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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Deal With Roving TSA Teams? 1059

An anonymous reader writes "I live in Boston, and I have noticed the TSA performs random security checks at the Copley T (subway station) and other locations. I routinely travel with a laptop, iPhone, and other gadgetry. What are my rights when asked by one of the TSA agents to 'come over here'? Can I say no and proceed with my private business? What if a police officer says that I 'must go over there and cooperate'? Can I decline or ask for a warrant? Like the majority of the population, I turn into an absolute shrinking violet when pressured by intimidating authority, but I struggle with what I see to be blatant social devolution. Has anybody out there actually responded rationally, without complying? What were your experiences?"
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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Deal With Roving TSA Teams?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:28PM (#38615390)
    Turn around and RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!! Or maybe you can duck and cover... It's up to you...
      • Re:Just keep calm... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by solafide ( 845228 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:57PM (#38615806) Homepage
        I believe it is entirely within one's rights to stand outside the station protesting, perhaps with your portable 4th Amendment sign; and as a Boston resident, I think I'll be carrying around such a sign when I ride the subway in the future.
      • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:06PM (#38615948) Homepage

        The best part of your linked article:
        "There are notices posted at the entrance to the station that the inspection is in progress."

        Terrorist in Boston: "Well, I guess we should bring our bombs to Downtown Crossing instead of Park St!"

        I mean, the way they're doing this, they're absolutely guaranteeing they won't actually catch a reasonably non-stupid terrorist.

      • Re:Just keep calm... (Score:5, Informative)

        by demachina ( 71715 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:56PM (#38616642)

        FYI, I think this is the U.S. Law [cornell.edu] that authorizes TSA VIPR teams which I'm assuming the TSA teams in Boston are. This law ran through 2011 though I think it was extended in the 2012 TSA budget:


        (a) In general The Secretary, acting through the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, may develop Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (referred to in this section as âoeVIPRâ) teams to augment the security of any mode of transportation at any location within the United States. In forming a VIPR team, the Secretaryâ"
        (1) may use any asset of the Department, including Federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, canine detection teams, and advanced screening technology;
        (2) may determine when a VIPR team shall be deployed, as well as the duration of the deployment;
        (3) shall, prior to and during the deployment, consult with local security and law enforcement officials in the jurisdiction where the VIPR team is or will be deployed, to develop and agree upon the appropriate operational protocols and provide relevant information about the mission of the VIPR team, as appropriate; and
        (4) shall, prior to and during the deployment, consult with all transportation entities directly affected by the deployment of a VIPR team, as appropriate, including railroad carriers, air carriers, airport owners, over-the-road bus operators and terminal owners and operators, motor carriers, public transportation agencies, owners or operators of highways, port operators and facility owners, vessel owners and operators and pipeline operators.
        (b) Authorization of appropriations
        There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section such sums as necessary for fiscal years 2007 through 2011.

        • by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <`jason' `at' `jasonlefkowitz.com'> on Saturday January 07, 2012 @12:07AM (#38618832) Homepage

          They're called "Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response" teams? Seriously? That has got to be a backronym [wikipedia.org].

          "OK, so we put these teams together. What do we call them?"

          "I dunno. Should probably be something that sounds all scary and badass. You know, to scare the bad guys when they hear you're coming."

          "Snakes are badass. How about COBRA teams? Cobras are scary."

          "Nah, that sounds like a GI Joe episode. I like the general idea though."

          "OK then, how about VIPER teams?"

          "Ooh, that's good. VIPER. I like it."

          "Great. Now we just need to figure out what the hell VIPER stands for."

          ... six hours later ...

          "I can't think of a word for the E either. Screw it, we'll just leave it out. VIPR teams. Same difference."

    • by sqldr ( 838964 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:54PM (#38617266)

      Here's a good tip: strip down naked, lather yourself up in goose fat, then jump arse-first into the nearest large bin so you can fellate yourself. Won't help you with the TSA, but I'm always happy to share good ideas.

  • What rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:29PM (#38615394)

    Unless I'm mistaken, you don't have rights anymore. If the TSA thinks you're a terrorist based on your evasiveness and defiance they can detain you indefinitely.

