Flier beats TSA video recording charge in court

Phil Mocek knows he isn't required to show ID to fly, and that it's perfectly legal to record video in publicly accessible areas of an airport. A jury agreed with him earlier this week, acquitting him of trumped-up charges brought against him by TSA and police officers who demanded obedience. He didn't need to call any witnesses or testify himself; he was acquitted based on the evidence entered against him.
I went to a conference in Albuquerque in 2009, I went to the airport there, I spoke with some people, I went to jail, I went to court, and I was acquitted. This took over a year and I owe for thousands of dollars of legal fees as a result. Here's a video I created at the airport. The State of New Mexico entered this as evidence against me last week. The jury was unconvinced that I was disorderly, trespassed, refused a lawful order, or concealed my identity from police officers with the intent to obstruct.
He was helped, however, by TSA rules that say "in no uncertain terms [that] you do not have to show ID in order to fly, and that you can use cameras in public areas of the airport." It's also clear from the video that, while uncooperative, he remained polite to officers even after one of them waves a baton in his face. As soon as he revealed he didn't even have ID with him, one officer claimed that he had to show it because 'you are now part of a criminal investigation.' [via Submitterator]

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  1. Good for him for teaching law enforcement what the rules are. While many law enforcement people do’t abuse their powers, some don’t take the time to know the real policies and only say “You are required to cooperate” Too bad it takes that much work to do show what the laws actually are.

  2. That guy must have icewater in his veins. He seems totally calm even when one of the four officers (personnel?) is basically poking him with a baton and they are all talking to him and asking questions in incomplete sentences. He seems to have a temperament much better suited to security work than the security people, who seemed extremely flustered.

    1. Agreed, I couldn’t take it. Just watching that video makes me want to take the baton and shove it up their assholes.

  3. I don’t understand the part that he doesn’t have to show ID. From the TSA website:

    “Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID that contains the following: name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight.”

    Not being sarcastic, I seriously don’t understand the loophole.

    1. dear anon asking about the loophole

      The people in question attempting to detain him also tarnished their case when they said ‘he is videotaping the process’. This indicated they were basically being paranoid and were investigating him without any legal reason to begin with. This is why that rule bailed him out, most likely.

      It’d probably be handy to..Oh, I don’t know, tell the TSA officials and any police involved in airport detail to willingly show a citizen what rule they are violating IN the rulebook upon request. If the rules were in favor of him having to show ID as per what this anon posted about the rule change in 2008, then I’m pretty sure he would’ve just said ‘Oh, ok, I will return with my I.D.’.

      This would have solved both issues. Would’ve been much more black & white and I am pretty sure the citizen would’ve complied with a rulebook being shown to him. He wanted to obey the law, he just wanted to obey ALL the laws he had in his favor. They didn’t really want to allow him to have all of his freedoms, no matter how you cut it. They are supposed to be in a position to enforce the safety of the people, they are NOT supposed to restrict the freedom of the people.

    2. He hadn’t entered the checkpoint yet. He was still within the public area of the airport. This is where family members can walk around without ever going through security.

  4. Ok, say you’re one of those people who sides with the cops(or faux cops) in every situation. You think this guy is just being a pain about his “civil rights” and he should just suck it up, show ID, drop the camera and move on. That’s your opinion.

    But even if you believe that, can’t you see how ridiculous it is for TSA and the cops to assume this guy is dangerous? Did the 9/11 hijackers raise a ruckus? Do suicide bombers call attention to themselves? Do drug smugglers make full-throated defenses of their liberties?

    No.

    They blend in, they want to go unnoticed, unknown.

    We’re not safer, we’re just being hassled.

  5. Oops, that aforementioned tip jar supports the excellent work of the Papers, Please! site.

    Phil Mocek has a separate legal defense fund:

    Contributions can be made online via Paypal. Note that the Paypal donation receipt will read, “Canabis Defense Coalition”, as this is the group that volunteered to collect donations for Phil’s defense. But all funds donated will go to Phil’s defense. Contributions by cash, check, or money order can be sent directly to Mr. Mocek’s lawyers: Phil Mocek legal defense, Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan PA, 20 FIRST PLAZA CTR NW STE 700, ALBUQUERQUE NM 87102-5802.

  6. Given that he had to pay for this debacle, both in terms of paying his money for his own defense (and the lost wages, time, etc.), and in terms of his tax dollars paying for his abuse and prosecution, HE STILL LOST.

    BIGTIME!

    His victory only goes to show that you can’t beat them because they control the game.

  7. I think mgfarrelly has nailed it. Ask to see his ticket, take a picture, metal detector, search baggage – just like everyone else – and send him on his way.

    Notice how quickly they all know the charges to levy against someone who doesn’t play-ball.

    What I find troubling in all situations with police is the protection they’re gaining from being photographed while in the execution of their duties. This is gaining support from state governments.

    Just stop and think about this: what will it be like when (unionized) TSA “officers” are designated peace officers with quaified immunity? Think guns, batons, authority to arrest and the standard here-have-some-legal expenses charges of disorderly conduct, failure to obey, and obstruction.

  8. I wonder if he updated his facebook status to “ABQ > Jail”?

    On a serious note, this is what it looks like when a society drifts slowly towards a police state due to fears for security. our only hope is the use of video EVERYWHERE. If he hadn’t used video, and even with the guy who is “bearing witness”, he would hve been convicted.

    Remember Critical Mass:

  9. Yeah…so let me just say for starters that I think the reasons those TSA workers gave on tape for the arrest were pretty lame and somewhat fabricated.

    THAT HAVING BEEN SAID…I can’t help but be annoyed at Mr. Mocek who, while polite and “non-confrontational”, used incredibly passive agressive behavior to agrivate those TSA guys. Let’s face it, if you’ve been to an airport recently you will have surely noticed that the majority of those TSA workers are actual human beings, employed by an agency with interesting and sometimes conflicting motives, trying to make ends meet for their families. Again, while I don’t really agree with the way they handled the situation in the video, I do think that Mr. Mocek created an unnecessarily hostile environment to which the TSA guys had to react.

    How would you like it if someone drove up to your place of employment, camera lens pointed at you and displaying passively threatening behavior? The point is, TSA workers are under constant scruitiny…as they should be. If they do things right…they don’t get a thing. If they do something wrong, the whole world knows about it AND they may have caused a security concern. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want that kind of pressure on my shoulders. While I applaud Mr. Mocek’s curiosity, investigative prowess, and ability to get to some of the core problems that exist with the TSA…come on…cut these guys a bit of slack and aim your skillset to a higher level than those guys on the ground.

    Thanks for listening. …and by the way…no I don’t work for the TSA. :-)

    1. Please define “displaying passively threatening behavior”. This guy didn’t do anything to anyone and he didn’t make a single threat. All he did was politely decline to obey *some* of their instructions. He was the one being threatened, actually. It is uncomfortable to be on camera but these fellows are being recorded by several cameras all day at work. All he was doing was making his own record of events and there’s obviously nothing criminal in that. This video is a crystal clear demonstration of what it means to live in a police state.

      1. Passively threatening behavior, obviously, means not keeping your head down and doing as you’re told, which is the only polite response to authority if not absolutely required. Haven’t you been keeping up with your victim-blaming?

      2. In response to TurkOfAges, Duncano wrote, “This guy didn’t do anything to anyone and he didn’t make a single threat. All he did was politely decline to obey *some* of their instructions.”

        Thanks for clearing that up. If you don’t mind discussing this further, could you explain, given the evidence you’ve seen, whose instructions you think were disobeyed and what instructions those were?

