Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Traveling With Large Amounts of Cash

Since the St. Louis incident blog post, we have received many questions about traveling with cash and whether or not you are required to answer questions about the cash you are traveling with. Francine Kerner, TSA’s Chief Counsel was kind enough to take some time and address your questions. ~ Blogger Bob

Sometimes a TSA officer may ask a passenger who is carrying a large sum of cash to account for the money. You have asked why such a question is posed and whether a passenger is required to answer.

In reacting to potential security problems or signs of criminal activity, TSA officers are trained to ask questions and assess passenger reactions, including whether a passenger appears to be cooperative and forthcoming in responding.

TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at the airport checkpoint. Examples include evidence of illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips.


When presented with a passenger carrying a large sum of money through the screening checkpoint, the TSA officer will frequently engage in dialog with the passenger to determine whether a referral to law-enforcement authorities is warranted.

The TSA officer may consider all circumstances in making the assessment, including the behavior and credibility of the passenger. Thus, a failure to be forthcoming may inform a TSA officer’s decision to call law-enforcement authorities.

Francine Kerner, TSA Chief Counsel

164 comments:

normanlazarus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tomas said...

Blogger Bob, would you please ask Francine to actually reply to the repeated question as to whether or not the traveler is REQUIRED BY LAW to answer those questions?

That was the question in the St. Louis incident, and has continued to be the question from many on this blog, and that is the question that Francine has continued avoiding.

Tom (1 or 5-6)

Jim Huggins said...

I agree with Tomas above; the posting here doesn't answer the question.

So let me compound the issue by asking a more nuanced question:

Can a passenger be "cooperative and forthcoming in responding" to a TSO's questions, while still declining to reveal the personal details of their personal lives to the TSO? Or is a polite refusal to answer a personal question an occurrence of "uncooperative behavior"?

BlognDog said...

Bob:
1) The link to the policy on taking cash out of the country doesn't work

2) It is not the role of the TSA to enforce the declaration requirement for cash over 10K USD

3) You cannot tell by looking at it if the cash is over 10K. You cannot count it without a warrant.

4) While it may be illegal to take cash out of the country without declaring it, you can declare it any point prior to boarding your departing aircraft. In fact, most of us (such as myself) who regularly travel with such sums complete this declaration and drop it in the customs box just prior to departure. This happens AFTER we clear the TSA checkpoint, so the fact that we are going through the TSA checkpoint without this declaration is, once again, perfectly legal.

5) You start your post off noting that the TSA may ask questions about your cash and noting that many have "asked whether a passenger is required to answer". You yourself note that this is something many want to know -- and then you fail to answer the question (the answer is NO, you are NOT required to answer, just as with the ID issue, the TSA may be required to ASK about cash or ASK to see an ID, but passengers are free to respond as they see fit). And of course, a TSO's decision to "call law enforcement authorities" based only a traveller's exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights may result in a massive lawsuit against your agency.

6) You still have not addressed the issue (raised by many) of OD-400-54-2, which concerns "Discovery of Contraband During the Screening Process", which I again notes states:

"Examples of such contraband include:
Illegal drugs
Drug paraphernalia
Large amounts of cash ($10,000)"

The directive contains no qualifies stating that it must be undeclared AND heading out of the country for there to be any violation of law, and in any event, such failure in and of itself does not make the cash "contraband"

Your chief counsel, Francine Kerner, knows these things, even if your sidekick, Kellymae, is disturbingly ignorant of them.

I think it's time you stopped dodging these issues and had Francine come clean with the public.

And once again, when can I expect a response to the formal complaint I filed with the TSA in 2004 and 2007?

Anonymous said...

"So in other words we are considered guilty until we prove we are innocent."

The whole screening process is that way. It has been since they put the first metal detector up in the 1970's. It's been that way long before TSA. You just realizing that now?

Anonymous said...

Once again we ask a question and the TSA can not commit to an answer. If you listened to the recording of the St. Louis question that was asked was, am I legally required to answer why I am carrying a large sum of cash.

Instead Francine threatens us with law enforcement if we don't cooperate.

Anonymous said...

I think this answer is very clear. Cash can be associated with criminals and criminal activity. Kudos to TSA for providing thorough screening of all passengers, regardless of their interest or disinterest in talking to them. Large amounts of money could be suspicious or benign, but a cooperative traveling public ensures TSA spends their time on individuals who pose a threat and speeds of the security process for all travelers.

Adrian said...

A "large" amount of cash (which is subjective) in and of itself is not evidence of criminal activity, thus it should not trigger questioning by the TSA.

Contraban (e.g., illegal drugs) is evidence of criminal activity.

At a domestic terminal, there's absolutely zero concern about reporting requirements for taking money into or out of the country.

Once the TSA decides to call in law enforcement, the TSA officer should go back to work looking for weapons at the checkpoint. It's no longer his/her concern.

Once a would-be passenger is being questioned by law enforcement, he/she should remain silent until he/she has legal representation. Even (and--some would say--especially) if the passenger is innocent. At that point, anything the passenger says can be used against the passenger. Nothing the passenger says can be used to help the passenger. Thus there's nothing to gain by talking, and everything to lose.

Christopher Fotos said...

Yes, the chief counsel has explained why TSOs might want to ask about large sums of cash, without clarifying whether travelers can lawfully be detained if they choose not to answer that question.

That's really the key. Screeners can ask me anything, including whether I can compute the value of pi to the tenth decimal. But they can't detain me if I fail to answer that one. I don't think.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

A non-TSA lawyer might advise you that you are not required by law to answer questions without your attorney.

How to Avoid Going to Jail under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 for Lying to Government Agents (like Martha Stweart did)

Why you should never talk to the police5th AmendmentThe first link reminds you that "you are not qualified to know whether you are innocent of wrongdoing under federal criminal law", which is especially true with TSA's fuzzily defined and enforced "rules".

I'm sure it would make it easier for TSA to play security theater if people would just obey and "play a part".

Anonymous said...

Tomas said...
Blogger Bob, would you please ask Francine to actually reply to the repeated question as to whether or not the traveler is REQUIRED BY LAW to answer those questions?

That was the question in the St. Louis incident, and has continued to be the question from many on this blog, and that is the question that Francine has continued avoiding.

Tom (1 or 5-6)

April 14, 2009 3:46 PM
---------
Based on my interpretation of what Francine has posted, you MUST answer every question from a TSO with a smile (trashing your Consitutional rights). And even then, it is up to the TSO to determine if your smile is sincere and call in the LEOs.

However, if that is the case, why didn't the St Louis TSO respond "YES" when the passenger asked if he was required to answer the questions?

It is very interesting that Francine did NOT mention an actual amount of money that would cause suspicion.

Based on what Francine said (and didn't say), the implication is, the ONLY thing the St Louis TSO did wrong was curse.

Anonymous said...

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Anonymous said...

Q: "Why are you carrying so much cash?"

A: "They must not pay you very well if you think this is a lot of cash."

A: "I've lost more money to credit and debit card fraud than I have to being mugged."

A: "I value my privacy."

A: "Have you paid any attention to the news? Carrying it far safer than putting it in a bank or the stock market."

A: "I like to feel rich."

A: "I just bought this one-way ticket a couple minutes ago, and it cost a lot less than I expected."

Dunstan said...

Is the correct answer "This is the daily expense account fund for my Pharmaceutical business"? How about:
"I'm loaning my my granny money for fertility treatments?"

What are we supposed to answer when somebody with a mission creep problem asks a question? Please cite the statute.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Now it seems you only moderate comments on the top thread.

What's the new blogging SOP? When the threads run sour, stop moderation until you can change the subject?

Blogger Kelly had a quote like that: "If you don't like the answer to this question, fine. Argue all you want, the answer is not going to change. Please change the subject!"

Anonymous said...

"Thus, a failure to be forthcoming may inform a TSA officer’s decision to call law-enforcement authorities."

I recommend that anyone harassed by TSA for carrying cash do the following:

1. Refuse to answer any questions from the TSO.

2. Demand that law enforcement be summoned.

3. Refuse to say anything other than "Am I free to go?" to law enforcement.

Anonymous said...

Please explain how someone making no attempt to evade the security checkpoint or otherwise "artfully conceal" a large amount of money is a security threat. It sounds like a person obeying the established procedure and following the law is anything but.

Given the current environment and the number of people falling on harder economic times, if I were carrying such a large amount of money I would not be very willing to discuss it with a TSA screener at a security checkpoint either. There are a number of reasons why, but I'll include my top two:

1. It is none of the TSA's business. TSA has been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that dangerous objects do not get on board aircraft. A wad of cash is not a dangerous object, hence not something that falls within the agency's (or agent's) purview.

2. For my own security. Since the TSA likes to bring this phrase up in announcements so much, I assume that you can appreciate this. You never know who might be looking around at one of these checkpoints, and I wouldn't want to attract any undue attention to myself. Doing so might make me a ripe target once through the checkpoint and on my way to board the aircraft.

TSA is out of line when asking questions like this about cash. Leave the job of law enforcement to the law enforcement officers. Leave the job of customs enforcement to customs enforcement officers. The TSA's focus should be on their primary mission: making sure sharp pointy objects don't find their way onto planes.

Dunstan said...

"When presented with a passenger carrying a large sum of money through the screening checkpoint, the TSA officer will frequently engage in dialog with the passenger to determine whether a referral to law-enforcement authorities is warranted."

So, this is entirely at the whim of the TSO? What if he is just looking for a bribe?

Anonymous said...

More mission creep by those who still perform their job rather poorly.

Sandra said...

Tomas wrote:

"...ask Francine to actually reply to the repeated question as to whether or not the traveler is REQUIRED BY LAW to answer those questions?"

Also, please have Francine give us the citation for that law, if it exists. If we cannot see the cite, then we must presume that there is no law that says we must answer questions asked by screeners.

Anonymous said...

From the current 'Week at a glance": "12 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents".

Arrests by referral to LEO is the very top performance metric TSO touts on its home page. If their reward structure matches these metrics, it is no wonder they focus on the common crimes of ID fraud and drugs instead of terrorism.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Francine for giving a misleading answer that implies TSA powers that are contrary to law. Here are the answers to the questions that have been asked:

TSA has absolutely NO right to compel answers about anything.

TSA has absolutely NO jurisdiction over non-contraband items.

TSOs have absolutely NO power to detain anyone.

TSOs have absolutely NO power to seize non-contraband items.

TSOs can only do three things:

1. Conduct the voluntary search to which you submitted by entering the checkpoint.

2. Seize contraband items.

3. Refuse to admit you to the sterile area, i.e. airside.

If a TSO asks you about a non-contraband item, either say, nothing, or "none of your business." You are not required to answer any questions. The TSO's only option is to deny you entrance to the sterile area and call for a real law enforcement officer. You may, of course, answer whatever you like, but no response is necessary. Note that lying to a TSO may be deemed "interference" under federal law. Accordingly, say nothing, refuse to answer or, if you wish, tell the truth.

If a TSO confiscates a non-contraband item, call the police. TSOs may not arbitrarily confiscate non-contraband property in contravention of the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment provides that no one may be deprived of property without due process of law.

If a TSO physically prevents you from recovering a non-contraband item, call the police. See above. The definition of battery in most jurisdictions is, "an unpermitted and/or offensive contact." The definition of robbery in most jurisdictions is, "taking someone else's property by force or fear of force."

If a TSO attempts to detain you against your will, call the police. Again, TSOs have no power to detain anyone. They are not law enforcement officers and lack the power to arrest or detain. All they can do is deny you access to the sterile area.

TSOs are NOT law enforcement officers and have none of the legal powers of law enforcement officers. A real law enforcement officer, e.g. a policeman, a federal marshal, a sheriff, etc., will be familiar with the constitutional constraints on government power and will rarely abuse them.

Anonymous, Esq.

Anonymous said...

What do you and Francine mean by "large amounts of cash" or "large sum of cash" or "large sum of money"?

$10,000 like the intrnational customs reporting requirement?

$4710, like the amount the TSO "engage[d] in dialog" with Steve Bierfeldt over?

$50, like the voice on the recording?

For a post intended to inform us about "traveling with large amounts of cash", it seems it is missing a critical fact.

Bob said...

I'm going to clear the reward issue up.

The TSA has On The Spot Cash Awards as well as Time Off Awards.

You can be nominated for these awards for various reasons as the nominator sees fit.

It is up to leadership at that airport to review the awards and approve or deny.

I used to be in charge of awards at CVG and I can attest to the fact that they are not all approved.

While some officers may receive an award for finding a prohibited item, there is no directive stating that all officers receive awards or bonuses for each item they find, so there is no incentive for officers to find more of a certain item.

In fact, officers are happy when they don't have to go into your bag. They would much rather have everybody's bag looking nice and clean and never having to be searched.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"I'm going to clear the reward issue up."

Bob, when will you post a proper response from Francine Kerner that actually addresses the question of whether citizens are obligated to answer questions from TSOs?

Anonymous said...

"I'm going to clear the reward issue up.

The TSA has On The Spot Cash Awards as well as Time Off Awards."

Nice. So TSA rewards their people for doing the job they are already being paid to do. My tax dollars at waste, err, work, I suppose.

No wonder these folks like to ignore the limits of TSA's mission and stretch as far and often as possible to find things which "might" be "wrong" or "suspicious" or "out of place". We're paying them to play Madam Cleo. (Oh wait, that's what the BDOs are there for.)

That actually explains a lot to me. We don't just have LEO academy drop out wanna bes working at checkpoints; we have drop out wanna bes with a financial incentive to go on unwarranted, unconstitutional fishing expeditions-- who happily threaten people with detention and confiscation of non-contraband items any time their self-apportioned authority is questioned.

If TSA would just stick to its core mission of keeping pointy objects and things that go "boom" off of airplanes it would be far more effective and far less vilified.

Eric said...