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moheeheeko ( 1682914 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:29PM (#38615400)
    Seeing as they just passed a defence bill allowing indefinite detention without trial for suspected terrorists, for now I would just go with it.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Capt.DrumkenBum ( 1173011 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:41PM (#38615596)
      Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:49PM (#38615692)

        Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

        Yeah but fighting back against police or TSA agents isn't the thing that needs done. The thing to do is to convince our Congressmen that we actually care about civil rights more than protection from terrorists. Fight the stupid laws not the people paid to enforce them

        • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by chrispycreeme ( 550607 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:00PM (#38615860)

          Fight the stupid laws not the stupid people paid to enforce them.


        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dbet ( 1607261 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:01PM (#38615872)
          You assume your elected officials care what people want.
        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:09PM (#38615988) Homepage Journal

          "Your" Congressmen?

          Commence laughter now.

        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:16PM (#38616070)

          The problem is based on the US legal system the way to challenge the Constitutionality of these laws is to break them, and then (after a likely horrible reaming by the justice system) appeal to the Supreme court to try to get it overturned.

          Unless someone stands up to the violation of their civil rights, these things never get tested. Relying on the useless Congress that passed the law in the first place to overturn it is pretty much futile.

        • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:37PM (#38616354) Homepage Journal

          The thing to do is to convince our Congressmen

          those 'congressmen' do not give zit about what you think. so you cant 'convince' them either. they have been elected there by the monetary backing of private interest groups who are much richer than rest 95% of the population. only they have their ear.

          you have 2 choices at this juncture :

          - be richer than 5% or so of the population, that controls 72% of the wealth. (in contrast you have only 15% - so its impossible - there would be enough who made it that much up till this point if it would work)

          - get rid of the economic system that allows tiny minority of population to command 70-80% of economic wealth.

          - get rid of the current existing political system, in which only those who are extremely rich or have the backing of extremely rich can get elected.

        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by alexo ( 9335 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:13PM (#38616868) Journal

          Agreed, contacting your elected representatives is the only reasonable way to achieve meaningful change.
          Just like the people did in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:30PM (#38615406)

    If the answer to either of those questions is "No", then you better do what they tell you.

    Sure, they're violating your rights. But in the United States, you have no recourse except to go to court. Which will costs LOTS of money. More than you have, probably. And don't forget that the cops and TSA will make your life hell while the case slowly progresses.

    This country is so fucked.

    • by WastedMeat ( 1103369 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:40PM (#38615570)
      Being able to go to court isn't even a guarantee anymore.
    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:46PM (#38615652) Homepage Journal

      your comment needs modification in a post NDAA United States (habeus corpus has been revoked)

      -But in the United States, you may or have no recourse except to go to court.
      +But in the United States, you may or may not have the recourse of going to court.

      Once Senator Palpatine's bill is passed [govtrack.us] they'll be able to revoke your citizenship and throw you in Gitmo (or a domestic camp) as well.

    • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:57PM (#38615822)

      I just can't help thinking, Osama (assuming he's dead) is laughing in his grave so f'in hardddddd right now.

    • by Fubari ( 196373 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:34PM (#38616318)
      This great quote puts "terrorisim" into perspective:

      Americans have lived through civil war, economic collapse, a surprise military attack on U.S. territory, dictators and world war on two fronts, and, for 50 years, the threat of nuclear Armageddon. Through all these threats, we mostly stayed true to our values and preserved our freedom. And when we didn’t, it didn’t make us safer and we always came to regret it.

  • by spopepro ( 1302967 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:31PM (#38615416)
    While it might not be exactly your situation, you can probably find 90% of what you need from the EFF. [eff.org] If you need more specific information, you will probably need to ask real counsel.
  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:32PM (#38615444)

    Why would you want to avoid the TSA? What are you hiding?

    You must be a criminal!

