June 30, 2008.

From http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/structure/editorial_0338.shtm
About the Privacy Office: The Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office is the first statutorily required Privacy Office at any federal agency whose mission is to minimize the impact on the individual’s privacy, particularly the individual’s personal information and dignity, while achieving the mission of the Department of Homeland Security.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have an opinion on whether, when the TSA informed the passenger that he was not free to leave, the TSA had a "reasonable suspicion" as required by the Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio? Specifically, does anyone know whether the $4,700 alone is a sufficient basis for a Terry stop? If not, may the TSA use refusal to answer questions to formulate a reasonable suspicion for a Terry stop?

If the stop was unreasonable, in violation of the 4th Amendment, does anyone know whether the TSA could be held liable in a 1983 action?

Anonymous said...

Lets ask ourselfs this question

And be honest

Was this a covert test from traveler to get more dirt on TSA?

Should he be sued for taping the interrogation ? (as last I heard, it is an offense to tape interrogations) or was this just a simple question asking situation

Hmmmmm

TSORon said...

RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.

Anonymous said...

<< Anonymous said...
So let me get this straight, the TSO made an "innapropriate comment" yet the law enforcement personel detained this person and were the ones questioning him and the public wants the TSO disciplined / fired / strung up?

Yup, and you wonder why we feel as we do toward the public.>>

Do us (the public) all a HUGE favor and find another job so you are not "forced" to deal with the public.

Yup, yup, yup............

Anonymous said...

TSOron said..


"RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct."


IT IS NOT AGAINST THE LAW TO TAKE $10,000 OR MORE IN CASH OUT OF THE COUNTRY. YOU ARE NOT CORRECT.

TSO's trying to make up laws is what lead to this mess.

It is past time for the TSA to get their act together.

GSOLTSO said...

I am kind of blown up on this one. On the one hand, I understand that the TSO needed to clear any possible threats in the carry on bags and the person. This could be something that was not allowed to go being hidden with the money, etc, he is required to clear any possible threats. I do not know the whole situation leading up to this taped segment, so I can not comment on that. The behavior once in the private screening area by the TSO is terrible, it is unprofessional, crude and unnecessary. The organization admitted this (WOOOHOOO, way to go!) and will investigate the situation to determine appropriate action. The amount of money is not the issue (By law, over $10,000 is the threshold for further pursuit), a possible threat should be the issue. I will also point out that individual corrective action should not be posted as that is a personnel issue and should not be disseminated. Organizational re-training should be based on organizational need, not one incident, someone pointed out before here that sitting through re-training for something you would not do is a waste of time and money. If this is a systemic problem, we need to assess it as such and address it properly. I like the fact that we denounced the tone and language and will investigate it further, nice job.

Jay Maynard said...

TSORon, you are not correct. It is against the law to take $10,000 more in cash in or out of the country only if the required Customs form has not been filed. If it has, it's perfectly legal.

TSA in general, and individual TSOs in particular, do not have the information needed to determine whether that form has been filed. Therefore, any attempt by them to determine why a passenger is carrying cash above that amount in or out of the country is simple harassment.

TSOs keep telling us they're not law enforcement. Therefore, why are they trying to enforce this law - and doing so incorrectly, at that?

Dunstan said...

TSO Joe said:
"As for checking jewelery into luggage, I'd never recommend it. As stated in other blogs, we do not watch luggage after we screen it, and there are way too many hands that touch your luggage."

The thought would never cross my mind to let my inventory out of my possession, especially in a public place like an airport.

"Down in Dallas, they just busted a guy who would grab bags off the carosel from arriving flights. He'd watch until a bag went around once, then walk out with it, usually 1 each day. He went to Houston, then up to OK, grabbing one bag at each airport. Over one month, he had over 400 bags!"

Just goes to show how feeble the security really is at airports. Nice job of investigation, however.

RB said...

TSORon said...
RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.

April 4, 2009 12:53 AM
........................

TSORon, it is clearly not against the law to take $10,000 out of or to bring in same to the United States.

The requirement is that one must file the proper forms declaring the action.

I gave you the link that discussed that from the agency that is charged with that regulation.

What I cannot understand is how TSA can afford to keep such a large liability around that you present.

How can anyone person who thinks they know everything be so wrong, so often?

My honest advice to you is to clam up and stop demonstrating your lack of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said:

RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.

----

No, once again, you are wrong. It's not illegal to carry more than $10,000 out of the country. It's illegal to carry more than $10,000 out of the country if it's not reported.

TSORon displays a problem that the TSA seems to enjoy glossing over: their TSOs don't always know the laws. A good organization would acknowledge this, and make sure that their agents receive proper training so that they know the laws. The TSA, however, like many law enforcement agencies around the country, ignores these problems -- in fact, supporting their employees as they misinterpret the law to the detriment of the rest of us.

RB said...

With respect to keeping the outcome of this incident out of the public domain demonstrates exactly why the injured party should file charges and take his claim to the courts.

Then all the names, words and a complete rehash of the incident becomes public for all time.

The action TSA takes against the employee may not come out but we would for sure know the names of these people.

We would also find out just why TSA thinks a citizen possessing United States currency is so abhorrent.

To me that is the real issue. What responsibility does TSA have for control of currency?

What danger does United States currency present to the safe operation of aircraft.

so on and so on.....

I would also like to find out what TSA teaches its employees. Apparently they are taught that having more than $10,000 cash is some kind of violation of the law.

I would also like to see some discussion of TSA and the United States Constitution. Apparently TSA has some idea that they are not bound by that document.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Surprise Surprise, another bad apple TSO in STL.

Why you should never talk to the police, especially if you are innocent.

JR said...

"...Because the box contained a number of items including a large amount of cash..."

Bob, what were the OTHER items in that box? Was there anything in that box that would lead one to believe what the purpose of the money was for? Like campaign literature, paperwork for merchandise sales, that sort of thing?

Because if that what was in the box along with the money, the question didn't have to be asked, correct? Or at least not with the level of aggressiveness as illustrated on the audiotape.

txrus said...

On April 4, 2009 12:53 AM TSORon inserted his foot into his mouth when he claimed:

RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.
*******************************
A visit to your agency's own website appears to be in order, Ron:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1848.shtm

After you've done that, could you read the very first sentence of the very first paragraph out loud for the rest of the class...

And this has been discussed how many times previously on this blog & you still get it wrong??

Sheesh!!!

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Lets ask ourselfs this question

And be honest

Was this a covert test from traveler to get more dirt on TSA?
....................
Let say it was a test.

The results are that TSA proved it is an out of control agency that has lost focus on keeping bad things off airplanes.

And lets remember this incident happened on March 29, 2009 and apparently TSA was hoping it didn't become common knowledge since the first indication from TSA wasn't until Blogger Bobs bit on April 3, 2009.

Why such a long delay?

Did the FSD try to contain the event and not report to higher authority?

Didn't TSA HQ know about it before questions popped up here and in other places?

If HQ knew about this then why not a preemptive news release showing TSA was aware and activiley investigating the incident.

But noooo, TSA waits until they can no longer ignore a firestorm of bad press.

What is really troubling is that it seems to be an almost regular event for the TSA Spin Machine having to answer for problems such as this.

Why?

How much evidence does it take before someone at TSA figures out they have some serious problems that have to be dealt with?

This event points directly at DHS/TSA Executive Leadership and their inability to manage the agency.

The President should appoint a Special Investigator and have DHS/TSA investigated top to bottom.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said "it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time."

US Customs documents state just the opposite and specifically state that is IS legal to do so. Why do you say otherwise? http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/newsroom/publications/travel/currency_rpt_flyer/currency_reporting.ctt/currency_reporting.pdf

Phil said...

TSORon wrote:

"RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country."

Ron, not that it's relevant to the topic of this post, since the man in St. Louis only had $4700 on him, and he was neither entering nor leaving the country, but you are incorrect. There is no such law.

If you enter the United States with more than $10,000, you must declare so to U.S. Customs, but you don't have to say or show anything about it to TSA.

I don't know if there is a requirement to make any declaration when exiting the United States with certain quantities of cash. Can someone cite a reliable source for this information?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Adrian said...

The worst actors in this seem to be the police. Nevertheless, the TSA officer called them in without cause. (The tone and abrasive language was totally inappropriate, but that's less of a concern to me.)

From the information available in the articles and the audio recording, there wasn't anything there to cause the passenger to be considered a threat to the plane (first priority) and not even a hint of criminal activity. The quantity of cash, which was far below the threshold for declaration, is not by itself suspicious.

How do we know the moderate amount cash wasn't just the (flimsy) excuse? The other items in the metal box were allegedly political flyers and bumper stickers. Perhaps these were the cause to "suspect" or otherwise harass this man.

This is why many of us are so concerned with TSA having too much authority and too little transparency. The TSA could be used as a tool by those in power to silence or harass political enemies. And we would never know.

Perhaps it's OK to answer screener questions, though I would have found such questions personal and invasive and probably would have resisted answering.

Once the police were involved, however, the passenger was absolutely 100% without-a-doubt right not to answer questions. Any lawyer will tell you not to talk to the police without representation. Even if you're innocent. Anything you say can be used against you. Nothing you say can be used to help you.

Why did the TSA Officer remain in the room once the police were brought in? It's appropriate for the police to investigate suspected criminal activity (of which there was NONE). Once it's their problem, the TSA Officer should be back in the screening area looking for actual threats to air travel.

Recording the conversation was most likely illegal, and I'd have no problem if the officers wanted to have the passenger prosecuted on that.

But I'm really, really glad he did record it. If he hadn't, we'd never have known about this abuse of power, and nobody would have been reprimanded.

I hope reprimands actually occur for the TSA Officer and the police. I'd be disappointed if the only result of this is that the TSA changes the procedure to ensure there are no recording devices before beginning inappropriate questioning.

Sandra said...

TSO Ron wrote:

"RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct."

NO, Ron, IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO TAKE >$10,000 CASH OUT OF THE COUNTRY.

Blogger Bob, can you please inform this particular TSO of the rules on taking such sums out of the country or bringing it in?

He apparently does not care to read and learn from others here who are not members of the TSA.