    2. Hehe, sounds like you’re describing what most railfans do. Anybody here think railfanning should be illegal?

    3. actual human beings, employed by an agency with interesting and sometimes conflicting motives, trying to make ends meet for their families.

      “The authentic human being is one of us who instinctively knows what he should not do, and, in addition, he will balk at doing it. He will refuse to do it, even if this brings down dread consequences to him and to those whom he loves. This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance. Their deeds may be small, and almost always unnoticed, unmarked by history. Their names are not remembered, nor did these authentic humans expect their names to be remembered. I see their authenticity in an odd way: not in their willingness to perform great heroic deeds but in their quiet refusals. In essence, they cannot be compelled to be what they are not. ” – PKD

    4. TurkOfAges wrote, “I do think that Mr. Mocek created an unnecessarily hostile environment to which the TSA guys had to react.”

      Please elaborate. Please suggest how you think my actions could have been improved.

      “How would you like it if someone drove up to your place of employment, camera lens pointed at you and displaying passively threatening behavior?”

      Are you asking that of people who work in private, or of those who are public employees paid to work in public places interacting with the public?

      “The point is, TSA workers are under constant scruitiny…as they should be. If they do things right…they don’t get a thing. If they do something wrong, the whole world knows about it AND they may have caused a security concern.”

      On April 17, 2009, I posted the following comment to the TSA blog in response to TSA’s “Can I Take Photos at the Checkpoint and Airport?” post:

      Uh… anonymous person: If you had checked it, you would have found that like the other policy that has been published, the one to which you directed me does not say anything about the content of sites targeted by links in reader-supplied comments.

      Bob has yet to provide any evidence other than his word that the comment he refuses to allow violates any TSA policy. Can anyone else? I’ll describe the comment I tried to post: First, I quote my earlier comment describing my taking Bob’s advice and contacting 50 U.S. airports via TSA’s “Got Feedback?” program to ask for local policies related to photography in airports. Then I note the number of responses I have received and the number for which I received the information that was requested. I note that I am publishing my findings on FlyerTalk Forums, then I list 19 airports, each of which is hyperlinked to a different post of a thread that was created to discuss Bob’s “Can I take photos at the checkpoint and airport?” EoS post. Each of those posts contains the text of e-mail I received from TSA to my “Got Feedback?” query and those I sent in response, modified in the following ways: I list my full name but not my personal e-mail address, I trim quotations from each message (because we have only top-posted, so the quotes convey no additional information), and I change the @ symbol in other people’s e-mail addresses to something that is invalid in e-mail but easily recognizable by humans, “%AT%”.

      That’s it. That is what Bob refuses to allow here. For each of these airports, I have published information that anyone who contacted TSA via the “Got Feedback?” form and asked the same question I asked would receive. There doesn’t even have to be a human asking the question. Someone could write a computer program that could set up a new e-mail address, submit a question to the “Got Feedback?” form, then display the response that is sent in e-mail on a Web site. Would that, the result of a computer-generated query to TSA, be private information? It would be the same information that Bob not only refuses to allow me to post here on the EoS blog, but that when found on an outside Website at a location I reference in a comment posted to the EoS blog, causes Bob to send my comment to the delete-o-meter.

      Why is Bob so concerned with me posting a link to this information that his colleages sent to me in cleartext e-mail without even knowing who I am?

      Not only is the information contained in the bodies of the published messages available to anyone who writes TSA with the same question, but the information Bob has expressed concern about is in every response to any question or comment (not just the ones about photography) that people send in to “Got Feedback?”, because it’s in the signature blocks that these TSA airport representatives attach to every e-mail they send. There’s absolutely nothing private about the information. It includes office contact information — not personal — for people who work for our federal government. 90% of them have “customer service manager” in their job titles (most in combination with something else, but one is a “stakeholder manager” and one is an “administrative supervisor”). Of course, TSA has no customers, but I believe when they speak of customer service, they mean to refer to the act of fielding questions and concerns about TSA from the public, so in this context, we are their “customers” and these people who respond to the “Got Feedback?” queries are paid to talk, e-mail, and write to us.

      Bob claims it’s bad to publish information about how to contact these customer support managers via phone, fax, e-mail, and postal mail, or to simply make an appointment walk in to the office and talk to someone like you can at any other government office that deals with the public. What would be bad about publishing work contact information for these people whose job is to be in contact with the public?

      Bob, what’s the problem? Publication of work phone numbers of your TSA airport customer service managers? This is all in a public directory somewhere, right? And if not, anyone can call in, get a switchboard, and have someone connect him with the TSA customer service manager, right? And if someone wants the names, he can just call the airport and ask who the TSA customer service manager there is, right?

      Maybe it’s not the contact information that Bob is really bothered by, but the messages showing the variety of TSA reactions to the possibility of someone doing something as harmless as photographing things that thousands of people can see in airports. Admittedly, the ability to photograph things in airports is not a burning priority, but it’s still ridiculous that so many of us feel compelled to ask permission or simply assume that it is not allowed, and the fact that there’s confusion among TSA airport managers is a strong indication that there is confusion among all TSA airport staff. Let’s clear it up now, before it causes anyone difficulty.

      I understand that many people reading this wonder why I’m making such a big deal of it. I’ll try to explain.

      It’s becoming increasingly common for people to be hassled or even arrested by security guards and police who think the public should not be allowed to photograph things they can see with their own eyes. On the bright side, it’s also becoming increasingly common for allegations of police misconduct to be caught on video because so many people carry video recorders in their pockets in the form of a mobile phone.

      These airport photography policies affect our ability to document the actions of our government employees’ interaction with us. Not just any goverment employees, but those of an agency whose public image is quite poor, whose airport staff have a reputation for bullying people, whose staff refer to the seizure of our belongings based on arbitrary restrictions (typically as an alternative to restriction of our freedom of movement) as “voluntary surrender”, and whose staff say they have the right to prevent us from traveling about our own country based on rules we are not allowed to read. That agency is giving mixed messages about whether or not we are allowed to photograph or video record their activities.

      Those mixed messages lead me to believe that there is a strong possibility that many people at airports who might otherwise record information that would be useful to the rest of us will be bullied into not doing so by TSA staff who do not know or care that the person has every right to photograph or video record as he wishes. I think we need to establish that TSA has no right to stop us from documenting the actions of its staff in this manner so that it will be crystal clear to any TSA staff who might otherwise threaten people who try to do so.

      When someone working as part of our government tells me I’m not allowed to do something, but refuses to provide anything other than his word in support of his claim, I become very suspicious. Others should, too.

      “I applaud Mr. Mocek’s curiosity, investigative prowess, and ability to get to some of the core problems that exist with the TSA.”

      Thank you.

    5. How would you like it if someone drove up to your place of employment, camera lens pointed at you and displaying passively threatening behavior?

      Well, I honestly can’t see how passive behaviour can be threatening, but OK, I’ll do the thought experiment anyway.

      You come up to me at my place of employment and refuse to go along with the stupid rules my bosses made me try to enforce, but also refuse to be aggressive? I’m pretty sure I’d offer you a sammich.

      But that’s just me. I like sammiches. Some people like cupcakes better, but I for one care less for them.

      1. The point is not whether you like it or not, the point is whether the law will allow you to prohibit it, with penalty of law. Since Mr. Mocek was in a public place with specific rules about access, he was well within his rights, despite the TSA drones and Police officer’s personal feelings or level of comfort about being filmed.

        In point of fact, without the video of his encounter, he may well have been convicted. A video is the most impartial witness, as it does not suffer from the memory problems and subjective feelings of a person’s memory.