Francine, please explain how this procedure fits within the limits of TSA's administrative search functions.

TSO-Joe said...

I posted this in the end of another blog, but maybe Francine should post just what Implied Consent is and is not. What in law allows it, as well as what court descisions back it up? And what part covers the "if I see something illegal, I have to report it' idea? TSO-Joe

RB said...

According to DHS I must be a Right Wing Radical.

I am against abortion.

I am for Border Security and control of Immigration.

I am against the ever expanding power grab by the Federal Government and support the 10th amendment.

Someone remind me why DHS/TSA is a good thing.

Joe said...

Francine, Bob, or whomever at the TSA will answer a direct question (seems like you have the inability to do so):

[b]What is the amount of cash that will case a screener to call the cops on you, and what is your authority to do so?[/b]

Stop dodging questions and giving incorrect answers. We are sick of it. You wonder why you are hated more than the IRS. Have you forgotten that WE are your customers?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

If a TSO confiscates a non-contraband item, call the police. TSOs may not arbitrarily confiscate non-contraband property in contravention of the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment provides that no one may be deprived of property without due process of law.TSA can confiscate anything they want to and you're left with little to say about it. Conceivably they could, if they wanted to and felt justified in doing so, take your laptop from you by declaring it a security threat. Those regulations are already in place and have been cited by TSOs on this blog. Trying to get them to justify those regulations is another matter.

George said...

@Anonymous, April 14, 2009 5:06 PM:From the current 'Week at a glance": "12 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents".You forgot to mention the "22 firearms found at checkpoints" and
"3 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints."

I'm looking at this metric from the dual perspective of someone who occasionally travels by air, and who has just written a large check to the United States Treasury. It appears that for what the TSA is costing us in terms of tax dollars, hassles, and trampled liberties, we are getting a rather small number of referrals to law enforcement sufficient to arrest the offender, along with an even smaller number of "artfully concealed" items (which presumably did not lead to arrest). The offenses in question undoubtedly have nothing to do with terrorist plots or threats to aviation. Otherwise the TSA would be crowing about them at a deafening volume rather than extracting a boring bullet from someone's weekly PowerPoint status chart.

But I'll give them credit for the firearms, which really do threaten aviation. Way to go, TSA!!!

The TSA clearly considers these metric tangible proof of their effectiveness. But I can't see it that way. First, it suggests that actual threats to aviation few and far between. So the TSA's leadership feels compelled to scrape the bottom of the barrel and report unrelated "catches" (drugs? cash?) in an effort to show that they're doing something to justify their existence. An alternative explanation is that screening is so ineffective that, out of millions of passengers in a week, the only thing it can detect is a few instances of "suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents," along with a handful of firearms and unspecified "artfully concealed" items.

Either way, the TSA's attempts to justify their existence to the public only undermine their goal by inviting obvious questions and criticism.

Arrests by referral to LEO is the very top performance metric TSO touts on its home page. If their reward structure matches these metrics, it is no wonder they focus on the common crimes of ID fraud and drugs instead of terrorism.And indeed, that seems to be the only things they find.

Bob, now that you've explained that TSOs do not receive bonuses for finding prohibited items, can you reconcile that with the prominence of this metric?

Anonymous said...

"Bob, when will you post a proper response from Francine Kerner that actually addresses the question of whether citizens are obligated to answer questions from TSOs?"

Bob did post it.

To summarize what Ms. Kerner said, from a legal standpoint TSA checkpoints are just like Guantanamo Bay. They're legal black holes where the constitution and laws of the United States do not apply. The only laws that do apply are classified TSA regulations, classified legal memoranda from the Chief Clounsel, SSI standard operating procedures, and the individual whims of TSOs, supervisors, and administrators.

The TSA's Chief Counsel has thoughtfully provided us with a definitive statement of the law that applies at checkpoints, as appropriate for public release. It states that passengers must unhesitatingly provide complete, truthful answers to any questions a TSO asks. If a passenger fails to provide immediate, forthright answers whose content and demeanor satisfactorily accounts for the items in question and completely satisfies the TSO of the passenger's innocence, the TSO calls the police to conduct a more complete investigation of the criminal activity. (The Chief Counsel did not address the issue of whether the normal rights of criminal suspects in the United States apply if the police interrogation occurs within the "rights-free" checkpoint.)

That's the answer to your question. You may not like that answer, but there it is, as I understand it. If I got it wrong, I would welcome a correction from the Chief Counsel.

RB said...

In fact, officers are happy when they don't have to go into your bag. They would much rather have everybody's bag looking nice and clean and never having to be searched.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

April 14, 2009 5:25 PM

................
When did having a clean bag enter the equation?

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said...

I'm going to clear the reward issue up.
Thanks for clearing that up, but perhaps you could get us some real answers on the topic at hand. Like the law that explains how carrying large sums of cash is contraband.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

You said:

"there is no directive stating that all officers receive awards or bonuses for each item they find, so there is no incentive for officers to find more of a certain item."


Just because there is no directive doesn't mean the leadership at some airports don't offer these bonuses as incentives.

Miller said...

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the American government suspected that some hawala brokers may have helped terrorist organizations to transfer money to fund their activities. The 9/11 Commission Report has since confirmed that the bulk of the funds used to finance the assault were not sent through the hawala system, but rather by inter-bank wire transfer to a SunTrust Bank in Florida, where two of the conspirators had opened a personal account. However as a result of intense pressure from the US authorities, widespread efforts are currently being made to introduce systematic anti-money laundering initiatives on a global scale, the better to curb the activities of the financiers of terrorism and those engaged in laundering the profits of drug smuggling. Whether these initiatives will have the desired effect of curbing such activities has yet to be seen; although a number of hawala networks have been closed down and a number of hawaladars have been successfully prosecuted for money laundering, there is little sign that these actions have brought the authorities any closer to identifying and arresting a significant number of terrorists or drug smugglers.

In November, 2001, the Bush administration froze the assets of Al Barakat, a Somali remittance hawala company used primarily by the large Somali Diaspora. Many of its agents in several countries were initially arrested, though later freed after no concrete evidence against them was found. In August 2006 the last Al Barakat representatives were taken off the U.S. terror list, though some assets remain frozen.
Hawala or hundi, are two rather popular means of moving large sums of money without trace. The odd thing about 9/11 is that ordinary wire transfers (traceable) were used to finance the operation.

Irish said...

Francine Kerner, TSA Chief Counsel says ...

"TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at the airport checkpoint. Examples include evidence of illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips."
Excuse me -- I'm just a li'l ole public health medic and not a big-time fancy lawyer, but don't the currency reporting requirements kick in when one actually attempts to board the international carrier? Up 'til them, ain't it perfectly legal (albeit a little stupid) for me to walk around with thousand dollar bills just hanging out of my pockets? What currency requirements are there, exactly, "prior to" international trips?

Irish

Anonymous said...

Bob, how the heck did you take the time to reply to the "reward" issue without answering the question EVERY SINGLE other commenter has asked?

Why are you guys so evasive?

Jeff said...

"a failure to be forthcoming may inform a TSA officer’s decision to call law-enforcement authorities."

Well, if invoking my legal right to not answer a question being posed by someone with no right to ask it in the first place is considered "not forthcoming" then I guess you're gonna have to call LE when I fail to explain to TSA agents why I'm carrying excess cash.

You might have pried my Fourth Amendment rights from my fingers, but you'll never get your hands on my Fifth Amendment rights, TSA!

Ayn R. Key said...

What a brilliant show Francine. You managed to take several paragraphs to say nothing.

We all know that international travel with money in excess of $10k needs to be reported to customs. Now explain to me how any large amount, especially large amounts under $10k but also over $10k, shoud raise a single eyebrow on a domestic flight? Explain how that is in any way suspicious? Explain to us WHY whe should have to account for it, not just repeat that we should have to account for it.

Give us the "why" answers, not the "what" answers. We already know the "what" answers, but the true ones and false ones.

Dunstan said...

Bob said...

"I'm going to clear the reward issue up.

The TSA has On The Spot Cash Awards as well as Time Off Awards.

You can be nominated for these awards for various reasons as the nominator sees fit.

It is up to leadership at that airport to review the awards and approve or deny.

I used to be in charge of awards at CVG and I can attest to the fact that they are not all approved."

This just increases the zealotry and doesn't do anything positive for safety or security. It really turns the passenger experience into a TSA scratch ticket drawing.
Why offer a reward for potentially bad behavior, at the expense of the right to privacy?

Abelard said...

I think this answer is very clear. Cash can be associated with criminals and criminal activity. Kudos to TSA for providing thorough screening of all passengers, regardless of their interest or disinterest in talking to them. Large amounts of money could be suspicious or benign, but a cooperative traveling public ensures TSA spends their time on individuals who pose a threat and speeds of the security process for all travelers.No, the answer isn't clear.

All a person has to do is file the appropriate US Customs form saying they are taking more than $10K out of the country and the TSA has no reason to stop a person.

The US Customs form for cash is a simple reporting requirement. If you don't think that a criminal hasn't already figured out how to jones the system, you are fooling yourself.

beneficiary said...

Francine failed to answer the question in any meaningful sense whatsoever. I am largely a pro-security, pro LEO citizen but the treatment of Mr. Bierfeldt made my blood boil. I think you people owe the taxpayers a proper explanation of what occurred in this incident and HONEST STRAIGHTFORWARD ANSWER to our questions. Thank you.

kdt said...

Ms. Kerner, it's clear both from your response and the comments that you've failed to answer the question. Care to give it another go?

I am curious, however; are TSA officers now also serving as special junior deputy police officers? How exciting that must be for them!

The Dave said...

The blog entry's second paragraph reads in part "...and whether a passenger is required to answer", a question to which an answer was still not provided.

I know, I know, you'll hurt your "officers" feelings by pointing out that they aren't actually law enforcement officers and don't have any particular rights to detain or otherwise annoy the general public beyond that which is required to make air travel safe.

So with that being said, please either dispute the above or explain how and why a large sum of cash is a threat to the operational safety of an aircraft.

Assuming that it's not, why not focus on catching actual threats (guns, bombs, etc) and once you've actually mastered those, offer an open season $1,000,000 reward to each and ever person who can sneak a restricted/contraband item through security, and once that hasn't been paid out, then and only then might it be time to think about helping out law enforcement in other areas.

Is it too much to ask that the TSA focus on their primary mission first before worrying about other tasks?

Omar said...

Bob, what is TSA policy on employment of individuals, whether your counsel or your TSOs, who circumvent or ignore well understood federal legal requirements?

Do you continue to employ these people even if they are unable and unwilling to abide by US laws?

TSORon said...

One might think that all of the posters here are lawyers, at least until one actually reads what they post. Jail House Lawyers abound in this thread.

1. No one can compel you to answer a question. No one. If you don’t want to answer, don’t answer. Its your decision, feel free to make it however you like. As with all things in life though, there are consequences for our actions. Consequences can be good or bad, I guess it depends on your view of life.

2. The law says that if you travel outside of the US with $10,000 or more in cash that it must be declared. TSA cannot determine if you have declared your cash, which is why we will call a LEO if we suspect that you are carrying large amounts of cash outside of the US.

3. TSA cannot confiscate contraband. You can surrender (abandon) it, or not. Once again its your choice. We CAN refuse to allow it into the sterile area. How you handle that problem is up to you. If we think the contraband is an illegal substance or item, we CAN ask a LEO to intervene. We will NOT arrest you, not that we don’t have the authority (every citizen does), its just not a part of our job and is why we have access to Law Enforcement officers.

No one is forcing you to do anything. Do as you like. But I remind you of my comments about consequences. Those who stand on their rights usually find that they are standing on nothing but air, because they are ignorant of their rights. I have seen lots of misconceptions of rights in this blog, which of course provides me with a great deal of laughter. The rampant posturing and ignorant declarations are what keeps bringing me back here.

Anonymous said...

typical, this blog disgusts me. every post is a diplomatic evasive answer.

all you do is hide information.

now, as you stated that this post is a response to the many questions you have received. answer the question!

one thing is obvious, you play by the legal rules, and will not admit you do not have power without a knock-out fight in the courts between yourselves and citizens.

then again you would probably win since we dont have enough money to fight in the courts. our society is doomed to 1984

Anonymous said...

We just had the same thing happen yesterday. Two chinese travelers (Husband and wife) were stopped coming off a flight from San Francisco because they were carrying $10,000 to Green Bay, WI, which as we all know is a foreign country. Turns out they were bringing cash to purchase Ginseng (Not an illegal drug) from farmers in Central Wisconsin. Two DEA agents questioned and released them.
I'm not sure why this would have prompted this action and response?

RB said...

The words credited to Francine in no way answered any of the questions asked.

Is plain simple english above her capability to use?

What was the point?

Why does TSA see a need to involve itself in an activity in which it TSA has no mandated requirement under any existing law?

Must a person answer questions asked by a TSO if those questions have no bearing on Transportation Safety?

These actions by TSA should make the high courts take a hard look at the use of Administrative Searches when abused badly as TSA is engaged in.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, officers are happy when they don't have to go into your bag. They would much rather have everybody's bag looking nice and clean and never having to be searched."

If these agents are being rewarded with extra time off or money for finding so-called "contraband" the statement above makes no sense whatsoever. Who wouldn't want to take a few extra seconds to search someone's bag if there was potentially some sort of bonus in it?

Or are you implying that the average TSA screener is so disinterested in his/her job that not even money provides extra motivation?

The existence of such a bonus program is, in my opinion, reprehensible. These people are already being paid to do the job that they're now being offered bonuses for. And the payment of such bonuses can only encourage "cowboy screener" tactics from agents that potentially open TSA up to civil rights violation lawsuits.

NoClu said...

Hmm, this conversation doesn't seem to be going so well. Perhaps Francine could be a bit more specific in her reply...or address with some specific references to laws used to support positions, the questions being posed here.

