Jury Says it's Okay to Record the TSA

The Seattle man who refused to show ID to the TSA and recorded the whole incident has been cleared of all charges:

[The jury] returned not guilty verdicts for charges that included concealing his identity, refusing to obey a lawful order, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

Papers, Please! says the acquittal proves what TSA critics have said all along: That checkpoint staff have no police powers, that contrary to TSA claims, passengers have the right to fly without providing ID, and yes, passengers are free to video record checkpoints as long as images on screening monitors aren't captured.

"Annoying the TSA is not a crime," the blog post states. "Photography is not a crime. You have the right to fly without ID, and to photograph, film, and record what happens."

And a recent Dilbert is about the TSA.

EDITED TO ADD (1/10): Details and links.

Posted on January 31, 2011 at 6:56 AM • 70 Comments

Comments

bob (the original bob)January 31, 2011 7:07 AM

"...Prosecutors' case against Phil Mocek was so weak that he was found not guilty without testifying or calling a single witness..."

What?? You mean he was assumed to be INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty? How un-american!

jeffJanuary 31, 2011 7:44 AM

@uk visa

> An excellent precedent... well done that jury.

Unfortunately, its not a precedent. Just a jury verdict. Not binding or even officially persuasive on the next case. Juries decide facts and facts are assumed to be different in each case.

jeff

JamesJanuary 31, 2011 8:11 AM

You are "free" to refuse to show your ID to the TSA as long as you have the money to pay for a lawyer. Same with not showing a receipt to the people waiting for you at the door of some stores. It only costs you time and money.

IMO, that's not freedom.

AppSecJanuary 31, 2011 8:28 AM

I didn't read everything in the documentations, but was the flight made? Or did he miss his flight and get held?

If it was the later, I'd be curious if there will be a civil suit to follow.

@jeff:
While this doesn't set a precendent in the literal fashion, what it does do is open a lot of doors. But if those doors include still being able to be held and missing a flight.. Well, at least it is still a start.

I'd love for this to have been someone on business travel, fail to close a deal, and watch the numbers in a lawsuit skyrocket.

Richard Steven HackJanuary 31, 2011 8:30 AM

One thing Egypt is reminding everyone is that insurrection only works when a LOT of people lose their fear.

One person losing it is just another victim until the verdict comes in - assuming he wasn't shot or renditioned in the process.

JohnonymousJanuary 31, 2011 8:34 AM

@AppSec: I'm fairly certain he missed his flight, as he was escorted from the building by police.

@David: They've updated the blog posting now...
http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/01/...

Sadly, they say that "In so far as Mr. Mocek wants to fly in the future, like other passengers, he will still need to produce ID or work cooperatively with TSOs to confirm his identity." This despite the affirmation in court that he is not required to produce ID.

Steve JonesJanuary 31, 2011 9:11 AM

"You have the right to fly without ID..."

That doesn't seem correct. I think everyone needs ID to fly these days.

GreenSquirrelJanuary 31, 2011 9:17 AM

Well its a start.

Hopefully this will "send a message" to various tinpot organisations across the western world and make at least some of them start to have second thoughts before they push the boundaries of their authority.

(sadly, I doubt this will happen)

HJohnJanuary 31, 2011 9:33 AM

@blog post: "You have the right to fly without ID, and to photograph, film, and record what happens."
@Steve Jones: "That doesn't seem correct. I think everyone needs ID to fly these days."
_________

I don't see how one could be authenticated without requiring ID.

BrianDJanuary 31, 2011 11:19 AM

The jury didn't decide the issue of video recording. The jury also didn't decide the issue of flying with ID. No real consequences to TSA.

The TSA witness did testify that ID is not required in order to fly. There's a form they have the passenger fill out if the passenger doesn't provide ID.

Phil MocekJanuary 31, 2011 12:15 PM

@AppSec: I missed my flight. I was arrested around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, then released from jail around 10:00 p.m. Monday.

When I went back to the airport Tuesday to claim my belongings (including my camera, from which all images and video had been deleted; I was later able to recover the video of my arrest) and reschedule my travel partner's and my travel, I found that the same-day purchase price was something like $500 per person. When I explained that I had missed my flight due to a hold-up at the security checkpoint, the clerk said, "Oh, were you with Gallegos?" (He and I attended a Drug Policy Alliance convention in Albuquerque in representation of Cannabis Defense Coalition, a non-profit activist collective of which we're part.) I answered affirmatively. The clerk said, "I don't know what you did yesterday, but you're my hero. Hold on while I get my manager." The two returned shortly thereafter, the manager requested my ticket number, she tapped away on her keyboard, and then she printed us two free tickets home to Seattle.