  10. Where can I find a complete, up-to-date list of TSA rules and regulations regarding air travel (not just FAQs and prohibited items), as well as where I am allowed to film/not film, and to whom I am required to show ID and under what circumstances, and when I have a legal obligation to do so?

    1. Gregory014 wrote, “Where can I find a complete, up-to-date list of TSA rules and regulations regarding air travel (not just FAQs and prohibited items), as well as where I am allowed to film/not film, and to whom I am required to show ID and under what circumstances, and when I have a legal obligation to do so?”

      You can’t. TSA refuse to publish the rules they require us to follow. See the Identity Project’s January 8, 2011, blog post, “Tidbits from the TSA show “screening” being used as illegal general criminal dragnet, not for aviation security” and their October 29, 2010, post, “DHS Privacy Office ordered TSA not to answer our FOIA request“.

      See also my mini-FAQ on TSA passenger identification policies on FlyerTalk Forums.

      1. I do not understand why this fellow believes he does not need an id to enter the airport. After reading this, which happened in 2009, I found the following link on TSA website

        http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/acceptable_documents.shtm

        Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID that contains the following: name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight.

        Passengers who do not or cannot present an acceptable ID will have to provide information to the Transportation Security Officer performing Travel Document Checking duties in order to verify their identity. Passengers who are cleared through this process may be subject to additional screening. Passengers whose identity cannot be verified by TSA may not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint or onto an airplane.

  11. Thank you for posting this. I recall a recent discussion on the subject of security and one of the people commenting on the similarities between USSR system and the present ways with the Homeland Security, including TSA. In the USSR, he said, most people were convinced that security was an issue. There was a “bad guy” or “bad guys”. It took quite a bit of ongoing propaganda, but they managed to keep the people in fear. I am not suggesting that our security fears are imaginary but the suggestion that was made was that the present propaganda is a page taken from the books of the KGB.
    I did not believe this until about couple of months ago when one of our colleagues made mention of a radio program that dealt with this same issue. It was the same idea.
    Perhaps what we are seeing with TSA, Homeland Security, etc. is simply the repeat of a more sinister propaganda that has been transplanted from elsewhere.
    I never figured that I would sound like a conspiracy nut, but what I am seeing just does not make any sense. When our own citizens cannot come into their own country without being harassed then I have to be able to justify it with something other than insanity. When screaming babies are taken away to be frisked I have to think that we have gone mad. When innocent citizens, like the one in this article, have to go through this, then we need to stop the rhetoric and get back to dialectic of personal and communal freedoms.

  12. Welcome to the United Security States of America! We specialize in providing a false sense of security for everyone. Please passively submit to the complete subjugation of all of your rights. No, you are not allowed to take pictures of that process. No, you may not disagree with us while we deny you your rights. Remember sir, it is for your own good. Thank you for your cooperation.

  13. It seems rather unfair to be saddled with legal fees if a defendant is found not-guilty? If the plaintiff loses, I think he should be held responsible for it, even if it is the state.

    Let’s just hope TSA agents on the ground take note of this verdict and only act within their set parameters.
    The Judge Dredd syndrome should stay fictitious, no?

  14. IANAL, but in Argentina we have what it´s called “haveas corpus preventivo”. Can´t you make a judge declare what you can do and sign a paper with it? I think it’d be easer, safer and cheaper…

    1. Is it bad if I think people in authority should know what the fuck they are doing?

      Only if you also think that it isn’t your job to help enforce that requirement.

  15. Actually, I question why he felt the need to video record anything? I agree that he was well within his rights to be recording in an airport- but WHY was he?

    The simple of act of recording the TSA, or really anyone, simply because you can doesn’t really make you right. It’s kind of like that game kids play, where they put their finger or hand in their siblings face and say “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you!” then get mad when they get a reaction.

    Again, I think that he has every right to be doing what he’s doing…and I’m surprised that the TSA and several officers didn’t know the laws pertaining to the situation…but to run up on some TSA guys, like youre TMZ and then play passive-aggressive, is just engaging them unnecessarily. It doesn’t seem that theres anything going on around him, or any other reason to be filming- other than to film the TSA…for some initial reason thats not apparent in the video.

    1. If you stop challenging the TSA’s behavior, they will settle their ground. Then the bar will be lowered and their next move will be illegal searches in your stuff in the public areas. You stop challenging again and next time TSA will be in your living room checking your notebook. You stop challenging again and next move will be their right to be your wife’s first man.

    2. I question why he felt the need to video record anything?

      Probably because he anticipated getting some hassle for asserting his rights.

      Good thing he had the recording too, since in a courtroom situation video is about the only thing that can break the ‘people wearing uniforms never lie’ myth.

      1. “Probably because he anticipated getting some hassle for asserting his rights.”

        If he wasn’t recording anything in the first place then what would he possibly have to worry about? Phil Mocek was obviously attempting to record the TSA in an attempt to get some sort of reaction from them (winrar!), then tried to play victim when he got what he asked for.

        I’m all for sniffing out corruption or idiocy wherever it hides- but the more I watch this video the more there should be a Benny Hill track playing throughout. This is laughable.

        1. If he wasn’t recording anything in the first place then what would he possibly have to worry about?

          I am presuming he intended from the beginning to not show ID if requested. Since they always ask for ID, it’s reasonable for him to anticipate trouble, and so reasonable to record, even if the act of recording changes the situation.

          Even if he intended to rile them by recording and then intended to escalate the situation by refusing to show ID, there still isn’t any problem. These thing are and ought to be legal.

          If he chose to sit at that lunch counter to make a point, I don’t have a problem with that.

    3. Actually, I question why he felt the need to video record anything? I agree that he was well within his rights to be recording in an airport- but WHY was he?

      I question why you feel the need to question this. You acknowledge that he was well within his rights – at that point, his motivations are entirely his own business. There is nothing to question. He could have also decided to wear huge red clown shoes and fuzzy pajamas with cartoon animals on them, and it would still be none of my business or yours why he did so (maybe his wife has some grounds to question him on that, but not thee or me).

    4. It looked to me like something had kicked off before the video started. If he went up to a TSA agent for no reason and just pointed the camera dead in his face for a while, that’s different. If that happened to anyone — in the street, at your job — you’d probably consider it harrassment. But this looks like they were being a bunch of dicks and got filmed for it.

    5. If he was well within his rights to record, then it doesn’t matter why.

      While the simple act of exercising your rights doesn’t make you right, it also doesn’t make you wrong. And in a court of law, it doesn’t matter what someone’s moral rightness or wrongness is, it only matters if what they did broke or didn’t break the law. That is the only weight and measure of rightness and wrongness in a system that claims to follow the rule of law.

      Also, I didn’t realize that you had more information on the event which you haven’t cited. It seems as though you know that he had “run up on some TSA guys, like [he was] TMZ,” which was definitely not portrayed in this video.

      From the perspective provided (given the situation as presented), it appears as though he was in the position of already being threatened with some type of additional action by the TSA agents (likely for not showing ID), when *from a standing postion* he pulled out and turned on his camera while simultaneously being told not to record. And while he had the *right* to record, those TSA agents did not have the granted *authority* to tell him not to in the situation he was in (confirmed by jury decision in State of New Mexico vs. Phillip Mocek).

      My question would be “WHY did those TSA agents believe they had the authority to do so?” Not, “why did Mr. Mocek freely exercise his rights?”

      TurkOfAges commented above to the effect that people should give individual TSA agents a break, and instead showcase systemic problems. While I *wholeheartedly* agree with that sentiment, it IS showing the potential for systemic problems by beginning with a single event that shows specific agents did not know the rules by which they were bound. Why didn’t they know these rules? Were they not trained properly? If not, why not, and how many other agents don’t understand the rules by which their authority is bound?