TSM, Been here..... said...

Quote:
"If a TSO confiscates a non-contraband item, call the police. TSOs may not arbitrarily confiscate non-contraband property in contravention of the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment provides that no one may be deprived of property without due process of law."

------------------------
1st off, broken record time- Try actually absorbing this sentence: TSOs DO NOT CONFISCATE ANYTHING!! We give you the option of disposing of it, placing it in your checked bag or your car, mailing it to yourself (if the airport has a facility for this, IN SOME CASES allowing someone else (whom you call) to come pick up the item while it's held by the airlines (if they are nice and decide to), the LEOS (same deal) or, in some EXTREMELY RARE cases, us (same deal but don't expect us to babysit your oversight - that makes us responsible for it).

If all those options fail (in most cases because YOU are running late for your flight and YOU don't have time to avail yourself of the above options) then YOU must decide wether to ABANDON your item to us or miss your flight.

Trust me, as the person in charge of HAZMAT & Lost & Found, I DON"T WANT YOUR STUFF!! Because then I have to deal with people calling the airport saying things like "When I flew out on Thursday, they took my $1.99 knife that I forgot I had in my pocket but has sentimental value. How do I get it back?"

Then I have to explain that we don't "Take anything away"! Items, once surrendered are NOT retrievable (they become the property of the gov't and are disposed of), etc. Big waste of everyone's time. because, of course, no one wants to hear that and they INSIST we "confiscated" it.

How's this? - if you think it MAY not be allowed on the plane, put it in your checked bag! OR READ THE WEBSITE ON PROHIBITED ITEMS!!

GSOLTSO said...

Anon said - TSA has absolutely NO right to compel answers about anything.

TSA has absolutely NO jurisdiction over non-contraband items.

TSOs have absolutely NO power to detain anyone.

TSOs have absolutely NO power to seize non-contraband items.

Ok, the first comment is absolutely correct, but the refusal to help clarify what an item is or it's purpose can lead to further screening to ascertain that no threat is present.

The second comment is incorrect, we have authority to control items that are deemed a possible threat, banned items or things that are obvious threats. Contraband items we actually will contact the LEO for. We do not confiscate things unless they are a threat item.

The third statement is completely true, however if you walk from the checkpoint in the middle of screening, it is considered a security breach and will be dealt with according to SOP (if you leave items, or attempt to gain control of an item(s) that have not been cleared).

The last statement is partly incorrect. If an item is deemed an immediate threat to the people of the checkpoint (say an IED, a gun) then the item is remanded or kept under control until proper protocols for clearance are met. If it is something that is not on the prohib lists, and something that has been cleared, then we have no reason or authority to "seize" it.

West
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Wow, this post cleared up absolutely nothing. A TSA agent can ask me anything they want, including intrusive personal questions but I don't have to answer.

If they think that me carrying cash and refusing to answer a question is "questionable" and not cooperative then let them call an actual law enforcement officer over, BUT AT THAT POINT that TSA agent should be done with me, beyond his/her scope or what they're there to do.

The officer will come over and can ask the same questions, and I can refuse as is my right. From there he's held to normal legal standards that govern being detained by police and I would be free to go. Shouldn't have to worry about being detained by TSA or threatened by an agent.

THAT'S the issue here for me and this post didn't clear anything up. Only thing coming close was a post right after this incident happened calling the tone of the agent inappropriate, but I think a formal statement of policies/procedures and an acknowledgment of what that agent did as being WRONG is in order.

Sam H said...

Everyone here has a valid point about what the TSA can and can't do. I think however you are all working yourselves up over nothing. If you remember back to the original problem, the TSO referring the passenger to the Airport Police, the TSO did not detain him. The St Louis Police officer did. They didn't place him under arrest and he was released. He was inconvenienced and the whole episode went further than it should have. I would say the cops let their egos get in the way of judgement. It was an individual lapse in judgement, not an institutionalized policy or practice. Think of the millions of travelers that make it through airport security everyday with no problem. This incident is an anomaly, one that was probably dealt with. I haven't heard any of the people who "routinely carry large amounts of cash" relate their own horror stories so it must not be much of a problem. I would think the same four or five people that continually comment on this would be tired of making assertions based on nothing more than vague, misinterpreted quotes from the Constitution. Let's be honest, Constitutional Lawyers have better things to do than post comments to a blog, barracks lawyers obviously don't.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

"From the current 'Week at a glance": "12 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents".

Arrests by referral to LEO is the very top performance metric TSO touts on its home page. If their reward structure matches these metrics, it is no wonder they focus on the common crimes of ID fraud and drugs instead of terrorism."

I can tell you for a fact that at the airport I work at you do not receive any reward for finding a fake document that results in an arrest. How do I know this? We have found more than a few of these documents and no one to date has received any reward. What we have received awards for at my airport are what I would call larger finds, i.e., guns and such, and rewards for our performance, such as not using any sick leave for a year or more, things such as that. Now keep in mind these rewards cap out at only $250... not really much. How it works at other airports, I don't know.

And as far as calling it a common crime... well, I know of one instance that we found someone using fake id, and it turned out for years he was using a woman's social security number, without her permission, without her knowledge, for close to 10 years, and he was not in the country legally. She lived in one state and he another. What do you think that woman/victim now thinks of TSA?

that is not terrorism, but it highlights the idea that we help to find people here with fake id. You may not like it, but it is possible that terrorist might be here with fake id. Besides that it stregthens the no-fly list.

TSO John

Trollkiller said...

Francine, now that Janet Napolitano has decided that anyone that does not agree with the Feds is a Right Wing Radical, will anyone carrying subversive literature like the Constitution be considered suspect and subject to extra scrutiny?

Stephen said...

> Can a passenger be "cooperative and
> forthcoming in responding" to a TSO's
> questions, while still declining to
> reveal the personal details of their
> personal lives to the TSO? Or is a
> polite refusal to answer a personal
> question an occurrence of
> "uncooperative behavior"?

I think that part of the problem here is the culture that we have grown. The culture where everybody is a "little bit" of a criminal.

We justify it though, we think its ok, cuz we hardly ever get caught, we know we can get away with it most of the time... so its ok that its a little illegal.

How many don't agree that many situations where the speed limit is 20, you can do 30 perfectly safely? When its 30, often 40 or 45. Hell, I have blown past a state trooper and saw him point his radar gun my way and clock me at 80 MPH in a 65, and not even flinch. (on a nice sunny day on a open stretch of road with similarly moving traffic)... he obviously didn't think I was endangeing anyone.

When is slowing down and rolling through a stop sign, after seeing, with ample visibility, that nobody is comming... who doesn't agree thats safe? but its illegal.

Overall we are happy. Sure the fireworks are illegal in my state, but if you keep them in the trunk, its not like they can search unless you OK it or are really dumb about it.

Sure pot is illegal, but its everywhere, and 1 in 6 Americans have tried it. However, a person who chooses to smoke it has to watch out for the cops now. But thats ok too... its not like adults in their homes get caught, and most of the time if they do, they can get off with a good lawyer.... so its ok that they are "criminals" too

Now we see ridiculous rules that make no sense... and an organization that won't let them slide, and we are mad all of a sudden.

-Steve

Aaron said...

It's clear the answer to the question "am I required by law to answer the TSO's questions?" is no. If the answer was yes, Francine would have said so.

Two broader questions remain:

1) If I CHOOSE not to answer the TSO's questions, under what circumstances will I be referred to local law enforcement?

2) Is it TSA policy to refer travelers to law enforcement for not answering questions, even if there's no evidence of a security threat or contraband?

Stephen said...

@Bob

There is a small flaw in your logic. You claim that since bonus awards can be awarded after finding a prohibited item, but that its not the policy to just dole them out on that basis, so there is no incentive created for someone to find more.

Well, you are talking to a poker player. So I can tell you two things. A) There is incentive and B) since people emotionally judge these things, some will find that incentive stronger than others.

The incentive comes from the fact that it could be doled out for finding something. So every item found and reported is, thus, an opportunity for reward.

How much of an incentive it is depends on the potential range of size in boni, and the perceived (not real.. thats a whole different question) likelyhood of any given item find resulting in a bonus.

Having 4 cards to a high flush on the turn (one card left to come, with an unpaired board to keep it simple) gives a card player a roughly 1 in 4 chance of hitting his flush (which usually will win the hand on an unpaired board).

Is a 1 in 4 chance incentive to bet? Some people think it is, some don't. Good players tend to look at the size of the pot and call bets that give them better than 1 in 4 odds... $10 into a $60 pot for example....

However... many people will play it for $10 into a $30 or even $20 pot. Some will raise all in with it, into a pot thats smaller than their stack! Math and logic says he has no incentive... but emotions say he does... experience tells me, theres plenty of people like him.

-Steve

Anonymous said...

Stop dodging questions and giving incorrect answers. We are sick of it. You wonder why you are hated more than the IRS. Have you forgotten that WE are your customers?
___________________________________
Definitions of customer on the Web:

someone who pays for goods or services

wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

A customer is someone who makes use of the paid products of an individual or organization. This is typically through purchasing or renting goods or services.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer

Joe,
You are not our customers, you are simply passengers. Now however you are customers of the airlines because you are purchasing tickets to fly in their planes. We do not have customers. There are no purchases between the passengers and the TSA. We are not a company that relies on customers to survive. We will be protecting the homeland as long as there are people living in this country.
Thank you and have a nice day.:)

Anonymous said...

George said...

@Anonymous, April 14, 2009 5:06 PM:From the current 'Week at a glance": "12 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents".You forgot to mention the "22 firearms found at checkpoints" and
"3 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints."


Hi George, Anonymous here. I figured that if the firearms and artfully concealed items didn't actually lead to arrests, they weren't serious enough to count as a real terrorist threat. Heck, they might have counted three artfully concealed firearms on one passenger in all three catagories.

Anonymous said...

RB said...
In fact, officers are happy when they don't have to go into your bag. They would much rather have everybody's bag looking nice and clean and never having to be searched.

Bob

EoS Blog Team

April 14, 2009 5:25 PM

................
When did having a clean bag enter the equation?
___________________________________

You guys are seriously like a bunch of kids that ask WHY? WHY? WHY? everytime that an adult says something.

You know that Bob means a bag with nothing needing to be searched when he says "clean".

Anonymous said...

TSORon said: "One might think that all of the posters here are lawyers, at least until one actually reads what they post...No one can compel you to answer a question. No one. If you don’t want to answer, don’t answer. Its your decision, feel free to make it however you like. As with all things in life though, there are consequences for our actions. Consequences can be good or bad, I guess it depends on your view of life.

Interesting definition of compulsion. Mind telling us where you got your J.D.?

I'll leave it to more knowledgeable posters to present a definitive deconstruction of yet another post riddled with fundamental misconceptions and arrogant disdain for us "civilians."

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...
...
3. TSA cannot confiscate contraband. You can surrender (abandon) it, or not. Once again its your choice. ...
----
????!!!!OK, I am confused. I can leave the checkpoint with my contraband and go back outside to the non sterile area? Is that before the LEO gets there?

Or is it a play on words, you don't confiscate it, the LEO does.

One TSO on this blog (on another topic) has said (paraphrasing) - "you better believe I am going to confiscate a gun if I find it coming through a checkpoint".

Phil said...

TSORon wrote:

"The law says that if you travel outside of the US with $10,000 or more in cash that it must be declared. TSA cannot determine if you have declared your cash, which is why we will call a LEO if we suspect that you are carrying large amounts of cash outside of the US."Ron, do you consider a TSA search station in an airport to be a national border? If not, why would you or your colleagues ever suspect that someone walking through your search station at an airport in the United States is "carrying large amounts of cash outside of the U.S."?
--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

Francine, how does carrying money for domestic travel, coupled with one's 5th amendment right against self-incrimination, rise to the level of "reasonable suspicion" sufficient to satisfy the Supreme Court's decision in Terry v. Ohio? As you well know, one's silence cannot be used against them to give cause to such suspicion (absent a narrow exception for state laws which require people to tell law enforcement officers their names).

Sam H @ 4/15 11:44 AM: I may not be a constitutional lawyer, but I am a lawyer, I'm admitted in three states, and I've had high scores on the constitutional law section of the bar exam each time. Does that count?

There's an unfortunate trend in law enforcement -- whether it's the police, whether it's the TSA, whether it's customs and border patrol (yes, I know that the TSA is not "police"), to claim for whatever reason, that they're exempt from the Constitution. I don't care if this is a 1 in 10 billion event -- if a governmental agency is claiming that they do not have to respect our constitutional rights, I feel that it's my patriotic duty to hold their feet to the fire.

George said...

@TSM, Been here.....: TSOs DO NOT CONFISCATE ANYTHING!! We give you the option of disposing of it, placing it in your checked bag or your car, mailing it to yourself.... If all those options fail (in most cases because YOU are running late for your flight and YOU don't have time to avail yourself of the above options) then YOU must decide wether to ABANDON your item to us or miss your flight.This is interesting. The best any passenger can do is to know and follow the published guidelines, which should reduce the likelihood of a TSO at the checkpoint making a determination that one or more items he is carrying is Prohibited. But as even the published guidelines acknowledge that TSOs have unlimited discretion to determine what is Prohibited, it is never possible for any passenger to be sure he won't be in a situation where a TSO "offers options." I have experienced this twice, involving items that complied with every "guideline" I was aware of but nonetheless were declared Prohibited at that checkpoint, with that TSO, at that moment.

As for it being the passenger's fault for "running late," would the usual recommendation of arriving 90 - 120 minutes before a flight really allow enough time for any option other than "voluntary abandonment"? In effect, "TSM Been here" is making the helpful suggestion that we get to the airport early enough so that we could actually avail ourselves of alternatives in case we happen to run afoul of some unknowable rule that happens to be in effect, as interpreted by that TSO at that checkpoint at that moment. And if we're fortunate enough not to have to call a taxi for a quick trip to the post office, or to call and wait for a friend to drive, park, and pick up the item(s), they can camp out at the airport gate for for four or five hours counting their blessings.

