Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’ Category

3rd October 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the dynamics of Sino-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) relations has been a topic of discussion. In order to provide further insight into these matters it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Bernama at Bernama.com.my:

KUALA LUMPUR, October 3 (Bernama-AsiaNet) — The economic relation between China and the ASEAN is very close despite the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The establishment of the China and ASEAN Free Trade Area creates the world’s largest free trade area that comprises developed countries and has 1.9 billion consumers, a GDP of nearly US$6 trillion and foreign trade totaling US$4.5 trillion…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

It would seem that many feel as though there will likely be further economic benefits derived from further economic cooperation between China and the countries which comprise ASEAN. In the context of specific countries, such as Thailand, this benefit may be further magnified by bilateral relations with the US. Thailand maintains a strong economic relationship with the United States as enshrined by the US-Thai Treaty of Amity. Bearing this in mind, the dynamics of Asian economics is subtle and multifaceted. That stated, there are many indications that the economies of Asia will continue to economically thrive in the future.

In news pertaining to travel matters in the United States it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been recently analyzed for what appears to have been an invasive pat down of a woman who had been afflicted with breast cancer. In order to provide further information regarding this situation it is necessary to quote directly from a posting by Lori Dorn via Boing Boing on the website Gizmodo.com:

Lori Dorn, the wife of Laughing Squid’s Scott Beale, recently submitted to a backscatter scan at JFK airport. The TSA pulled her aside for a breast patdown, even though she stated she had breast implants in place after her bilateral mastectomy. Of course, that didn’t stop them. They didn’t even let her take out the Device Identification Card that would could have explained where the implants came from and their medical purpose. No. Instead they humiliated her in public…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the aforementioned hyperlinks to read more from this interesting article.

In this blogger’s mind, there is no question that security should be a concern for travelers both in the US and abroad. However, usage of the term “security” as an umbrella term to allow for the humiliation of a breast cancer survivor seems rather draconian especially in light of the fact that the woman in question apparently had a Device Identification Card for just such occasions seems perplexing, to say the least. Hopefully measures will be taken to provide some sort of protection for travelers with disabilities so as to address safety concerns while simultaneously preventing humiliation while traveling.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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16th July 2011

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me…

[F]amous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.”

quoted directly from the official website of  Wikipedia, Wikipedia.org

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the former Secretary of Defense of the United States of America has been the subject of a so-called “enhanced patdown” (A.K.A grope down) administered by the TSA.  To quote directly from a very insightful article by Josh Rogin posted in The Cable on the official website of Foreign Policy, ForeignPolicy.com:

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was on the other side of the homeland security policies his administration helped to create today when he was held up and patted down at the airport after setting off the metal detectors on his way to board a flight…Rumsfeld was in Chicago to attend a panel and luncheon hosted by the Heritage Foundation and was on the way to Grand Rapids, MI to attend the funeral of Betty Ford, whom he called “one of America’s most beloved first ladies.”

This blogger asks readers to click on the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full and thereby gain insight into what apparently happened.

In this blogger’s opinion, the news above elucidates the fundamental absurdity and ridiculousness of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as of late, especially in light of the United States Constitution’s 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.To provide poignant context it is again necessary to quote Wikipedia’s 4th Amendment entry:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In what way is it reasonable to assume that groping a former Defense Secretary is reasonable while he is traveling to the funeral of a former First Lady? Where is the probable cause for this activity? Where is the warrant for such an invasion of Mr. Rumsfeld’s personal space? These events seem rather ironic since it was Mr. Bush’s administration that began these Constitutionally-suspect practices. However, that should not divert the reader’s attention from the severity of this state of affairs. At what point did it become reasonable to deny everyone their Constitutional right to be free from unwanted touching? Or, perhaps more specifically unwanted searches of persons without a warrant supported by probable cause? To provide further insight, it is necessary to quote from another section of Wikipedia discussing fundamental legal issues associated with the American Constitution:

The U.S. Declaration of Independence states that it has become necessary for the United States to assume “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”. Some early American lawyers and judges perceived natural law as too tenuous, amorphous and evanescent a legal basis for grounding concrete rights and governmental limitations.[3] Natural law did, however, serve as authority for legal claims and rights in some judicial decisions, legislative acts, and legal pronouncements.[66] Robert Lowry Clinton argues that the U.S. Constitution rests on a common law foundation and the common law, in turn, rests on a classical natural law foundation.[67]

This quotation above is important because it demonstrates the reason for the very existence of the 4th Amendment itself. Namely: to codify extremely important, yet utterly subtle natural rights. The founders were well aware of the fact some natural rights are so inherent to the very fiber of We The People‘s being that they are (under the weight of occasionally specious yet tempting legal reasoning) sometimes subject to being taken for granted by dint of their almost ethereal nature.

Readers are asked to bear the above in mind as this blogger feels compelled to quote directly from the website of My Fox New York, MyFoxNY.com:

[A] Colorado woman is accused of putting her hands on a TSA agent at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Court records show 61-year-old Yukari Mihamae grabbed the left breast of the female agent Thursday at the Terminal 4 checkpoint…Mihamae now faces a felony count of sexual abuse. According to court records, she lives in Longmont, Colorado and is self-employed…

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail. It is also necessary to point out that the woman in question noted above is innocent until proven guilty of any charge under American law and the American justice system’s adherence to Blackstone’s Formulation. That said, it will, no doubt, be interesting to ascertain the facts surrounding this incident since the lead-up to this incident may, at the least, provide context. Travel is stressful to begin with and, in this blogger’s opinion, such stress is only compounded by the duress which arises with the prospect of an invasive pat-down and the insistence, with little legal foundation, that such a pat-down be imposed.

In a somewhat startling turn of similar events it would appear that a woman in the sovereign State of Tennessee has been subjected to arrest as a result of an incident involving the TSA. In order to provide further insight on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Mail Online website at DailyMail.co.uk:

A mother has been arrested after refusing to let her child be searched by a TSA agent. Andrea Fornella Abbott, 41, was arrested at Nashville International Airport on Saturday after telling agents she did not want her daughter to be ‘touched inappropriately’ or have her ‘crotch grabbed,’ according to a police report. Mrs Abbott acted ‘belligerent and verbally abusive to staff’, yelling and swearing at them, according to the report. Police said after the woman refused to calm down she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read the totality of this report. Readers are reminded that those arrested in the United States of America are, as noted previously, viewed in the eyes of the law as innocent until proven guilty.
A wiser person than this blogger once wryly noted that even in matters pertaining to the law it is imprudent to attempt to try to interpose between a mother and a child whom the mother believes may be in distress. Such interposition may be especially imprudent if not fully backed by the Full Faith and Credit of American law. With that in mind it recently came to this blogger’s attention that Member of the United States House of Representatives, Representative Ron Paul, recently announced what would appear to be the re-introduction of a bill that could ameliorate some of the duress currently being borne by innocent Americans. To quote directly from the official website of Representative Paul:

Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. We have seen the videos of terrified children being grabbed and probed by airport screeners. We have read the stories of Americans being subjected to humiliating body imaging machines and/or forced to have the most intimate parts of their bodies poked and fondled. We do not know the potentially harmful effects of the radiation emitted by the new millimeter wave machines. In one recent well-publicized case, a TSA official is recorded during an attempted body search saying, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” I strongly disagree and am sure I am not alone in believing that we Americans should never give up our rights in order to travel. As our Declaration of Independence states, our rights are inalienable. This TSA version of our rights looks more like the “rights” granted in the old Soviet Constitutions, where freedoms were granted to Soviet citizens — right up to the moment the state decided to remove those freedoms…Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every Member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries…

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this announcement in detail. The legislation to which Representative Paul so passionately refers would appear to be the so-called American Traveller Dignity Act of 2010 or H.R. 6416 which provides that:

No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

This administration asks readers to click upon the links above to read about the totality of this information. In the interest of full disclosure to the reader it must be confessed that these pat-downs are not just the source of academic annoyance for this blogger as he was recently the victim of one of these “pat-downs”. When this blogger inquired as to the authority for the search especially in light of the Right to travel enshrined in the provisions of the 14th Amendment and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures without due process of law in the form of a warrant supported by probable cause pursuant to the 4th Amendment this blogger was told that such notions were subordinate to some amorphous and never-fully-explained (supposedly posted, but this blogger never actually saw them since no one was willing to provide them) “federal regulations”. This blogger does not have any particular issue with federal regulations per se as they are often the legitimate by-product of legitimate law-making, but they never can contravene Constitutional law as Constitutional law and the protections of the Bill of Rights can only act to override the provisions of federal regulation; and only then, when certain regulations offend the rightful liberties of the American People.

With respect to the this blogger’s opinion regarding his recent “enhanced pat-down” it can only be said that whatever my “enhanced pat-down” was, it certainly did not feel like the legitimate operation of a supreme government. Therefore, I shall look toward remedies for this issue and the most effective remedies appear to be awaiting at either the ballot box or perhaps one day upon the desk of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. With respect to the Several States it should be noted that some such as Texas and Michigan may be discussing the the promulgation of State law with respect to involuntary touching at relevant airports. How State legislation of this variety would impact American jurisprudence especially in light of notions such as the Erie Doctrine remains to be seen, but it may merely remain an interesting point to speculate upon.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

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22nd June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has seen the launch of a dedicated television channel. To provide more insight upon these developments it may be best to quote directly from the website MyThaiPhotos.com:

Tonight saw the official launch of ASEAN TV which is a new channel that serves 10 member countries in the English language. It’s actually been around for nearly two years as a project by MCOT. However they have now joined with the Nation group who run Thailand’s first 24 hour news channel. This co-operation between MCOT and the Nation means we will now get another 24 hour English language news channel in Thailand.

This blogger encourages readers to use the hyperlinks noted above to read the full details of this recent announcement.

There are many positive benefits that could be accrued to the people of the various ASEAN jurisdictions as a result of the launching of a television channel dedicated to ASEAN affairs. As ASEAN becomes increasingly important in an economic context it stands to reason that those in the ASEAN region and around the globe will be seeking information regarding the various economies which comprise this important organization. Meanwhile, ASEAN seems to be becoming increasingly important geopolitically (along with the so-called BRICS nations) so a news channel dedicated to providing insight into the political events occurring in the ASEAN jurisdictions (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) would appear to be something of a necessity for those who wish to remain informed regarding current events therein.

In rather unrelated news (but likely pertinent for readers of this web log) it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the sovereign State of Michigan may see TSA-related legislation similar to that proposed in the sovereign State of Texas. In order to provide some insight into these developments it may be best to quote directly from the website of the Daily Tribune, DailyTribune.com:

An Oakland County lawmaker is taking aim at the Transportation Security Administration and how its agents perform airport passenger security checks. State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, wants to make it a misdemeanor for any TSA employee to “conduct an intrusive, personal search on citizens without reasonable cause.” McMillin referenced a recent incident at Detroit Metropolitan Airport “where a 29-year-old special needs passenger was subject to an allegedly intrusive search.” “The federal government is not God,” McMillin said Friday. “It doesn’t get to decide what it can do to our citizens. This is one law that needs to be in place…”

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read more on this story.

Readers may recall that a recent posting on this blog discussed the so-called Transportation Security Administration‘s (TSA) recent harassment of a mentally challenged man in Michigan. It would appear as though that story has caused concern among Michigan legislators. This concern would seem to have manifest itself in the form of possible legislation. That stated, as of the time of this writing, there has yet to be any actual passage of such legislation on the State level. Hopefully, the developments noted above will result in benefits for all concerned.

For related information please see: States’ Rights.

For information pertaining to legal services please see: Legal.