      This guy was *clearly* not presenting a physical threat, by acting calmly. In fact, if I were a TSA agent I would be *more* worried that he was specifically a distraction, and *someone else* present may pose an actual threat.

      Unfortunately, there is a culture that many are believing in which suggests that having pictures taken of you while you go about fulfilling the duties of your *public service* is equivalent to a physical threat. Sadly, most of these public servants are already constantly being filmed, photographed, and monitored by the government they serve through implied consent to recording by working for the government. Recordings which are much more difficult to bring into the public domain and expose likely systemic problems than someone exercising their rights to ensure that our public servants are serving the public.

      1. The smallest pedantic clarification: the question of moral rightness or wrongness can come in at the sentencing stage–but you’re absolutely right that it has nothing to do with whether or not the law has been broken (an obvious prerequisite).

        1. “The smallest pedantic clarification: the question of moral rightness or wrongness can come in at the sentencing stage.”

          Yes, thank you :)

    6. Cohabitate wrote, “Actually, I question why he felt the need to video record anything? I agree that he was well within his rights to be recording in an airport- but WHY was he?”

      Without answering that question, I’ll note that audio and video recordings effectively provide an impartial witness. Cameras eliminate (or greatly reduce) controversy. In this particular case, my video was the best evidence available.

      So imagine how my trial would have gone if it was simply the word of the three police officers (Dilley, who filed the criminal complaint, Wiggins, who submitted a statement and who, on his own belt tape, can be heard telling my travel partner that I was being arrested “for being stupid”, and De La Pena, who also filed a report — without the video. Now, imagine how likely it is that you’ll come across people who might later disagree with you about their interaction with you.

      It’s foolish not to carry a camera with you through government checkpoints.

      1. wait — Police Chief Wiggins was involved? Long way from Springfield for him to be exercising his powers …

        Good for you — I have thought the same thing — I want to turn my I-phone on when dealing with authority, just in case I need it. In my case, however, I worry I won’t be as wise as you and lose my cool, or something stupid and have it memorialized …

        I heard some states are trying to enact “no recording” rules of authorities — I don’t understand how this could possbily stand constitutional scrutiny. Hope ACLU is on this …

  16. I would imagine that those members of “law enforcement” who are so obviously harassing this guy, and so obviously don’t know how to do their jobs, will face no repercussions from this. In my mind all of the people he managed to film need to be in another line of work. The law is not what they say it is- but what our government through due process say it is. These people need to find another line of work. I hope that he can sue them for abuse of power and unlawfully infringing on his rights. It appears that the people we hire to stop terrorism have too much time to terrorize us. And yes, since police are the “use of physical force” part of the government that is exactly what this is.

  17. Who is willing to go through all this trouble (ONE YEAR) to scratch the surface of TSA’s mind boggling behavior? And who will have a PayPal defense fund in place for sure? I am AMAZED that despite being acquitted, the guys still has to pay for his defense. I don’t know about US laws (or lack of thereof), but shouldn’t the wrongful party be required to pay for his costs? Otherwise, that’s an invitation for litigation.

    Well done man, but the really depressing part here is that this will keep happening unless a judge starts arresting TSA people and their superiors. The US has become a dangerous place for due process. I heard of a Canadian that is facing extradition to the US for alleged cooperation with “terrorists” in Iraq, but how can a sane foreign judge send someone to the US expecting due process? It is like sending someone to Iran to face adultery charges.

    Too bad. I only have good memories from the US and I’d like to keep them.

  18. If they do things right…they don’t get a thing. If they do something wrong, the whole world knows about it AND they may have caused a security concern.

    OK, one: usually the whole world doesn’t know about it. Usually they can abuse and hassle people to their heart’s content with no consequences (and these jobs do attract people who desire to have authority over people – if you travel much you’ll know this). For a long time my family drove extra hours to avoid a certain border crossing that had notoriously mean spirited customs agents (who, again, could do whatever the hell they wanted with no consequences). 99% of these guys can be perfectly reasonable, but that doesn’t mean there should be no check on the 1% who are horrible – and currently the only group doing any checking is hero travelers like this.

    Two: if they do things right, they do get a thing. They get paid. They should know how to do their jobs, and be able to do their jobs without being crazy. If I just decided to go crazy on clients, I would get fired. So should they.

  19. “displaying passively threatening behavior” – I laugh, then I cry.

    How to stop terrorists – stop subsidies. Double, triple the cost of flying and there will be a lot less people to search.

    Wikipedia –
    Historically, air travel has survived largely through state support, whether in the form of equity or subsidies. The airline industry as a whole has made a cumulative loss during its 100-year history…

    1. This.

      The airline industry got something like a $15billion bailout after 9/11. That’s more than all US government support of Amtrak over the past 40 years. And it’s over and above the normal gov’t airline support. If you are not going to tax or cap carbon emissions, then at least stop subsidizing them.

  20. @Cohabitate

    Huh? You can’t argue that he has every right to do what he is doing and then argue that he shouldn’t do it. That is exactly the kind of passive attitude that leads to an erosion of rights. It does no one any good to have a right that should never be invoked. Clearly the officers, incorrectly, did not think he had a right to do what he is was doing and he has exposed their poor training. Your passive approach leaves every happy to delusionally believe that these guys are up to speed on your rights when that could not be further from the truth. In fact what’s striking is how they throw out ominous keywords like “federal checkpoint” but actually have no idea themselves what that might mean. They are literally toying with a person’s rights with buzzwords hoping one will intimidate him. That’s the state of our TSA to be surprised by that or upset that this was done “necessarily” is to capitulate to your fantasy of how things should be instead of facing them as they are.

    Given the growing amount of laws insanely prohibiting the filming of police officers, a serious not-even-a-conspiracy-theory-police-state trait, I’m glad that there are people willing to challenge the corrosion of rights. Passively believing that we have them as long as they are not invoked, whether out of necessity or not, is how we got here in the first place.

    @TurkOfAges

    My workplace is not a public transportation access point and I’m not a public employee tasked both with security and upholding traveler’s rights – your correlation makes no sense.

  21. ‘Passive Aggressive’? What’s that I can feel under my feet in here? Is it…astro-turf? Surely not?

  22. just to take the glass-is-half-full side of things. we still have a system that allowed this guy to fight for his rights (and win). i would even argue that the system is better than the 1960s or 1880s or other times that the oppressed have resisted the state.

  23. I think it’s mostly about training, and lack of a customer service focus.

    I travel with my mentally handicapped son, and his inability to understand instructions at checkpoints has created a range of situations from making me want to cry to being pleased at the good treatment. The only difference I can see is staff attitude and competence.

    Of course right are vital, but I suspect that many ‘rights abuses’ are actually customer service foul ups.

  24. Last time I flew I was hassled because the scanner found I had stapples and wire inside my intestines from a number of operations from Crohns Disease. I told the officer that was the only metal on me but he did not believe me and I had to go through a personal hand search. What a pain that was. This was the first time I had to go through the new scanner. I can see I will be in for some more fun the next time I fly.

  25. I tried to donate to the legal defense fund but got an error message saying “The card you entered cannot be used for this payment. Please enter a different credit or debit card number.”

    This card works perfectly well everywhere else. Someone should look into it.

  26. I’m confused why a jury had to decide. Seems like a pretty clear case for the judge to grant a motion to dismiss. I’m sure his lawyer put in one, so I think the judge has something to answer for here too.