  • Best way... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JockTroll ( 996521 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:33PM (#38615462)
    ... Dress sharply at all times, and keep a business-like posture and demeanour. Playing bully with a peon is safe enough, but harassing an (apparently) wealthy and influent person is a career-destroying move. You don't mess with the Ruling Elite, so might as well camouflage as one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:34PM (#38615468)

    TSA agents are NOT law enforcement, even if they pretend to be. They do not have legal authority to arrest you.
    Recently, a bill was proposed to prevent the TSA from wearing badges, or otherwise dressing like real cops. Hopefully this passes.

    • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:51PM (#38615714)

      That's something I wish more people understood. TSA does not have the legal rights that law enforcement officers have, and that includes conducting searches and detaining people. Of course the courts tend to be somewhat squeamish telling the executive branch that they can't do whatever they want, but the reality is that TSA has no more authority to operate than any other group of private security officers.

    • by lefiz ( 1475731 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:07PM (#38615952)
      It should be noted that the officers checking bags at MBTA stations in Boston are NOT TSA agents, but officers of the MBTA Transit Police. They are performing similar work, but are police officers. Your choice here is to comply with the search, or state that you will not comply, and walk three blocks down to the next T station.
  • Here's what you say (Score:5, Informative)

    by Myopic ( 18616 ) * on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:34PM (#38615482)
    1. Officer, and I required to come with you? (He might say yes, but I suspect lawyers would tell you no.)
    2. Officer, am I under arrest? (And of course, no, you are not under arrest.)
    3. Officer, am I free to go? (This is interesting. My understanding is that yes, you are free to go if you are not under arrest, but that's hardly how the police often see it.)
    4. If you aren't walking away by this point, all you need to say is, I'd like to remain silent, please appoint me a lawyer or let me go. And then, of course, you must actually remain silent until you are either sitting in front of your lawyer, or until you are out of earshot of the police.

    If the police were confronted by this 90% er 50% more like as little as 10% of the time, it would be such a gigantic waste of their resources that they'd stop violating your rights.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:34PM (#38615490)

    You know where they have lawyers and actually might know more than the random crap you'll get here.

  • by IMarvinTPA ( 104941 ) <`moc.APTnivraMI' `ta' `APTnivraMI'> on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:35PM (#38615496) Homepage Journal

    Start here: http://www.flexyourrights.org/ [flexyourrights.org]

  • by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:36PM (#38615512) Journal
    "Why are you detaining me?"
    "Am I under arrest?"
    "Am I free to go?"
    • by ethan0 ( 746390 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:43PM (#38615622)

      "I do not consent to a search."

      "Why are you detaining "Why are you detaining me?"

      "Am I under arrest?"

      "Am I free to go?"

      that first one is really important and may be overlooked due to hiding in the subject line (I do not understand the tendency of people here to start typing in the subject and then continue in the body)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:47PM (#38615666)

      I'm from Canada and .. to be honest, I've SEEN videos of these questions - I assume the police/TSA have too... I'd be VERY suspect if you started into that.
        Why not ask 50 questions and be so pleasant they can't handle you? Like Mr. Rodgers on steroids.

        "Why hello officer! How are you today? Made a lot of arrests today??"
        "Have you ever tried that little restaurant on 5th street?"
        "How long have you been on the job? Really? You must have shot or tazed a lot of people by now!!!" (Even if they respond "its my first day..." )
        "Do you find lots of crazies down here in the subway? I saw a guy wearing a paper bag with eye holes cut out earlier this week.. did you catch him?"
        "How drunk was the drunkest guy you've ever arrested? Do you think YOU'VE ever been that drunk? Oh come on, you can tell me, I won't tell anyone.."

        Continue to ask the stupidest questions you can think of, VERY LOUDLY, drawing lots of attention to yourself and the situation. They'll either think you're nuts and arrest you, ... Since you're clearly not a terrorist -- and were being quite nice, but loud, with plenty of witnesses, you should be fine. right?

  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:38PM (#38615534)

    When it comes to police in most civilized societies, you get to have a very simple dialogue. You can say: "I refuse to volunteer for any such [delay]; but if you order me to do so, I will comply with any order you give."

    If you don't volunteer, and you make that an official statement, then the officer needs to decide to make it an order. They aren't allowed to give illegal orders. If they do, you still must comply with it at the time, and without hesitation, but you can fight that later in court.