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21st June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the highly informative website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association has noted the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Reuniting Families Act (RFA) in a recent posting. Perhaps it is best to quote directly from the official website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

Uniting American Families Act of 2011 (H.R. 1537)
Introduced by Rep. Nadler (D-NY) on 4/14/11
Summary: Includes a “permanent partner” within the scope of INA. Defines a “permanent partner” as an individual 18 or older who: (1) is in a committed, intimate relationship with another individual 18 or older in which both individuals intend a lifelong commitment; (2) is financially interdependent with the other individual; (3) is not married to, or in a permanent partnership with, anyone other than the individual; (4) is unable to contract with the other individual a marriage cognizable under this Act; and (5) is not a first, second, or third degree blood relation of the other individual. Defines: (1) “permanent partnership” as the relationship existing between two permanent partners, and (2) “alien permanent partner” as the individual in a permanent partnership who is being sponsored for a visa…

Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 1796)
Introduced by Rep. Honda (D-CA) on 5/6/11
Summary: Amends the INA to establish the fiscal year worldwide level of employment-based immigrants at 140,000 plus: (1) the previous year’s unused visas, and (2) the number of unused visas from FY1992-FY2011. Establishes the fiscal year worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants at 480,000 plus: (1) the previous year’s unused visas, and (2) the number of unused visas from FY1992-FY2011.

Revises the definition of “immediate relative” to: (1) mean a child, spouse, or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (and for each family member of a citizen or resident, such individual’s accompanying spouse or child), except that in the case of parents such citizens shall be at least 21 years old; (2) permit a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen or resident to seek permanent resident status if married at least two years at the time of the citizen’s or resident’s death or, if married less than two years, by showing through a preponderance of the evidence that the marriage was entered into in good faith and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit; and (3) include an alien who was the child or parent of a U.S. citizen or resident at the time of the citizen’s or resident’s death if the alien files a petition within two years after such date or prior to reaching 21 years old…

This blogger encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read further into the details of all of the proposed pieces of legislation noted in the aforementioned quotation. Frequent readers of this blog may recall the initial introduction of these bills by Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda, respectively. It could easily be inferred that many in the LGBT community and same-sex bi-national couples from around the globe are anxiously awaiting positive news on any of these legislative proposals.

Readers are reminded that Representative Nadler is the legislator who also proposed the Respect for Marriage Act which would provide federal recognition of the State licensure of same sex marriage. It should be noted that several sovereign American States currently legalize and/or solemnize such marital unions and jurisdictions such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of California have seen cases in the federal judicial branch which may result in an end to the current discrimination felt by many couples as a result of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

This news comes upon the heels of interesting possible political developments in Texas which may result in State legislation pertaining to TSA activities in airports. To quote directly from the official website of 1200 WOAI News Radio out of San Antonio, Texas:

Texas lawmakers will reconsider a bill that would criminalize ‘enhanced pat downs’ by Transportation Security Administration agents at the state’s airports, after Gov. Rick Perry placed the item on the agenda for the current special session of the legislature following intense pressure from conservatives and tea party groups, 1200 WOAI news has learned. “I am grateful that the governor heard the calls of the people demanding that lawmakers stand up for the liberties of Texans,” Wesley Strackbein, a conservative activist and founder of’ TSA Tyranny.com’ told 1200 WOAI news.  Strackbein Saturday traveled to New Orleans to confront Perry at a book signing event and demand that the item be placed on the legislative  agenda…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more.

TSA‘s (Transportation Security Administration) usage of so-called “enhanced patdowns” upon children and physically/mentally challenged individuals, not to mention the public-at-large, has apparently caused intense political pressure at the grassroots level calling for restriction of these activities. It would appear as though tangible results of such pressures could be forthcoming, but until such time as a bill has actually been enacted it is difficult to say if, or when, offensive policies and procedures will actually change.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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11th June 2011

Something very troubling recently came to this blogger’s attention. This posting must be prefaced with a statement for posterity: the vast majority of American civil servants are upright, honest, and conscientious employees of the American State and Federal governments who try their best to assist and provide valuable services to the American public. Their hard work should not be overlooked especially in this current era of virtually instantaneous communication.