If the statement "TSM Been here" made is what TSOs (and other TSA officials) actually believe, they are clearly further removed from reality than I ever imagined. At every airport I've used, you check your bags before proceeding to the TSA checkpoint. So how are we supposed to put a Prohibited item in a bag that has already been checked? And a passenger returning home from a trip won't have a car to put the item in (nor will an outbound passenger who didn't drive to the airport). Similarly, a passenger returning home probably won't have anyone to call to pick up an item even if he can somehow convince the airline to hold it. So that leaves the options of getting to the airport early enough to allow time for a taxi ride to and from the post office or "voluntary abandonment." Guess which one of those is the only real option?

And then there's this scenario: A passenger who does get to the airport early enough to take a taxi ride to and from the post office avails himself of that option. Then he gets back to the airport, enters the TSA checkpoint again-- and a completely different TSO decides that an item that was acceptable before is now Prohibited! That's entirely plausible, since it's entirely at the whim of individual TSOs. And didn't Kip insist that Unpredictability is the key to the effectiveness of TSA screening?

Yes, TSA employees and apologists can post all they want about how they give passengers "options" and the technical niceties of "voluntary abandonment," and insist that passengers are entirely to blame if they can't avail themselves of options other than "voluntary abandonment." But in practice, it's impossible for any passenger to be sure that the TSO who "serves" them won't decide that some item is Prohibited, even if they meticulously follow all the published "guidelines." So if the passenger is at fault, it's only for his failure to accurately predict what is unpredictable by design (that's the TSA's Security Strategy, according to Kip). Unless the passenger is willing to insure himself against the unpredictable by arriving at the airport absurdly early enough to allow for "options," when a TSO declares an item Prohibited he is in practice confiscating it because there is no real option other than "voluntary abandonment."

And you wonder why people hate the TSA. They make "security" into a crapshoot, with the emphasis on the first syllable.

Anonymous said...

Sam H. said
This incident is an anomaly, one that was probably dealt with. I haven't heard any of the people who "routinely carry large amounts of cash" relate their own horror stories so it must not be much of a problem.
That would the same statement that is asserted here regarding the shoe and liquids policy. At which point we are told it only has to happen once.

The difference between St. Louis and other incidents of the same situation was that the TSA couldn't intimidate the passenger with law enforcement. The recording prevents them from sweeping it under the rug.

Anonymous said...

TSM, Been here..... said...

1st off, broken record time- Try actually absorbing this sentence: TSOs DO NOT CONFISCATE ANYTHING!
Argue all you want, the answer is not going to change. Please change the subject! As much as you like to push back the blame on passengers the options you give us are unrealistic. You say voluntary surrender I say confiscate, we either give it to the TSA or we can’t get to the plane. That's not a choice, sounds like confiscate to me.

RB said...

Sam H said...
Everyone here has a valid point about what the TSA can and can't do. I think however you are all working yourselves up over nothing. If you remember back to the original problem, the TSO referring the passenger to the Airport Police, the TSO did not detain him. The St Louis Police officer did.
......................
The TSO who thought the traveler was supecious still maintained that position even after the police told the man he was free to go.

It was TSA who started the problem for no reason.

It was TSA policies that the TSO used to start the problem.

It was TSA who invaded this mans privacy for no reason.

It was a superbly trained TSA employee that should be fired.

The airport police are guilty of not addressing the questions the man asked. They should be fired also.

Anonymous said...

Okay.. just a minor rant here. Quoting from Anon's Post and snipping West's response to prevent a massive "full text above, rant below" comment.

Anonymous said:
TSOs have absolutely NO power to seize non-contraband items.
To which GSOLTO responded:
The last statement is partly incorrect. If an item is deemed an immediate threat to the people of the checkpoint (say an IED, a gun) then the item is remanded or kept under control until proper protocols for clearance are met. If it is something that is not on the prohib lists, and something that has been cleared, then we have no reason or authority to "seize" it.

West
EOS Blog Team
Anon's statement is completely correct. West is using the chewbacca defense. If an item is an IED, gun, or similar, it is contraband. If the item is not on the prohibited items list, therefore not contraband, and has been cleared, the TSO in question has no reason or authority to "seize it" or request that you voluntarily surrender it. However, you will have to trust that the TSO has been trained well enough to actually know that what they are looking at is actually a laptop.. or an external hard-drive.. or handmade headphone amplifier in an altoids tin.. instead of a IED or a gun. You also have to remember that once your average TSO encounters something they don't understand, they will automatically assume that it cannot be what the owner says it is, no matter how proved.

Tomas said...

Yet Another Anonymous incorrectly claimed...
Joe,
You are not our customers, you are simply passengers. Now however you are customers of the airlines because you are purchasing tickets to fly in their planes. We do not have customers. There are no purchases between the passengers and the TSA. We are not a company that relies on customers to survive. We will be protecting the homeland as long as there are people living in this country.
________________

To which I reply with this, from the Federal Register...

Under 49 U.S.C. 44940 and the Transportation Security Regulations at 49 CFR parts 1510 and 1511, respectively, air carriers and foreign air carriers are required to pay to TSA fees known as the September 11th Security Fee and the Aviation Security Infrastructure Fee (ASIF).

The September 11th Security Fee is a fee in the amount of $2.50 per enplanement imposed by TSA on passengers of domestic and foreign air carriers in air transportation, foreign air transportation, and intrastate air transportation originating at airports in the United States. This fee is limited to $2.50 per enplanement for up to two enplanements (or up to $5) per one-way trip or four enplanements (or up to $10) per round trip. 49 CFR 1510.5(a). Section 118 of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) (Pub. L. 107-71; November 19, 2001) authorized TSA to impose the September 11th Security Fee to help pay TSA's costs of providing civil aviation security services.
(Emphasis added.)

We ARE not only TSA's employers, but also TSA's customers.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
...Joe,
You are not our customers, you are simply passengers. Now however you are customers of the airlines because you are purchasing tickets to fly in their planes. We do not have customers. There are no purchases between the passengers and the TSA. We are not a company that relies on customers to survive. We will be protecting the homeland as long as there are people living in this country.
Thank you and have a nice day.:)

April 15, 2009 4:37 PM
-------------------
Well, if we are not your customers, then why does the TSA have a position in every airport for customer support. See the topic

"What In the Heck Does That Person Do: TSA Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager (CSQIM)"

still on the first page of this blog.

GSOLTSO said...

Another Anon said - Anon's statement is completely correct. West is using the chewbacca defense. If an item is an IED, gun, or similar, it is contraband.

You have to admit, Chewbacca is a pretty decent defense, he is fairly strong and pretty good with a crossbow blaster... That being said, IED, Gun or an item deemed an immediate threat is not necessarily contraband. The reference I was making to contraband will be the following :illicit drugs, and illegal items of that nature. Items like a gun that are an immediate threat are turned over to LEO, items like an IED are turned over to the BAO or local bomb squad. WE do not confiscate them, we turn them over to the proper personnel for clearance. Contraband we do not confiscate, we simply refer the passenger to the proper authority for resolution.

Finally, we don't seize anything, if an item is not contraband, not an immediate (or possible) threat, we offer the passenger the option to take the item to their vehicle (if they have one), take the item back out and place it in checked baggage, give it to a family member to keep for them, or leave the area and dispose of it themselves. The final option for a passenger that has an item not allowed is to voluntarily surrender it to the TSO for disposal. There is no seizure involved in what we do.

Anonymous said...

"now that Janet Napolitano has decided that anyone that does not agree with the Feds is a Right Wing Radical"

Could you post a link to objective material that brings you to that conclusion?

Or is your knee just jerking?

RB said...

How's this? - if you think it MAY not be allowed on the plane, put it in your checked bag! OR READ THE WEBSITE ON PROHIBITED ITEMS!!

April 15, 2009 10:51 AM
...............
So some other TSO can pilfer the checked baggage and steal the items.

Great choice!!!

Irish said...

So, Bob ... inquiring minds want to know:

Suppose I’m at the checkpoint, and a TSO asks me about that big bunch of American money in my carry-on?
Suppose by some bizarre conjunction of the stars I take leave of my senses and disclose to the nosy TSO, "Oh, that’s the $9,950 I'm going to use to buy a wonderous objet d'art."
Still going to count it, or are you going to take my word for it?
Suppose I'm en route to Australia and I say "Oh, that’s the $11,500 I'm going to gift my dear gray-haired mother during my layover at LAX so she can pay off her cute little seaside house."
Still going to count it?
Why?
Going to insist I fill out a Customs form?
Why?
Going to report me to Customs?
Why?
Suppose I say, as politely as I possibly can and with a charmingly sweet and appealing smile, "I really prefer not to discuss my finances but, just to set your mind at ease, it's certainly less than $10,000."
Still going to count it?
Why?
Suppose I say, in a very neutral tone, “I really prefer not to discuss my finances with you.”
Still going to count it?
Why?

Irish

Anonymous said...

RE: Anonymous' question:

"Could you post a link to objective material that brings you to that conclusion?

Or is your knee just jerking?
"


Take a look at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/14/homeland-security-report_n_186834.html

for an article about the recent DHS report and a copy of the report itself.

T-the-B at flyertalk

Miller said...

GSOLTSO said:

Finally, we don't seize anything, if an item is not contraband, not an immediate (or possible) threat, we offer the passenger the option to take the item to their vehicle (if they have one), take the item back out and place it in checked baggage, give it to a family member to keep for them, or leave the area and dispose of it themselves. The final option for a passenger that has an item not allowed is to voluntarily surrender it to the TSO for disposal. There is no seizure involved in what we do.Just a slight matter of semantics. At some airports (i.e. O'hare, MPLS, Atlanta) retrieving your luggage is a monumental effort just to place an item into it. Call it what you want, TSA has separated us from our belongings.

Anonymous said...

When presented with a passenger carrying a large sum of money through the screening checkpoint, the TSA officer will frequently engage in dialog with the passenger to determine whether a referral to law-enforcement authorities is warranted.Just how does one do that? What if the TSO happens to have a bug up with this passenger?

The TSA officer may consider all circumstances in making the assessment, including the behavior and credibility of the passenger. Thus, a failure to be forthcoming may inform a TSA officer’s decision to call law-enforcement authorities.Credibility? How do you determine credibility? Oh, that's right, you have BDOs who miss their criminal coworkers all the time.

Anonymous said...

@TSO John: "that is not terrorism, but it highlights the idea that we help to find people here with fake id. You may not like it, but it is possible that terrorist might be here with fake id. Besides that it stregthens the no-fly list."

Stick to terrorism. It is your job. Maybe it is impossible to find the non-existent needle-in-the-haystack terrorist every week-at-a-glance, but your mission creep into other crimes weakens your focus on terrorism.

It's possible that the terrorist might be here with brown skin, but you can't make that a crime. Or it's possible that the terrorist might be here with unpaid taxes, but you can't audit them.

Stick to your impossible job and quit nosing into law enforcement. I'd rather we pay trained cops for doing cop-work, not TSA.

George said...

@GSOLTSO: Finally, we don't seize anything, if an item is not contraband, not an immediate (or possible) threat, we offer the passenger the option to take the item to their vehicle (if they have one), take the item back out and place it in checked baggage, give it to a family member to keep for them, or leave the area and dispose of it themselves. The final option for a passenger that has an item not allowed is to voluntarily surrender it to the TSO for disposal. There is no seizure involved in what we do.Do they teach you TSOs to parrot the official line about "voluntary abandonment" in the same class where they teach you to say "Do you want to fly today?" If so, it clearly shows the disdain and contempt the TSA has for its "customers."

Yes, a passenger theoretically is "voluntarily abandoning" oversized lotion bottles or whatever else the TSO deeems Prohibited when he cheerfully pitches them into the convenient receptacle the TSO provides for that purpose. But in reality, very few passengers in that situation are actually able to avail themselves of any option that allows them to keep their property! If you've already checked your bag before you got to the checkpoint (which is the case at every airport I've ever used), there's no way to get the airline to retrieve it. If you didn't drive your car to the airport, you obviously can't put an item in your car. And how many people actually have family members patiently waiting outside the checkpoint in case they have to pick up a Prohibited item?

The option to "leave the area and dispose of it themselves" is so absurd that I can't believe a professional, highly-trained TSO would suggest it. It's something only a truly clueless passenger would do, since it means they'd have to get back in the queue, start the screening process all over again, and risk the loss of another item if a different TSO screens them. So unless the passenger got to the airport early enough to let them take a taxi ride to the post office and back, or to perhaps call that "family member" and wait for them to get to the airport and pick up the item, that leaves "voluntarily surrender[ing] it to the TSO for disposal" as the only available option.

While it's technically true that a passenger who "chooses" to let the TSO dispose of a Prohibited item is doing so "voluntarily," you may perhaps forgive a passenger in that situation for failing to appreciate that technicality, since it is in practice indistinguishable from the TSA seizing and confiscating the item. Especially when the "voluntary abandonment" is in response to the TSO politely and respectfully asking the passenger "Do you want to fly today?"

Whatever the twisted technicalities that exist in the Twilight Zone of TSA checkpoints, from the perspective of passengers the TSA is confiscating items that are neither dangerous nor illegal but happen to violate whatever known or unknown rules the TSO is enforcing at that moment. And some people in the TSA still wonder why people hate them so much.

Anonymous said...

Francine/TSA Blog Team:

This is a 'Simple Yes or No' question. This means that your answer may only be a 'yes' or a 'no'.

Does the TSA, or any other federal/state agency, have the right to enforce a law, which specifically only applies to passengers or persons engaged in international travel, on passengers who are traveling domestically?

If needed, please cite the complete CFR references that support your answer.

