The Terrorists Have Won

Victory courtesy of the freaking TSA.  Making a mockery of the Fourth Amendment for nearly 10 years now.


  1. Chris:

    Fifth Amendment in this instance.
    "I want a lawyer, I want a lawyer, I want a lawyer!"

  2. Judge Fredd:

    Pardon my French, but Un-fucking-believable.

    You're strip searched.... for your protection.

    You're handcuffed and in a holding cell ... for your protection.

    You're pulled off a plane and questioned, all because you're a different color and you happened to be fiddling with your smartphone... for your protection.

    That's got to be up there with the biggest lies in history, right up there with "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." and "The check's in the mail."

  3. me:

    Ah, see, but it's totally legal, because you don't have any rights when you are in an airport. Or within 100 miles of the nearest border. Or if someone in Washington put your name on a list. Or in a trainstation, at a bus stop, in a public space.
    Good thing we've got an economy that is tanking, otherwise some people might complain...

  4. a_random_guy:

    Where is the right to confront your accuser? Whoever called in this tip in ought to have to face this woman (and the two men) and personally ask forgiveness. Mistakes should have consequences. There is no reason to guarantee the accuser anonymity.

    Perhaps the biggest shame is the woman's complete acquiescence to everything the police demanded, apparently including a strip- and cavity-search. It would have been nice if she had insisted on her rights. However, that probably takes much more courage than any of us (not on the spot) can really imagine - she really just wanted to go home. The police, of course, have done this many times, and know exactly which buttons to push...

  5. gn:

    Not sure the terrorists won, but we sure lost.

  6. Chris:

    I have been harassed by cops (not on terrorism grounds) and insisted on my rights the entire time myself. It's not that difficult.

    If the 1st Amendment protects your right to freedom of speech, the 5th protects your right to shut the hell up.

  7. Uncle Bill:

    I am somewhat less sympathetic than you. See this interview with James Woods:

    If someone had questioned these guys, how might our current situation be different?

  8. Mike Walker:

    I am also not so sympathetic. While we don't know what their accuser's state of mind was, how would you have the TSA handle these types of situations? I think they have to assume the worst and proceed accordingly.

  9. Frank Waleczak:

    I too am not all that sympathetic. I have been "retained" by the police on a suspicion and had all these things happen. When it became clear that I was innocent, I was released. I however did not get an apology or driven back to home. This does not mean I condone what happened and frankly, she should scream from the roof tops about this. She also should raise hell with the airliner involved.

  10. CWTyger:

    The trouble with travel these days is that when you do travel with an airline (or even by Greyhound), you're inundated with messages saying that everyone around you is a terrorist who cannot be trusted. The worst offenders are the places whose automated messages encourage you to report the guy sitting beside you if he does anything "out of the ordinary". The message I remember hearing last year at the St. Louis Greyhound depot, for instance, instructed us to alert security if anyone tried to get me to watch their bags for them. I guess if you need to use the toilets, you're expected to take your luggage with you or willingly surrender it to be destroyed.

    I also get the impression that the accused will never face their accuser. The lady who wrote this piece certainly didn't, and the news article she linked to only vaguely defines the accused as "the crew". Her crime? Guilt by association: she was sitting next to the two accused. Their crime? Apparently, dueling constipation. No word on whether the crew were held for questioning. I bet if I had reported someone at the St. Louis Greyhound as I was encouraged to do by the annoying automated message, I would've been on the bus to the next town and halfway there before my chosen terrorist suspect would've been cleared of his "crime" and allowed to continue on his trip (which he'll have to delay and reschedule because he missed his bus). And can you imagine if someone does this to free up a seat on an overbooked plane so that they can get off Standby?

  11. blokeinfrance:

    Cunning new plan. Let's hijack the plane after it's landed...

  12. RandomReal[]:

    At the time, I predicted a steep rise in "Terrorist Inflation".

    Too many agents chasing too few terrorists.

    Unfortunately, my prediction has come to pass.

  13. anon:

    "you’re inundated with messages saying that everyone around you is a terrorist who cannot be trusted."

    Sounds like a variation on East Germany's approach.

  14. Gil:

    It's obvious the framers of the Constitution weren't Libertarians because Libertarians would've have one Amendment that would go something along the lines of "the government shall restricted to enforcing laws that pertain solely the crimes of force and/or fraud with everything else left to the private domain."