One of America’s strengths stems from her flexibility and versatility in a political, foreign relations, and geopolitical context. In a domestic context this international flexibility is hard won as it generally stems from fierce national political and legal debate. The following is quoted directly from the website MyFoxDetroit.com:

ROMULUS, Mich. (WJBK) – The Mandy family says they were on their way to the happiest place on earth (Disney), but had to go through hell to get there. “I realize they’re trying to keep people safe, but come on, does he look like a terrorist?” said Dr. David Mandy. The family was going through security when two TSA agents singled Drew Mandy out for a special pat down. Drew is severely mentally disabled. He’s 29, but his parents said he has the mental capacity of a two-year-old, which made the experience that followed at metro Detroit’s McNamera Terminal that much harder to deal with. “You have got to be kidding me. I honestly felt that those two agents did not know what they were doing,” Mandy told us. Dr. Mandy claimed they asked Drew to place his feet on the yellow shoe line, something he didn’t understand. They proceeded to pat his pants down, questioning the padding which was his adult diapers. When the agents asked Drew to take his hand and rub the front and back of his pants so they could swab it for explosives, his dad stepped in and tried to explain that Drew was mentally challenged. “They said, ‘Please, sir, we know what we’re doing,’” Mandy said. The TSA agents saw Drew holding a six-inch plastic hammer. “My son carries his ball and his hammer for security. He goes everywhere with (them),” said Mandy. The TSA it seems saw the toy as a weapon. “He took the hammer and he tapped the wall. ‘See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon,’” Mandy explained. “So, Drew’s also holding the ball, and I said, ‘Well, how about the ball?’ He (said), ‘Oh, he can keep that.” Dr. Mandy was told he would need to have the toy shipped if he wanted to keep it, a process which caused them to almost miss their plane, so he pitched it. “It just killed me to have to throw it away because he’s been carrying this like for 20 years,” Mandy said…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read more and also view the video of the interview with this man’s father.

The so-called “Transportation Security Administration” (TSA) is, quite simply: a travesty. This story is absolutely heartbreaking.

Continuing, there is a poignant film from Hallmark Hall of Fame entitled: The Boys Next Door. This film is mentioned because the narrative of the film chronicles the lives of a group of mentally challenged men who are simply trying to live their lives like any other Americans inherently endowed with the privileges and/or immunities of American Citizenship. Their fictional trials, tribulations, and treatment at the hands of greater society provides illumination about what freedom means for people of all backgrounds in the United States and across the globe. There is a very salient moment to be taken from this film in the context of these current events. Perhaps it may be best to quote directly from a critical article written by Hal Boedeker, Sentinel Television Critic, on February 4th 1996 and posted on the website of the Orlando Sentinel, OrlandoSentinel.com:

The movie also spells out its good intentions. Jack imagines feeble-minded Lucien telling a state senate panel: ”Civilizations are judged by the way they treat their most helpless of citizens. And if you turn away from me, you extinguish your own light, deny your own warmth.”

The administration of this weblog encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full and gain further insight. Furthermore, viewing this film may be insightful as well, under the circumstances. For a relevant video clip please click HERE.

The reader needs to recognize that Mr. Mandy, like all Americans, is endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights and one of those inalienable rights is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures pursuant to the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. How is it reasonable, America, to believe that a man in Mr. Mandy’s position should have his 4th Amendment rights stripped without just cause? Was there probable cause to have these rights stripped? Were there exigent circumstances? What security interest was upheld by trampling upon this man’s liberty? More importantly, how can Mr. Mandy’s public servants have the audacity to treat him with such disrespect when, in reality, it is their job to serve and protect HIM!!!! For if not him, then whom? Furthermore, is not Mr. Mandy accorded an unfettered right to travel pursuant to both his State and United States Citizenship? Finally, would it be unreasonable to posit that Mr. Mandy may be entitled to some just compensation for having a treasured item, which apparently had been literally held for twenty years, taken and thrown out pursuant to a questionably lawful search?

