Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Michael Yon Arrested

/From Breitbart TV.

My comments are a compilation from Yon's Facebook Wall and the BC as the story has evolved.

Michael Yon has since stated that this was not TSA but was CBP. Now things start to become clearer. If CBP handcuffed you then how did the local police (Port Authority) get involved? CBP turns prisoners over to ICE. I'm very surprised the Branch Chief (GS-14) in charge didn't call for a Public Affairs Officer. Did you say that you were a journalist? It is conceivable that they could be doing a currency or similar smuggling investigation. A professional interrogation elicits your cooperation without compromising security. You should be able to get the grand tour and a good story out of this if anyone in CBP is doing their job.

(on the BC who cited Yon's friend whose email password was extracted)
I already knew about his Thai friend. There are two issues here.

1. What should they be allowed to ask or inspect at the border.
2. How they do it.

I believe in the widest possible latitude for inspection at the border. Non-citizens have no right to enter the country and citizens should expect that anything that crosses the border can be inspected. Given that it is still very important to have professional skilled officers who do not needlessly create conflict. Honest communication about what you are doing and why does not compromise security. While Michael Yon may disagree about the necessity of a question the question may still have a legitimate purpose. Tact and courtesy and honesty are crucial. An abrasive or confrontational approach is both ineffective and inflammatory. There are very good reasons to inspect some electronic records at the border but it does need to be done carefully to protect purely personal communications and some legal records.

It was not TSA it was CBP. Customs and Immigration, that is what CBP is, can conduct warrantless searches at the border. That is a fact, always has been. Once you establish that you are a citizen they will let you back in the country but they still get to inspect you. Until they admit you the fact is you are not in the country. Are there legitimate reasons for CBP to ask about your income? Yes, I think that there could be. Bottom line they are a real law enforcement authority that investigates everything that crosses the border.

A police officer can walk up to you and ask what you do for a living or where you bought your car where you vacationed last year and they do not have to tell you what they are investigating and why they asked. They can lie to you to get you to reveal information. It happens all the time as in, "Talk to us kid your friends already ratted you out." At the border they do not even need a warrant to search or interrogate you. A smart cop tries to get your cooperation by being as friendly and honest as possible.

You would have to ask Yon if he can’t tell the difference. He initially put out the wrong story on his Facebook page and Twitter feed and corrected it later. It always struck me as a bad idea to put TSA in uniforms that look like CBP uniforms and issue them badges and change their job title to “Officer.” TSA are not LEOs. That change was a pure political ego sop to the Screener constituency. Some years ago in NYC the Traffic Enforcement Agents were changed from an old State Trooper type khaki uniform to what looks like a police blue uniform. They claimed that in the old uniform they were called “Brownies” and that was raaaacist. It surprises me that we have not had hundreds of stories of TSA personnel getting arrested for flashing their badges.

CBP are real LEOs and they enforce hundreds of laws. The fact is that until they release you they can conduct a warrantless search of almost everything. You are at either the border or “the functional equivalent of the border” so you are not in America until after you clear CBP. Once citizenship is established they will admit you but they can arrest or detain you. If you have any outstanding warrants, for example for unpaid child support of for 8 forgotten parking tickets or, I am just playing here, that library book from 1964, you can be detained until they hear if the issuing jurisdiction wants to bother to pick you up.

The officers at Sea-Tac may have acted improperly. They certainly did not act with enough skill to get cooperation without resorting to coercion. They probably should have called for a nice Supervisor or Public Affairs Officer to talk to Mr Yon but is it possible to think of a scenario in which they might legitimately ask what your income in your stated job that takes you overseas is? Yes there is and can failure to cooperate get you handcuffed? Yes it can. If you want to learn more ask them first. Be honest say you have a problem and may want to write a letter of complaint after and ask them to be sure you have their names and badge numbers but don’t say “No” unless you have a lawyer advising you.

When I read it I wondered if they had gotten Yon to mention the off the beaten path places he has visited around the world. I bet the Agriculture people would be very interested in his shoes.

Jan 6, 2010 - 9:53 pm

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