Thank you, Bob.

Brian said...

I hate to get involved in these things, there are always misconceptions and misinformed assertions. I would like to address the running theme here that cash isn't a hazard to a plane. In a direct sense it's not. But cash does fund terrorist activities. I know it's been mentioned here before that it's not TSA's job to catch illegal drugs but as federal officers it is their duty to report it. It is a known fact by law enforcement and should be common sense that "unusual" amounts of money are an indicator of terrorist activity. It's not SSI. The news constantly reports on the governments efforts to seize terrorist organization's bank accounts and funds. One of the ways terrorists receive funds is through donations of "charitable" groups.

The TSA's mission encompasses more than the obvious screening operations, and part of that (as with drugs) is bringing suspicious conditions to the attention of Law Enforcement. Unfortunately precedent has been set that "large" amounts of cash fall into that suspicious category.

I haven't been with TSA long and I had some preconceived notions myself. The thing that upsets me the most is that this is not representative of the people I work with and I hope the TSO is severally punished.

Forget_the_drama_Give_me_the_traua said...

TSORON - you have been proven wrong multiple times on this issue, but I will give you benefit of the doubt. I have already done the research on this issue. I want to see if I missed something

So please sight the law (line and paragraph along with the level its on),precedents backing it up, and of those convicted of this "crime" going back at least 75 years.

Balls in your court prove everyone wrong.

Anonymous said...

TSORon,

It is NOT illegal to carry more than $10K in/out of the country. It is illegal to do so without declaring the cash on a specific form that is managed by the Treasury department, not the power-tripping TSA.

Your ignorance regarding that matter is one of the many reasons why TSA has no business enforcing the regulations regarding declaring currency.

As is not at all unusual, TSA's behavior in this situation was abhorrent. Yet more evidence of out-of-control power tripping by this disgusting un-American agency. Until and unless TSA punishes those responsible for this incident, publicizes the punishment so that the public sees evidence of TSA accountability, and roots out this sort of behavior from it's entire workforce, every single TSA employee who does not personally stand up and condemn this behavior is as responsible as the instigators.

You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The only appropriate reaction is to punish, apologize, and bow deeply to the American people that you have wronged.

Tomas said...

TSORon has again erred in a statement...
RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.

________________

TSORon, as many folks have said here, and given links and references showing, it is absolutely not unlawful to travel within the United States with ANY amount of money, nor is it unlawful to physically transport more than $10,000 in or out of the country.

The only actual legal requirement is that one report cash amounts being taken in or out of the country to the US Customs and Border Patrol on form FinCEN 105.

Here is a link to the USC&BP official FAQ where it states the requirement clearly and simply.

Note that it does NOT say that it is unlawful in any way to transport large sums of cash. That is only in your mind, Ron, only in your mind.

Only once have I had to use a form 105 in my travels, but thankfully I didn't have to run the TSA gauntlet - I simply interacted with customs.

Blogger Bob, could we get some help here? At least some of your folks appears to be under the mistaken belief that traveling with what many would think is a reasonable amount of cash is reason to detain and challenge them. THIS MUST BE CORRECTED.

Thanks,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

The way I see this is that the job of the TSA is to Harass and delay the passengers. I live in St. Louis, I refuse to fly in our out. The extra time to drive and avoid the TSA is worth it.

It is time to get rid of them and end the harassing. They have yet to prove themselves and I don't think they ever will.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...

RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.


Huh? Ron, other than being required to fill out some pretty insignificant paperwork, you can either bring into or take out of the US as much currency as you want. Others have quoted the law to you and on this issue you are wrong. Stop digging.

kellymae81 said...

I'm going to try to clarify as best I can on the issue of non-threatening items. TSA's PRIMARY job is to secure flights, yes. We focus 1st on what IS a threat to an airliner and take further action w/LEOs if needed. We do not call "bag checks" for an image that appears to possibly be a stack of cash or drugs. If while in a bag check for our primary focus items (i.e. liquids/weapons etc) and we find things such as drugs, it IS our "procedure" to inform supervisors and Law Enforcement.
No matter how big or small, illegal is illegal and we can't just overlook it, sorry. We can't just hand back your kilo b/c it's not a "threat". It's just like with Amber Alerts. TSA was not put into place to look for missing children but you better believe we aren't going to let that kid slip on by if we see them b/c it's "not our job".
The issue with the cash is, "if found", it is a scenario for further scrutiny in which the LEOs may get involved, especially if you are traveling out of country with said cash. (that IS illegal) There will be some questioning involved, but it's only to ensure it's not illegal, and if all is kosher, you'll be on your way.
You may not agree with these procedures, but they ARE in place. It IS our job. Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, is not TSAs main concern.

SDF TSO

Anonymous said...

Only Terrorists carry cash, even the TSA knows this. :-P

kellymae81 said...

Suzanne said: Wonder how much of the cash actually made it out of the "private screening" room. Also, why is that TSA guy wearing a Rolex??
1st of all, TSOs NEVER go into a private screening area alone with the passenger. A supervisor is always notified that a private screening is needed and a 2nd TSO is required to accompany the other screener and the passenger. If you don't want TSA treating passengers with the "guilty until proven innocent" (which we shouldn't and are NOT suppose to do, regardless of what most of you think), then don't go saying what you just said, b/c that is just as degrading. Don't be a hypocrite!! Also, are we such low life's that we can't wear rolex's?!!

Anon said:Will I have to answer questions about the book I bring to read during the flight?
Probably if it was titled "How to Make a Bomb"

RB said:Regardless, if other TSO's don't see the problem with what happened in St Louis then you guys have much bigger problems. Like you, who thinks its against the law to take $10,000 out of the country.

Sorry to burst your bubble RB, but it IS against the law to carry over $10,000 out of the country!! It's to prevent people from putting money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes on it. (there are other reasons too, I'm sure) It's not illegal, per se, it just has to be declared so the government can know about it, basically.

SDF TSO

Angela said...

Demands for more are intrusive on the screeners privacy, and will still enjoy the same level of privacy as any other citizen.

We need to show ID and answer questions, but you and yours do not even wear nametags. How equal is that?

Public servants should have public records. The penalties for abusing the state's power, and the public trust, should far exceed similar penalties in the private sector.

kellymae81 said...

Sandra said:except, sir or madam, for the fact that the TSA has declared >$10,000 to be CONTRABAND, whether carried domestically or internationally.

No we don't. If large amounts of cash are found, yes, it will be looked further into . Supervisors are notified and the situation will be handled by some questioning (in a private area). If you are traveling within the U.S., it is not contraband. TSA does not see cash and just automatically start calling you a criminal with "contraband".

SDF TSO

Angela said...

All this points to a systemic problem in the TSA.

Actually, the TSA is a symptom of a systemic problem in the USA.

"Land of the free" ring any bells? Probably not if you're under 60, I guess.

Angela said...

RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.


Actually, sadly, and frighteningly, you're not.

Anonymous said...

@ TSORon "RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time. [|P] You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct."

I am not sure why you are so belligerent on this topic, especially considering that you are, in fact, NOT correct.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/ffc105.pdf

And from cbp.gov, "There is no limit on the amount of money that can be taken out of or brought into the U.S. or its territories. Travelers who have $10,000 or more in currency or monetary instruments must fill out a "Report of International Transportation of Currency and Monetary Instruments."

Reporting requirements for the exportation and importation of monetary instruments are outlined in 31 USC 5316. Failure to declare monetary instruments in amounts of or over $10,000 can result in its seizure."

ConservativeGuy said...

@Tsoron 12:53am April 4th
I dont know what you think youre correct about
This was a domestic flight not an international flight
2nd this was way below $10,000.01 threshold
Judge Andrew Napolitano from Fox News already stated this act is unconstitutional & a violation
heres the video it has over 125,000 views
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMB6L487LHM
do you really know the law better than a Judge?

ConservativeGuy said...

@ Anonymous 12:46am
you said :
"Lets ask ourselfs this question

And be honest

Was this a covert test from traveler to get more dirt on TSA?

Should he be sued for taping the interrogation ? (as last I heard, it is an offense to tape interrogations) or was this just a simple question asking situation

Hmmmmm"

First its ourselves not ourselfs.
are you some kind of conspiracy theorist or something? i know some conspiracy theorists have reasonable questions but imo yours is absurd to suggest that someone is "conspiring" against Airport security
you said "to get more dirt on the TSA"
is there any other dirt you know of and think should stay secret?

The person was detained for no reason. He is an employee of a Republican Congressman from Texas. Congressman Ron Paul. He was returning to DC from a campaign event in St Louis Missouri. It was a "domestic" flight not an international flight. The law in Missouri like many here pointed out is clear that only one party has to be aware that theres recording happening.
The audio was aired by Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News. so good luck suing him too.

Anonymous said...

lastly I would like to thank Blogger Bob & the TSA for at least admitting something went wrong. though im still not satisfied with this blog and think they can make a better apology than this. I know theres an ongoing investigation.
conservative expat

Peter said...

"As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property, including why they are carrying a large sum of cash. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry."

This is false.

Under amendment 5, United States Constitution: "No person... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."

Because cash has no physical threat to an aircraft, and is not an illegal substance in any way, the only purpose of questioning a person about cash is in order to conduct a criminal investigation. No person can be "required" to answer questions relating to a criminal investigation of themselves, by a TSO, police officer, FBI agent, or any other person.

The TSA may not claim that I am required to answer any question relating to the carrying of cash, or any other question which would constitute giving evidence against myself. They may not detain me for refusal to give such an answer, because such refusal does not constitute probable cause or reasonable suspicion that I have committed a crime.

Anonymous said...

"RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time."

Donald Trump is in some DEEP water then!!!

No, really, it's perfectly fine to take more than $10,000 out of the country. You simply must delare it to customs.

TSORon, you're obviously not a lawyer, so stop incorrectly quoting us the law.

Anonymous said...

"Was this a covert test from traveler to get more dirt on TSA?"

You know, I suspect so. Still, I applaud him for exposing the dirtbag LEOs who think they're above the law.

Anonymous said...

