TSA threatens fines and imprisonment

Old Apr 24, 13, 10:48 pm
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TSA threatens fines and imprisonment

A few weeks ago I walked into terminal C at DFW to board a late 10pm flight to AUS and was soon harassed by TSA guy for a seemingly harmless act. Not a single soul was in line at security, no one in priority line or regular line, no one standing around, just me and the lonely older gentleman waiting for me to give him my ID and boarding pass. I thought what the heck, I'll just duck under this retractable stanchion (do it all the time when no one is in line) right in front of the ID checker agent and hand him my ID and show him my mobile barcode. Not to the side of the entry check point- directly in front of the ID checker, literally 10 feet away from his face while he was watching me. He says, good evening, and the interaction is a quick 5 seconds as LLL flashes up on the screen and I move on.

Out of nowhere comes a "head honcho" running up to me dressed in a different color button up shirt with a walkie talky, as I pull out a gray bin, screaming that I just broke the law. Startled and bewildered, I asked him "are you joking?" He says "absolutely not," and that when I ducked the black retractable stanchion I broke a federal law and could be imprisoned and fined $2,000. Worst even, he then decided to lecture me and tell me that he may even have to shut down the entire airport and evacuate and recheck every passenger in the airport. I literally asked him again, "are you being serious right now?" He was pissed and said that this was not a joke. I decided that he was being a little ridiculous and asked him when the TSA decided to stop using "common sense." I told him that his agent never said anything to me and that I was obviously never trying to bypass any checks. I was literally 10 feet from the agents nose and he was watching me the entire time I entered his sight.

He then decided to watch over me the entire time and decided I was a "bag check!" Thankfully this whole ordeal was over after about 5 minutes and a lot of uncomfortable stares.

I rarely bring up my travel stories to family and friends but this was so shocking I found myself actually in a few "you won't believe what happened at the airport" conversations afterwards.

For those who are reading this you know the C20 entry point I am talking about where they have the entry lanes pointed and stretched down the narrow hallway b/c it gets backed up in the mornings. I decided not to walk down the hallway to enter into to the actual lane and thought walking right up to the agent was more practical. Obviously not. This was before they opened up the segregated pre-check to the left or this whole ordeal would not have happened.

Wow... Does anyone ever do this and have you ever been harassed?
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Old Apr 24, 13, 10:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Matthew555 View Post
I literally asked him again, "are you being serious right now?"

.......

I decided that he was being a little ridiculous and asked him when the TSA decided to stop using "common sense."
Given your attitude, I'm not surprised. I'm not attempting to justify his behavior, but as a frequent traveler you should know by now that asking a TSA supervisor about his common sense is not going to end well.

I have been caught doing the same thing as you before. I said "I'm sorry" and walked on. You were looking for a confrontation, and you got one.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 11:05 pm
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post

I have been caught doing the same thing as you before. I said "I'm sorry" and walked on. You were looking for a confrontation, and you got one.
When someone comes up to you and tells you that you broke federal law, you typically don't just say I'm sorry and move on... I was honestly so shocked that I thought it was a joke. If he would have said, hey, don't do that again as it's a security risk, I concur with you and I would done what you've done. After you get lectured in ridiculousness, things are different for me...
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Old Apr 25, 13, 12:43 am
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Old Apr 25, 13, 1:49 am
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Originally Posted by Matthew555 View Post
Wow... Does anyone ever do this and have you ever been harassed?
Yes, I have done that at a different airport, although the response was more of a mild scolding. (TSO: "Ma'am, you need to walk around the barriers. You can't go under them." Me: "Um, OK. <thinking, "Is this junior high school? >")

Clearly, I didn't make much of a fuss, but there also wasn't any hyperbole on their part about BREAKIN' THE LAW!!!! and SHUTTING DOWN THE AIRPORT!!!! either.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 2:08 am
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post
Given your attitude, I'm not surprised. I'm not attempting to justify his behavior, but as a frequent traveler you should know by now that asking a TSA supervisor about his common sense is not going to end well.