GSOLTSO said...

Miller and George commented on the technical aspects of seizure versus voluntary surrender.

While a person surrendering an item may percieve it to be seizure, it is not. Each person with a prohibited item that is not deemed a threat (gun, IED) is offered the same options. the ability/desire of that person to take advantage of them is entirely their decision. It is not semantics, it is the SOP, and has been for quite some time. You can say it is semantics, but the rule of 3oz or less has been out there for quite a bit. The ability to waiver up to 3.4oz and more based on medical needs, etc has been in effect for quite a while as well. I dislike having to tell someone that the items can't go, I dislike the current format of the liquids ban (I am an admitted fan of the "All or nothing" formats), however the situation arises daily and will continue to arise on a regular basis. That being said, WE DO NOT CONFISCATE OR SEIZE anything that is not a threat, we offer the same options to each person with a prohibited item and take the steps to resolve the situation. I am certain that this is not going to make you happy, but it is simply the situation right now (and as always is subject to change based on HQ directives). Technical or not, the SOP requires that we offer these options and it is the persons right to take advantage of these options as they deem fit. I dislike the DYWTFT phrase as much as you do, and do not use it. I want that out of our lexicon, it usually does nothing but escalate the situation as opposed to finding a solution to the challenge.

West
EOS Blog Team

George said...

@West: While a person surrendering an item may percieve it to be seizure, it is not. Each person with a prohibited item that is not deemed a threat (gun, IED) is offered the same options. the ability/desire of that person to take advantage of them is entirely their decision. It is not semantics, it is the SOP, and has been for quite some time.And how is that statement in any way relevant to a passenger who has just been given "options" (particularly when the item in question is in compliance with all "guidelines" to which the passenger has access)? Absent some very unusual circumstances that would allow the passenger "options" that don't involve the loss of the item, it's not a choice. When it gets to the point where the TSO asks the passenger "Do you want to fly today?" the "options" other than "voluntary surrender" are usually either impractical or impossible. And, let's face it, most of the items "voluntarily abandoned" are easily enough replaced by spending a few minutes and a few bucks at a store at the destination, so the "options" wouldn't make any sense even if they were available to the passenger.

Regardless of whatever technicalities are in the SOP (which we can't know anyway because their effectiveness depends on secrecy), the passenger has to permanently forfeit any item the TSO decides is Prohibited. Whether the SSI SOP labels it "voluntary abandonment," "confiscation," or "God Bless America," it's still the same thing: The passenger must forfeit his belongings if he wants to fly today-- even if the passenger has followed the "guidelines" but nonetheless violates an unknown and unknowable "rule" (or stupid TSO interpretation). That has happened to me twice, which is why I'm so uppity about the "voluntary abandonment" issue. Continuing to insist that it's all "voluntary" is condescending. It merely escalates the situation and perpetuates the adversarial relationship between the TSA and its "customers."

This would be far less of a problem if we had consistency and accountability in place that would allow passengers to know what they have to do to avoid the situation of having to "voluntarily abandon" an item. But apparently the TSA believes that's contrary to their definition of effective security, which requires passengers as well as terrorists to be always kept "off balance." The best we can do is to follow the "guidelines," which increase the odds of escaping the checkpoint with all our belongings but don't guarantee it. We must then accept the fact that we can't avoid it, as the inevitable cost of the TSA's "effective protection." And we need to prepare for the possibility of being politely and respectfully asked to "voluntarily abandon" any item, even though we're following the "guidelines," because that's necessary for "effective security" as the TSA (or that TSO) defines it.

Technical or not, the SOP requires that we offer these options and it is the persons right to take advantage of these options as they deem fit.So the meaningless "options" that show contempt for passengers and disconnection from reality are a systemic problem, built into the SSI SOP. I'm not surprised at all.

I dislike the DYWTFT phrase as much as you do, and do not use it. I want that out of our lexicon, it usually does nothing but escalate the situation as opposed to finding a solution to the challenge.Where does this phrase come from? Is it part of the SSI SOP? Is it part of the standard training all TSOs receive? If so, it's another example of how contempt for passengers is built into the TSA's culture and operating principles. You recognize this problem enough to avoid using the inflammatory phrase. Good for you! But what are you (or anyone else) doing to change the culture that encourages (or requires?) its use?

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO, what's the right semantics for what happened to the woman's missing funeral remains?

Thievery? Implied voluntary surrender?

Whether or not you like saying the words "do you want to fly today?" your SOP means it.

If a mugger's SOP (MO?) is to give you a choice of "Your money or your life", does that turn the situation from a mugging into a charitable donation?

Jim Huggins said...

West writes, in the ongoing discussion on "surrendered" versus "confiscated" items:

That being said, WE DO NOT CONFISCATE OR SEIZE anything that is not a threat, we offer the same options to each person with a prohibited item and take the steps to resolve the situation.
While I certainly understand the difference ... the distinction is a fine one. Especially when you're the passenger in line with a non-permitted item, under the stress of travel, having to make a choice between several less-than-desirable options. (After all, your first desired option was to keep the item in your carry-on in the first place.)

I think a great deal of the issue deals with the tone and demeanor of the TSO(s) involved. Some of the TSOs who have posted here (not necessarily you) have used an unnecessarily confrontational tone ... more like "it's all your fault, don't blame me, it's not my problem, you're a fool for bringing this in the first place". There are plenty of examples, posted here and elsewhere, of passengers who have tried to follow the rules and been forced into this conundrum, outside of their control. (And, yes, there are plenty more examples of passengers, who by their own ignorance have put themselves there, too.)

It would help ("engage!", anyone?) if TSOs took a more concilatory and cooperative approach to the problem. ("I'm sorry, but the rules say I can't allow this on-board. I know it's inconvenient, but could you [insert option here] instead?")

And, by the way, that sort of approach would help diffuse the tension at the checkpoint, which everyone agrees is a Good Thing ...

Sam H said...

@ Anonymous 4/15/09 at 6:32 pm I may not be a constitutional lawyer, but I am a lawyer, I'm admitted in three states, and I've had high scores on the constitutional law section of the bar exam each time. Does that count?Sure, why not, I'm not a doctor but I play one on the internet. I'm curious why you would sight the Terry vs Ohio case though. It seems to me, on the limited reading I've done on it, that case is actually a large reason for the erosion of Constitutional rights you're arguing against. My interpretation of that case is that it's the reason the police can make a person sit next to his car while a K9 dog is brought in to walk around the outside of the car. When the dog sits, that's probable cause to search the car. So it seems to me that if this were the same kind of thing (which I still say it isn't) isn't it only a matter of time before a judge or even the Supreme Court rule in favor of the TSA? Would that make it okay then?

I also wonder, if you do feel that it's your patriotic duty to hold their feet to the fire, why bother doing it here? Isn't this like complaining to the attendant because of the price of gas?

And @ everyone else that reponded, it's still the same old argument. The TSA acted within their given authority. They didn't arrest anyone, they didn't take his money and until the Supreme Court rules one way or another I don't see anything the TSA did that violated his rights. They were rude, that's it. You all realize that when you purchase a ticket and enter the security area you are consenting to the TSA's rules? Riding a plane is voluntary, unfortunately it's also the easiest way to get around the country. Repeating the same thing ad nauseum doesn't make it true. Twisting something someone says or dissecting every sentenence to the nth degree still doesn't make you right. You probably won't be surprised to learn that I also think she answered the question. I don't see any of this as a statement against the erosion of your personal freedom but more of a slag TSA party. If you were really concerned you would stop trying to twist this and question why the police "illegally" detained the guy. Show of hands, how many of you go to police forums and message boards and post the same non-sense? I've seen the same handful of people post the same general comment on most of the blog entries here and it usually boils down to an arguement that doesn't hold any water. I mean, I know this is just sport for you guys but maybe you should put the keyboard down and take your son or daughter out for a walk and enjoy life.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that Francine hasn't offered a dispositive statement of the legal distinction between "confiscation" and "voluntary abandonment." It may seem an unfathomable "technicality" to us, but it's of vital significance to the TSA.

Insisting that everything about passenger interactions at TSA checkpoints is "entirely voluntary" means that the TSA and TSOs are completely immune to any liability for anything that happens. For example, there can be no liability or compensation for items improperly "prohibited" by TSOs because the passengers "freely chose" to "voluntarily abandon" them.

More importantly, because the passenger "always has free choice" at the checkpoint, any "incident" or conflict is always the passenger's fault. The STL incident is the passenger's fault because he chose ask whether he was legally obligated to answer rather than cooperating properly. The infamous nipple-piercing incident was entirely the fault of the passenger who chose to wear the piercings and chose to protest rather than cooperating. And our Mr. Gel-Pack has no grounds to whine and moan endlessly about his "treatment." The TSOs determined that his gel packs were prohibited and gave him a full range of options. He chose to discard the milk, and so should not cry over it.

The passenger always has free choice throughout the screening process. If they choose to cooperate fully, provide full, unhesitating, and credible answers to any question the TSO asks, and voluntarily abandon any items the TSO decides are prohibited, they will happily be on their way with the full assurance that the TSA is protecting their flight from terrorist threats. But if the passenger chooses not to cooperate, they are fully responsible for whatever happens to them as a result of that choice. TSOs always try to be helpful, reminding them of what the right choices are if they want to fly today. But if they instead choose to defy the TSA, they will face the consequences of their choice.

The concepts of "voluntary abandonment" and "implied consent" may seem like irrelevant technicalities. But they're critical to the operation of an infallible security agency.

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...Does the TSA, or any other federal/state agency, have the right to enforce a law, which specifically only applies to passengers or persons engaged in international travel, on passengers who are traveling domestically?This question is a Fallacy of Many Questions because a yes or no is going to be wrong either way and is only met to serve your purpose/failed argument.

Nothing I can do with that.

My advice is to stick to a valid or sound argument and you will do just fine.

Hope everyone is having a good Thursday,

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

@GSOLTSO "You can say it is semantics, but the rule of 3oz or less has been out there for quite a bit. The ability to waiver up to 3.4oz and more based on medical needs, etc has been in effect for quite a while as well."

Are we STILL playing at that? Even Bob admits that the limit is 3.4oz not 3 despite the intended-to-be-inaccurate signage. There is no waiver at the discretion of the TSO, the rule IS 3.4oz, or are you saying that what HQ says and what TSOs have been trained STILL does not match on this issue?

Clark said...

if an item is not contraband, not an immediate (or possible) threat, we offer the passenger the optionIf it's not contraband OR a threat, then why not allow it through? If what you say is true, then you can't allow anyone or anything through including carryon luggage, clothes, watches, people, air, particles being generated and annhilated at the border of local space-time. Because "not contraband" and "not a threat" excludes everything!

Anonymous said...

WhatTheSamHill sez: "Show of hands, how many of you go to police forums and message boards and post the same non-sense?"

I would never do that. I have a great deal of respect for the training LEOs go through, and the high level of accountability to which they are held when they screw up.

None of that applies to TSA, so I expend energy making noise here in the hopes that the new Administration in the White House will clean house at TSA, or better yet, eliminate the agency forever.

GSOLTSO said...

Jim Huggins said - I think a great deal of the issue deals with the tone and demeanor of the TSO(s) involved. Some of the TSOs who have posted here (not necessarily you) have used an unnecessarily confrontational tone ... more like "it's all your fault, don't blame me, it's not my problem, you're a fool for bringing this in the first place".

You are absolutely correct about this. I can't stand it when I am on the checkpoint and have a passenger that has LAG that is too large and the TSO with them has an attitude! It grinds my nerves and it makes my job harder. I will not apologize for following the SOP, but I do take a polite and professional tone with passengers. That being said, I am actually a people person and enjoy talking to passengers and doing stuff to help them - Not all TSO's have the same attitude or personality. When I have someone that brings LAG that is prohibited, I talk to them about their options, and explain the reasoning, etc. I do not always get a happy person, but at least they leave a bit more educated about the regulations (not what some people want, but that is usually the best I can hope for).

West
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

The simple truth is that government wants a police state where there is no such thing as a right to privacy. Normally the checks and balances afforded by the Constitution prevent this. But when fear drives a wedge into that, the government sees the opportunity to widen the hole. In this case the wedge is the TSA. They would love for us to forget that their purpose is to protect aircraft and instead see them as a general law enforcement body, because it would then make their job so much easier - don't have to worry about that pesky unreasonable search and seizure clause.

They're taking the thin end of the wedge of "well suppose I see someone carrying heroin, I gotta report that" and pushing it toward things like "I can interrogate someone about tax evasion or their membership in civil liberties groups if I feel like it." Pretty soon airports would be seen as just one of those places where the government can do anything it wants to you.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Anonymous @"Mr. Gel-Pack has no grounds to whine and moan endlessly about his "treatment." The TSOs determined that his gel packs were prohibited and gave him a full range of options. He chose to discard the milk, and so should not cry over it."

What I hate about TSA is that they say one thing "breast milk is in the same category as medicine" and "we permit... [g]els or frozen liquids needed to cool disability or medically related items" as fluffy feel-good PR, at the same time as they invoke their secret SOPs to take whatever the heck they want--You can't trust TSA to do what they say.

I whine about our loss of my wife's breast milk because it isn't a hypothetical fantasy, it is an actual incident where we suffered a real loss at the hands of TSA.

This loss happened because TSA's "rules" are unclear to both TSOs and passengers, the rules are apparently not available at the checkpoints, the TSOs are ineptly trained in the rules, and there is effectively no recourse when some TSO makes up some bogus rule.

As I've written several times before, I really don't expect TSA to replace the 13 oz of milk that spoiled because an ill-trained STL TSO supervisor made up a bogus rule, the spilt milk is irreplaceable. What I do hope is that TSA would train their folks in the rules and publish their rules enough so that the TSO could "on-the-spot" show passengers the law that says he can take the particular item. Until TSA shows some sign of working towards this, I will continue to think them poorly managed.