This story was acutely difficult to read because the victim of this injustice is the same age as this blogger. There is an old saying: “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Simply put: were factual circumstances different, this could just as easily have been this blogger or any reader in this audience. That stated, I would hope that if I were mentally disabled my civil servants would comport themselves in such a way that facilitated my travel and aided me in my distress (as one can only infer that this incident caused this man considerable distress and consternation since having one’s “pant’s patted down” AKA: being groped, is upsetting for anyone, especially Americans who are used to their government, usually in the form of bonded peace officers; respecting their privacy and right to be free from unwanted searches, seizures, and molestation by American governmental agents).

Whatever excuses or apologies that TSA wishes to extend regarding this incident are irrelevant for they have committed an irrevocable violation of this man’s Constitutional and Human rights, but this issue goes deeper as these are the servants of We The People and therefore it is upon us as Americans to recognize this problem in order to make attempts at redressing it via either election, legislation, or even; perhaps, a possible legal decision.

At the level of the sovereign American States, it would appear as though further efforts are being undertaken to curtail the questionably legal activities of the TSA.To quote directly from the official website of the Examiner, Examiner.com:

The federal Transportation and Security Administration may have thought it had the last word in its battle with the state of Texas over a controversial bill that would make airport pat-downs a criminal offense. The fight, however, is anything but over as the state Senate prepares take up the bill for the second time. The bill, HB 1937, would make it a misdemeanor for TSA personnel to touch “the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing.” The penalties for violating the law would be a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail…

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to find out further details. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that Texas was recently the scene of some tension regarding these issues as the Texas Senate became the recipient of what would appear to have been significant federal pressure operating against similar legislation which was previously submitted. It also appears as if the sovereign State of Texas is not the only State which may be looking at such legislation, to quote directly from the website of STGNews, Stgnews.com:

SALT LAKE CITY – Representative Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) opened a bill file today that, according to his website post,  “will prohibit TSA pat downs in Utah without reasonable suspicion. Texas needs us to stand with them.” Taking a hint from what Texas has sought to enroll in her laws, this suggests that Transportation Security Administration agents, on site at Utah airports, may become subject to the same criteria that other law enforcement officials must meet before performing a search upon a person…

The administration of this web log highly recommends that readers click upon the above cited hyperlinks to read this story in detail.

As it appears that the sovereign State of Utah is now joining the chorus of those calling for legislation regarding the curtailment of TSA abuses. It remains to be seen whether any such legislation will actually see passage. It seems likely that this is not the last we have heard on this issue.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

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26th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the US business visas categorized as the B-1 visa and the H-1B visa are making headlines on the World Wide Web. To quote directly from the official website of First Post, FirstPost.com:

Infosys announced on Tuesday that it had received a subpoena from a US District Court demanding documentation of its B1 visa usage, which is  the subject of a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Those reading this web log are strongly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks above in order to gain more perspective on this developing story. Concurrently, readers are also asked to remember that those accused of an illegal act, whether a natural person or a corporation, are innocent until proven guilty pursuant to America law.

Those unfamiliar with these visa categories should note that the B-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa designed for use by those who intend to remain in the United States for a short period of time for business meetings or training. Such travel documents do not permit the bearer to take up employment within the jurisdiction of the United States. Meanwhile, the H-1B visa is intended for those who wish to  undertake employment in the United States of America. In much the same way that a Thai business visa does not confer the right to work in the Kingdom of Thailand, only a Thai work permit entails such privileges, so too does a B-1 visa exclusively permit the bearer lawful status in the USA upon admission. Therefore, those wishing to work in the USA are generally required to obtain a visa which permits the bearer to work or obtain Employment Authorization. Those who have lawful permanent residence pursuant to entry in the USA on a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa are allowed to work in the USA.

