Strike a Blow for Civil Liberties

November 21, 2009

Civil liberties would disappear entirely but for everyday people like Steve Bierfeldt whose unconstitutional search and seizure experience helped bring to heel dubious “security” practices exercised by airport security.

The TSA is responsible for providing security for commercial air travel and is mandated by statute to screen passengers and property for weapons and explosives that may be carried aboard passenger aircraft operated by domestic or foreign carriers in the United States. That being said, Bierfeldt was detained in March for flying with too much cash.

While the TSA operates under the umbrella of the DHS, it has absolutely no authority under the Constitution either to conduct open-ended searches and seizures, or to practice detention and interrogation, both of which exceeds the TSAs statutory authority to protect civil aviation.

As a result of Mr. Bierfeldt’s complaint, the TSA has since modified its search policy, however it took the threat of litigation for it to bring its practices under control for the moment. (Read the Bierfeldt v. Napolitano complaint.)

Upon the announcement of the new search policy, Mr. Bierfeldt dropped his complaint. While I applaud Bierfeldt’s efforts, I’m not at all sure as to whether the change in policy will be permanent. Given that the TSA is part and parcel of security theater, it is questionable that this will be the last time we hear about it having exceeded its authority. The TSA can just as easily reverse policy at a future date since there won’t be any case law on the books preventing it from doing so.

I encourage you to listen to Mr. Bierfeldt’s recording of the manner in which he was treated by TSA employees. A single word comes to my mind: Thug.

Among others.

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