    1. -Because a ‘motion to dismiss’ won’t make smacking-the-TSA-on-the-nose-with-a-rolledup-newspaper precedent like an actual court hearing and jury decision.

  27. Can someone please explain…

    On the TSA website: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/acceptable_documents.shtm

    It says: Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID that contains the following: name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight.

    Seems pretty clear, so I don’t understand how he was found “not guilty”

    1. Mconwell, the next paragraph on that page reads, “Passengers who do not or cannot present an acceptable ID will have to provide information to the Transportation Security Officer performing Travel Document Checking duties in order to verify their identity. Passengers who are cleared through this process may be subject to additional screening. Passengers whose identity cannot be verified by TSA may not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint or onto an airplane.”

      Jonathon Breedon from TSA testified in court Thursday that passengers are not required to show identity documents to TSA staff, and that people fly all the time without doing so.

    2. You left off the net paragraph.

      “Passengers who do not or cannot present an acceptable ID will have to provide information to the Transportation Security Officer performing Travel Document Checking duties in order to verify their identity. Passengers who are cleared through this process may be subject to additional screening. Passengers whose identity cannot be verified by TSA may not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint or onto an airplane.”

    3. mconwell – reread your own sentence.

      “in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight.”

      Not, “in order to avoid arrest and conviction.” The maximum penalty for not having ID, even under your own misinterpretation (as pointed out by pmocek) is missing your flight, not being convicted for a crime.

    4. That’s only to PASS THROUGH the checkpoint. He was in the public area before the checkpoint area. Did you even watch the video?

      What if he was just taking video of a family member arriving back from a trip? Eh?

  28. Of course right are vital, but I suspect that many ‘rights abuses’ are actually customer service foul ups.

    Nice authoritarian euphemism you got there.

  29. It surprises me how people are siding with the officers saying they were just doing their jobs. They were NOT doing their jobs properly they should know these policies inside and out. They cost all involved thousands of dollars for their mistakes not only Mr.Macek but the Taxpayers as well. Their half A$$ing of their career of choice should be noted and disciplinary action should be taken. Any other career you would have been terminated.

    1. Respectfully, I’ve known/worked with quite a few people who were half-assing their careers. I believe it’s quite a common occurrence.

  30. Not that I object to this guy standing up for his rights, but I am curious about the ID thing:

    http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/acceptable_documents.shtm

    “Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID that contains the following: name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight.

    Passengers who do not or cannot present an acceptable ID will have to provide information to the Transportation Security Officer performing Travel Document Checking duties in order to verify their identity. Passengers who are cleared through this process may be subject to additional screening. Passengers whose identity cannot be verified by TSA may not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint or onto an airplane.”

    Is this TSA requirement not actual law? I don’t see anything in the TSA rules that demonstrate the “…in no uncertain terms [that] you do not have to show ID in order to fly…”

    Can anyone provide more info? I am on board with the video taping in publicly accessible areas but, the no ID thing? While I think it should be possible, it sounds like there are definitely regulations to the contrary already in place.

  31. Choices aren’t without costs, very noble of Mr. Mocek. In this case it appears that his viral fame includes a monetary consequence.

  32. I’d like to point out that, when compared to the 36,000 deaths annually from automobile travel, terrorists would have to bring down more than an average (80 ppl) flight every day, or a jumbo jet (300 ppl) every 3-4 days, to match our highway death toll.

    All this scanning, groping, demand for papers, etc. is NOT rational risk assessment. It’s being successfully terrorized.

    We’ve already lost so much; a salute to someone who is willing to stand up and assert their rights is in order. Thank you.

  33. Found the following Consumerist article, but I still cannot find the quoted bit about “willingly refuse to provide versus lost ID” on the TSA site:

    http://consumerist.com/2008/06/privacy-what-its-like-to-fly-with-no-id-under-the-tsas-new-regulations.html

    Re-quoted from the article above:

    “Beginning Saturday, June 21, 2008 passengers that willfully refuse to provide identification at security checkpoint will be denied access to the secure area of airports. This change will apply exclusively to individuals that simply refuse to provide any identification or assist transportation security officers in ascertaining their identity.”

    This new procedure will not affect passengers that may have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers. Cooperative passengers without ID may be subjected to additional screening protocols, including enhanced physical screening, enhanced carry-on and/or checked baggage screening, interviews with behavior detection or law enforcement officers and other measures.”

    Can anyone find this on an official TSA document?

    1. Someone anonymously wrote:

      Found the following Consumerist article, but I still cannot find the quoted bit about “willingly refuse to provide versus lost ID” on the TSA site:

      http://consumerist.com/2008/06/privacy-what-its-like-to-fly-with-no-id-under-the-tsas-new-regulations.html

      […]

      Can anyone find this on an official TSA document?

      That’s from a June, 2008, TSA press release.

      Please see http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1122783-tsas-airline-passenger-identification-policies.html where I wrote:

      Prior to June 21, 2008

      Before June 21, 2008, the situation seemed to be: In order to proceed to the “secure area” of an airport after being stopped at a TSA barricade, each passenger must submit to a pat-down and search for metallic objects using a hand-held metal detector, along with a hand-searching of any carry-on baggage, unless he presents documentation of his identity (i.e., unless he “shows I.D.”), in which case he must submit only to a search for metallic objects on his person via walk-through metal detector and search of any carry-on baggage using an X-ray machine.

      In other words: back then, showing I.D. simply got you a less-thorough search than you’d otherwise receive.

      Now

      Beginning June 21, 2008, the situation seems to be: Each passenger still has the option of showing I.D. and participating in the less-thorough searches (walk-through metal detector and X-raying of carry-ons), but the alternative now involves not only being thoroughly searched for dangerous items, but also identifying oneself verbally and participating in an interrogation intended to verify one’s identity (via phone call from Homeland Security headquarters). Chillingly, it seems from the aforementioned TSA press release that this alternative also requires that someone be “cooperative with officers”. What that cooperation entails is not defined.

      Initial reports from TSA indicated that while people who claimed that their government-issued I.D. card was misplaced or stolen would be allowed to take the alternate route through the checkpoint (with the questioning), those who willfully refused to show their papers would be barred from proceeding. It’s unclear whether or not this is still the case, or if it was ever the case, as TSA’s initial press release seems, based on information received from TSA via Freedom of Information Act request, to have been inaccurate.

  34. I thought it was quite inventive to say “We’ll search you, and if we find any I.D., we’ll charge you with concealing I.D.”
    This, by the way, from officers who refused to identify themselves when asked.

  35. So in Canada this is the point at which the judge should assess damages against the Crown for malicious prosecution and stupidity – which almost never happens. Doubt it happens in the U.S. either.

  36. What exactly happened in this case to have it dismissed?
    This seems like a super simple FRCP 12(b) motion to dismiss.
    Was this in federal or state court?
    Can someone either post the actual complaint, or post the case number etc so I can look it up in Westlaw?

    1. Someone anonymously wrote, “What exactly happened in this case to have it dismissed?”

      There was no dismissal. Friday evening (January 21, 2011), the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty” on each of four charges.

      “Was this in federal or state court?”

      It was in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court (criminal case 2573709). Judge: Kevin L. Fitzwater. My attorneys were Nancy Hollander.

      “Can someone either post the actual complaint, or post the case number etc so I can look it up in Westlaw?”

      The criminal complaint is among the records I received from the City of Albuquerque in response to a 2009 public records request. In particular, see page three of mocek_albuquerque_public_disclosure_2009-11-19.pdf (PDF, 5.9 MB).