I think my bad-apple TSO was like Steve Bierfeldts's bad-apple TSO, and all the other bad-apple TSOs that TSA blames its PR problems on. It isn't a problems with TSA bad-apples, it's a problem with bad management and bad procedures that allow bad-apple behavior to ferment.

What made Bierfeldt's TSO think he was acting properly? Was it mumbly memos like the one above from Francine? The week-at-a-glance arrest statistics ? The blog post about the capture of drugs by a brave TSO? The over-hyped battery shakedown by Peele and Patterson? This bad-apple behavior is pure TSA.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

@Anonymous: "...But they're critical to the operation of an infallible security agency."

Oh. You're too clever for me. Bravo.

Bob said...

Sam H, please e-mail me at TSAblog@dhs.gov

Thanks,

Bob
EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Show of hands, how many of you go to police forums and message boards and post the same non-sense?"

---

I do it all the time, actually. Too many police officers have a bad tendency to ignore the Constitution when it comes to (especially) "fighting the war on drugs", and also when it comes to seizing money or property -- I'm just as willing to hold their feet to the fire as well.

Anonymous said...

"When I have someone that brings LAG that is prohibited, I talk to them about their options, and explain the reasoning, etc. I do not always get a happy person, but at least they leave a bit more educated about the regulations (not what some people want, but that is usually the best I can hope for)."

You can't educate people about a nonsensical policy with zero scientific justification behind it, West. The best you could possibly do is say you're enforcing a pointless rule with zero scientific justification behind it. Pretty weak sauce, West.

Anonymous said...

Francine Kerner, TSA Chief Counsel said: "TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at the airport checkpoint. Examples include ... violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips."

The "When and Where to File" instruction on the Treasury form FinCEN 105 says: "Travelers carrying currency or other monetary instruments with them shall file FinCEN Form 105 ... at the time of departure from the United States with the Customs officer in charge at any Customs port of ... departure."

Hence a violation of the reporting requirement could be reasonably suspected at a TSA checkpoint if and only if the passenger's boarding pass is for an international departure AND there is no Customs facility between the TSA checkpoint and the gate.

GSOLTSO said...

Sam H said - A whole bunch of really well thought out and articulate statements.... Wow dude, that was awesome. Thanks for posting and bringing a differing viewpoint.

West
EOS Blog Team

George said...

@West: I can't stand it when I am on the checkpoint and have a passenger that has LAG that is too large and the TSO with them has an attitude! It grinds my nerves and it makes my job harder.Aside from grinding your nerves, what do you do about that TSO? Do you talk to him/her? Do you talk to your supervisor? Does the TSA culture allow you to do that? Does it encourage individual TSOs to help solve these problems that make everyone's job difficult? Is there even a way to report "unprofessional" behavior?

I ask this because the evidence available to me suggests that the TSA allows the "attitude" to continue unabated, and perhaps may even encourage it by tacitly equating it with effective security. My evidence is that people (including you!) continue to observe "bad apples," which can only suggest that nobody is actually holding TSOs to the "professional standards" the PR people like to talk about.

If you complain about it here, but take no action to correct the situation, you're part of the problem. If the TSA discourages you from taking action (whether through the implicit fear of retribution or simply through a lack of procedures for taking action), then those of us who believe the TSA has institutional contempt for passengers are correct in that assumption. Until we see some evidence of improvement, we have to continue in that assumption no matter how many sweet empty words emerge from the PR department.

When I have someone that brings LAG that is prohibited, I talk to them about their options, and explain the reasoning, etc. I do not always get a happy person, but at least they leave a bit more educated about the regulations...And what happens after they've been educated? They go to the checkpoint for their next flight with all the LAGs properly placed in their Freedom Baggie.... and the TSO there politely and respectfully asks them to "voluntarily abandon" their one-ounce bottle of sunscreen "if you want to fly today" because it's not in a manufacturer's labeled bottle. I'll bet you didn't tell them about that rule. And they probably didn't know about it because nothing in the published guidelines mentions anything about manufacturer's labeled containers. That's exactly what happened to me-- and after telling me that "you'll put that bottle in the bin if you want to fly today," the TSO insisted that the rules actually did require all containers in a Freedom Baggie to have manufacturer's labels. But of course, I can't actually read this rule for myself because it's SSI.

I hate to keep bringing up that "incident," but it's a very typical example of what so many of us are complaining about. No amount of "education" will enable passengers to avoid situations like that, where TSOs impose "unpublished rules" that passengers can't possibly know about. That and another very similar "incident" have made me a vociferous critic of the TSA. And only a change in the culture that allows such stupidity to occur will change my opinion of your agency.

George said...

@Anonymous, April 17, 2009 12:31 PM:Too many police officers have a bad tendency to ignore the Constitution when it comes to (especially) "fighting the war on drugs", and also when it comes to seizing money or property -- I'm just as willing to hold their feet to the fire as well.At least the police officers are enforcing laws that we can all read for ourselves, and (in theory) know what we need to do to avoid violating them. And the police are (usually) held accountable when they violate the law and the Constitution.

TSOs enforce classified regulations and an SSI SOP that we can't read for ourselves. We can do our best to follow unclassified published "guidelines" that should reduce the likelihood of violating them, but we nonetheless have no way to know what we need to do to avoid being politely given the option of "voluntarily abandoning" our belongings. The TSA seems to think this is a good thing, since the effectiveness of their rules relies on secrecy. It's also a good thing (for them) because the secrecy insulates them from any accountability to the public.

Since the entire concept of being held accountable for violating secret rules we can't read is entirely contrary to the longstanding basis of American law on "due process," it is understandable why some of us have difficulty accepting it. But the TSA somehow doesn't understand that, and believes that the public has some kind of obligation to accept it unquestioningly. There doesn't seem a viable resolution to this fundamental conflict.

Trollkiller said...

Sam H said...

Sure, why not, I'm not a doctor but I play one on the internet. I'm curious why you would sight the Terry vs Ohio case though. It seems to me, on the limited reading I've done on it, that case is actually a large reason for the erosion of Constitutional rights you're arguing against. My interpretation of that case is that it's the reason the police can make a person sit next to his car while a K9 dog is brought in to walk around the outside of the car. When the dog sits, that's probable cause to search the car. So it seems to me that if this were the same kind of thing (which I still say it isn't) isn't it only a matter of time before a judge or even the Supreme Court rule in favor of the TSA? Would that make it okay then?
Let me help you out a little. Police are allowed to use drug dogs to generate probable cause because the dogs are alerting ONLY to an illegal substance that no one has the right to possess. Because the dog only alerts to illegal substances the courts have ruled that the sniff is not a search under the 4th Amendment. (United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, KYLLO v. UNITED STATES, and others) I would much rather have seen them call it a reasonable search but I don't wear the robe.

If the dog were trained to also alert to a legal substance then the sniff would be a search.

Secondly a police officer CAN NOT make you wait for the dog longer than it would take to reasonably take for him to finish his business with you. (remember this)

In other words once you are seized by an officer to be given a ticket. That officer can not make you wait longer than it would normally take him to write the ticket. If he does then he violates your 4th Amendment right with an unreasonable seizure.

Up to this point the courts have ruled the search that the TSA does (assuming it is done correctly) is a reasonable search.

I also wonder, if you do feel that it's your patriotic duty to hold their feet to the fire, why bother doing it here? Isn't this like complaining to the attendant because of the price of gas?A swing and a miss. This Blog was set up FOR the purpose of dialog. When we complain here and hold the TSA's feet to the fire it is in hopes that the wrongs will be corrected by the TSA and not by force of the court. If you would like a better analogy than the gas station, this blog is more like a city council meeting.

Blogger Bob and crew are representatives of the TSA. Just like a city council meeting, they control who gets the floor and when they approve posts out of order they also dictate who gets heard.

When the TSA pays attention to what is said, changes are made for the better. A few changes have been made because of this blog such as, passive MMW are no longer used in the common area as it violates the 4th Amendment (KYLLO v. UNITED STATES), self select lanes, electronic policy, and even law changes. (still did not get it right but…)

And @ everyone else that reponded, it's still the same old argument. The TSA acted within their given authority. They didn't arrest anyone, they didn't take his money and until the Supreme Court rules one way or another I don't see anything the TSA did that violated his rights.The TSO violated his rights by seizing him without probable cause. By the TSA's own memo less than $10k is NOT contraband to be referred to a LEO. The fact that the TSO admits that the only reason for them to be in the little room was due to PAX's refusal to answer a question about a LEGAL item that did not even meet the TSA's definition of contraband. Or more accurately the TSO’s refusal to answer the PAX’s simple question of “am I required by law to answer”.

You may ask how did the TSO seize him, the answer is simple they required him under color of law to "stay put" until a LEO arrived. Because a reasonable person would not feel they were free to go in that scenario the TSO seized the PAX. Because that seizure was unreasonable, the TSO violated the PAX's 4th Amendment right.

They were rude, that's it. You all realize that when you purchase a ticket and enter the security area you are consenting to the TSA's rules?Wrong, I am NOT consenting to RULES, I am obeying laws. I expect the TSA to do the same.

Riding a plane is voluntary, unfortunately it's also the easiest way to get around the country. Repeating the same thing ad nauseum doesn't make it true. Twisting something someone says or dissecting every sentenence to the nth degree still doesn't make you right. You probably won't be surprised to learn that I also think she answered the question. I don't see any of this as a statement against the erosion of your personal freedom but more of a slag TSA party.Because you see this as a "slag TSA party" is also the reason why you think Francine answered the question. The TSA has authority over ANY and ALL modes of transportation. The way the statute is written the TSA even has authority over bicycles and roller-skates. If you could guarantee the TSA would stick strictly to airports I most likely would not even bother with them. Sadly you can’t because the TSA is already sticking their fingers into other modes of transportation.

If you were really concerned you would stop trying to twist this and question why the police "illegally" detained the guy. No need to question. The LEO detained the PAX by accepting on good faith that what the TSO told him was true. (refusal to answer, belligerent. etc) The LEO also accepted on good faith what the TSO said was allowable by the TSA SOP was true. (TSA must know where the money came from)

The TSO also violated the PAX's 4th Amendment right when he detained him another 5 minutes after the money issue was cleared up.

As with the drug dog issue above, by detaining the PAX under the color of law longer than it would reasonably take for the TSO to finish his duties (search for weapons, explosives and incendiaries) and even his extra curricular duties of finding where the money came from the TSO violated the PAX's 4th Amendment right.

Because the TSO instigated this violation the LEO has an out. Should this LEO have overridden the TSO, of course he should. The LEO's mistake was listening to the TSO. The LEO had probable cause based strictly on what the TSO had said. Once that probable cause was shot the LEO let him go.

Show of hands, how many of you go to police forums and message boards and post the same non-sense? Do you know of any police forums that are run by the police departments? All the police forums I know of are private and membership is limited to police officers.

In other words a swing and a miss.

I've seen the same handful of people post the same general comment on most of the blog entries here and it usually boils down to an arguement that doesn't hold any water.Citing case law, logic and just plain decency does not hold water with you. Hmmm that says a lot about you.

I mean, I know this is just sport for you guys but maybe you should put the keyboard down and take your son or daughter out for a walk and enjoy life.Strike 3

I would like an America like I grew up in for my children. I don't want to see my children forced into a nanny state or papers please society.

I want to make sure that when I do take my children for walks we are not detained and searched without probable cause, I want to make sure we are not compelled to answer any question that may incriminate, I want to make sure that the Liberty and Freedoms I grew up with are not lost.

If you have nothing to hide...

BTW seeing how you play a doctor on the internet, can you write me a script for an easy chair at work? Thanks

Anonymous said...

" Large amounts of money could be suspicious or benign, but a cooperative traveling public ensures TSA spends their time on individuals who pose a threat and speeds of the security process for all travelers. " Not really. Smart criminals/terrorists would fully cooperate so they won't draw unnecessary attention to themselves. A citizen concerned about his privacy simply doesn't believe it's any of the TSA's business why he's carrying 5000 bucks in his suitcase. A criminal, on the other hand, would gladly tell TSA it's "just cash donations for the children's cancer fund, or whatever". TSA, appreciative of the 'cooperative crook', let's him on his way. After all, how does the TSA prove he's telling the truth or not?

Or does TSA really subscribe to the idea that everyone, including criminals, are honest?

SEO said...

Some valid points raised, Personally I would deem any instance of someone carrying large amounts of cash as suspicious, especially in todays world of debit and credit cards.The need for carrying that amount of cash legitimately nowadays is such a rare occurance that it deserves scrutiny, in my view if these questions manage to trip up and foil just one person who is funding terrorism then the the whole ongoing action is justified.

Anonymous said...

SEO, there is absolutely no law regulating domestic travel with cash, and the only law regulating international travel with cash is that sums over $10,000 must be declared -- to US Customs, not to TSA. And cash, of course, cannot possibly pose any threat to an aircraft. TSA's claims of jurisdiction over, or legitimately security-related interest in, any cash citizens carry when traveling by air, is completely pointless and utterly unjustified by any security consideration.

RB said...

S*E*O* said...
Some valid points raised, Personally I would deem any instance of someone carrying large amounts of cash as suspicious, especially in todays world of debit and credit cards.The need for carrying that amount of cash legitimately nowadays is such a rare occurance that it deserves scrutiny, in my view if these questions manage to trip up and foil just one person who is funding terrorism then the the whole ongoing action is justified.

April 20, 2009 9:48 PM

So you post here to get your Commercial Sales Pitch in.

What if a person does not want to carry plastic?

Something on paper currency saying "Legal Tender" comes to mind.

You sound like someone who would accept a police state without complaint!