@"Movements of large amounts of cash through the checkpoint may be investigated by law enforcement authorities if criminal activity is suspected. As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property, including why they are carrying a large sum of cash. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry."

So what are the next steps in this slippery slope?

Suspicion of money launderering is a much fuzzier area of law and makes it much easier for the appropriate authorities to confiscate (or in TSA-speak: encourage voluntary surrender).

Maybe this TSO's "I'm just trying to ask some questions, and figure out what all this is about so I can get you on your plane" is the modern, friendly version of "do you want to fly today?"

Also, it seems like the passenger (are useful names and links censored?) used an iPhone as a voice recorder with something like the "Shake it recorder" application--pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

Links to the story, to see if they are censored:

Fox story on Youtube

Full 25 minute audio recording

google the story

Anonymous said...

TSORon shows his expertise once again: "RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct."

------

Which part of St. Louis or DC is outside of the country?

And taking money across the border isn't illegal unless you try to smuggle it.

The fact is that you are not correct.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said "Lets ask ourselfs this question

And be honest

Was this a covert test from traveler to get more dirt on TSA?

Should he be sued for taping the interrogation ? (as last I heard, it is an offense to tape interrogations) or was this just a simple question asking situation

Hmmmmm"

-----

Any party to a conversation may tape the conversation in most states; Missouri included.

As for "a simple question-asking session" are TSOs federal agents or not? Martha went to the slammer for lying to a federal agent, so the Bob-unidentified passenger was just being prudent. If things you say during a TSO's "simple question-asking session" is going to be interpreted by the TSO and then transmitted to the cops, DEA, and FBI, it isn't simple.

Remember: "you are not qualified to know whether you are innocent of wrongdoing under federal criminal law."

Anonymous said...

TSORon sez:

"It would be inappropriate to put an individuals corrective action into the public domain. All the public should need to know is that action has been taken."

But TSORon, if this individual has nothing to hide, why should he be concerned about TSA putting anything about this incident, starting with his name, in the public record? Just like you might say, "If a passenger with $4700 has nothing to hide, why not answer questions about it?"

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why I am leaving TSA as soon as I can find another job. I joined this agency to help protect transportation, not do DEA's job for them, or harass people or destroy their civil rights. In many cases, I've thought the critics were dead wrong (nipple ring), in others, I thought the critics were dead on (identification policy). But these type incidents happen way too often for me to ever bother defending TSA again.

My solution: get rid of TSA, bring back private screening, and tell the airlines they will be 100% liable to civil and criminal suits should another major terrorist attack occur.

Anonymous said...

This is yet another horror story from airport security. At the end of the day, this guy had a LEGAL amount of cash on him, made by sales of books at a bona-fide event for a bona-fide organization. While I do get from these postings that the airport police were involved in the questioning this person, the TSA agent *did* initiate bringing the police into the situation. Id be interested to learn what suspicion of criminal activity the TSA agent had based on a LEGAL movement of cash, enough to warrant calling in local law enforcement, the ILLEGAL detention of a person and the rude and threatening questioning he was put through.

Its trumped up little hitler actions like this that bring shame on to all of you TSA's. What would have happened if this guy dindt have a recording device? Denials all round I would imagine.

Of all the TSA agents ive dealt with, ive found nothing but professionalism and courtesy (bar that one rude woman who was clearly having a bad day, though that's no excuse), yet its these kinds of stories that make me realize how much of an unaccountable farce the TSA is.

Instead of closing ranks and protecting the bad apples amongst your organization, perhaps you should shame them and throw them out publicly, it could go some way to restoring the public's confidence and ensuring co-operation and less skepticism for the good people in the TSA who want to do one thing - make sure people like me get safely from point A to point B.

Anonymous said...

@TSORON "RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time."

That seems a rather ignorant statement. You can travel with more then 10,000 as long as its properly documented. For example, having a copy of FINCEN form 104 which the bank made you fill out when you withdrew it. Next you will be telling us its illegal to fly with re underwear, just because you said so. Learn how to do your job properly, or get out of it.

Matt said...

>>>RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time. You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.<<<

No, the fact is that you are dead wrong.

It is perfectly legal to take more than $10k out of the county. Amounts greater than $10k must be declared to ICE (NOT TSA).

That is irrelevant here, as he was carrying less than that and wasn't leaving the country.

>>>Anon, It would be inappropriate to put an individuals corrective action into the public domain. All the public should need to know is that action has been taken. Demands for more are intrusive on the screeners privacy, and will still enjoy the same level of privacy as any other citizen.<<<

@TSORon: Not when he's collecting a salary from the taxpayer. WE ARE HIS EMPLOYER. If the public wants to know what has happened, they are (or should be) entitled to that information.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said: RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time. You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.

Isn't it great when government employees make up fake laws on the spot?

So typical.

Anonymous said...

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/04/05/man-detained-threate.html

Anonymous said...

That would be 31 CFR 103.23 says it is illegal to transport more than $10,000 across international boundaries, Alex.

*BZZZT*
You are incorrect, TSORon. You are wrong. You are not able to read that law correctly.

It has never been, and never will be, illegal to remove any amount of cash from the United States. ANY. And it never will be. What is illegal is removing more than $10K in cash into/out of the United States without declaring it to Customs/filing a CMIR (see US Customs Form 6059B, line 13.)
For the benefit of those here, I have quoted US 31 CFR 103.23 below.

§ 103.23 Reports of transportation of currency or monetary instruments.
(a) Each person who physically transports, mails, or ships, or causes to be physically transported, mailed, or shipped, or attempts to physically transport, mail or ship, or attempts to cause to be physically transported, mailed or shipped, currency or other monetary instruments in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time from the United States to any place outside the United States, or into the United States from any place outside the United States, shall make a report thereof. A person is deemed to have caused such transportation, mailing or
shipping when he aids, abets, counsels, commands, procures, or requests it to be done by a financial institution or any other person.
(b) Each person who receives in the
U.S. currency or other monetary instruments in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time which have been transported, mailed, or shipped to such person from any place outside the
United States with respect to which a report has not been filed under paragraph (a) of this section, whether or not required to be filed thereunder, shall make a report thereof, stating the amount, the date of receipt, the
form of monetary instruments, and the person from whom received.
(c) This section shall not require reports by:
(1) A Federal Reserve;
(2) A bank, a foreign bank, or a
broker or dealer in securities, in respect to currency or other monetary instruments mailed or shipped through the postal service or by common carrier;
(3) A commercial bank or trust company organized under the laws of any State or of the United States with respect to overland shipments of currency or monetary instruments shipped to or received from an established customer
maintaining a deposit relationship
with the bank, in amounts which
the bank may reasonably conclude do
not exceed amounts commensurate
with the customary conduct of the
business, industry or profession of the customer concerned;
(4) A person who is not a citizen or resident of the United States in respect to currency or other monetary instruments mailed or shipped from abroad to a bank or broker or dealer in securities
through the postal service or by
common carrier;
(5) A common carrier of passengers in respect to currency or other monetary instruments in the possession of its passengers;
(6) A common carrier of goods in respect to shipments of currency or monetary instruments not declared to be such by the shipper;
(7) A travelers’ check issuer or its agent in respect to the transportation of travelers’ checks prior to their delivery
to selling agents for eventual sale to the public;
(8) By a person with respect to a restrictively endorsed traveler’s check that is in the collection and reconciliation process after the traveler’s check has been negotiated,
(9) Nor by a person engaged as a business in the transportation of currency, monetary instruments and other commercial papers with respect to the transportation of currency or other monetary instruments overland between
established offices of banks or
brokers or dealers in securities and foreign persons.
(d) A transfer of funds through normal banking procedures which does not involve the physical transportation of currency or monetary instruments is not required to be reported by this section.
This section does not require that
more than one report be filed covering a particular transportation, mailing or
shipping of currency or other monetary instruments with respect to which a complete and truthful report has been filed by a person. However, no person required by paragraph (a) or (b) of this
section to file a report shall be excused from liability for failure to do so if, in fact, a complete and truthful report has not been filed.
(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1505–0063)
[37 FR 26517, Dec. 13, 1972, as amended at 50 FR 18479, May 1, 1985; 50 FR 42693, Oct. 22, 1985; 53 FR 4138, Feb. 12, 1988; 54 FR 28418, July 6, 1989]

Anonymous said...

Don't TSA policies encourage this behavior? I ask because my recollection suggests there are bonuses for TSA employees who initiate a drug or similar conviction. Is my recollection accurate? Would the TSO have been entitled to a financial reward if that passenger was found to be engaged in certain specified illegal behaviors? If so, the TSA has more than the agent involved to scrutinize. Safety ought be the sole mission in this regard. It cannot be overemphasized: You have the public's support when TSA focuses on safety, but a general government checkpoint does not carry with it our public support.

Anonymous #542 said...

TSO Ron said...
RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct.


NO TSO RON. STOP putting bad info out to the public. It is not illegal to carry that amount of cash out of the country. You just have to declare it. Not declaring that amount of money is what makes it illegal. Tired of your false statements.

Anonymous said...

"A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry.

I heard no refusals from the passenger, just requests for clarifications, which were then responded to with unreasonable questions from the TSA.

Had I been in his shoes I'd think the TSA officials were fishing for a bribe.

And, if TSA 'officials' aren't 'appropriate authorities', then why can they detain someone?

Get yer act together, you're not effective at frightening us OR making us feel safer.

Anonymous said...

Yup, and you wonder why we feel as we do toward the public.

No, I wonder why (if you really feel that way about the public) you bother to pretend to still care?

oh, the pension.

Must be nice.

Anonymous said...

"Bob, would you tell me just what amount of cash is needed to jeopardize the safe operation of commercial aircraft?"

I love it! Maybe 2 tons of $100 bills? This incident was just nonsense. Additionally, the TSA, a TSO officer or the POLICE have no jurisdiction to trample the 5th amendment! What a bunch of traitors some have become!

The Bill of rights is your friend people, not these thugs. Defend it!

Sickening. Really.

Anonymous said...

TSORon: RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

It is against the law to do so without declaring it. And correct me if I'm wrong, but this was a domestic flight, and that doesn't apply to start with. And the objection that other crimes don't affect transportation security, of which you purport to be an agency, is still utterly valid.