Thanks, SouthWest Airlines ABQ ticket counter staff.

Much more information about the trial (including courtroom photos, a nearly-complete audio archive of the trial, information about donating to my legal defense fund, and more) can be found in the State of New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek FAQ maintained by the Identity Project at http://papersplease.org/wp/mocek .

Phil MocekJanuary 31, 2011 12:18 PM

HJohn wrote, "I don't see how one could be authenticated without requiring ID."

What authentication of airline passengers do you think is necessary and why do you think so?

MattJanuary 31, 2011 12:32 PM

It seems to me that as the TSA tries to force through ever more invasive procedures, it is being ground between two wheels of its own argument: the more effective its physical searches become, the less the need to ID passengers, and if its checks are not more effective, then why bother having them?

marianJanuary 31, 2011 12:40 PM

Showing an ID only proves one thing: you have the ID. The notion that an ID is proof of identity is just a social convention. People have agreed to accept it as proof of identity. The only real proof of identity is genetic (unless you are a chimera). But I hope we never go there.

AvSecJanuary 31, 2011 12:43 PM

It's apparant that this guy went to the airport looking for trouble and I would agree that a jury acquittal didn't set any precedent for IDs and videotaping.

Regarding the cop,the last thing they need is this idiot distracting them from their job, while they're trying to protect us.

Mocek, do you believe there are terrorists out there truing to kill us? Are you a GITMO detainee sympathiser?

Scott KJanuary 31, 2011 12:55 PM

AvSec:
1) How is "exercising one's rights" equivalent to "looking for trouble"?
2) Why does it matter if they "distracted while trying to protect us" if they're not effectively protecting anything?
3) What is your issue with Gitmo detainees--many of whom have had all kind of rights stripped from the get-go?

David ThornleyJanuary 31, 2011 12:57 PM

@AvSec: I don't believe there are enough terrorists here to worry about. I've been told that there's lots of people who want to kill us, and people who are very effective at it, and if both were true we'd have people getting killed by terrorists around here. It's clear that the pre-9/11 security measures were very nearly sufficient, and that only a few of the more recent measures are effective.

If the guy went looking for trouble, good for him. Some of us need to exercise our rights or they'll kinda fade away. If the authorities regard somebody insisting on his or her rights as an intolerable distraction from their job, they need a shaking up.

Are you saying that everybody in Gitmo is there for good reason, is legally detained, and is humanely treated?

HarryJanuary 31, 2011 1:09 PM

Can anyone supply a link to the transcript or verdict? I want to add this to the pile of papers I travel with that prove I can do various things that TSA might not want me to: talk back, discuss, carry knitting needles,...

FrancesJanuary 31, 2011 1:19 PM

@AvSec: the issue up for discussion has nothing to do with Gitmo detainees. What is the point of conflating them?

EdT.January 31, 2011 1:46 PM

Actually, I am not certain this case "proves" that you can fly without providing ID - it is simply a finding that failure to provide ID to a TSA screener isn't a crime in that jurisdiction. Note that in some states (I think NV is one) you *are* required to identify yourself to authorities upon request (tho I don't think a photo id is required.) As far as photographing the checkpoint goes - actual law-enforcing police officers still have problems with the fact that this is legal - even when their employing departments acknowledge officially that photography in public places is legal, and have provided briefing to that effect.

~EdT.

Dirk PraetJanuary 31, 2011 2:02 PM

@ Richard Steven Hack

"One thing Egypt is reminding everyone is that insurrection only works when a LOT of people lose their fear."

Right on the money. One man making a stand means getting the living daylights hastled out of him. Fifty doing the same is an entirely different picture.

I can understand people being asked for ID, but in a typical airport context this would be at check-in time and after that point only by LEO's or other personnel having both a legal mandate and probable cause to do so. If TSA staffers don't have this, then they can't unless some law is changed first. Same thing for recording: an official in a public area has no legitimate reasonable expectation of privacy except for those cases stipulated by law or otherwise imposed by local security protocol and advertised to the general public as a condition for area access.

HJohnJanuary 31, 2011 2:17 PM

@Phil Mocek: "What authentication of airline passengers do you think is necessary and why do you think so?"
_________

Authentication has its place. Much tougher to blacklist people if you don't know who they are, for example.

Basically, knowing who is who is useful from a security concern, but giving them colonoscopies before they board isn't.

I won't get into a long debate about this, but I do think IDing passengers is reasonable.