  37. Only monopolies can afford to treat people like that.
    It’s a shame that he ends up paying the bill for being wronged within the bounds and rules of the airport. And I bet the TSA folks weren’t held accountable or responsible in any meaningful way.

  38. This is so scary. But I’m glad that Mr. Mocek did it, because I certainly would be reluctant. BoingBoing out to have some sort of hegemony hacking award.

  39. First, I totally agree that the TSA is almost entirely in the wrong in this video and I applaud Mocek for sticking up for his rights.

    However, and I expect I’m in the minority here, I think that people should be required to identify themselves to fly. This seems like one of the (very few) TSA rules that actually may enhance safety. Otherwise what’s to prevent (as an absurd example) Bin Laden from flying as Joe Smith? Granted, the no-fly list is totally broken, etc etc etc, but I don’t want to be on an airplane with Bin Laden and some attempt at identifying passengers seems totally reasonable to me.

    On a related note, the Moscow bombing was outside the security perimeter of the airport. I’m surprised it took this long for such a bombing. Doesn’t it negate the whole security theater show if terrorists can attack outside the perimeter to such strong effect?

    1. Swampdog wrote, “I applaud Mocek for sticking up for his rights.”

      Thanks.

      “I think that people should be required to identify themselves to fly. This seems like one of the (very few) TSA rules that actually may enhance safety.”

      Many people I talk to about this have that reaction at first. Can you explain how identifying some passengers could make it safer for other passengers to share an airplane with the identified than it would be to fly with them were they still anonymous?

      “Otherwise what’s to prevent (as an absurd example) Bin Laden from flying as Joe Smith?”

      Nothing. What difference does it matter who purchased a ticket Bin Laden uses to fly or what, if any, name he gives to the security guards before he flies?

      Imagine if everyone flew as Joe Smith. Would it be any less safe to get on a plane with them? I think not. It would be a lot harder to lock down people who want to fly for reasons that the people who maintain the “no fly” and “terrorist watch” lists don’t like. I want that to be harder. I don’t think that people within our executive branch should be able to secretly decide who gets to travel and who does not.

      “I don’t want to be on an airplane with Bin Laden”

      Why not?

      If we have a list of people who are too dangerous to be allowed to travel around the country, we should have our police arrest them and get them in front of a judge, not put them on a list and wait for them to show up at the airport.

      “some attempt at identifying passengers seems totally reasonable to me.”

      It doesn’t seem reasonable to me. It’s none of our federal government’s business when or where I travel unless they have good reason to investigate me. When there’s no reason to suspect wrongdoing on my part, I should be left alone to go about my business without them hassling me or tracking my movements.

      1. That was my reaction too. The safety risk facing air travel in the 21st century is not that we don’t know everyone’s name.

        I don’t like the idea that there are thousands of people too dangerous to even let board an aircraft who can apparently walk about free. Do people think terrorists are only dangerous some distance off the ground?

      2. Phil, thanks for your response. I am reassessing my thoughts. The well documented failures of the no-fly list make my example of “not flying with Bin Laden” sound pretty silly. Who should be screened out by ID? I don’t believe our government can currently make a sensible decision about that.

        Some of my thoughts about ID come from thought experiments where I’ve tried to think like a terrorist. I’ve come up with weaknesses in my ‘plots’ based on being id’d. It’s likely a determined terrorist would work through the roadblocks I have come up with, but they stopped me in my armchair pondering. Even if it’s only a speedbump – maybe it’s worthwhile?

        Most of my thoughts are around staging an attack outside or at the current security perimeter. If I were a terrorist, I would hope that it would force the public to panic that security needs to be taken to a whole new extreme such as curbside security. I am watching the response to the Moscow bombings with high interest but I suspect that America in general will write it off as not relevant to us. “Why should we care if the commies don’t know how to run an airport?”

        An example where I think ID checking could be protective: buy a ticket, send a bag filled with explosives through as checked against that ticket. Have it timed to explode within the system shortly after you leave the counter. If they can’t clearly identify who put the bomb in the system, you might be able to get away to bomb another day.

        So I guess the benefit that I see is in identifying that you are indeed the person who bought the ticket. By limiting the possibilities to get away anonymously from causing destruction, by slightly raising the stakes of causing such destruction, I think you reduce the risk of terrorism.

  40. What I see as problematic, is the collusion between the police and the TSA. Police lend their broad powers too freely to the TSA.

  41. I was at the first day of the trial. None of the four charges were federal because there are no federal laws anyone can point to as being even remotely applicable. They were instead all local misdemeanors of the vague “respect our authority” sort. Curiously, only one was a *state* statute (disorderly conduct, IIRC), the other three were Albuquerque specific (failure to obey lawful orders, criminal trespass, and concealing identity).

    The prosecution utterly failed to show he had satisfied the necessary elements for any of these. The video recording was extremely helpful in showing the difference between what the officers alleged and what appears to have happened. Without it, it seems likely that the jury would have been more likely to take the officers’ statements on faith.

    Congratulations to Mr. Mocek for being found not guilty, but it’s a travesty that this even made it to trial.

  42. Phil Mocek is a HERO!

    As for the police officers: way to uphold the laws you SWORE to uphold! What a bunch of jackasses!

    As for the TSA personnel: At least at this airport, they should just go back to being Tray Stackers of America.

  43. The Identity Project has made our complete audio recording of Phil Mocek’s TSA checkpoint trial available for streaming or download. Trials at this level in New Mexico are neither recorded nor
    transcribed by the court, so this is the most nearly complete record of the trial available.

    The MP3 recordings can be downloaded or streamed from the links at:

    http://papersplease.org/wp/2011/01/24/audio-state-of-new-mexico-v-phillip-mocek/

    Mr. Mocek’s responses to questions from the press in the hallway outside the courtroom, immediately after the verdict, are at:

    http://www.archive.org/download/StateOfNewMexicoV.PhillipMocek/Mocek-L-21JAN2011-ends_1735MST-Mocek_after_verdict.mp3

    Our analysis of the “NOT GUILTY” verdict and what it means:

    http://papersplease.org/wp/2011/01/22/phil-mocek-found-not-guilty-by-albuquerque-jury/

    Background FAQ:

    http://papersplease.org/wp/mocek/

  44. Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID…

    Can this requirement by satisfied by flashing your driver’s license for under a second? I mean, nowhere does it say how long you must show it for, or that you must surrender it (hand it over), albeit temporarily, even momentarily.

  45. re: being subject to alternative identification checking – I would be interested in seeing what would have happened had TSA followed their rules and said, “Ok, if you won’t show ID step over here and tell us how we can be confident you are the person who purchased this ticket”. I suspect that a web presence could be established, or some other approach. TSA might or might not be able to be convinced that he was indeed Phil Mocek and if not then they would be completely within the law (as stated here) in refusing to let him fly.

    But they didn’t do that, did they? They said “you must by law show ID” (established as untrue) and “you must by law not take pictures of the TSA and their work (also untrue). They didn’t follow the law and had no leg to stand on.

  46. These TSA men, along with so many of our citizens in positions of authority, have made the grave error of thinking that because they are in charge they can never allow themselves to appear fallible. This kind of hubris is one of the surest signs of weakness in any leader of people. A man who is afraid to have his authority questioned is a man who is unsure of his authority. The moment when people who are given authority over others refuse to listen to those they lead they have proven that authority to be misplaced. A well-adjusted authority figure is capable of saying “I’m not sure, let’s take a minute to work this out”. As with any policing job, a TSA job is two-fold: to know and understand the rules and laws, and to make those rules and laws work in the real world. Not knowing the rules is not an excuse for violating personal rights or making arrests, it’s an excuse for taking extra time to clear up a muddy situation. Whether Mr. Mocek willfully baited these men into action is immaterial, even if his action were illegal there is no reason why he should be treated in this way. Treating people with dignity will always garner respect, and whether these men knew the laws at that moment is of less concern than the fact that they are willing to dispense with civility so rapidly at the merest sign of unlawfulness.