There's just no defense here. It's scope creep, we all know it's scope creep, and pretending it's not is not going to help. TSA should not be screening for crime in general. It's unconstitutional and it means those resources are unavailable for ensuring transportation safety.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Lets ask ourselves this question

And be honest

Was this a covert test from traveler to get more dirt on TSA?

Should he be sued for taping the interrogation ? (as last I heard, it is an offense to tape interrogations) or was this just a simple question asking situation

Hmmmmm


Under Missouri law (542.402) only ONE party needs to consent to the recording. In this case the person making the recording is also a party to the conversation and his consent is the only one needed.

Under Federal law (TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 119 § 2511) only ONE party needs to consent to the recording.

Anonymous said...

TSORon:

It is legal to carry any amount of cash into or out of the U.S. as long as you fill out the appropriate form and file it when you enter/leave the country.

This is because the U.S. isn't worries about a shortage of actual physical cash; the government is worried about money laundering. Documented transactions, which include documented transport of cash, aren't money laundering.

Anonymous said...

The TSA employee should be fired and the police officers also fired or disciplined. Their behavior was outrageous, unwarranted, and illegal. The TSA has NO authority to do what they did, and their obvious threats were blatantly illegal. The passenger had the temerity to ask if he had to answer their questions and the TSA goon immediately went into Gestapo mode. "Keeping the skies safe" my ass.

Clark said...

TSORon, check the law again.

"You may bring into or take out of the country, including by mail, as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, you will need to report it to CBP. Ask the CBP officer for the Currency Reporting Form (FinCen 105). The penalties for non-compliance can be severe. " - CBP.goc

The fact is that you are incorrect and if this is one of the laws you've forgotten, then how many others?

Anonymous said...

"RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time.

You can disagree with my other statement as much as you like, the fact is that I am correct."

Cite the law. Prove it.

Gunner said...

I was going to meet a friend at the airport, but I had $3 in my wallet and didn't want to get arrested.

(/sarcasm off)

Anonymous said...

Bob,

One of these days, a federal court is going to take the TSA apart like a Cadillac in a chop shop. On that day, you'll have no one to blame but yourselves.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to know someone stood up to the jackbooted thugs you've got working for you, Bob.

Anonymous said...

TSA Thugs Standing Around... that is exactly it.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said "RB, it is against the law to take $10,000 or more in cash out of the country. Has been for a long time."

Bzzt. Go read the law again. It is illegal to take more than $10,000 in cash out of the country WITHOUT DECLARING IT.

In any case, that law has nothing to do with the situation. The traveller was not leaving the country and he had less than $10,000 in cash.

A said...

Legal action is needed.

It's an absolute stroke of luck that they picked the one person who was able to record audio on the spot.

This is very scary. While this extremely rare glimpse into what happened with an "all-American looking average joe" is unsettling, one can only *IMAGINE* what goes on with rights violations against other people who aren't able to capture the audio.

When I fly, I'm going to make it a point to carry over $4700 in cash and a couple of recorders.

I heard the full 23 minute audio of it. Just answer the question. Just answer the question. Just answer the question! When security can't even understand nor respect their fellow human beings' civil liberties, it speaks volumes about our society.

Officials in power are intimidating. They are the very people whose job is to serve the public and respect privacy; otherwise, they are merely servants of an (illegal) police state.

Anonymous said...

There are numerous documented incidents of airline travellers who have been detained and had their cash seized at airports. Even with good documentation (e.g. bank receipts, etc) these folks have had their money seized and been given a receipt. Quite often, it is the airline agent at the ticket counter that tipped off the police.

Good luck trying to get your money back.

As a poker player who travels to Vegas frequently to play in high stakes games, I fly out of LAX with cash amounts ranging from 20 to 200 thousand dollars. I once had 15K in cash taken from me at the checkpoint. My lawyer said it would cost more to fight it, that I should just let it go.

Now if I have to transport more than what will easily fit in the vest pockets of a suit (about 20K in hundreds), I employ an off duty police officer to carry my duffel through the checkpoint. One time I was heading to the Bellagio for the weekend, the bag was heavy with almost half a million in cash. My courier got pulled out of line after the x-ray for further inspection. TSA unzips the bag, the courier flashes his LAPD credentials and the bag gets zipped back up and we proceed on our way.

A round trip ticket and $1000 is cheap insurance.

Recently I flew with my mother on vacation to Hawaii. My mom takes 20 different pills and vitamins daily. She organizes them into a plastic pill holder with compartments labelled for each day of the week. At the security checkpoint the TSA officer threatened my mother with arrest because the pills were not in their original pharmacy bottles with the prescription labels attached. My mother was forced to throw the medicine away (they would not let her to pass through the checkpoint with the 'contraband').

From a policy standpoint, I feel that TSA should not be enforcing any laws or regulations other then those directly associated with aircraft safety. A TSA employee with no police or legal training is not the right person to determine if it is legal to travel with large amounts of cash (it is, by the way), with prescription medications, with pornographic magazines or with t-shirts that have arabic writing on them.

Anonymous said...

"...if criminal activity is suspected."

Seems to me those fellows decided that criminal activity was suspected because the money was there. I think a TSO would need more than a large amount of cash to decide that there was a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. It might be fine to wonder how bright the traveler was, but detention isn't warranted.

"As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property, including why they are carrying a large sum of cash. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry."

General rules would fall under whether or not the TSOs were behaving reasonably and not behaving inappropriately. I think the fact that the passenger was finally allowed to go on his way proves that the TSO was out of line. As pointed out by others, the passenger was not refusing, he simply wanted to know if it was right for this questioning to happen.

So...when will it become illegal for passengers to have recording devices when the TSOs decide to flex their muscles?

Why do you think reports of TSOs who feel that they can be so secretive, arrogant and intrusive without cause are so pervasive? Just bad luck on the part of TSA, or is there something not quite right about the TSO selection/training process? TSO hiring officials and trainers need to be looking at what they're cranking out and considering if those people are really going to be helping to keep their loved ones safe, or if those employees they're setting loose are just going to endanger us all by wasting time on stupid ego battles.

For my part, I have never had trouble with the TSA, despite the fact that Ive been selected for the special treatment (not the little room with rude people, the special wand and rummaging treatment). Of course, I've only flown a couple of round-trip flights since this whole mess started, because I wanted to avoid the nightmares.

Sandra said...

Kellymae wrote:

"The issue with the cash is, "if found", it is a scenario for further scrutiny in which the LEOs may get involved, especially if you are traveling out of country with said cash. (that IS illegal)"

Kellymae, carrying cash in any amount is ,NOT ILLEGAL!!!!

When will you screeners EVER learn that?????

Sandra said...

Kellymae also wrote:

"If you are traveling within the U.S., it is not contraband. TSA does not see cash and just automatically start calling you a criminal with "contraband"."

Kellymae the TSA has declared cash as "contraband." Read "Operation Directive: Discovery of Contraband During the Screening Process OD-400-54-2 May 9, 2005."

Please STOP making statements about which you know nothing.

The Depressing Truth said...

A Question for you Bob...maybe a little off subject...
Where does the TSA fit on the hierarchy of Law Enforcement?

Most Americans think of them as “Security Guard” level…The most dangerous thing about them being their lack of common sense.

The only TSA Person I’ve ever seen, that I assume was carrying a weapon…was in a Department of Homeland Security”Squad Car” Yes, such things exist, I live near D/FW airport and at first, they were just seen on airport property, now their “Security Sweeps” are farther and farther out,more than 7 miles away from the airport.

Why would Homeland Security need to patrol our Freeways? What authority do they have to stop and question...Or are they just "Strutting Around" for show?

Where does TSA/Homeland Security authority begin and where does it end.

Anonymous said...

TSORon and kellymae81, we are waiting for you both to acknowledge that you were wrong when you insisted that carrying large amounts of cash is illegal and that the TSA does not consider such to be contraband.

Jeff said...

kellymae81 prattled thusly: "Sorry to burst your bubble RB, but it IS against the law to carry over $10,000 out of the country!!"

Kelly, were you not paying attention to the hammering TSORon took for making the same incorrect assertion?

ATTENTION TSOs: It IS NOT illegal to carry large amounts of cash. Please go back to worrying about how one 6-oz. bottle of shampoo can blow up an airplane but two 3-oz. bottles can't.

Thank you for your attention.

RB said...

Brian said...
I hate to get involved in these things, there are always misconceptions and misinformed assertions. I would like to address the running theme here that cash isn't a hazard to a plane. In a direct sense it's not. But cash does fund terrorist activities. I know it's been mentioned here before that it's not TSA's job to catch illegal drugs but as federal officers it is their duty to report it. It is a known fact by law enforcement and should be common sense that "unusual" amounts of money are an indicator of terrorist activity. It's not SSI. The news constantly reports on the governments efforts to seize terrorist organization's bank accounts and funds. One of the ways terrorists receive funds is through donations of "charitable" groups.

The TSA's mission encompasses more than the obvious screening operations, and part of that (as with drugs) is bringing suspicious conditions to the attention of Law Enforcement. Unfortunately precedent has been set that "large" amounts of cash fall into that suspicious category.

I haven't been with TSA long and I had some preconceived notions myself. The thing that upsets me the most is that this is not representative of the people I work with and I hope the TSO is severally punished.

April 4, 2009 12:37 PM

Brian, TSA should have no concern about cash. Period! It's not an illegal item nor is it dangerous to any airplane.

TSA's and your job is to keep explosive, weapons and incendaries off of aircraft. Thats it. No more.

Cash can fund lots of things, but the vast majority of those things are perfectly legal.

You say that as a Federal Officer you must report illegal things that come to your attention. If so then why do Federal, State and local Law Enforcement Officers take no action on illegal immigration violators? Do you questions every person who comes through your checkpoint about their citizenship status? I doubt it as it would not be your job!

Concentrate on your core mission.
We will all be better off.

RB said...

kellymae81 said...