The aforementioned article went on to note:

The DOJ’s criminal investigation is not the only legal claim Infosys is facing in relation to B1 visas. As Firstpost has previously reported, an Alabama-based employee named Jack “Jay” Palmer filed a civil lawsuit against the company in February alleging that Infosys used the B1 visa as a way to “creatively” manoeuvre around H-1B visa caps. (Infosys has consistently been the top recipient of H-1B visas in the US.)

Those seeking American immigration benefits should be aware of the fact that the privilege of working in the United States is not always easily obtained. Furthermore, those pondering immigration benefits should note that it is never prudent to be anything but 100% honest with American immigration officials as failure to be candid regarding one’s bona fide immigration intentions could have tremendous adverse ramifications. Consequences for failure to be forthright with immigration authorities could include fines, penalties, incarceration, or a finding of legal inadmissibility. Those found to be legally ineligible for admission to the United States of America may be able to rectify such inadmissibility through use of either an I-601 waiver or an I-212 waiver, depending upon the circumstances of the case.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Department of Homeland Security‘s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is taking criticism from a federal legislator regarding the methodology surrounding the groping of individuals passing through airports in the USA. To quote directly from the official website of Real Clear Politics, RealClearPolitics.com:

The Hill reports: “I walked through … right behind me there was a grandmother — little old lady, and she was was patted down,” Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia) said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” “Right behind her was a little kid who was patted down. And then right behind him was a guy in Arabian dress who just walked right through. Why are we patting down grandma and kids?”

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more.

It is certainly a credit to Representative Paul Broun that he is questioning TSA policies regarding groping of prospective passengers as it is this blogger’s personal opinion that such searches violate the provisions of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. This news comes on the heels of a recent announcement that lawmakers in the sovereign State of Texas have withdrawn a recent bill brought before that State’s legislature to curtail the activities of the TSA. To quote directly from the website of the Texas Tribune, TexasTribune.org:

A threat from the federal government to shut down Texas airports or cancel flights may have killed legislation by Tea Party conservatives in the Texas Capitol to prohibit federal Transportation Security Administration agents from conducting “invasive searches.” “I don’t cave in to heavy handed threats by the federal government,” said an angry Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the Senate sponsor of the bill, who ultimately withdrew the bill. House Bill 1937, which was passed by the House earlier this month, would make it a misdemeanor offense for a federal security agent to “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [touch] the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.” Two TSA officials visited Patrick at the Capitol earlier today to discuss the legislation. They warned him that the legislation “could close down all the airports in Texas,” he said…

This blogger encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to find out more.

Clearly, the issue of TSA “pat downs” is controversial and can raise tempers. This blogger encourages readers to keep abreast of the stories above at it seems likely that the underlying issues will continue to be poignant in the days and weeks ahead. This may be especially true in the context of an upcoming election as issues pertaining to U.S. immigration and the 4th amendment may be of concern to prospective voters.

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24th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a screener for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been arrested in connection to charges stemming from child pornography. To quote directly from Philly.com:

A passenger screener at Philadelphia International Airport is facing charges that he distributed more than 100 images of child pornography via Facebook, records show.

Federal agents also allege that Transportation Safety Administration Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia, who routinely searched airline passengers, uploaded explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site on which he also posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.

The administration of this web log highly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read further from this story in order to gain perspective.

This arrest comes amidst calls from State and Federal legislators to reign in the activities of Transportation Security Administration personnel as such activities are coming to be increasingly viewed by many as arbitrary, capricious, and quite possibly in violation of Constitutional protections designed to protect the inalienable rights of United States Citizens. To quote directly from myfoxdfw.com

DALLAS – Full body pat-downs at airports are under heavy scrutiny in Austin. Representative David Simpson of Longview is sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal for Transpiration Security Administration agents to enforce full body searches without justification. The agent conducting the enhanced pat-down could face a felony charge and jail time. “We’ve got a draw a line somewhere,” Simpson said. “We’ve got young children, autistic children, seperated from their mother saying, ‘Stranger danger! Stranger danger!’ Man, oh boy. We’re teaching our children it’s indecent. It’s wrong to let these people in these areas except for a doctor.”