    The 4th Amendment has the magical word "unreasonable" hence that throws a huge spanner in the works for Libertarians because the Supreme Court gets to decide what's "unreasonable".

  15. Chris T.:

    I watched in disgust as an elderly woman was wanded and patted down by TSA at Manchester, NH airport. While she was standing up, rather wobbly, for this search, the clowns were wiping down her airport-loaner wheelchair for explosive residue. I watched with evident disgust and opined to the guardians of civilization that, as a minimum, they owed her an apology. I was not molested, just got some dirty looks, so I left, got my coffee and departed.
    I find that as I age(60), I grow less tolerant of bullsh*t.

  16. Ian Random:

    I just wish they'd calibrate their metal detectors. The ones at the small airports are awfully forgiving, while the ones at the big airports work great down to lost coins in my wallet.

  17. Scott:

    I'm sorry, but this account is just oozing with racism. With all the thousands upon thousands of non-white passengers flying every day of the year, she immediately jumps to the assumption that she's arrested because of
    the color of her skin. Then she makes a point that the man who stole the $3000 watch was white and he "didn’t look too different from some of the officers." And when she's in the cell, what personal hero gives her inspiration to last through the ordeal? Malcolm X. What happened to her was horrible, but it's hard to feel sympathy for someone who doesn't hesitate to judge others by the color of their skin even as she complains about receiving the same treatment.

  18. Gaunilo:

    Monday morning quarterbacking:

    In retrospect, she should have at least made them agree that she was seized for 4th amendment purposes, and make them articulate the justification for the seizure. The first question to ask is whether she is free to go.

    She should also have made them agree that there is no legal basis to require her to answer any questions or in fact to speak to them in any manner. If they assert different, make them state the legal basis for this.

    I am not familiar with the legal status at this point. I do not think it meets the definition of either a Brady stop or a traffic stop. There has to be some legal basis for a seizure under the 4th amendment. Both Brady stops and traffic stops have had quasi-defined time limits on what is reasonable. I don't know how the law is operating here. I don't think four hours meets any reasonable definition of "reasonable".

    Note that she is not crossing any borders. She has not consented to any conditions to procedures after the trip is completed. Traveling by airplane does not mean you have consented to waiving any of your legal rights.

    If she was aware of the law, she should also have made them inform her if the conversation was subject to the penalties of USC 18 section 1001, which imposes felony penalties for lying to a Federal official. If so, she should have declined to be questioned until she could consult with an attorney. There are no penalties under this section for not answering questions, but any answers give them the leeway to allege false answers later if any answer is in any way ambiguous.

    She should also have made it very explicit that she did not consent to any searches, and made sure she got names of anyone who searched her after she so informed them.

    This may have lengthened here stay with the nice folks. But it would have greatly increased the fun she could have after they released her.

    I'm sure they would declaim that they were only doing their jobs.

    But in the words of Jungle Bubba:

    "Just doin' my job,you know,he said to me
    but Hell, even old Judas wouldn't cop that plea.

  19. Smock Puppet, Student Loan Microlender:

    I'm not overly sympathetic, either. Not saying it wasn't an over-reaction, but if something HAD happened, then how loud would the screaming have been? Doing something on the 10th anniversary certainly would have been a coup for any attackers involved.

    Offhand, a few thousand people across multiple flights got seriously inconvenienced. On that plane, three people got heavily examined because of an overly nervous and jittery observer.

    *I* was detained this week for ten minutes because the officer thought I had gone through a roundabout too fast. Oooooohhh!!

    He was inarguably wrong (the ludicrous speed he suggested I was supposed to be going at would have led to my car slamming into the curb sideways and having its rims broken, but so freakin' what?). And yet I had to be polite and not argue with him other than simple, polite "I'm sorry, officer, but I believe you are wrong".

    In the case of the author, it's unfortunate that anyone gets crap because people misuse our tools to harm us, but either this crap is inevitable, or serious disasters threatening thousands are.

    You get to choose which one you'd rather have happen. No, you can't say "neither". This is the Real World, child.

    Bitch about REAL violations of your sovereignty -- like random traffic stops. Or the Kelo decision. Or anti-drug laws that get enforced even when your state defacto legalizes certain mildly intoxicating substances. Not crap like the author's problem.

  20. Gaunilo:

    Small edit. I meant Terry Stop not Brady Stop. Brainfade.