    Basically, it puts everyone on the their best behaviour. If you aren't happy with what winds up happening, and you later discover that they weren't permitted to do so, then you can easily fight it after the fact.

    Just remember two things: a) police are allowed to trick you into volunteering, or even kind of volunteering. So make sure you hear the word "order". b) police can be nice and legal, nice and illegal, or mean and legal. Be sure you know what you're risking.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:40PM (#38615572) Homepage Journal

    I thought the US was turning into a police state, but I didn't realize the TSA gestapo were wandering the subways and accosting people at random.

    I weep for the America that once was.

  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:44PM (#38615640) Homepage

    To fight the TSA requires any number of resources in your favor: time, money, influence, or numbers.

    Perhaps the easiest way to fight this particular group is by pulling a SEP -> someone else's problem. Attend a city council meeting, and move that the local Boston Police Department have its budget slashed, reasoning that since the TSA is doing their job, the city no longer needs to pay for benefits that the Boston PD is not providing. 3 possibilities are likely -> 1.) the city council will squash the movement (but doing so will draw attention to your plight, and paint the current politicians as being in bed with the TSA -> not a good place to be when the TSA is chafing potential voters), 2.) the city will cut Boston PD's budget (at which point the Boston PD will have to make a tough choice of pissing off the populace because of a pay cut, or letting it slide), or 3.) the Boston PD will become wise to the situation, and take out a jurisdictional grievance against the TSA (they get to keep their budget, remove some competition, and look like the heroes -> kid gloves from the officers reassigned to the public transit beat, something of a junket for the officers concerned as it may be 'easy' compared to other patrols).

    This is how you handle problems that you do not have the resources to fight properly -> get someone who has the proper resources to do the fighting for you. It helps if you appeal to this person's / group's best interest in a truthful, sincere way (the untruthful / insincere stuff tends to fall apart before a victory).

    And yes, given the Amtrak PD's response to various TSA shenanigans, it has a precedent. And the danger to the Boston PD (or whoever patrolled that beat prior to the TSA) is quite real; you don't want a generation of Bostonians growing up thinking that it takes a guy in tactical gear with a SMG to keep public transportation safe; once they do, the original patrollers will never get that beat back (loss of territory),

  • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:45PM (#38615644)
    There's no point in asking what rights you have, because you have none. You can't even photograph public buildings with that iPhone, much less prevent a goon too dumb to get a job as a mall security guard from seizing it, no matter how much or how loudly you protest. And if you cause enough stink, the TSA meatheads will get an actual cop to come over and give you grief. If they want to badly enough, they can now, thanks to President Obama, detain you indefinitely if they so choose. Even confessing to whatever they think you might well do at some point in the future may not get your released. You won't be allowed to talk to anyone about it, either -- not even a lawyer. And even when (if) you are let go, don't talk about it or they can jug your once again.

    For those not counting, the Federal government has in this one encounter wiped its collective ass with the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and (probably) 9th Amendments, as well as pissing on the grave of habeas corpus.

    Have a nice day.

  • Call 911 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VoidEngineer ( 633446 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:50PM (#38615704)
    Call 911, and ask that they send police to the location immediately. Report that you suspect a person or a group of people impersonating the TSA, and that you suspect a fraud or mugging is about to occur.
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:55PM (#38615780)

    The first thing to remember is the TSA are not officers of the law. This isn't my opinion, this is something making its way thought the senate at the moment:

    "Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the lead sponsor of the Stop TSA's Reach in Policy (STRIP) Act, said that TSA has essentially allowed its airport screeners to play dress-up by giving them metal badges and police-like uniforms in recent years. But she said many airport screeners have no "officer" qualifications, and should have this title removed." source [thehill.com]

    They've had the ability to abuse rights, previously, because they've had you in confined situations where you've already had certain rights removed. The two most obvious examples being:

    You'd like to get on that plane you've already paid a lot of money to travel on? Then, whether you like what we're doing or not, you have to pass through us to get to it. Plus, you've already entered in to a secure screening area. Declining our searches and simply choosing to leave means you violate the security protections and are subject to a $10,000 fine.