I have been caught doing the same thing as you before. I said "I'm sorry" and walked on. You were looking for a confrontation, and you got one.
Let's get real. The person screaming about federal law violations was looking for and started the confrontation. The OP was the target of the confrontational walkie-talkie man armed with claims about federal law violations and threats about what he would do at the airport.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 2:24 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Let's get real. The person screaming about federal law violations was looking for and started the confrontation.
Yes, I agree with that, and that is why I said that "I'm not attempting to justify his behavior". All I was doing is pointing out that the OP could have defused the confrontation but instead escalated it.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 4:19 am
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If I had the time and been in the position of the OP I likely would have asked that he call an LEO and get it over with, and stood there waiting for the LEO. I would have asked for a copy of the tapes for my trial. I would have said that since I was likely under arrest for breaking a federal law that I would say nothing else without the presence of my lawyer under the 5th Amendment. All would be said in a low, even voice.

"Well, are you going to have me arrested or are we going to start over like this never happened? Your call."

The lawyers on this site can chime in, but as I understand it being accused of breaking a federal law by a federal employee is VERY serious and brings in more complications than those simply required for transgressing a CP.

I have had to say the following twice in different circumstances: "Are you accusing me of breaking federal law?" In both cases, it changed the dynamic immediately in my favor and before I left the CP, I got apologies from the supervisor. If they are going to accuse me of breaking the law they need to be prepared to follow through.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 7:51 am
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post
Yes, I agree with that, and that is why I said that "I'm not attempting to justify his behavior". All I was doing is pointing out that the OP could have defused the confrontation but instead escalated it.
Different people react to blowhard bullies in different ways. If by "defusing" you mean meekly submitting to being treated like a w*nking schoolboy then yes, it would have been possible.

Some TSA workers need to be confronted. With a two by four.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 8:00 am
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OP: please file a complaint with TSA (1-866-289-9673 TSA Complaint Line) and with your airline and elected officials.

You were a lot nicer to this wannabe thug than I would have been.

"Federal law? Really? Which one?"
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Old Apr 25, 13, 9:15 am
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Originally Posted by Spiff View Post
OP: please file a complaint with TSA (1-866-289-9673 TSA Complaint Line) and with your airline and elected officials.

You were a lot nicer to this wannabe thug than I would have been.

"Federal law? Really? Which one?"
Same here & like wise which law did I break.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 9:15 am
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The way to deal with issues such as this is to defuse them and then complain to the DHS Inspector General (forget the TSA stuff) after the fact.

OP got bagged doing something which is actually not permitted even though it's silly. The Officer, on the other hand, blew it way out of proportion. But, given that there are civil and even sometimes criminal consequences and that those can have really bad consequences, confrontation isn't the way to go.

Two wrongs don't make a right. So, a snarky Officer doesn't justify snark by OP. Deal with it on the spot and then complain.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 9:46 am
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When they're slow to reconfigure the tensa tape barriers when the serpentine queue length is not needed at CBP (immigration), many, many people rationally cut under the barriers at the direction of the attendant. At CBP, the attendants ARE LEOs, come armed with weapons and common sense, and the process is drama-free. The attendards of TSA can attack with nothing but harsh language and attitude.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 10:19 am
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I've ducked the little black lines very often - LAX, SFO, SNA, SJC...and on and on. Never once have I been scolded by anyone for doing this. I'm still going through screening. Still having my BP checked, I'm just not needlessly walking a crisscross of lines to do it. To OP's point, I use common sense. Ironic TSA considers this breaking a law but was OK with allowing knives back on planes. The genius of the TSA makes my head hurt.

I'm glad the OP didn't take any crap from this TSA flak. More flyers need to take a stand against these bullies when they show their ugly heads.
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Old Apr 25, 13, 11:03 am
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post
Yes, I agree with that, and that is why I said that "I'm not attempting to justify his behavior". All I was doing is pointing out that the OP could have defused the confrontation but instead escalated it.
That's hardly "escalation." In fact, if you consider that response to be "escalation" then you must live in the most amazing servile environment such that nothing ever gets done or said.
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