The issue with the cash is, "if found", it is a scenario for further scrutiny in which the LEOs may get involved, especially if you are traveling out of country with said cash. (that IS illegal) There will be some questioning involved, but it's only to ensure it's not illegal, and if all is kosher, you'll be on your way.
You may not agree with these procedures, but they ARE in place. It IS our job. Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, is not TSAs main concern.

SDF TSO

April 4, 2009 4:55 PM
...............................
And here we go again with another TSO who is misstating fact.

No KellyMae it is not illegal to transport cash.

First questions, why is a legal item reason for any further scrutiny?

And again it is not illegal to transport money out of the country.
If over $10,000 one only has to declare that action.

Bob, and others at TSA, we have a recurrent theme here that TSO's have about money.

Why do you Blog Ops permit this misinformation to continue without correction?

Kelly Mae, TSORon and on other threads this same incorrect information has been stated.

Please take corrective action.

Anonymous said...

I think the TSO overstepped his bounds and needs to be prosecuted. Sorry TSA is not above the law and employees like this need to be made an example of.

-James

Anonymous said...

From kellymae:

Sorry to burst your bubble RB, but it IS against the law to carry over $10,000 out of the country!! It's to prevent people from putting money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes on it. (there are other reasons too, I'm sure) It's not illegal, per se, it just has to be declared so the government can know about it, basically.

SDF TSO

April 4, 2009 5:33 PM


So which one is it kellymae? You first state that it is illegal then you state that it is legal. Do you have a clue as to which one is correct? Suggestion, it isn't the first. Get some more training please.

Anonymous said...

Bob, an apology is appropriate here. Not just an admission of impropriety.

What is so difficult about training your minions to use a neutral tone and polite language? A TSA-wide commitment to upholding our civil rights and dealing with the public on an egalitarian basis would help everyone.

Every time I see a TSO, LEO or some other authority figure go on a power trip, ego inflating visibly, as they get more and more agitated, I think about my friends who have worked as telephone sales/support reps for phone companies. These people take verbal abuse all day long, but they stay polite, cool and calm. Why can't your front-line officers deal productively with resistance? It is easy to forget that the government is "by the people, for the people, and of the people" but that is an important concept to remember. We give you your powers. We only have to cooperate with you as long as you serve our interests. It's in no one's interest to prevent small amounts of cash from flying in a plane, and those of us with working brains wonder: What in the hell are these people thinking, to do this?

Why do situations that could be easily and quickly resolved (if only the people involved would calm the hell down) keep turning into major incidents? The law is pretty clear cut on flying with cash, under ten grand and you're fine. Why doesn't that seem to matter?

Bob, I am as harsh a critic of the TSA as you are likely to find (I have been ever since I got verbally abused as I stood there in socks by a TSO at Logan for forgetting a soda in my carryon) but even I would stand up and cheer you if you attempted to tell us what the TSA is doing to combat fear, the recent proliferation of baseless accusations against travelers, and violations of civil rights. These seem to be the agencies biggest problems right now. You keep on going insane and doing insane things then mumbling apologies afterward.

RB said...

The requirement to cooperate with the screening process seems simple.

If I approach and present myself and my belongings for screening then I think I have fully cooperated with the process.

Nothing else should be required.

No questions need to be asked to determine if my property presents or does not present a threat to the aircraft.

That's it, nothing else required.

Chris Boyce said...

Kellimae81 said on April 4th at 4:55pm:

We do not call "bag checks" for an image that appears to possibly be a stack of cash or drugs.

You cannot convince me for one second that this is true and accurate. The only standard you're held to is "I think I saw something." You will never have to defend your action and judgment in court.

That's what is terribly wrong, among other things.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Kelliemae81 said "1st of all, TSOs NEVER go into a private screening area alone with the passenger. A supervisor is always notified that a private screening is needed and a 2nd TSO is required to accompany the other screener and the passenger."

Long after Bob said:

"Also, please note that there was a TSO involved. Singular, not plural. The other voices you hear on the tape are police officers. Many are getting the impression that all of the voices are TSOs. Not so... TSOs do not cuff people or take them to the station."

####

From the 25 minute audio, it sounds like the TSO was somewhat supervised: he had to clear Steve's release with his supervisor.

So, is the procedure what the TSO said or what the PR guy said? And even if the procedure is that TSOs ALWAYS chaperone each other, with the infamous SSI random management procedure, how do we trust that TSA does what it advertises?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: "Recently I flew with my mother on vacation to Hawaii. My mom takes 20 different pills and vitamins daily. She organizes them into a plastic pill holder with compartments labelled for each day of the week. At the security checkpoint the TSA officer threatened my mother with arrest because the pills were not in their original pharmacy bottles with the prescription labels attached. My mother was forced to throw the medicine away (they would not let her to pass through the checkpoint with the 'contraband')."


This is another example of an unqualitfied TSO determining medical necessity.

If there really is an SSI rule against unlabeled medications, it would conflict with the limitation on amounts necessary for your itinerary--Prescriptions are often filled in month-long quantities or more.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
I will also point out that individual corrective action should not be posted as that is a personnel issue and should not be disseminated.


The TSA is a public government agency, when a police officer or anyone else in law enforcement uses excessive force or abuses their authority they are subject to investigation and disciplinary action is taken if necessary. When this happens the findings are made public, why does the TSA believe that they are not subject the same level of openness?

Sandra said...
Kellymae also wrote:
"If you are traveling within the U.S., it is not contraband. TSA does not see cash and just automatically start calling you a criminal with "contraband"."

Kellymae the TSA has declared cash as "contraband." Read "Operation Directive: Discovery of Contraband During the Screening Process OD-400-54-2 May 9, 2005."


This is one of the biggest problems with the TSA, secret rules that apply to passengers that we cannot read and verify for ourselves As we have seen from the comments of TSO Ron and other TSO’s there seems to be different definitions of whether or not cash is contraband when flying inside the United States. The main mission of the TSA is to keep bad things off the airplane, if they find something illegal like drugs they are obligated to contact law enforcement. The problem is the TSA has its own definitions of illegal that never seem to make sense;
1. Prescriptions must have the pharmacist label on them, or not.
2. Gel packs can be brought on board an aircraft to medicine cold, or not.
3. Jewelry worn as body piercing must be removed, or not.
4. Battery packs that are cleared by the bomb squad can be brought onto an airplane, or not.
5. Sterile medical supplies must be removed from their packaging to be inspected, or not
As long as the TSA is only accountable to itself the American public has no way to verify that the TSA is taking action to deal with these types of incidents. We have no reason to believe that this will not happen again, lets face it the only reason this was brought to light was due to a recording. In any other instance it is the passengers word against a trusted TSO who has been given a background check. And they would have no reason to bring a gun into a sterile area or steal electronics equipment which included a $50,000 dollar video camera.

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

RB said...

kellymae81 said...
Suzanne said: Wonder how much of the cash actually made it out of the "private screening" room. Also, why is that TSA guy wearing a Rolex??
1st of all, TSOs NEVER go into a private screening area alone with the passenger. A supervisor is always notified that a private screening is needed and a 2nd TSO is required to accompany the other screener and the passenger. If you don't want TSA treating passengers with the "guilty until proven innocent" (which we shouldn't and are NOT suppose to do, regardless of what most of you think), then don't go saying what you just said, b/c that is just as degrading. Don't be a hypocrite!! Also, are we such low life's that we can't wear rolex's?!!
........................
So by KellyMae's statements we know that regardless of the voices heard on the audio recording that there had to be more than one TSO involved in this incident.

Thanks for letting us know that it was not just one TSO who harrassed this traveler.

Bob, comments?

Marshall's SO said...

TSORon wrote in the thread on photography at checkpoints:

"I do know the law, and no I dont make it up on the spot.'

No, TSORon, you do not know the law as has been evidenced so very often.

Andy said...

How stupid this is. When did airport checkpoints become a dragnet? Check us for guns, explosives, and other REAL threats. Money is not a threat. It is just paper. If you suspect the paper is a bomb or something, wand it. But, don't ask questions about why the passenger is carrying that cash. Stop acting like the IRS. It's not your business.

George said...

@Brian: The thing that upsets me the most is that this is not representative of the people I work with and I hope the TSO is severally punished.

That's an important point: This TSO seems to be an egregious example of the small minority of TSOs who are arrogant and unprofessional. Just as a teaspoon of sewage in a barrel of clean water renders the entire barrel unfit to drink, the continuing presence of these TSOs sullies the reputation of the entire TSA. And I believe it seriously undermines the agency's effectiveness. Once someone has had an encounter with one of these bad apples (even if the conduct is nowhere near as outrageous as the incident under discussion here), they will have a strongly negative impression of the TSA that will be very difficult to repair. Even those who haven't personally experienced improper TSO conduct will have a negative impression of the agency if they repeatedly read about "incidents."

The TSA leadership is surely aware of this problem. But they seem to have chosen to counter each instance with PR spin instead of doing anything to fix the problem. That could be because they promote a "Wartime" culture that equates effective security with secrecy and unaccountability, and perhaps even aggressive bullying. So they believe these "incidents" are some kind of "enemy action" that can be fought case by case with spin. That way they can neutralize the "enemy" without compromising their secrecy and unaccountability. Whatever actually motivates their approach, it seems only to make the problem worse.

This TSO indeed needs to be punished for what clearly appears to be an unprofessional conduct. And that punishment needs to be made public if the TSA is serious about their claim that "TSA holds its employees to the highest professional standards." If the TSA really wants the respect of the public they supposedly serve, we need to see action clearly demonstrating that they hold TSOs to "professional standards" and do not tolerate unprofessional bullying. But if they hide behind "privacy concerns" and issue meaningless statements that "mistakes were made, action was taken, [but it really was the passenger's fault]" the only possible conclusion is that the TSA does tolerate the behavior that leads to "incidents." And that will be confirmed every time a TSO justifies an action with "do you want to fly today?"

If the problem turns out to be a systemic one (as I suspect it is) that tacitly encourages TSOs to either act like police or call in police when they decide a passenger is carrying an "unusual" amount of cash, the systemic correction needs to be made public for the same reason. If it's an actual SSI policy, that needs to be corrected as well. The TSA could then make a public announcement that shows positive accountable action without compromising their precious SSI: "The TSA has clarified its procedures for screening passengers carrying cash, and has trained all TSOs in those procedures. This will avoid repetition of the STL incident, and allow passengers who are legitimately carrying cash to safely reach their destinations."