Nick PJanuary 31, 2011 3:06 PM

@ Phil Mocek

We definitely need to shake them up when they go overboard, but there's also a need to maintain security. Checking ID's of various forms has allowed the LEO's to bust plenty of criminals, most of them dumb. Sometimes the smart one's screw up and use an incriminating piece of ID. In the case of air travel, the government definitely needs to ID people to keep up with foreign nationals and people entering or leaving the country. There are real threats in this area that can be minimized (or dealt with better afterwards) if we have some audit trail of faces and plastic.

@ HJohn

Definitely. Colonoscopies are a very unreliable and painful form of ID to present. Doing away with them would be nice.

ChrisJanuary 31, 2011 3:10 PM

@Nick P: "Colonoscopies are a very unreliable and painful form of ID to present."

That said, I'm sure if the Goatse Guy did a 180 and dropped trou at a checkpoint, anyone who'd ever been on the Internet would recognize him.

Edward HasbrouckJanuary 31, 2011 3:15 PM

@Harry asks, "Can anyone supply a link to the transcript or verdict?"

Proceedings of this sort at this level in New Mexico are not recorded by the court. (That's not as exceptional as you might think. In some jurisdictions courts of the first instance aren't courts of record. If you lose at trial at that level and appeal, you get an automatic de novo trial in a court of record.)

There was no official audio recording and no court stenographer. There is no transcript of the trial, and there won't be unless someone makes an (unofficial) transcript from the audio recording I made for the Identity Project.

The most complete available record of the trial is at:

http://papersplease.org/wp/2011/01/24/...

Additional info about the trail and verdict is at:

http://papersplease.org/wp/2011/01/22/...

And there's an FAQ and more links at:

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

EdJanuary 31, 2011 3:17 PM

@Nick P:

You still have to show your passport at the gate before you get on an international flight. If they stopped requiring ID at the TSA checkpoint, it wouldn't affect their ability to know who leaves the country by air.

HJohnJanuary 31, 2011 3:38 PM

@Nick P: "Colonoscopies are a very unreliable and painful form of ID to present."
_________

I think the screening mess is due to a clerical error. A "Preventative Screening Procedures" document intended for the health care office got routed to TSA by mistake.

ShaneJanuary 31, 2011 4:13 PM

@AppSec

"I'd love for this to have been someone on business travel, fail to close a deal, and watch the numbers in a lawsuit skyrocket."

I wouldn't. That's my tax money, and frankly the TSA has wasted enough of it already.

If Johnny-White-Collar Civil-Suit III is gonna get a healthy chunk of our money in his pocket, the rest of the American tax-payers deserve a cut too.

Dr. TJanuary 31, 2011 4:53 PM

@HJohn: "...I don't see how one could be authenticated without requiring ID."

Few children have IDs. They are "authenticated" (what a horrid verb) by a parent or guardian (who has a government-accepted ID).

Given the existance and use of a "no-fly" list, the government requires adults to be identified. Otherwise, the no-fly list would be even less worthless than it already is.

ShaneJanuary 31, 2011 4:53 PM

What I have the most trouble with is unfurling this marriage between our government, and (what I always believed to be) a private commercial industry.

The government's reach is bound (vis-a-vis ID checks, unreasonable search/seizure, citizenship, et al) in certain respects by our civil rights, whereas the airlines themselves could seemingly deny service to anyone they see fit, and for any reason (aside from race/religion/gender) or none at all. If a Wal-Mart manager asks me to leave his/her store, they have every right to do so, it's private property.

Honestly, that was the very first thing that came to mind when the TSA was created: Why? Wouldn't it have been enough, nay cheaper and more efficient, for the major airlines to simply stand by a new standard of security, and allow the markets to decide what is actually a fair trade-off between security and inconvenience/privacy based on who flew with what airline? Instead of taxing every single American with an income to fund this nonsense, patrons of the airline industry could have paid for it themselves, and had a choice as to what outrageous ticket price was actually worth the 'increase' in security (pfffffff).

Why do I pay for the TSA? I don't fly! I take trains and buses, and the 'Transportation Security Administration' (keyword transportation) doesn't have thing one to do with either of them!

Yea yea, government oversight == contractors == politicians get rich via investments and all that. I get it. What I don't get is how any of this even makes it into the court system. Can't American Airlines come along and say "look, whatever the TSA says, we don't care, we just didn't feel like serving this paying customer, so their ticket was refunded, and they were asked to vacate the premises." Case closed?

I must be missing something here.

What I'm not missing is the embarrassing waste of taxpayer money, followed by even more embarrassing declarations that the money is being put to good use, followed by the most embarrassing part: the self-denial we've shown as we're wiping up our spills with the Bill of Rights.