    Thank you, Mr. Mocek, for your civil disobedience.

  47. when the bombers start blowing up along side TSA check points,what then?will these bullies hold their ground?or are they only good for intimidating harmless children and grandmothers?

  48. In response to kmoser;

    “Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID…”

    The problem with this is that it is an unconstitutional requirement, as the constitution guarantees citizens of the United States the freedom to travel domestically (across state borders) without having passport or other travel/identification documentation. Thus, it is invalid on its face.

    1. In response to kmoser;

      “Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID…”

      The problem with this is that it is an unconstitutional requirement, as the constitution guarantees citizens of the United States the freedom to travel domestically (across state borders) without having passport or other travel/identification documentation. Thus, it is invalid on its face.

      I was curious where this guarantee is found in the Constitution.

      I found article IV from the Articles of Confederation (our founding document). I also have found that the Supreme Court has interpreted Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution to include freedom of movement. From this, I conclude that your general point is accurate.

      Unfortunately, the text is far from clear. The total textual support for our right to freedom of movement is the following: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” One might also argue from the starting point of our right to freedom of assembly, as well.

      Personally, I wish this right was supported in a clearer way.

      1. Freedom of assembly is exactly the argument. If I in New York, and my friend in California wish to exercise our freedom of assembly and meet one another, we must be free to travel. Without freedom to travel, freedom of assembly is meaningless: “you are free to assemble, but not to leave your home to do so.”

        Freedom to travel without showing a piece of paper is more tenuous, but that’s largely because it has a shorter history. For most of the history of our nation, everyone was free to travel without showing any form of government-issued identification because ordinary citizens had none. There were no drivers’ licenses before automobiles, no photo IDs before photography, and few people went overseas (and many did so without passports).

        It’s interesting, too, that many “identify yourself” laws are fuzzy at the edges. I routinely have to make sworn statements or sign witnessed documents in the course of doing business. The notary with whom I work is often confronted with a form that demands he fill in the type and number of an identification. The notary generally lines out “proven” in the part of his statement that says, “to me proven to be the within named person”, writes in “well known” and leaves the form blank rather than copying in a driver’s license number. The forms go through without a hitch.

        In my jurisdiction, even showing your driver’s license in order to drive is not quite required. You are required to have one. If you don’t show it to the officer, you can show it to the judge, and the charge of driving without a license will be dismissed. Obviously, having to show up for a court date is a major inconvenience, so few people test the law, but charges for leaving your billfold in your other pants are highly unlikely to stick.

        I had occasion to test that with a demand for proof of insurance at a sobriety checkpoint. (The question of why an officer at a sobriety checkpoint should suspect that I was driving uninsured, or even that I was intoxicated, is for another day.) It so happens that I couldn’t turn up an insurance card, so I got a ticket. I got my insurance agent to print up and sign another card, showed the prosecutor the “in force since” date, and the charge was dismissed.

        And as far as “concealing identity” goes: I never once heard anyone on that tape ask Mr. Mocek who he was. Did anyone assert that he was wearing a disguise? Has our “identity” become the papers that offer evidence of who we are, and not our selves? I’m Kevin Kenny, with or without my papers. Having said that truthfully, I conceal nothing. If anyone accuses me of lying, the burden of proof now falls on the accuser.

  49. These TSA men, along with so many of our citizens in positions of authority, have made the grave error of thinking that because they are in charge they can never allow themselves to appear fallible. This kind of hubris is one of the surest signs of weakness in any leader of people, as a man who is afraid to have his authority questioned is a man who is unsure of his authority.

    It seems clear that these TSA agents are bristling at the questioning of their authority rather than a potential crime. The moment when these men stop listening to Mr. Mocek they have proven that authority to be misplaced. Any well-adjusted authority figure is capable of saying “Let’s take a minute to work this out”.

    As with any policing job, a TSA job is two-fold: to know and understand the rules and laws, and to make those rules and laws work in the real world.
    These men fail at both aspects! If they had dealt with the situation calmly while treating Mr. Mocek with dignity everything could have easily turned out fine, even if he was breaking a law. If it appears that there is something happening which might require an arrest, it behooves a law enforcer to go through that process as peacefully as possible. It is wholly unnecessary for that man to wave a baton in Mr. Mocek’s face, he’s not being violent, even if he had been committing a crime there would be no reason for that kind of threat, arresting people is plenty threatening.

    Whether Mr. Mocek willfully baited these men into action is immaterial, even if his action were illegal there is no reason why he should be treated in this way based on his actions. Treating people with dignity will always garner respect, and whether these men knew the laws at that moment is of less concern than the fact that they are willing to dispense with civility so rapidly at the merest indication of disobedience.

  50. What did he think was going to happen when he pissed them off? Just asking for trouble and he got it. Pyrrhic victory in the end. Idiot in my book.

  51. Metronicity wrote, “What did he think was going to happen when he pissed them off? Just asking for trouble and he got it.”

    It’s unclear when, if ever, I angered anyone. But even if I did, there’s no law against angering anyone, including airport security guards and police officers. What would you expect to happen if your lawful activity pissed off some cops and/or airport security guards? Would you expect them to lock you in a cage and accuse you of things you did not do?

  52. “Put it down for now.”
    Translation: “Stop exercising your rights until further notice.”

    “He’s taking pictures of all of us.”
    Translation: “He’s threatening our accountability-free work environment.”

    “You are now part of an investigation. A criminal investigation.”
    Translation: “This is going on your record. Your permanent record.”

    I admire Mr. Mocek’s courage and conviction. As for the TSA personnel involved, you should be ashamed!

  53. Thanks, Phil, this needed to be done, and I’m glad to see it in public like this.

    I sincerely hope that there is some way for you to recover ALL your monetary losses as a result of the TSO and LEO actions.

    I wonder if Blogger Bob will be able to make any rational comments about this.

    Take care,
    Tomas

  54. I’ll be honest here and say that at one point, I found this process obtrusive. But as more and more people complain about TSA, I’ve found them less and less intrusive. Even their ridiculous “liquid limit” has gotten more lax. The only thing that annoys me is having to take off my shoes and belt and all kindsa sh*t, which takes time to get re-dressed. But I get why they do that. And they do that most everywhere in the world. You do have to show your passport (or national ID card), when flying anywhere else in the world. Why do people still point to the Constitution as some standard level to uphold? It’s like pointing to the Bible as some moral standard. The thing is 250 years old. Things change.

    There are greater social issues to worry about.

    I am glad that there is a fighter for human rights, but I think there are greater civil liberties worth fighting for.

    1. To post by Anon (#117), I’m sorry, did you just imply that the Constitution is completely obsolete? Let’s go with that and just throw the crumbly thing out. Where does that leave us? Anarchy and chaos. People in general need a system in order to create and maintain order and some level of security, they are not responsible nor stalwart enough to handle it on their own. Not only does the Constitution outline what we want and what we’re going to get out of our government, it creates a society. Within that society exists an implicit contract that allows you to walk down the street without being harassed in some way without retribution, thus we can go out our front doors every day without the necessity of a weapon (though I do recognise this is not true in some places in our country, for example, ghetto Detroit). So how about you get with reality, because the Bible too is still valid for people all over the world, as are even older religious texts.