    You're not on US soil. Until you've passed through customs, you're in magical land where we deny you're actually on US soil and as such have zero consititutional rights. We'd like your phone and laptop to take a copy of all data on it? You have no fourth amendment here, hand it over.

    Yes, it's true that the government has basically torn up the constitution in the last few weeks. They can no detain anyone, forgeign or American, indefinitiely, without access to a lawyer, without charging them, without judicial review, just because they say that they're a terrorist threat. They do have a safeguard however: once a year, you're allowed to ask them if they'd like to keep doing it.

    The thing is, big brother as that is, it's massively overkill for someone politely telling a TSA goon that the fourth amendment does still apply on the streets of the US and, unless they can provide a legitimate reason for your search and seizure, you will be polite but you will not comply with unreasonable requests from minimally trained screeners who, by the senate's own definition, don't have the qualifications or training to call themselves legitimate officers. If they disappeared every politely spoken person who passively resisted, their jails would rapidly fill and every news channel would run sensational headlines about it. The street goons are going to try to hype their authority a little, they'll most likely call a police officer over to back them up who does have a little more legitimate authority, but you're not going to end up in a secret prison.

    So, my take? Stay very polite. Don't get heated. Don't get angry. Simply express that you recognize they are not law enforcement officers, they are essentially an extra type of security guard at this location and that you are happy to comply with reasonable requests that any other security guard makes. If they make unreasonable requests, you will simply leave that location. (If it's a venue, leave, write the management company about how their new security made for a hostile environment and how you'll be encouraging friends not to return until better training or their replacement is arranged - if it's a subway entrance, walk the extra couple of blocks and, again, contact the transportation authority and government to tell them how you were happy to abide by legal requests but their overstepping should not be allowed.)

    Politeness, walking away, then slowly burying the decision makers with the weight of the bad decisions usually works far better than shouting and screaming, overstepping in to something you can legitimately get arrested for, then just making their point for them.

    Also... The more people politely passively resisting, the harder the abuses become to maintain. I just spent the last week flying. At every scanner, I requested a pat down and was very polite about it. I al

  • by Anonymous Freak ( 16973 ) <prius@driver.mac@com> on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:57PM (#38615814) Journal

    Find a lawyer. Get a suggestion from that lawyer. Reach an agreement with that lawyer to represent you should you be arrested during such a stop. (This will probably involve putting money into an escrow account equal to the charge of a few hours of his time - also called a "retainer".)

    Research your local laws regarding police stops. (Also called "Terry stops".) In some states, you are under ZERO obligation to do anything unless they are explicitly detaining you, and in those locations, the simple first response is "Am I being detained or am I free to go?" If they say you are being detained, the second response would be "On suspicion of the violation of what law am I being detained?" The third response is "I will not consent to any searches, and will not answer any questions until I have an attorney present." Then you call the lawyer mentioned above. You go to booking, you get searched anyway, you answer *NO* questions that are asked.

    Take direct legal advice given by random strangers on the internet with a grain of salt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:00PM (#38615854)

    Vote for Ron Paul. End the TSA

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:00PM (#38615868)

    See links below. Discuss.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBAMA_DEFENSE_BILL?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT [ap.org]

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/12/constitutional-expert-president-obama-says-that-he-can-kill-you-on-his-own-discretion-he-can-jail-you-indefinitely-on-his-own-discretion.html [washingtonsblog.com]

    The moment the aforementioned bill was signed, we lost the few rights we still retained after the "Patriot" act.

    So remember:

    1) You're a terrorist if and when some unelected bureaucrat like a TSA inspector *suspects* you're a terrorist.

    2) As a suspected terrorist, you can be detained indefinitely.

    Leaving the country with your cash while you can is starting to look pretty good. If you are stopped, you'd be crazy to not comply with the request, but try not to belong to whatever party isn't in power at the time. At the moment, political affiliation isn't a reason for suspected terrorism, but how long do you think that will last?