DanielJanuary 31, 2011 4:54 PM

@ Nick P

Paraphrasing a comment from a previous last Airport/ID discussion, 'If a 19 year old can get a fake for a bar, you'd think someone of malicious intent could manage a fake ID as well.'
Similarly, we've read here about a bored CS student making a boarding pass generator that was so accurate it triggered a whole barrel of governmental love for him.
I think it's useful for keeping track of where honest people are going, but not so much for a determined, underhanded, individual.

DennJanuary 31, 2011 4:57 PM

@Dr. T

Actually, minors don't even have to be escorted by a guardian with ID...they can simply show up and go through without presenting ID; I've only been asked my age on those occasions.

Another KevinJanuary 31, 2011 5:14 PM

The whole "requiring ID" thing is founded on some extremely shaky premises.

(1) That there is a category of people that are "too dangerous to be allowed to fly," even with weapons inspection.
(2) That that category of people includes a category of "but not dangerous enough to charge with a crime."
(3) That it's constitutional to restrict those individuals' freedom of assembly (freedom of assembly is meaningless unless you're free to travel to the place of assembly) without their having been convicted, or indeed charged, with any crime.
(4) That those individuals won't carry convincing false ID.
(5) That it's most effective to wait for those individuals to show up at an airport rather than going out and hunting for them.
(6) That the identification program won't be used to target the innocent.

Personally, I suppose that I have to say that I believe all six, because my government tells me they're all true, and who am I to question the government?

IntelVetJanuary 31, 2011 5:20 PM

If every body goes through security and, therefore, is "safe", what can possibly be gained by "authentication"?

Which are really two different things. One ensures a lack of specific contraband, the other is only useful for tracking the public.

The only reason for the airline to ask for ID is for commerce purposes. The only reason they would ask for a passport before boarding is proof they will not have to transport you back if you have no passport.

It is for money, only. Not for security.

Brandioch ConnerJanuary 31, 2011 5:37 PM

The reason for the ID requirement is NOT to prevent terrorism.

It is to prevent re-selling of cheap, non-refundable tickets.

In the old days, you could buy a cheap, non-refundable ticket. If an emergency arose and you were not able to make your flight, you could sell that ticket to someone else.

Now that you have to prove who you are (and who you are has to match the name on the ticket) the airlines no longer have to provide service for every ticket sold.

Imperfect CitizenJanuary 31, 2011 5:53 PM

Hoorah for the jury! I wish I could get a day in court.

Today I heard observers say they don't know why I'm being watched, they think my purse is an issue. The hilarious part is I bought the fair trade purse at a store while under observation in 2008. Ironically, it was the same store that a male observer assaulted me in.

Perhaps Patriot Act Abuse will be addressed someday soon.

Dirk PraetJanuary 31, 2011 7:15 PM

"The only reason for the airline to ask for ID is for commerce purposes."

"Well hello, Mr. Smith. Can we possibly interest you in some fine articles our partners got on sale today ? We have a great collection of fine beverages, nail clippers, food items, fireworks, weaponry and other tools, most of them second hand but all in impeccable condition. Do check our online catalog for special promotions. We accept all major credit cards."

Phil MocekJanuary 31, 2011 7:24 PM

@Karrde: No jury nullification. I clearly did not violate the laws I was accused of breaking. You can see video of my arrest at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc5DBUK1K8M

@Steve Jones: You wrote, "I think everyone needs ID to fly these days." You're incorrect. ABQ TSA TSO Jonathon Breedon testified at my trial on January 20, 2011, that this is not the case.

@AvSec: You wrote, "It's apparant that this guy went to the airport looking for trouble." I went to the airport looking for a ride home. To the degree that I'm able to discover the rules I'm required to follow, I followed all of them. The airport security guards and police created trouble.

You asked, "do you believe there are terrorists out there truing to kill us?" I do not believe that there are mad bombers lurking around every corner intent on committing mass murder. If there was, we'd see bombs detonated in restaurants, in clubs, at sporting event and concerts, in public parks, in train stations, and in the line at airports outside the TSA barricade. But we're not seeing these things, and it's not because we're confiscating nail clippers and water bottles or strip searching people before they enter those places. 30,000 people per year die on our highways. That's the place to look for an improvement to transportation safety.

@EdT: Please cite any law that requires one to present documentation of one's identity to any airport security guard in the United States. We're not even required to *have* such identity documents. Should those without be barred from air travel?

@HJohn: You wrote, "Much tougher to blacklist people if you don't know who they are, for example." Of course it is. I want it to be impossible to blacklist people. We shouldn't allow our government to do that. If someone's freedom is to be restricted, there better be a judge and a jury involved. You also wrote, "knowing who is who is useful from a security concern." How so?