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from SEO: "Some valid points raised, Personally I would deem any instance of someone carrying large amounts of cash as suspicious, especially in todays world of debit and credit cards.The need for carrying that amount of cash legitimately nowadays is such a rare occurance that it deserves scrutiny, in my view if these questions manage to trip up and foil just one person who is funding terrorism then the the whole ongoing action is justified."No it DOESN'T make it justified.

I don't care if you think it's suspiscious. You're not the money police. You're not there for anything but making sure that nothing that can bring down those planes gets on. Money's not going to bring down a plane.

Just because you think it's suspicious doesn't make it so.

There are other government agencies that track money (FBI, SEC, SS, NSA, etc). Let the professionals handle it. All you're doing is harassing people with no cause.

Robert

Anonymous said...

For an analysis of the legal claims being made here by the TSA, and their significance, see:

TSA claims new powers of detention, search, and interrogation(The Identity Project / PapersPlease.org)

Chris Boyce said...

In all sincerity, I think, SEO said...

Some valid points raised, Personally I would deem any instance of someone carrying large amounts of cash as suspicious, especially in todays world of debit and credit cards.The need for carrying that amount of cash legitimately nowadays is such a rare occurance that it deserves scrutiny, in my view if these questions manage to trip up and foil just one person who is funding terrorism then the the whole ongoing action is justified.
My only response to your sincere, but incredulous, views would be to quote the famous American tennis player, John McEnroe: "You CANNOT be serious!!!

Anonymous said...

SEO said...
Some valid points raised, Personally I would deem any instance of someone carrying large amounts of cash as suspicious, especially in todays world of debit and credit cards.The need for carrying that amount of cash legitimately nowadays is such a rare occurance that it deserves scrutiny, in my view if these questions manage to trip up and foil just one person who is funding terrorism then the the whole ongoing action is justified.

April 20, 2009 9:48 PM
-------------------
Funding terrorism for $10,000 or less?! Pretty efficient, it would seem.

As you have stated, it is a rare occurance, so it is not like there are 100 people carrying "large sums of money" to one place to make it a "significant amount".

It would be easier for the terrorists to start a hedge fund to finance their plans.

BED said...

the posting here doesn't answer the true question...we are considered guilty until we prove we are innocent?

Irish said...

SEO said...

"Some valid points raised, Personally I would deem any instance of someone carrying large amounts of cash as suspicious ...”Doesn’t matter whether you think it’s suspicious. What’re you? The thought police? It’s LEGAL”... especially in todays world of debit and credit cards.”Plenty of people don’t have or don’t carry credit cards or debit cards, for plenty of reasons. Maybe they’ve been through a bankruptcy and can’t qualify for a credit card. Maybe they just don’t believe in credit cards and don’t trust debit cards. What business of TSA’s is it whether or why I do or don’t have a credit card in my wallet?”The need for carrying that amount of cash legitimately nowadays is such a rare occurance that it deserves scrutiny ...”What’re you? The thought police? It’s LEGAL”... in my view if these questions manage to trip up and foil just one person who is funding terrorism then the the whole ongoing action is justified."In my view, this attitude is one of the major problems in today's society and the prime enabler of TSA's police-state policies. Suppose we just detain and interrogate everyone who happens to have been in the vicinity of a child abduction? After all, if that fishing-expedition interrogation method manages to trip up and foil just one pedophile, it’s justified, right? How about interrogating everyone in the vicinity of a bank robbery? That stolen money might be going to fund terrorism, right? How about everyone in the vicinity of a drug sale? The drug proceeds might be going to fund terrorism, right? Everyone who happened to be on the parking lot from which my car was stolen? Might be used for a car bomb, right? Everyone in the vicinity of an assault?

Where does this slippery slope end?

Irish

TSO-Joe said...

"the posting here doesn't answer the true question...we are considered guilty until we prove we are innocent?"

At the checkpoint, that's exactly what happens. Elsewhere in America, not so much. TSO-Joe

RB said...

TSO-Joe said...
"the posting here doesn't answer the true question...we are considered guilty until we prove we are innocent?"

At the checkpoint, that's exactly what happens. Elsewhere in America, not so much. TSO-Joe

April 21, 2009 7:13 PM

......................
And your ok with this?

I thought you TSO's swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States.

Well so much for Oaths and TSA!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like TSA-style dragnet searches might have been slapped down in the supreme court (story here)

"The Supreme Court put a new limit on police searches of cars Tuesday, saying that "countless individuals guilty of nothing more serious than a traffic violation" have had their vehicles searched in violation of their rights."

If constitutional rights limit actual LEOs, tell me again why TSA gets a constitution-free zone?

Anonymous said...

"If constitutional rights limit actual LEOs, tell me again why TSA gets a constitution-free zone?"

I'm sure Francine is hard at work writing a classified memo that takes precedence over any law or Supreme Court decision. Whatever the TSA does is legal, by definition. And you voluntarily agree to it when you enter a checkpoint, as a matter of implied consent. Right Francine?

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like TSA-style dragnet searches might have been slapped down in the supreme court (story here)

"The Supreme Court put a new limit on police searches of cars Tuesday, saying that "countless individuals guilty of nothing more serious than a traffic violation" have had their vehicles searched in violation of their rights."

If constitutional rights limit actual LEOs, tell me again why TSA gets a constitution-free zone?

Sorry for the bold but the blog is not allowing line breaks after italics.

This will not stop TSA inspections for explosives, weapons and incendiaries as these are provided for by law.

What the decision may do is stop the extra curricular searches for IDs, money and other non weapon, non explosive and non incendiary items.

Earl Pitts said...

@Anonymous: "I'm sure Francine is hard at work writing a classified memo that takes precedence over any law or Supreme Court decision. Whatever the TSA does is legal, by definition. And you voluntarily agree to it when you enter a checkpoint, as a matter of implied consent. Right Francine?"

And if you don't believe her, feel free to Google it.

Earl

Free American said...

Again, Francine, please explain why Mr. Bierfeldt was detained. Why is this so difficult? What is the rule? Why is it so hard for you to answer these questions? Why was this a threat that the TSO had to call the police? What is the real $ limit that your TSO's will call the cops on us for?

Will you answer our questions? Or just continue to hide behind "SSI". It's no wonder you are hated more than the IRS.

RB said...

Trollkiller said...
Anonymous said...


This will not stop TSA inspections for explosives, weapons and incendiaries as these are provided for by law.

What the decision may do is stop the extra curricular searches for IDs, money and other non weapon, non explosive and non incendiary items.

April 22, 2009 4:11 PM

......................
Good to see you posting TK.

I really don't think anyone has a problem with TSA inspecting for Explosives, Incendiaries, Weapons or other prohibited items. I can accept that.

It is the continued expansion of scope that TSA seems very willing to employ.

I do not see how the law that enables TSA allows for some of the things that are being done and in my opinion the senior staff that are signing off on these things should be charged with a violation of law.

Jim Huggins said...

Trollkiller writes:

Sorry for the bold but the blog is not allowing line breaks after italics.

I've noticed the same thing ... but the <br&rt; tag is recognized, and seems to have the desired effect.

TSO-Joe said...

Yeah, I am OK with this. I swore my oath and will so my job to the best of my ability as I am trained. I find these discussions interesting, but until my superiors or the Supreme Court step in and say otherwise, when you approach a checkpoint, you prove to me that you are innocent. It was this way BEFORE TSA was formed, and I can't see any way of doing my job. TSO-Joe

Anonymous said...

This story reminded me why I avoid air travel as much as possible. I never know which rules were drummed up overnight. Its roulette going through the checkpoints.

I was detained once by TSA for violating unpublished rules. I was held in what I call the penalty box while they berated me, threated to turn me over to the FBI, etc, etc, etc. While they took my ID to some other location to run my info, the local LEO stayed back in the penalty box with me and asked, "Do you want to know how to get out of this?" "Of course," I replied. He said, "I see this happen all day long. They just to hear that you're sorry and that you love and appreciate the job they are doing. Just ask for mercy and laud their invaluable service."

So when the angry TSA Colonel or Supreme Allied Commander or whomever returned yelling at me, I did as the LEO suggested. It worked. I stroked his ego, reminded him how powerful he and his friends were, and how awful it was that I challenged their authority. His attitude reversed, and off I went.

What a joke.

Travel Blog said...

Legal tender should not be considered evidence of a crime.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

TK @ "What the decision may do is stop the extra curricular searches for IDs, money and other non weapon, non explosive and non incendiary items."

Like peanut butter, easy-cheese, snow-globes, or replicas? I think it will take more than a SC ruling to make TSA give up its "if in the opinion of the umpire..." catch-all rule.

RB said...

TSO-Joe said...
Yeah, I am OK with this. I swore my oath and will so my job to the best of my ability as I am trained. I find these discussions interesting, but until my superiors or the Supreme Court step in and say otherwise, when you approach a checkpoint, you prove to me that you are innocent. It was this way BEFORE TSA was formed, and I can't see any way of doing my job. TSO-Joe

April 22, 2009 9:21 PM
...................

Houston, we have a problem!

GSOLTSO said...

TSO Joe said - "At the checkpoint, that's exactly what happens. Elsewhere in America, not so much. TSO-Joe"

Joe, I think that is not actually the mindset we should have. The thought process that management seems to be trying to get across (from my viewpoint) is that all people are to be treated the same. There are some rules and regs that are difficult for the flying public, but they are supposed to be equally applied in an effort to generate effective security measures, not in a guilty until proven innocent mindset. I have posted before on the equal application of screening procedures and the fact that this is actually what the organization seems to be aiming for. If we stop screening people based on appearance, age, or any other definable category such as PWD, we are profiling and that is illegal, and ineffective. I hope that is the prevailing attitude for the TSO's as it seems to be the direction the organization is trying to present.

West
EOS Blog Team

TSOWilliamReed said...

Hello,

So about the abondoned items discussion. Just wanted to point out that every airport is different. In the large airports I agree, there is no chance to save your item from the TSA bin of no return. However in cat 3 and smaller airports its much different. At our cat 3 airport in alaska we encourage passengers to take their items downstairs and place them in their checked luggage. We can do this because its a 1 minute walk downstairs to the airline counter and takes the airline 2 minutes to walk outside to the back of the airport, find your luggage if it has not been loaded yet and bring it back for you to place your item in. Then back to TSA for re-screening and usually the line is pretty short, wait time of about 1 minute. We even offer passengers the ability to leave their screened items with someone they know in the sterile area while they take the item downstairs to make their 2nd trip through our checkpoint easier. Also at our airport I have never heard anyone ever use the classic "do you want to fly today?". Not once ever.

Tomas said...

GSOLTSO wrote... There are some rules and regs that are difficult for the flying public, but they are supposed to be equally applied in an effort to generate effective security measures, not in a guilty until proven innocent mindset. I have posted before on the equal application of screening procedures and the fact that this is actually what the organization seems to be aiming for. If we stop screening people based on appearance, age, or any other definable category such as PWD, we are profiling and that is illegal, and ineffective. I hope that is the prevailing attitude for the TSO's as it seems to be the direction the organization is trying to present.
________________

Possibly your well reasoned and stated comment gives me an opportunity to bring up something that HAS been brought up before, West, but always slips away with no resolution.

As I have mentioned before, I am handicapped. After my stroke in 2001 I spent three years fighting my way out of a wheelchair, and now days walk with a cane - for short distances and short times.

It really is necessary to treat some broad classes of travelers differently than others.

For example, it is absolutely ridiculous to expect a person who requires assistance to even stay upright to hop about on one foot at a time to remove shoes.

Want me to remove my easily removed, slip on shoes? Give me someplace to sit to do it.

Want me to be able to to put my shoes back on, assure that I will have a place to sit.

There is NO question that this is a REQUIREMENT. Please learn to live with it.

While I am doing this have the patience to not dump my unprotected laptop out of the tray onto a hard stainless steel surface because you are short of trays (PHL), and restrain yourselves, don't bellow at me, if I happen to touch the frame of your walk through magnetic detector to stabilize myself before passing through because you took my cane away from me (PHL).

While I do understand (and agree with) equal treatment and equal levels of screening for ALL who enter the sterile or secure areas, every time (that must include all employees), how each broad class is handled must also meet the needs of the persons in that class.

Ya know, I really don't care if having to provide a place to sit to remove/replace shoes is "difficult" for TSA to arrange. It need to be done, do it.

Don't give me the impatient brush off that there isn't any place to sit before the magic magnetic archway and xray machine, and don't refuse to assist me in getting another traveler's carry-on off the exit seating (while she sits and chats on her cellphone) so I can sit to get my shoes back on (PHL).

Remember, those accommodations are required, not optional, on TSA's part. You don't get a "pass" because it is difficult. Difficult or not, TSA must find a way to do it.

Sorry to bring this back up again, it's not your fault, West. It is just an area where I have to rate TSA a "fail" on their operations.

Take care,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

TSO-Joe said...

Hi, West! I see what you are saying, and at the checkpoint, at least the ones I work, everyone is treated the same.

But...

The bottom line is: A passenger does not enter the sterile area UNTIL you prove you are not guilty or carrying a gun/IED/large tasty beverage. You HAVE to go through a metal detector/ MMW/ puffer or get a hand wand/pat down. All belongings will be x-rayed and some ETD'ed or physically searched. IF we treated everyone as they were innocent, we would not have to restrict access to the sterile area in this manner. Until the first hijacking in the 1970's required the metal detectors, one could come and go as they pleased into an airport. Our merchants at MSP used to bill themselves as an extention of the famed Mall of America to get people to stop by and shop.

BUT...

Now we restrict access to the stirle area until you can prove that you have business in the sterile area or are flying. And once you prove that, you have to prove that you are not bringing in anything that can harm an aircraft. People no longer have free reign to wander in and out of the sterile area, and that was put in place before TSA arrived. Unless TSA changes that, a passenger will have to prove their innocence before proceeding beyond a checkpoint.