There is much the TSA can do to improve their procedures, and to show the public that they truly do hold TSOs accountable for "the highest professional standards." I believe that earning the trust of the traveling public will only improve the effectiveness of the TSA. The only question is whether the TSA's leaders agree with that assertion.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Bob @ "Movements of large amounts of cash through the checkpoint may be investigated by law enforcement authorities if criminal activity is suspected."

########

TSA pays itself to be hyperactively suspicious. Whether or not the confiscated items were actually carried by terrorists, inflating the confiscated items statistics is good for the TSA--it is a PR story that writes itself and a good budget justification.

However, it is still just crying wolf. If the red-team percentages are anywhere near reported values, every day there is more contraband undetected than detected, to no ill effect. So TSA's confiscation of 2,800 knives daily isn't saving any lives. Just like interrogating people over $4700 isn't adding any meaningful security.

When Bob defends the suspiciousness and investigation of what he calls a "large amount of cash" $4700 would, in new $100 bills, be less than a 1/4" tall and weigh less than 2 ounces.

In TSA's backwards-aimed world, they'll probably count this false alarm of a dangerous item as as true alarm of a "suspicious" item and add it to their self-justification statistics--Remember: Bob did call it "large" and "suspicious". In some TSAer's minds, except for the dirty words, this is a win. Just like all the suspicous battery packs, rubber band balls, medicines, gel-packs, and the rest of the stuff dumped into the freedom-to-surrender cans.

Phil said...

SDF TSO Kellimae81 wrote:

"If while in a bag check for our primary focus items (i.e. liquids/weapons etc) and we find things such as drugs, it IS our "procedure" to inform supervisors and Law Enforcement.

"No matter how big or small, illegal is illegal and we can't just overlook it, sorry. We can't just hand back your kilo b/c it's not a "threat"."


Kelli Mae, unless you have expertise in identifying "drugs" by sight, there's no way that you, as a TSA bag inspector, could find something in a passenger's bag and know that it is "drugs". In order to know what the substance was, you would have to stop doing your job of looking for dangerous things so you could investigate. You don't seem to understand the difference between suspecting that you have seen evidence of wrongdoing and knowing that you have seen such.

"The issue with the cash is, "if found", it is a scenario for further scrutiny in which the LEOs may get involved, especially if you are traveling out of country with said cash. (that IS illegal) There will be some questioning involved, but it's only to ensure it's not illegal, and if all is kosher, you'll be on your way."

As many others have said, you're wrong about the legality of carrying cash out of the country. There is no limit on the amount of cash that people may carry when exiting the country.

About this "scenario for further scrutiny": What about pets that are "found"? Do you feel the need for further scrutiny to determine if they are properly licensed and have any immunizations that are required? If you find a digital music player, do you feel the need for further scrutiny to determine if the person carrying it had permission from the copyright holders of any data on it? If you find someone with brown skin, do you feel the need for further scrutiny to determine if he is American or has permission to be in the country?

In each of the above scenarios, do you feel that it is congruent with the United States Constitution to stop someone who is carrying something that might indicate wrongdoing, question that person, then "if all is kosher" let that person go on his way?

Kelli Mae, why are you so opposed to the American system of law and our Bill of Rights?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Matt said...

>>>At the security checkpoint the TSA officer threatened my mother with arrest because the pills were not in their original pharmacy bottles with the prescription labels attached. My mother was forced to throw the medicine away<<<

There is no legal requirement that non-scheduled prescription medications be stored in their original pharmacy bottles.

And if a TSO can't tell the difference between scheduled and non-scheduled medication by looking at it, they have no business worrying about it.

This is another example of TSO playing police officer and dabbling in areas (s)he knows nothing about.

Anonymous said...

At the security checkpoint the TSA officer threatened my mother with arrest because the pills were not in their original pharmacy bottles with the prescription labels attached. My mother was forced to throw the medicine away (they would not let her to pass through the checkpoint with the 'contraband').

Is this a case of an overzealous, possibly "unprofessional" TSO making up or incorrectly "interpreting" TSA rules? Or is there actually a TSA rule requiring prescriptions to be in original pharmacy bottles with the prescription labels attached?

If the former, was the TSO ever disciplined and/or retrained? Or did that TSO continue to make an unknown number of passengers "voluntarily abandon" perfectly permissible items, needlessly causing frustration, expense, and possibly harm to their health?

If the latter, could someone from the TSA kindly provide a specific citation of the actual rule requiring prescriptions to be in original pharmacy bottles with the prescription labels attached? If the rule is SSI, could someone explain why it needs to be kept secret?

Either way, this incident is another example of why so many people hate the TSA.

RB said...

Bob, still waiting for your response to my question of just how much money TSA allows a citizen to possess.

It seems it must be something less than $4,700.00 but as with most TSA rules those of us who need to know the most are kept in the dark.

And while we are on the topic of money, just how did your TSO's get the idea that transporting any amount of cash is illegal or should be a concern and require extra scrutiny at a TSA Checkpoint?

Is that what TSO's are being taught in the extensive training they receive?

I think its about time that TSA rescinds the Op Directive that is causing this mess, eh?

CASH MONEY IS OF NO THREAT TO THE SAFE OPERATION OF ANY AIRPLANE.

Ayn R. Key said...

1) The people questioning Bierfeldt did not have sufficient knowledge of the law to answer his question of whether he was required to provide details about the cash he was carrying. They shirked their responsibility.

2) The people questioning Bierfeldt did not see themselves as having a job to do while being constrained by the rights of individuals. They became angry that he did not completely yield to their authority. They presumed absolute power.

3) "If you have nothing to hide..." says one of the agents without any hint of irony in his voice. The Patriot Act was passed by making similar arguments. Only the bad guys would be bothered, right?

RB said...

It seems the TSA Evolution of Security Blog Staff is busy limiting free speech again.

The money thing and TSA's unreasonable concern about the subject has its roots in the directive below.

...............................
May 9, 2006

Operations Directive

OD-400-54-2: Discovery of Contraband During the Screening Process

Expiration: Indefinite

Summary

This directive provides guidance to ensure nationwide consistency in the appropriate referral or initiation of civil enforcement actions for incidents involving discovery of contraband during TSA screening procedures.

Procedures

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:
Illegal drugs
Drug paraphernalia
Large amounts of cash ($10,000)
Point of Contact

Kimberly Siro, Office of Compliance, (571) 227-[REDACTED] (work), [REDACTED] (cell), or email to avopsinsp@dhs.gov.

/s/
Jonathan J. Fleming
Chief Operating Officer
............................

It's time to make the Expiration Date of this directive Yesterday not Indefinite.

This directive makes $10,000 just as illegal in the eyes of TSA as Crack Cocaine. TSA has deemed cash in excess of $10,000 to be contraband. Now to be clear, contraband by its very nature can never be possessed in any quantity.

The directive takes a perfectly legal activity that creates no possible threat to air commerce and makes it an illegal activity without benefit of the rule of law or the accepted method of making law in the United States.

I maintain that directive OD-400-54-2 is unconstitutional.

Then we have statements by a more senior TSA employee stating that we "generally" have to cooperate with the TSA screening process and answer questions about our private property, health issues, medicines, and financial status.

Of course when asked for a little detail on this we get total silence.

What this really means is that TSA expects a citizen doing nothing more than trying to go from point A to point B on an airplane should respect their authority and be a good little Sheeple when a TSO starts asking questions that they have no right to ask! I say NO!!

We also have ample evidence just from responses by supposedly highly trained TSO's who visit this Blog that demonstrate a lack of understanding of the law, a persons medical needs/privacy and in general demonstrate the exceptionally poor training that TSO's are really getting.

Don't forget, the St Louis incident happened on 3/29, yet nary a sound out of TSA until the story got out. You know TSA was going to be proactive, take corrective action and make a statement, right!

I don't feel that I should have to kowtow to any government employee including TSA workers. If a TSO demands something that is unreasonable then question that request.

Don't respond to questions that have no bearing on the safety of your flight.

If you have a medical need then demand accommodation and push your concerns up the chain of command if you are refused. If a TSO starts to practice medicine at the checkpoint then summon a police officer and file a legal complaint.

We do not have to accept abuse from these people.

It is time for a major TSA course correction.

Start helping.

Complain to the Airlines.

Complain to the Airport Authority.

Complain to your elected representatives.

TSA does not control peoples movement in this country try as they might.

Tomas said...

KellyMae, in re "contraband" please see this official response by Blogger Bob in this forum:

Blogger Bob Said...

Thanks!
Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

RB said...
It seems the TSA Evolution of Security Blog Staff is busy limiting free speech again.
--

To be honest, this is a blog, hosted on a commerial website. As much as your comments are important and bring up a essential issue to be corrected, throwing in snide comments like that is only hurting your credibility. If you honestly think the blog team sits around and hampers your free speech on this, a private website, you go ahead and think that.

Steven Frischling said...

Bob,

I do appreciate the TSA commenting on this situation on the TSA Blog.

While I fully understand that the TSA can question someone as to why they are flying with larger sums of cash, the language and aggressive tone taken with the passenger is what really creates the problem.

US$4,700 is not a lot of money to be flying with when going to/coming home from Las Vegas, Branson MO, Atlantic City or traveling internationally to certain locations around the world where cash is king.

The fact that US CBP and the IRS do not require cash to be declared while traveling internationally, unless over US$10,000 should also signal that US$4,700 is not an alarming amount of money.

In the audio clip there are multiple references to the DEA. TSA TSO's tying up the DEA ad detaining someone who had no cause for suspicion and no probably link to drug activity would cause a bigger hassle and potential action against the TSA should the passenger choose to pursue it.

The TSA's interface between its-self and the flying public comes under scrutiny often enough. There needs to be a system in place that prevents the number of these types of complaints (harassing complaints in general) from coming down. Many go officially unreported as you know, but anyway you look at it the oversight needs to be in place to prevent these incidents.

Happy Flying!