@Nick P: You wrote, "Checking ID's of various forms has allowed the LEO's to bust plenty of criminals." Sure. Most of what TSA finds via their warrantless searches at our airports is evidence of credit card fraud, immigrations violations, and drug prohibition violations. It's a fishing expedition. We could catch *many* more criminals if we just sent our police door-to-door to interrogate people. But we don't do that, because it's unconstitutional. Letting some criminals roam free is part of the price of freedom.

@Daniel: You wrote, "I think it's useful for keeping track of where honest people are going, but not so much for a determined, underhanded, individual." Precisely. Showing ID only affects honest people.

Our government should leave us alone to go about our lawful business unless it has good reason to suspect wrongdoing. We should not be required to request and receive permission to move about the country.

Edward HasbrouckJanuary 31, 2011 7:38 PM

@Shane: You ask, "the airlines themselves could seemingly deny service to anyone they see fit, and for any reason.... If a Wal-Mart manager asks me to leave his/her store, they have every right to do so, it's private property.... I must be missing something here"

What you are missing is the concept of a "common carrier".

Under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 in the USA, and under a plethora of bilateral and multilateral aviation treaties, airlines are required to operate as common carriers.

A common carrier must transport any person wiling to pay the fare and comply with the rules in their published tariff. For an airline to refuse service to anyone, for any reason other than a violation of their published tariff, would be a violation of their operating license. For the US government to countenance such refusal to transport on an international route would be a violation of US treaty obligations.

There are good historical consumer protection reasons for common carrier laws, which originated with common-law rules for innkeepers and places of public accommodations and evolved by way of rules for stagecoaches, railroads, and airlines.

There are common carriers of people, common carriers of freight, and common carriers of messages (telecommunications). Proposals for mandatory "net neutrality" can be conceptualized as suggestions that carriers of data packets be required to operate as common carriers of packets.

FrancesJanuary 31, 2011 10:15 PM

Why should one be prohibited from giving a prepaid airline ticket to another person to use? If bought a concert ticket or a ticket to a play, if I buy a day pass on the local transit system, if I bought season's tickets to a team's games, I could give any one of them away. What is so special about an airline?

ChrisFebruary 1, 2011 12:11 AM

It seems to me that Phil was unlawfully arrested and had his civil rights violated. Why doesn't he have the right to sue the TSA and the local police department for those violations? At the very least these parties should have to pay for his legal costs. Anyone?

NobodyFebruary 1, 2011 12:13 AM

>What is so special about an airline?

Nothing, thats just the deal they offer when you buy your ticket.

The same deal that means you can't install software on two machines, can't copy a CD you bought to an iPod and here it's a crime to give away a bus ticket.


Thai-SpyFebruary 1, 2011 1:00 AM

@Ed: "You still have to show your passport at the gate before you get on an international flight. If they stopped requiring ID at the TSA checkpoint, it wouldn't affect their ability to know who leaves the country by air."

A passport check is a defensive measure measure by the airlines. By agreement, it is their responsibility to ensure to a reasonable capacity that you will not be refused entry into the destination country. Their area of responsibility includes making sure that you have a valid passport (often with sufficient validity for entry per the regulations of the destination country) and a valid visa where required.

If you are refused entry because of a failure to meet one of these minimal requirements, the airline must transport you back to the country where you embarked. Obviously when it's the airlines problem and not that of the authorities at destination, the destination country wants you gone as soon as possible with minimal fuss or cost, which leads to the possibility of the airline having to bump a paying passenger.

This check is most normally done at check-in, but some airlines will repeat the check at the gate. Normally however the ID check at the gate is simply to determine that the traveler has his passport at the last moment before boarding rather than having dumped it in an asylum scam attempt, and that the name on the boarding pass (and consequently the passenger manifest) matches that in the passport.

Those passenger manifest are generally sent ahead electronically and are scrutinized by the immigration authorities in the destination country.

gregFebruary 1, 2011 3:09 AM

We must be prepared to fight for your legal rights and freedoms. Even sometimes for rights that have been "legally" taken away. Bravo Phil and co.

I am amazed that many people think i am suggesting revolution or violent protest when i say that. I am not. I am suggesting doing exactly what was done here. Prepared to go to court over it and all that that implies.

I hate these silly rules which we do implement here (EU)too at the US behest. And its stupid. The idea that law enforcement is above the law (ie don't record us, we record you!) is so far from what we know to work, be right or a good idea.