      Also, yes, you have to show your ID/passport/etc when going out of the country by any means. However, we have been afforded the right, by our laws, to go anywhere within the borders of our country without a need for this kind of documentation. Why? Because the United States wasn’t intended to be a police state.

      And for another thing, I personally do not fly anymore because of these searches and limitations. I don’t like being touched, prodded, and inspected by total strangers, thank you. One friend I talked with who has flown recently told me she felt like she had been raped when the TSA officers had finished searching her. And she would know, by the way. I don’t need my privacy infringed just to travel in a flying aluminium tube from one place to another.

      Maybe it is true that there are “greater social issues to worry about”, but that doesn’t mean we should be picking and choosing which rights and issues we should care and then do something about. We have our rights, major and minor. They all count and they all matter in their own way.

  55. What’s with American’s and ID? I think everyone should be given a serial number, and have it tattooed on their face. I was going to say on their forehead, but that’s too easily covered by hair or hats. It’s better to have it on the cheeks. Do it twice. Once on each cheek. You can start with cops and the TSA.

    1. “What’s with American’s and ID?”

      Here’s a song from an 1950s American musical about a British teacher working in Thailand in the 1800s which may help you to explore that question:

  56. Now that you won your freedom, it is time that you file a multi million dollar lawsuit because your rights were violated.

  57. I am going to the airport this afternoon, Orlando International with a modified Sony NightShot that effectively sees through thin clothing. Im going to stand in the corner and videotape the TSA and passengers in the ‘public area’, meanwhile I am going to have 2 of my friends covertly videotape any interaction I encounter with police or TSA. There are twelve of us going in all and if I am harrased or threatened I have 9 other people who ala ‘flash mob’ will start taking pics and video with their phones. Wish me luck!

  58. more proof the TSA is a bunch of idiot goons and apparently the Arizona police in the video fall into that category as well.The real question is what are they doing that they do not want on video tape. I think for the protection of our rights as citizens the whole TSA area at all airports should be on 24x7x365 real time video. its a sad day in America when the TSA thinks they are the NSA….

    1. …apparently the Arizona police in the video fall into that category as well

      As much as you may hate it, the reality is that Albuquerque, and it’s police department, are in New Mexico. Less affectionately known as “The Land of Entrapment”

  59. I feel like we live in North Korea. A few more “law enforcement officials” should read the constitution, or at least the law.

    –Dr. Sweven

  60. Freedom of travel doesn’t imply or guarantee the means of travel you use. Freedom of travel within the US is also only extended to those who are citizens.

    Therefore, flying isn’t a right (just like driving isn’t) and you may need to prove you are a citizen to exercise your rights of free travel within the country if legally challenged. Identification documents of some sort tend to streamline proof of citizenship, but there are other means and records that can be used.

    I salute the testing of the boundaries of the TSA security checkpoint, and getting some case law on the books, but I have to think that this probably wasn’t worth it in the grand scheme of things.

    I actually don’t blame the cops for detaining Phil. I think he got and is getting the attention he was looking for. I would be worried if they didn’t take a huge interest in his actions. Unfortunate that they moved pretty quickly to arrest, and yes an unlawful one, but pretty understandable when we consider the human animal.

    Do I think that TSA makes it safer for me to fly? Very marginally. Truly knowing who is flying and interviewing people have been the only largely successful security measures against terrorists.

    This is an intelligence war we are somehow waging by scanning peoples underwear? I don’t really think the TSA checkpoint has anything to do with stopping terrorists. It’s a target and a smoke screen for what is a much larger war being fought by the recent explosion of intelligence agencies in the US.

  61. I’m not an American, and don’t know the exact wording of the Constitution, but going by the text given previously “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” and the wording of “Freedom of Movement” I don’t understand where this turns into “I don’t have to show ID”…

    Someone is going to say that they are, even if temporarily, being denied their freedom of movement if someone asks for ID. Would then a red light also be denying your freedom of movement for a few moments?

    I could probably argue that the Constitution applies to American citizens, and is it not lawful for someone to have you prove that you’re an American citizen? (again, not American, so this is an honest question).

    Now, with that being said, flying is not a right, it is a service that is used to get to a destination. As with any service, there are terms that must be agreed to by the customer. In this case, it’s the security check by the TSA. Many people have stopped flying because they no longer accept the terms of service. If you do not agree to their terms of service, or (as didn’t happen in this case) are told “fine, then you cannot fly, please leave” they are only denying you from using their service. You can still drive/walk/bus/train/ride a horse/whatever to wherever you are going.

    This case helps to prove how stupid the TSA is. If they were smart, they would have ignored the camera until he was going through the check point, then asked him to turn it off, and if he didn’t deny him the convenience of flying to his destination. But alas, they are stupid and tried to enforce their own rules where their rules do not apply.

    I do not agree with, nor do I like the TSA rules, and that means I will not be travelling to the USA. I do not agree with how this case went down and the overexertion of (misguided) authority that was shown by TSA and Police, but I’m glad a jury of peers still agrees with common sense.

    To those who have said “well, why was he doing it?” I have to say that it was his right to do so. That’s the bottom line. I personally wouldn’t do it, because I wouldn’t want someone putting a camera in my face (golden rule) but it doesn’t mean that someone can’t stick a camera in my face while I walk down the road. I would have the right to get upset, and I have the right to request they stop, but they have the right to say they will not stop and continue on.

  62. Its not a baton. And they did not swing it in his face, its the radio antenna of a portable radio the guy was holding. You can see up close when he wanted to push the camera down.

  63. Someone anonymously wrote, “Someone is going to say that they are, even if temporarily, being denied their freedom of movement if someone asks for ID. Would then a red light also be denying your freedom of movement for a few moments?”

    Where was that said? What many of us are saying is that a system whereby a passenger must identify himself to government agents, then wait for those agents to check his name against their blacklists, then proceed only once given permission to do so is a restriction of our freedom of movement.

    “I could probably argue that the Constitution applies to American citizens, and is it not lawful for someone to have you prove that you’re an American citizen?”

    The U.S. Constitution recognizes that all people have certain rights, and restricts our government from infringing upon those rights.

    “flying is not a right”

    In the United States, it is a right. It’s protected by federal law as well as international treaty obligations.

    The “public right of freedom of transit” by air is guaranteed by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, and the TSA is required by Federal law (49 USC § 40101) to consider this right when it issues regulations. Freedom of movement is required in order for us to exercise our right to assemble, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Freedom of movement is also guaranteed by Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a human rights treaty signed and ratified by the United States.

    Quoting United States Code TITLE 49—TRANSPORTATION > SUBTITLE VII—AVIATION PROGRAMS > PART A—AIR COMMERCE AND SAFETY > subpart i—general > CHAPTER 401—GENERAL PROVISIONS > § 40101. Policy:

    (c) General Safety Considerations. — In carrying out subpart III of this part and those provisions of subpart IV applicable in carrying out subpart III, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall consider the following matters:

    (1) the requirements of national defense and commercial and general aviation.
    (2) the public right of freedom of transit through the navigable airspace.

    “it is a service that is used to get to a destination. As with any service, there are terms that must be agreed to by the customer.”

    It’s a service provided by a business operating as a common carrier.

    “In this case, it’s the security check by the TSA. Many people have stopped flying because they no longer accept the terms of service. If you do not agree to their terms of service, […] You can still drive/walk/bus/train/ride a horse/whatever to wherever you are going.”

    Not if you live in Hawaii and need to get to the mainland. Not if you need to get somewhere and back in time to keep your job or take care of your family. In many situations, commercial airline is the only feasible means of transportation in the United States.

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