-Steven Frischling
Founder
The Travel Strategist & Flying With Fish
Web: http://www.thetravelstrategist.com
Blog: http://www.flyingwithfish.com
Twit: http://www.twitter.com/flyingwithfish

Matt said...

>>>If you honestly think the blog team sits around and hampers your free speech on this, a private website, you go ahead and think that.<<<

If government employees were to unreasonably censor contributions while "on the clock", I'd see that as a problem - at that point they are acting as government employees, which changes everything.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
RB said...
It seems the TSA Evolution of Security Blog Staff is busy limiting free speech again.
--

To be honest, this is a blog, hosted on a commerial website. As much as your comments are important and bring up a essential issue to be corrected, throwing in snide comments like that is only hurting your credibility. If you honestly think the blog team sits around and hampers your free speech on this, a private website, you go ahead and think that.

April 6, 2009 2:18 PM
.........................
First off you have no idea of the post that was not permitted by the blog team. So your speaking without knowing.

This blog may be hosted on a commercial site but the fact remains that the funding is direct from the taxpayers and this is an activity of the United States Government.

Government is prohibited from limiting free speech except in narrowly defined circumstances.

That old Constitution sure seems to get in TSA's way, doesn't it.

Not that they care much.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

So Bob, I've got another couple simple questions:

Would it be artful concealment of contraband(Bob@12/31/2008 12:31) to put a suspiciously large $4710 in a money belt?

And:

Am I legally required to answer TSAs questions?


As a passenger without access to TSA's unpublished rules, I'd think the answers should be no, but reading your posts, especially this one, makes me think otherwise.

kellymae81 said...

Sandra said:Kellymae, carrying cash in any amount is ,NOT ILLEGAL!!!! When will you screeners EVER learn that?????

1st of all Sandra, please chill!!! You don't need to blow blood vessels over this. If you read my previous posts, I stated it's not illegal if declared. I apologize for not saying that fact again in this particular post. I DO understand this law. I agree that TSO Ron may not and should be informed.
As an after thought. Please refrain from over using capitals along with !!!!! b/c that equals yelling and we can all be adults here and talk calmly. Thankyou

SDF TSO

openfly said...

This further confirms my belief that the TSA is to date the single greatest threat to the American way of life. I yearn for the day that level headed minds prevail and the full might of the US military is deployed to combat these terrorists.

Dunstan said...

Phil Said
"About this "scenario for further scrutiny": What about pets that are "found"? Do you feel the need for further scrutiny to determine if they are properly licensed and have any immunizations that are required?"

As I found out while adopting my dog from an out of state high kill shelter, transporting dogs across a state line without a rabies certificate (not just a tag) can lead to consequences, such as having the animal vaccinated immediately. Thus a LEO could ask to see the rabies certificate.

Anonymous said...

Well, if they are censoring, it is, as we might expect from TSA, sloppy or capricious: There's a word or two that made it through the censoring that isn't in the text below:

You said "As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property, including why they are carrying a large sum of cash. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry."

Let me refresh your memory of the 4th ammendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Tell me, do the employees of the TSA wipe their [nose] with the constitution every morning?

You already are looking through people's personal effects, clothing, making them partially disrobe. OK, fine, you're looking for weapons. Now, why the [heck] are you asking them what they are carrying money for, and treating them like criminals when they decline to give you that information?

Miller said...

I don't know why we're getting worked up over any of this. The usual TSA response is to shovel it under the rug, deny it ever happened, provide absolution to the TSOs involved, and to never address any of the core issues. In other words this a TSA business as usual event. We have an organization that answers to no one and who feel that they are above the law of the land.

kellymae81 said...

Chris Boyce said:Kellimae81 said on April 4th at 4:55pm:
"We do not call "bag checks" for an image that appears to possibly be a stack of cash or drugs."
You cannot convince me for one second that this is true and accurate. The only standard you're held to is "I think I saw something." You will never have to defend your action and judgment in court.

---------------------
Chris, you can think what you want, but my statement is true. Again, I cannot speak for those rogue TSOs on a power trip with nothing better to do, but our procedures do not tell us to search the x-ray images of your bags for drugs or cash.

To RB: If you read my posts you will see I stated that over $10,000 "not declared" is illegal to take out of country. I apologized already for the one post that I forgot to add in the "if not declared". I do completely understand this entire concept and law.

To Mr. Gel Pack: In answer to your question, our procedures state that there must be 2 TSOs in a private screening. Period. If there are airports not doing this, they are not following SOP.

SDF TSO

Miller said...

From kellymae:

Sorry to burst your bubble RB, but it IS against the law to carry over $10,000 out of the country!! It's to prevent people from putting money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes on it. (there are other reasons too, I'm sure) It's not illegal, per se, it just has to be declared so the government can know about it, basically.

SDF TSO


Sorry to burst your bubble there kellymae, but you did say it was illegal. So according to TSA is it illegal to carry large sums of cash withing the US? If so what is the threshold for that amount? How can we comply with the law when the laws are secret?

mdh said...

RV said: I would like to address the running theme here that cash isn't a hazard to a plane. In a direct sense it's not. But cash does fund terrorist activities.

No, people fund terrorist activities.

What you said there is pure Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt and goes exactly against what our country was founded for.

Your logic helps the terrorists win, and without them even having to get off their couches.

Tomas said...

Please allow me to clarify some of my concerns about the "Incident in St. Louis."

A number of times, in response to questions both from the TSA officer and the local law enforcement officers Steve responded with "Am I required by law to answer that question?" or minor variations of that.

Without the recording, I have little doubt that the following quotes would have been very close to the "official" description of the interrogation begun by the TSA, and continued by law enforcement and the TSA.

(I continue to refer the TSA employee as "TSA" rather than "TSO" because it is unclear if this as simply a TSO, an LTSO, a Supervisor, or even a Manager. From some of the comments made by the TSA employee he was not the first involved, but became involved after the unlocked metal box showed up in xray.)
________________

TSA: "He started this out there when I was trying to get everything cleared so he could make his flight, and I said 'OK, we'll go in here.' He started playing this game again, I said 'I'm done with it, so...'"

TSA: "If you have nothing to hide you can just tell us what it's for, I mean it's simpl... it's simp... [unintelligible] they're gonna, you're gonna have to provide proof of of why you have that much money anyway for the DEA."

TSA: "I'll tell you one thing, no matter what they [law enforcement officers] decide to do, I don't have to let you go through my checkpoint."

TSA: "...when I got involved with it he wanted to do this little doubletalk thing."

FBI(?): "You guys stopped him because of the metal box?"

TSA: "Well that and there was a large amount of money in there. While I had him out there I tried to ask him some questions just to clear things up. If he would have been cooperative and answered the questions I asked he'd probably be on his way by now, but he started playing this little game with the doublespeak 'n' everything else so I brought him in here, tried to ask him again and he kept playing his little game so I said 'OK we're done...' I asked him, you know, where he worked, why he had the money, and I keep getting that standard response."
________________

Even more than the improper tone and language used by the TSO, the bullying and possible demand for answers to questions that the traveler was NOT required by law to answer, and this entire scenario set up by the TSO of the traveler refusing to answer and statements to law enforcement referring to doubletalk and doublespeak, and alleged games being played by the traveler needs to be addressed - preferably in a court of law so that it won't just be hidden behind TSA's wall of SSI or "personal privacy" claims.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

Are you sure there were others there besides TSA screeners? The voices on the recording keep talking about taking the passenger to the law enforcement station in the airport as if to make the initial meeting with law enforcement. And since when does a passenger have to explain money of less than $10,000 on a DOMESTIC flight? This guy had about $4700 I believe, which is about two months rent on average here in the DC area. This wasn't a ton of money here, and doesn't seem appropriate for the amount of grief the passenger had to endure.

RB said...

kellymae81 said...
Sandra said:Kellymae, carrying cash in any amount is ,NOT ILLEGAL!!!! When will you screeners EVER learn that?????

1st of all Sandra, please chill!!! You don't need to blow blood vessels over this. If you read my previous posts, I stated it's not illegal if declared.
.......................
KellyMae you clearly said it was illegal to carry $10k cash out of the country. Here are your words,

"Sorry to burst your bubble RB, but it IS against the law to carry over $10,000 out of the country!!"

Then you go on to say, "It's not illegal, per se, it just has to be declared so the government can know about it, basically."

So you aren't sure either way it seems!

What you don't say is that there is absolutely no requirement for a traveler to delare this action to TSA. NONE!!!! (Extra !!!! just for you KellyMae)

Hence, it is not TSA's business how much cash a person has on them.

There is absolutely no valid reason for TSA to involve itself in any activity that is not illegal and in no way creates a threat to air commerce regardless of what some internal TSA Directive states.

How about you guys spend your time screening all the airport workers, yourselves included, and all of the cargo that gets put on passenger aircraft.

mdh said...

@kelliemae81 Again, I cannot speak for those rogue TSOs on a power trip with nothing better to do,

You sure about that?

Speaking authoritatively when you're maybe not filly knowledgeable on the rules, and definitely are not clear in your explanation of those rules, is exactly what started this mess.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

KellieMae81 @ "To Mr. Gel Pack: In answer to your question, our procedures state that there must be 2 TSOs in a private screening. Period. If there are airports not doing this, they are not following SOP."

So if we take Bob at face value, STL wasn't following SOP.

The second part of my question was about how can we trust that TSA follows its own SOP? Whether or not anyone thinks the SOPs are security theatre or not, they are even less useful if they aren't used. Maybe some other bad-apple TSO takes bribes in the private screening room. How could anyone tell?

TSA once ruined my day by not following its own procedures, and I see this event as yet more evidence that TSA has still not fixed this very basic management problem.

Havig the rules available at the checkpoint could have helped in this situation. If Bob's "general rule" was the real law, the TSO could have pointed it out in the book, and Steve would have had his answer to his "Am I legally required to answer this question?"

Phil said...

[This comment was first mistakenly submitted in response to another EoS post. I'll delete the other one after it is published here in the correct place. Sorry for the mixup. Also, sorry for repeatedly misspelling your name earlier, Kelly Mae.]