Here in the EU, for the most part however I almost never get asked for ID. Even when flying within the EU. I print my boarding pass and no one checks or cares at the gate. As long as the bar code makes the machine go ping. In fact i didn't notice that i left all my IDs (pass port and residents permit) at home for several trips until i needed one for ski hire. They use is as "bond".

The only exception to this was traveling to the UK. Where they seem hell bent on the same rules and ass hatery as the US. Big signs when you walk in that you are *not* allowed to record or film anything etc. Its crazy. It cannot lead to anything good. Its costing airlines money. I know I won't go to the UK again unless i have no choice. Egypt and China was far nicer.

And as for ID adds security. Every one of the 11/9 bombers had ID. So much for security with ID. I mean seriously... now you know their name? So what. (international flights is about liability and immigration policy..*not* security)

Bruce said it best with the no fly list. Its a list of people so dangerous they can't be permitted to fly, yet so innocent they can't charge them with anything, or even one step more, they can't even get a warrant.

BF SkinnerFebruary 1, 2011 6:44 AM

@marian "an ID is proof of identity is just a social convention... only real proof of identity is genetic"

"Here is my Justice League Membership Card. It doesn't prove I know Batman."

No. Identity itself is a social convention. Identity isn't an inherent qualilty within us. It is given to us
we have the identity that our friends, family and social set recognize, there's an identity the bank gives us
and lables with an account number, then there is the identity we have with the State and Federal Government to
facilitate the payment of taxes. The ID card is a mere material representation of that relationship.

Perhaps that's why we have such angst over the issue. Control of 'who we are' is being manipulated externally.

BF SkinnerFebruary 1, 2011 7:01 AM

@Dr T "Few children have IDs"

If by ID you mean a driver's license maybe not but if you mean a state provided record of identity
then there are birth certificates, passports (if they travel internationally), Health care cards (in civilized
countries) and (in the US) social security cards.

So change that to MOST children have IDs.

The fact that their parent or guardian is signing for them is irrelevant. Visitor log sign-in's by Flag officers inspecting secure spaces was handled by their aides.

No OneFebruary 1, 2011 7:54 AM

He probably meant photo ID as other forms of ID only verify that you have a piece of paper -- there's nothing that really ties you to that piece of paper. (Not that a photograph is undefeatable of course.) Of those you listed for the US (don't know about national health care cards outside of the US but the health insurance card you get here is neither ID nor does it have a photo) only passports have a photo and, of course, children change often so that photo can easily be out of date, assuming the kid even has a passport. Plus, if you really want, you don't need to get a SSN or birth certificate. You can opt out of social security on religious grounds (like the Amish) and you never have to have a certificate printed (though the hospital probably keeps a record for you... assuming you were born at a hospital.)

Also, remember that in the US we have the right to not have ID! No "papers, please" should exist here. (Though, obviously, it does now that the TSA has its hands all up in our business.)

Richard Steven HackFebruary 1, 2011 8:30 AM

There is only ONE way to "identify" someone: matching a biometric measurement taken on the spot with a recorded biometric measurement - and this assumes that neither the "live" biometric measurement nor the recorded measurement have been tampered with.

Usually the measurement used is the fingerprint. Modern biometrics go further because the fingerprint can be duplicated by various means.

A card with a number and someone's picture on it that matches the face on the person in front of you is not "identification" in any rational sense of the term. Yet it's demanded everywhere.

I have an expired California Non-Driver's ID. I have gone to a client's apartment building where ID must be surrendered before you go upstairs. I was refused once because the ID - which WAS actually issued by the California DMV and had my face on it - was expired. I didn't bother to point out to the moron that it still had my face on it. Since he has no means to verify the Non-Driver's License number on it, nor whether the picture on the license is the one recorded in the DMV records, what good is it? Not to mention that if anyone was bothering to hand him a fake ID, they obviously would not hand him an EXPIRED ID. Nor could he tell whether the ID was fake or not by any means other than direct verification with the DMV by means of a direct computer connection similar to what the police have in their vehicles.

So what good is an ID like that in ANY situation other than the one indicated - a police stop where the officer can check both the ID number and the photo to the one recorded at DMV? If you can't do that, ANY ID is exactly worthless.

And since California DMV is notoriously hacked with DMV employees being paid off to put people in the system, even a police stop can be ducked if you pay the right people enough money.

If they want to control who flies with an ID system, they need to require everyone to have a Driver's License or Non-Driver's ID or Passport and they have to verify on the spot directly to the issuing authority - with picture of the recorded person being sent back along with the verification so the inspector can compare the ID picture with the individual in front of him. And they have to have procedures in place at the issuing facility to insure that no one gets bribed or the system gets hacked.

