TSA Accused Of ‘Mission Creep’

The Transportation Security Administration , which has been known to release a video of a confrontation with a passenger to refute claims of harassment, isn’t sounding too good in a recording made by a man being questioned at the St. Louis airport. I guess turnabout is fair play.

Steve Bierfeldt triggered the record function on his iPhone to capture his conversation with a TSA agent who had taken him aside in March to question him about more than $4,700 in cash he was carrying, CNN reports. The money was from the sale of political T-shirts and other paraphernalia. Bierfeldt, director of development for the Campaign for Liberty, which CNN called “an outgrowth of the Ron Paul presidential campaign,” didn’t believe he was legally obliged to explain that.

The recording catches the TSA agent swearing at Bierfeldt and threatening to handcuff him and turn him over to police.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has taken up the case, contends the TSA has succumbed to mission creep. “We think what happened to Mr. Bierfeldt is a reflection that TSA believes passenger screening is an opportunity to engage in freewheeling law enforcement investigations that have no link to flight safety,” Larry Schwartztol of the ACLU told CNN.

So, there’s the question. We’ve all accepted that we’re subject to searches in airports without probable cause in the name of air safety.  If the search turns up something that is unusual but not in itself illegal, how thoroughly are we required to explain ourselves to the TSA?


3 thoughts on “TSA Accused Of ‘Mission Creep’

  1. Joel

    If you want to know your rights, the correct place to ask about them is not a screening room at an airport. They asked a reasonable question, why not answer?

    Certainly the TSA members who swore should be admonished that such language is unacceptable.

    However, once he explained the money, albeit with some leading, he was allowed to leave.

    1. Jeanne Leblanc Post author

      Why not answer? I’d probably answer if it were me but the old “if you have nothing to hide” argument always bothers me. I think it’s valid to wonder why the question was asked. A box full of money is not going to take down an airplane, and it’s not illegal to carry it around. Do we have to explain anything unusual to the government? Should the TSA be wasting it’s time asking? I’d rather they keep looking for weapons and bombs …

  2. Jonathan

    @ Joel…

    You have a Constitutional right to question your accuser and to ask all types of federal employees about your rights. This is your duty as a patriotic citizen. America is built on checks and balances to prevent tyranny and to squash any abuse of power. If you do not question their unauthorized and unwarranted questions, they will soon be harassing YOU for any reason they see fit, whether or not that applies to flight safety.

    How would you feel if you were pulled over on the road by a police officer while following all the rules of the road? How would you feel if they searched your car without telling you why? Does that sound like a free country to you? It doesn’t matter whether you have anything hide. You have inalienable rights as a citizen and you have a duty to remind all federal authorities that we are in America not Saudi Arabia.


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