SDF TSO Kellymae81 wrote:

"If while in a bag check for our primary focus items (i.e. liquids/weapons etc) and we find things such as drugs, it IS our "procedure" to inform supervisors and Law Enforcement.

"No matter how big or small, illegal is illegal and we can't just overlook it, sorry. We can't just hand back your kilo b/c it's not a "threat"."


In response, I reminded Kelly Mae that barring the result of specialized training that I suspect she has not received, she could not in that situation identify "drugs" by sight any more than she could identify unvacinated pets, information on digital music players that came from unauthorized copying, or people who are not in the country legally.

I asked, "In each of the above scenarios, do you feel that it is congruent with the United States Constitution to stop someone who is carrying something that might indicate wrongdoing, question that person, then "if all is kosher" let that person go on his way?"

Dunstan responded:

"As I found out while adopting my dog from an out of state high kill shelter, transporting dogs across a state line without a rabies certificate (not just a tag) can lead to consequences, such as having the animal vaccinated immediately. Thus a LEO could ask to see the rabies certificate."

Thanks, Dunstan, but that does not refute the point I tried to make (that Kelly Mae and other TSA bag checkers should go on with their jobs of looking for dangerous things when they see something that might or might not indicate wrongdoing). TSA bag checkers are not law enforcement officers. A law enforcement officer could ask anything, but you don't have to comply with his or her request. If there is something that they need and have the authority to order from you, they'll order you, not ask you. Is there a law that requires people to carry and show upon demand their pets' rabies vaccination certificates? I suspect not.

It is my understanding that pets are required to have certain vaccinations before being transported on certain commercial flights, and thus I have made the comparison between Kelly Mae seeing something that might indicate possession of illegal substance (a container of white stuff in someone's luggage), and something that might indicate transportation of a pet that has not been vaccinated as required. In the former situation, Kelly Mae seems to think that an investigation into the suspected illegal substances is necessary. I would like to know if she thinks an investigation is necessary in these other situations.

In the United States, we're not allowed to stop everyone just to find the few bad people. We allow TSA to perform warrantless searches of ourselves and our belongings because many of us have been deeply frightened by stories of airplane bogemen. We would never allow them to stop everyone who travels by air to search for illegal substances, stolen credit cards, or expired visas, but that's just what TSA is doing.

TSA, why are you so opposed to the American system of law and our Bill of Rights?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

Bob said: "As you can understand, the incident is still under investigation, so we can't say too much on the subject. "

Well, the passenger doesn't seem to be under any investigation. Should we assume that it is TSA that is under investigation?

Al Ames said...

So much for the Fifth Amendment and the right to remain silent when questioned about things like cash, etc.

In a court of law, silence cannot be constituted as guilt or cause for further investigation. I even heard a judge say that in court recently.

So why does TSA think that silence is criminal and must be punished with a referral to other authorities. Trying to "beat" a confession out of the person?

You guys make me sick.

Al

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Bob said: "As you can understand, the incident is still under investigation, so we can't say too much on the subject. "

Well, the passenger doesn't seem to be under any investigation. Should we assume that it is TSA that is under investigation?

April 6, 2009 5:16 PM


Don't brush off the passenger as not being investigated. These folks are vindictive and will leave no stone unturned in an effort to prove that the passenger indeed was a threat to aviation.

Anonymous said...

The blog-post still fails to answer the most straight-forward question asked of the security officials:

Are you are or are you not required by law to answer questions like that to travel on an airplane? It’s a Yes/No, dichotomous, binary, true/false question with only two possible answers. You propagandists refuse to answer the question.

What is it, TSA? By law, did that man need to answer those questions? Without that answer, clearly stated, the rest of the debate is worthless.

Scott White said...

I am crying foul on this. Bob, your explanation doesn't hold water.

If it's your's, take some Constitutional Law classes. If you are just the mouthpiece, tell your bosses they better get their facts straight about what would constitute criminal activity.

Your minions were wrong, plain and simple and were it not for a wiser LAW ENFORCEMENT PROFESSIONAL advising your people, this would have just been exacerbated by their flagrant violations of the 4th Amendment.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon said "Don't TSA policies encourage this behavior? I ask because my recollection suggests there are bonuses for TSA employees who initiate a drug or similar conviction. Is my recollection accurate? Would the TSO have been entitled to a financial reward if that passenger was found to be engaged in certain specified illegal behaviors? If so, the TSA has more than the agent involved to scrutinize. Safety ought be the sole mission in this regard. It cannot be overemphasized: You have the public's support when TSA focuses on safety, but a general government checkpoint does not carry with it our public support."

This is wrong, there is no Bonus or other type of reward associated with generating any kind of bust. If you find illicit items/contraband/prohibited items during the search, the only thing that is supposed to happen is a LEO/supervisor referral based on what is found. We do not search for drugs, or other illegal items, but sometimes while searching for an unidentified possible threat/obvious threat we will come across the odd bag of drugs, etc. When this occurs, we first contact a supervisor, then if the item is of an illegal nature it is referred to the LEO on site.

GSOLTSO said...

RB said "Bob, still waiting for your response to my question of just how much money TSA allows a citizen to possess."

I got this one - we have no regulation on how much money a person is allowed to possess. IF we locate what appears to be more than $10k in a bag, we are to contact a supervisor and they are in turn to determine whether the amount is over 10k and if so that it has been properly declared... That is all that we are supposed to do.

Miller said...

From GSOLTSO:

I got this one - we have no regulation on how much money a person is allowed to possess. IF we locate what appears to be more than $10k in a bag, we are to contact a supervisor and they are in turn to determine whether the amount is over 10k and if so that it has been properly declared... That is all that we are supposed to do.

Define the term 'properly declared' please. Shouldn't have to declare anything for stateside travel. So is this another 'requirement' pulled out of thin air for domestic travel?

Tomas said...

GSOLTSO wrote...
RB said "Bob, still waiting for your response to my question of just how much money TSA allows a citizen to possess."

I got this one - we have no regulation on how much money a person is allowed to possess. IF we locate what appears to be more than $10k in a bag, we are to contact a supervisor and they are in turn to determine whether the amount is over 10k and if so that it has been properly declared... That is all that we are supposed to do.

________________

You mean, of course, "properly declared" if the amount is greater than $10,000, AND is being taken out of the country, right?

Please tell me that was just a slip when you forgot that little detail. :o)

BTW, if a TSO spots what they feel is a large amount of cash, I would think that there would be three legitimate questions of the traveler:

(1) Are you traveling out of the United States?

If the answer is no, that should be the end of the questioning, no laws have been broken.

If the answer is yes, then move on to...

(2) Are you transporting more than $10,000?

and if so...

(3) Has it been declared to customs on the proper form?

(If the cash, however, is "artfully concealed" in other than an expected wallet, pouch, box, envelope, money belt, etc., and has to be "discovered" by via a detailed search, there MAY be reason to involve law enforcement.)

If I am carrying a load of cash from SEA to PDX to buy a customized car to drive back, from a seller that requires cash for my purchase, there is NOTHING, repeat NOTHING wrong or unusual about having the cash on my person, nor is there any requirement for me to explain myself.

There is no law that requires me to explain why I have the money with me, where or how I got it, or what I plan to do with it.

(The vehicle sitting outside my door is a custom brought up from where it was found in Oregon to where I live in Washington. This is not really that unusual if one is into cars.)

Oops, sorry, got a little carried away, there. :o(

In any case, if your official training, instructions, or orders contravene the above, could you please let us know so we can get to the bottom of this problem?

Thanks!
Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO,

Please note that if a passenger is traveling within the confines of the UNITED STATES, there is no requirement to declare currency, even if it exceeds $10,000.

RB said...

BTW, if a TSO spots what they feel is a large amount of cash, I would think that there would be three legitimate questions of the traveler:

(1) Are you traveling out of the United States?

None of TSA's business.

If the answer is no, that should be the end of the questioning, no laws have been broken.

If the answer is yes, then move on to...

(2) Are you transporting more than $10,000?

None of TSA's business.

and if so...

(3) Has it been declared to customs on the proper form?

None of TSA's business.

Dunstan said...

Phil said:

"Is there a law that requires people to carry and show upon demand their pets' rabies vaccination certificates?"

Apparently, if you cross state lines with a pet that could be possibly infected with rabies, the answer is YES, according to my vet. If you do not have the certificate, you can be required to have the vaccination done at your expense, without delay, before you travel further. Even my Field Spaniel has to comply....

DoogieSD said...

I saw the fox news bit and your explanation is far from the truth...

You must have had a lawyer write the post.

I've been a supporter of you folks for a long time.. but you gotta follow the law and be able to explain it to travelers...

Don't tread on me...either

http://www.campaignforliberty.com/blog.php?view=14907

Anonymous said...

From GSOLTSO:

I got this one - we have no regulation on how much money a person is allowed to possess. IF we locate what appears to be more than $10k in a bag, we are to contact a supervisor and they are in turn to determine whether the amount is over 10k and if so that it has been properly declared... That is all that we are supposed to do.

April 6, 2009 5:59 PM


Okay so a supervisor gets called over to see whats going on. This guy had only $4700, nowhere near the $10,000 threshold. Why was he interrogated? Why were several police departments/agencies called in? This seems to be a rather flagrant violation of TSA's SOP or is it just a case of chest beating by those present?

Dunstan said...

GSOLTSO said:

"This is wrong, there is no Bonus or other type of reward associated with generating any kind of bust. If you find illicit items/contraband/prohibited items during the search, the only thing that is supposed to happen is a LEO/supervisor referral based on what is found."

We can just hope that TSOs are not rewarded for bad behavior.

Paul said...

I fully expect the TSA will fire all of the "officers" involved, given their gross violation of the rights of the detained individual.

I can't believe we've gotten to this point in the United States.

I'm also pretty sure this comment will get me put on the list, and I can expect to be detained, perhaps for carrying Atlas Shrugged.

Anonymous said...

"TERRORISTS EVOLVE. THREATS EVOLVE. SECURITY MUST STAY AHEAD. YOU PLAY A PART."

Man, I love the part "we" play. It's the bad guy right? And you're the cops?

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