Imagine the cost and the effort. And for what? To verify that 99.999% of the people in front of them are not terrorists or criminals.

Once again: there is no security.

MattFebruary 1, 2011 8:40 AM

I'm really surprised that noone else has mentioned this so far - what about the camera?

The camera had to be retrieved from the airport. In other words, the TSA unlawfully separated the camera from its owner. Why were all the possessions not transferred to the police station at the time of arrest?

It seems that the camera when retrieved had been tampered with, and the video had been deleted by unauthorised people. I don't know what sort of law that's breaking, but it'd be something like criminal damage or computer misuse (hacking) over here.

Now, if some random guy on the street stole my camera, took it away to his house, damaged it, and only returned it when I came knocking on his door, I'd be asking law enforcement to make an arrest, or failing that suing for something.

RSXFebruary 1, 2011 10:08 AM

Always wondered what would happen if someone just stood at the checkpoint and filmed everyone for 1 day, what footage they would get.
A while back, I recorded one of those sobriety checkpoints and saw more than one incident of misconduct - Like the cops physically carrying kids and newborn babies out of cars. The cops hired a handful of what appeared to be high-school kids to wear police jackets, then stand around and watch. One of them asked what I was up to and I just said it was public property and not much more. But more than a few regular people came up and thanked me for making sure the cops dont do anything stupid.

Dont the cops need some sort of probable cause to check your license and all that? It all reminded me of something Joe Arpaio wanted to do years ago.

BF SkinnerFebruary 1, 2011 11:39 AM

@Matt '...the camera...'
Interesting thought. Albequerque Int'l Sunport is a point of entry so CBP is there and the US has asserted the right to search and seize electronic property for people entering the US.

Perhaps some think it's arguable that seizure of any electronic recording device is permissible by CBP (sister agency supporting it's DHS co-hort in mission objectives) in the port of entry no matter which side of the border they are on.

However I think the more interesting point is the camera data was erased. In relation to a criminal investigation doesn't that constitute tampering with or destroying evidence and obstruction of justice?

@Phil Mocek
What was your lawyer's take on this issue? It could certainly be used to show the prosecution was predujicial and the TSOs involved premeditatedly destroying possible exculporary or exhonerating evidince.

notthatPhilFebruary 1, 2011 2:08 PM

Several have posted that this case "proves" you can fly without ID. Actually, this case didn't reach the ID question, as Phil Mocek was cooperating with the TSA's "alternate ID procedure." Had he not cooperated with that procedure, and been arrested for that reason, it would be a different story.

Instead, what the case did prove is that simply video recording a TSA officer during screening, is not against the law. The recoding is what caused the TSA screen to stop the screening process and call over the airport police, who ultimately arrested Phil Mocek.

This is substantiated by watching Phil Mocek's video, plus listening to the audio of the trial at papersplease.org (the closing summaries will do).

IntelVetFebruary 1, 2011 6:20 PM

"The only reason for the airline to ask for ID is for commerce purposes."
"Well hello, Mr. Smith. Can we possibly interest you in some fine articles our partners got on sale today ? We have a great collection of fine beverages, nail clippers, food items, fireworks, weaponry and other tools, most of them second hand but all in impeccable condition. Do check our online catalog for special promotions. We accept all major credit cards."

Sorry you are too stupid to understand what is going on.

Phil MocekFebruary 1, 2011 9:42 PM

@Matt: @BF Skinner:

Matt wrote, "The camera had to be retrieved from the airport. In other words, the TSA unlawfully separated the camera from its owner. Why were all the possessions not transferred to the police station at the time of arrest?"

Officer Dilley, not TSA staff, confiscated my camera. While I was in a holding cell at the airport police station, he told me that my belongings would have to be held there in safe storage because I was being processed "as a John Doe".

@NotthatPhil, who wrote, "Several have posted that this case "proves" you can fly without ID. Actually, this case didn't reach the ID question, as Phil Mocek was cooperating with the TSA's "alternate ID procedure."

The witness from TSA testified during my trial that people can and do fly without "showing ID" all the time.

Davi OttenheimerFebruary 2, 2011 1:37 AM

@NotthatPhil

"Several have posted that this case "proves" you can fly without ID. Actually, this case didn't reach the ID question, as Phil Mocek was cooperating with the TSA's "alternate ID procedure.""

I think by your own words you see that the case proves you can use an alternate procedure instead of ID.

Even the TSA site says lack of identification they prefer will trigger additional screening, meaning what they may say they require to fly is not actually required.