Is it a bad thing? No, as I cannot think of any other way to secure an area, regardless if it is a sterile area at an airport or the US Capitol. I think TSO's need to remember that passengers are not guilty of anything; then maybe some of our "bad apples" will calm down and do more customer service work rather than the rogue stuff that we see reported here on this blog. TSO-Joe

RB said...

TSO-Joe said...
Hi, West! I see what you are saying, and at the checkpoint, at least the ones I work, everyone is treated the same.

But...

The bottom line is: A passenger does not enter the sterile area UNTIL you prove you are not guilty or carrying a gun/IED/large tasty beverage. You HAVE to go through a metal detector/ MMW/ puffer or get a hand wand/pat down.

Is it a bad thing? No, as I cannot think of any other way to secure an area, regardless if it is a sterile area at an airport or the US Capitol. I think TSO's need to remember that passengers are not guilty of anything; then maybe some of our "bad apples" will calm down and do more customer service work rather than the rogue stuff that we see reported here on this blog. TSO-Joe

April 30, 2009 9:19 PM
..........................
If it is so dang important to keep bad things out of the secure area then why on earth are some people allowed entrance without screening?

TSA talks out of both sides of its mouth!

What is really being done is a fuzzy blanket for the kettles.

No real secuity is being accomplished!

GSOLTSO said...

Tomas sez - "Sorry to bring this back up again, it's not your fault, West. It is just an area where I have to rate TSA a "fail" on their operations."

I agree with you 100%, there should be some area where a person with physical, emotional needs can be taken where accomodations of their needs can be handled. I am lucky, we have enough room on our checkpoints to take that into account and work with someone that needs it. I hope that the organization is working on this issue becuase it is not addressed as well as it should be. If someone needs help getting their items together, it should be given as a matter of course, not as an exception. I think that one of the things we have begun to address (with the redesign of the checkpoints, the Engage! and Coach programs) is to address those needs as they arise. I hope that you have better experiences and I hope that other TSO's will read these comments and gain a better understanding of just how difficult it would be to have ANY kind of physical limitation or mental challenge. Good luck Tom and I will send emails out on this issue like I always do requesting some focus to the workforce about addressing this type of situation.

West
EOS Blog Team

John Q Traveller said...

I grow tired of reading responses from the TSA that in essence say, "we can do whatever we believe to be reasonable at the time..."

Francine's answer isn't an answer at all...it's legal double-speak which just repeats the above message.

It is legal for US citizens to carry ANY amount of cash. Period.

Merely having cash is not evidence of criminal activity, nor is it probable cause that a crime has been committed. Alone, an individual having cash would fail the PC test for a warrant, so it should fail the test for the TSA to take any interest unless there is some other reasonable evidence that there might be some criminal activity involved (e.g. a mask being worn or bank holdup notes falling from the traveler's pockets).

The TSA is on a never-ending power trip. Power corrupts. Absolute power (which they seem to have)corrupts absolutely. All of their leverage comes from threat their screeners are so eager to bark, "do you want to travel today?"

The time to shut down the TSA has come and gone.

John Q Traveller said...

TSO Ron says...

No one is forcing you to do anything. Do as you like. But I remind you of my comments about consequences. Those who stand on their rights usually find that they are standing on nothing but air, because they are ignorant of their rights.Gee Ron, are you an attorney? You seem to know what my rights are, so perhaps you can explain (as all others in your organization have yet failed to do...) how carrying cash can be considered contraband. It's US Currency. Even on the custom's form it clearly states that the carrying of any amount of cash is legal. There's a reporting requirement, that's all. So... how about it? Care to actually answer a question instead of grandstanding?

I'm so glad you find it "amusing" that US citizens find the organization for which you work to be oppresive and heavy handed.

Rather than judge whether or not I am "standing on air" - or whether or not I understand my rights, I'd much prefer you spend your time learning that I indeed HAVE rights and that you are in a position to trample them. You and all in government are supposed to take that seriously and protect our rights, not abuse the power that has been given you by the people of this nation.

SEO said...

RB said
"You sound like someone who would accept a police state without complaint!"

Its not about accepting a police state,(which we already have anyway)Infact thats something I stand firmly against.
I am not talking about harrassing people over their holiday money, I am talking about unreasonably large sums of hard cash which the carrier cannot justify a valid reason for having in cash. todays banks offer international service and if you are carrying vast wadges of cash for a legitimate purpose you are going to have a valid reason.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, can't wait to see the outcome of the ACLU lawsuit regarding this issue.

Anonymous said...

After all this publicity you would think that the TSA would actually ANSWER THE QUESTION being asked, especially when they bothered to type the question into this blog entry itself!

Is the TSA simply INCAPABLE of saying "no, by law you are not required to answer the question" ?

I think it's a darn shame that Steve Bierfeldt lost his nerve once confronted with the FBI but, obviously, the FBI is a bit more intimidating that a TSA employee.

Vadim Rapp said...

I think the answer is perfectly clear. NO, passengers are not required by law to answer these questions neither to TSA, nor to the police. However, TSA agents, same as anybody else, are free to call the police if they suspect criminal activity. This suspicion my be based on any set of observations and experience with the passenger, including his behavior when answering questions.

Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter is that the TSA is incapable of voluntarily permitting the traveling public to exercise any of their civil rights. I have had several items that are perfectly legal -- under TSA published rules -- seized by the TSA on various trips, and when I asked for the reason for seizure, was told that they don't have to tell me. I have been refused passage through the checkpoint when I did not have photo ID, despite the fact that at the time the TSA rules specifically permit two non-photo government IDs as a substitute (I presented an FAA-issued pilot's license and an FAA-issued aircraft mechanics license). The TSA lies, cheats, and steals from the traveling public. These are documented facts. Few TSA employees are ever held accountable for these transgressions.

Référencement said...

Hello,
Thanks you for your post! In Europe We can tarvel with 10.000 euros (cash) it's the maximum!

Paula in Albuquerque said...

Asking probing questions is well and good, at airport security check-points...but, what I'd like to know is: Who is checking the DRUGS, and OBSCENE amounts of cash, which cross American borders...everyday of the year...and, are not intercepted and questioned by US authorities???

Anonymous said...

You all are such pathetic whiners!
I wish I spend a day at your job and criticize each and every thing you do and even though I may know nothing about your actual job, proceed to tell you how and why you are doing a crummy job, that you are grossly overpaid for the job you do, and that I know how to do your job better than you do.

Anonymous said...

You all are such pathetic whiners!
I wish I spend a day at your job and criticize each and every thing you do and even though I may know nothing about your actual job, proceed to tell you how and why you are doing a crummy job, that you are grossly overpaid for the job you do, and that I know how to do your job better than you do.


___________________________________________

Well if the TSA would disclose the SOP people might be a bit more forgiving.

aleska said...

Legal tender should not be considered evidence of a crime.

ibrahim said...

IF i had 100,000 in cash and i was heading to a different continent to buy a house ,the TSA ask why u carrying that amount of cash? and i never stayd silent but i answerd the question ,saying that the house im buying is 50,000 cheaper if i pay in cash i know that they will pick upa big fuss about it even if i knw that im telling the truth but the thought flying through the TSA people is that itz for illegal activity and drugs or funding terrorism if thats the case i can still do all the illegal stuff if i were to put it all in the bank, so if they can take such drastic action about the cash im carrying they should be able to do the same to someone carrying a card full of money

ibrahim

ibrahim said...

this is and example
how about if i land in nevada and i have 2000 in cash TSA dont kick up a fuss but take a record of what i was carrying 5 days later i turn up to to the same air port to return home but i have over 500,000 in cash but not exactly i even have change in coins they will get the law involved because they need me to justify wer i got it from well my justification for the amount im carrying is that im the best at poker and roullet and at the casinos the pay out in cashhh and in al my heart i belive that someone can go and win all that money and to say this that u won it is a petfect reason for a large amount of cash and i have the right over my winnings.

by the way im talkin from the UK/london yess the country with the most security the i even got 1 day in a cell because i couldednt justufy wer i got my 50 pounds from, what a day i had

Jillian T. said...

This seems like an opportunity to ask for a bribe. Even if a person carries more than $10K, it doesn't really prove anything! Although its not entirely a safer option, it would be more practical to carry the cash than to get it thru wire transfer if in a foreign country or do I even have to mention credit card charges? Some merchants also don't accept credit cards in the first place.

William B. Doyle, anti-terrorism guy said...

I agree with what everyone here is saying. TSA has no authority. Period. They have become domestic terrorists. Answer: Civil and criminal lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

“If questioned by the TSA, is a traveler REQUIRED BY LAW to explain to why they are carrying a significant amount of cash?”

This is a simple question and central to this topic. Dozens of member of the traveling public have asked this question on this blog, yet the TSA has failed to respond directly or truthfully for almost 15 months. This is an embarrassment that undermines the TSA's credibility and mission - and thereby UNDERMINES MY SAFETY. Do citizens really need to beg for a courteous and truthful answer from our own TSA?

President Obama has repeatedly stated that he is "committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history." Accordingly, a copy of this post regarding the TSA's ongoing obfuscation will be copied to the White House at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. I feel certain that the White House will respond respectfully. How about the TSA?

Anonymous said...

In apparent reaction to the ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of Steven Bierfeldt, on September 1, 2009. the TSA Amended its directive governing passenger screening searches. In October 2009, the TSA issued a second directive addressing the issues raised in the ACLU’s lawsuit, stating that “traveling with large amounts of currency is not illegal,” and that to the extent bulk quantities of cash warrant searching, it is only to further security objectives.

The following are relevant excerpts from the September 2009 amended TSA Directive -

“TSA MANAGEMENT DIRECTIVE No. 100.4 TRANSPORTATION SECURITY SEARCHES
REVISION: This revised directive supersedes TSA 100.4, Transportation Security Searches, dated September 24. 2007.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES: Section 4, Definitions, clarifies and adds terms; and Section 6. Policy, addresses discovery of currency and illegal items, explains authority to verify identity, and discusses layered security.
. . .

(4) Screening may not be conducted to detect evidence of crimes unrelated to transportation security. However, if such evidence is discovered, ISA shall refer it to a supervisor or a law enforcement official for appropriate action... Although an individual may be requested to wait until law enforcement arrives, he or she is free to leave the checkpoint once applicable screening requirements have been completed successfully...

(5) Traveling with large amounts of currency is not illegal. Sometimes currency discovered at the checkpoint will need to be examined to clear it to enter the sterile areas (or other secured areas). As a general matter, there should be no reason to ask questions of the passenger about currency, although there may be times when questions are warranted by security needs... TSA may notify CBP and/or law enforcement authorities pursuant to its standard operating procedures that the individual possesses a sum of currency... as well as request that the individual remain accessible pursuant to such notification."

andrew said...

While carrying a large amount of cash doesn't constitute criminal activity, it is a bit suspicious as these days there's no need to carry so much cash on you. So in my opinion, large amounts of cash being carried on a plane is more than likely more than meets the eye.

Anonymous said...

It has been 18 months since the "St. Louis Incident" which resulted in the TSA revising its management directive to acknowledge that "Screening may not be conducted to detect evidence of crimes unrelated to transportation security." Yet we now read that the TSA in Philadelphia went through a Ms. Kathy Parker's personal papers and was alarmed by her possession of "almost sequential numbered" undeposited checks. Instead of protecting Ms. Parker's privacy, the TSA triggered an inquiry into whether she was involved in embezzlement or was fleecing her spouse during a divorce.

It appears that 'Mission Creep' continues to be a serious problem at the TSA. It would be reassuring to the Traveling Public (an appropriate part of TSA's mission) to see the TSA take swift and public action when boundaries are overstepped. Instead, the TSA's public statements are typically defensive and dismissive of the constitutional insults and trauma occassioned by such transgressions.

While actions speak louder than words, the TSA's silence drowns out both. Timely and meaningful responses from the TSA are the exception rather than the rule (this blog site itself provides ample evidence of such). Why are U.S. citizens being forced to depend on the ACLU to extract truthful answers and force policy changes at the TSA.

The TSA would obtain greater cooperation and be met with far less scorn were it to actually champion both travel safety and "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. . ." Instead, the TSA give one the impression that it generally considers the Constitution (and the Fourth Amendment in particular) to be an obstacle to its operations rather than the only justification for the TSA's very existence.

If the TSA has publically acknowledged that Ms. Parker was mistreated by its officers, please direct the readers oif this blog to any such statement. If there is none, the "EoS Blog Team" should take this opportunity to do so. I would hold my breath waiting for such, but suicide is unlawful.

Anonymous said...

In short:

TSA is a redundant agency and should be disbanded. Customs already performs this function. Do we need two separate agencies to do the same job?

Anonymous said...

TSA is such a joke. Thanks for security theater.

Anonymous said...

The 4th amendment: "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."

So, does this no longer apply? Fishing expeditions like this are expressly forbidden by the constitution. Or, would you claim that there's no longer an expectation of privacy for any part of your person while travelling?

Anonymous said...

I am so happy today when I read the comments on this post to learn that people are becoming quite educated on these topics. I can only hope that the uninformed are also reading the tops.

TSA is not law enforcement.
TSA cannot make an arrest.
TSA cannot detain you.

I wish I could find the case but I remember reading recently about a case being thrown out where the TSA found drugs or something on someone. The court said that TSA is only tasked with looking for things that violate airline safety.

The TSA really needs to get off this power trip and realize they are not cops, customs agents, or whatever else they wish to think they are. If they don't I surely hope the courts, congress, or someone defending against and illegal detention (kidnapping) or illegal seizure (theft) put them in check very soon.

Anonymous said...

Not a lawyer but just wanted to also add that observing your right to remain silent and not answering the TSA's questions, even if they were law enforcement, cannot be used as probably cause for anything! The courts have decided this quite a few times.

Anonymous said...

How My Lawsuit Against the TSA Made Airports Safe For the Constitution Again

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-bierfeldt/how-my-lawsuit-against-th_b_352660.html