  • by ilotgov ( 637717 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:04PM (#38615924)
    In the 1970s I used to hear stories like that from the Soviet-union and their friends.
    Eastern-Europe immigrants who lived in the communist time might have experience in these matters ask them how best to avoid random searches.
  • Stop and identify (Score:5, Informative)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:04PM (#38615928) Homepage Journal

    Some states have a stop and identify [wikimedia.org] law, which means that for a terry stop or higher, when asked you must truthfully tell the officer your name.

    Note that this is only for Terry stops and above. An officer may walk up and simply ask that you identify yourself - in the same manner that any regular citizen could do so - and in this instance you are not required to answer. You are not required to interact in any way with a police officer acting in the manner of a regular citizen. To do this they need suspicion and have to escalate it to Terry status.

    Note also that in no instance are you required to prove your identity. You need not "show your papers" to anyone.

    The statute may be written in such a way that there are one or two other things that the officer may legally ask and that you must answer. New Hampshire, for example, allows the officer to ask your address, why you are there, and where you are going.

    Massachusetts does not have such a law, and so you do not have to respond when asked. Period, end of story.

    Many people will point out the difference between theory and practice, in that the police will simply disregard the rules and do it anyway and inconvenience you so-you-might-as-well-submit-andbeasheepandyoucantfightandsoonandsoon...

    Be aware that a civil rights violation is a windfall in your favor. If you have good evidence, such as a video clearly showing what happened, you can get a court judgement of from tens of thousands to a couple of million dollars... if you are willing to press the issue. This will require some investment and a lot of inconvenience on your part - think of it as an investment of 10,000 dollars to make a potential million.

    It all boils down to the strength of your ethics. There can be no ethics without courage. If everyone had the courage to press the issue, then the practice would stop very quickly.

  • An Example... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@got . n et> on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:39PM (#38616396) Journal

    A friend of mine in Eugene Or., ended up in a fray with a TSA agent. He has seizures. The result of a brain injury when he was a child (think car accident.) His seizures manifest by loud sometime ranting behavior. He's careful to explain to people not to take it personal or seriously, because he simply can't help it and it doesn't mean anything. While collecting his social security check, he had a dispute with a clerk, which escalated and was asked to go outside. There was a TSA agent in the area who overheard him yelling at the security guard. He explained his problem, what the clerk had done wrong, and why he was yelling.

    The TSA agent determined he was a threat and proceeded to beat the ever living hell out of him. When my friend continued to try to explain, he was further charged with resisting and was ultimately charged with over half a dozen felony counts including assaulting a TSA agent. Of course the humorous part is that my friend is about five foot three, one hundred and fifteen pounds soaking wet and the TSA agent was over six foot and more than a hundred pounds heavier. All the while claiming my friend was threatening and menacing. It took two years to finally resolve this in court. It was a ridiculous trial and he escaped jail time by the skin of his teeth and though the agent clearly used excessive force, was never held responsible for his actions.

    Our society is shifting in dark and unpleasant ways, and I fear that if the public at large doesn't do something soon, the window of opportunity to put things right may pass us by.

  • by OverTheGeicoE ( 1743174 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:01PM (#38616718) Journal

    Here's an interesting letter allegedly written by an anonymous DHS lawyer [boardingarea.com]. Summary: DHS knows that the VIPR searches are illegal, and that courts ultimately will not validate TSA's authority to conduct them.

    Should a traveler encounter a TSA VIPR team deployed in a non-airport environment I would advise them to refuse to submit to the search. Once they have refused the search they should ask for the team leader and request that person’s name, title and where they are based. If the traveler has a video camera, as most phones now do, I would advise them to record their entire interaction...TSA publicly states that photography and video of TSA operations are legal. Furthermore video in a public space cannot be legally impeded except in certain very limited instances in the United States.

    The TSA may threaten the traveler with arrest for refusal to comply and it is possible the local law enforcement on site will comply with the TSA’s arrest request, however this arrest should not hold up in court if the traveler is polite, non-combative and complies with the arresting officer’s request.

    So, if you're a protester-type interested in challenging the constitutionality of VIPR searches in the courts, here's a blueprint for you. If not, I'd just avoid the subway altogether.

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27