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

They want something with a name and something with personal identity information like a birth date, and it should match your boarding pass.

Reminds me when I entered Canada for CanSecWest the year before the US started requiring passports the Canadian customs official laughed when I showed him my driver's license: "Hope you like it here. You probably won't get back in with that" he said.

Ah, a sense of humor at the border. Figures. Must those Canadians always do it better?

Sure enough, when I tried to get to my plane home a serious-voiced US customs agent with a giant frown stopped me for a stern warning.

This wasn't a terribly new experience so I wasn't impressed. I'd traveled through Eastern Europe, Central America, Asia and Africa and been hassled. The difference seemed to be that most countries had a simple $20 "processing fee" option to put me directly on my way. The American clearly wanted just to be heard and make my experience as uncomfortable as possible -- "I am in charge now"

He made me stand and listen to a boring monotone lecture about how important identity information is and how much hassle I was causing with an ID instead of a passport since rules would change in a year, yada, yada, yada and next time I won't be so lucky, etc.. I did my best to look like I cared and appreciated his inanity but really it just lowered my respect for the TSA.

They just make their own jobs harder by being so uninformed about the laws and grand-standing on obvious non-issues.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 2, 2011 4:20 AM

@ Intelvet,

Re your post Feb 1 6:20pm,

I read the "Mr Smith" reply to your original post differently. That is as light touch sarcasm. "Mr Smith" is the main charecter from George Orwell's 1984, where once he has transgressed he becomes "Citizen Smith".

During the hoopala of the setting up of the TSA and slurping in the existing staff it was (and still is) emphasized the TSA where "partners" to the airlines and airports (esspecialy with buck passing on CCTV footage and other liability).

And it has been said/reported that the TSA sell off confiscated items that are in condition to be sold, or in marketing speak "fine items" and "impecable condition" whilst having to slip in the legalize of admitting they where confiscated items that had had previous owners with out actually saying it with "second hand".

So I think for those that know and can see the pointers it was most definatly sarcasm with a light touch by the poster

Not as you put it,

"Sorry you are too stupid to understand what is going on"

However I've been told sarcasm is something some in the USA call "British Humor" and apply to most Europeans who use word play in English. I guess it does not travel as much as it might...

RandomSecMgrFebruary 2, 2011 10:56 AM

If only this was a precedent.
And I know TSOs are private contractors performing a public function, but there should be similar precedent nationwide to record all public employees in the course of their public work.

This moves into the "war on photographers" territory but increased visibility is an important protection for We, The People.

IntelVetFebruary 2, 2011 1:45 PM

Clive,

You are correct and I am wrong. I considered sarcasm but took the Republican thought process and went brain dead.

Thank you for your well considered comments.

JRFebruary 2, 2011 4:02 PM

Conan O'Brien had a good joke a while back: as if the TSA couldn't get any creepier, today they've announced that they're changing their name to "Uncle TSA."

The_RevFebruary 5, 2011 11:30 AM

Whenever a TSA agent lays their hands on you. . . call it Felonious Assault, and react accordingly - breaking any part of them that touches you is a good place to start.

Enough of these freaks get parts broken, it'll all go away, because nobody will want the job of being the resident cast-wearer. . .

One person defending their Rights in this manner won't be very effective - but if it starts happening a dozen times or more each day. . .

JSGFebruary 7, 2011 7:50 AM

>> I'd love for this to have been someone
>> on business travel, fail to close a deal, \and
>> watch the numbers in a lawsuit skyrocket.

Unfortunately, such a person might consider what Moeck did a career killer. -- Now a slightly different scenario. -

- TSA asks for an ID,
- Passager produces picture 'Work ID'
- TSA refuses to accept it, because it's not
- Government Issued.

- Passenger sites Moeck case, and begins recording to accurately get explanation, for both sides.

- Passenger explains, he won't be doing any driving this trip, so his Drivers License was left at home, along with extra Credit Cards and so on.

TSA Agent Harasses Customer, causing missed flight.

SFJDFebruary 14, 2011 2:40 PM

This is definitely an interesting case. I understand the need for airport security, but what we have now is little more than theater, and a huge waste of money.

Hopefully, cases like this will expose that.

Phil MocekFebruary 17, 2011 11:43 AM

RandomSecMgr wrote, "And I know TSOs are private contractors performing a public function."

Security guards at the 16 airports participating in [TSA's "Screening Partnership Program"][1] use private contractors. At other airports, they are federal employees. On January 28, 2011, TSA administrator John Pistole [announced][2] that SPP would no longer expand to additional airports.

References:

[1]: http://www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/optout/index.shtm
[2]: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/01/29/...

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