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the links above to view this story in further detail.

Texas is not the only sovereign American State to question the methodology of the Transportation Security Administration as this blog previously reported that some New Hampshire State legislators are attempting to take measures to curtail the TSA’s activities. An update on that story can be found by quoting directly from the website WHDH.com:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A new proposal in New Hampshire would make some controversial TSA security exams a crime. The bill, which is clearly aimed at the Transportation Security Administration, would make an invasive pat down at the airport felony sexual assault unless the screener has probable cause to do the search. “We’re telling the TSA, if they violate our laws and they sexually assault our citizens, we’re going to do something about it,” said Rep. George Lambert, legislation co-sponsor.

In the recent past it appeared as though only State legislators were scrutinizing this issue intensely, but it recently came to this blogger’s attention that State legislators have been joined by a Federal legislator in calling for a rollback of what are perceived to be invasive and questionably Constitutional tactics currently employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To quote directly from Townhall.com:

In the latest battle of David vs. Goliath, Rep. Jason Chaffetz is taking on the TSA again, this time against the backdrop of a revolting video showing a TSA pat-down of a 6-year-old girl. Chaffetz has introduced a bill that would call for parental consent before minors are subjected to pat-downs at airport security. A parent would also be allowed to be present for the pat-downs. According to Utah’s Daily Herald, Chaffetz’s 15 year old daughter was forced to undergo a private pat-down without parents present. The bill, just introduced, does not specify what would happen if a parent refuses consent for a pat-down of a minor. Chaffetz has challenged the TSA several times on invasive and unproven security procedures like the full body scan machines and the detailed pat-downs, but TSA continues to be inconsistent in their policy implementations. Back in November, the agency said that there would be modified pat-downs for children under 12, since there was no intelligence — even internationally — that children that age were being used in terrorist attacks. However, the video circulating the internet shows no body areas of the 6-year-old girl were off limits in the frisking.

Those reading this blog are encouraged to click on the hyperlinks above to view this story in detail.

Readers interested in seeing the video of the groping of the 6 year old child alluded to above are encouraged to click HERE.

In light of all of the events and issues noted above this blogger would ask the reader to take the time to read the following:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How are “random” searches reasonable? Under the specific facts seen in the video above, how is it reasonable to assume that it is okay to grope a six year old child without probable cause? Where is the rule of law? Meanwhile, are any of these searches occurring pursuant to a warrant based upon probable cause and supported by an oath or affirmation? If not, then under what authority are these searches occurring?

In response to the incident involving the child the TSA web log noted:

A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.

This blogger cares very little for the justifications being posed by the TSA on this point as they are simply naked assertions which are not based upon anything other than the TSA’s unilateral opinion. Under the United States legal system the “current standard operating procedures” are always to be in compliance with the 4th Amendment, especially if a search concerns an American Citizen. If they are not in compliance with the 4th Amendment and the US Constitution, then such procedures are, in this blogger’s opinion: unlawful. Hopefully TSA will rectify their behavior as it seems likely that further tensions could arise as State and Federal legislatures along with local authorities take it upon themselves to protect the civil liberties of their Citizenry and constituents. It is hoped that these issues will be resolved to the benefit of all concerned, but clearly issues surrounding American Citizens’ right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure must be dealt with in order to uphold the American Peoples’ Constitutional protections.

For related information please see: Necessary and Proper Clause.

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17th March 2011

In recent months the likelihood of a government shutdown seems to be increasing as the politicians in the United States capital seem to be more polarized than ever. Meanwhile, some are arguing in favor of a shutdown (even going so far as to advocate for an extended period of governmental closure). At the same time, others argue against a shutdown. Regardless of one’s opinion either way, it seems possible that a shutdown may occur, and in the event that a shutdown does come to pass, those processing an immigration matter may be prudent to research the impact that a shutdown might have upon the immigration process.

The following was quoted directly from a recent posting on the website CaldwellTeaParty.org:

The next month will be marked by intense negotiations on the debt ceiling, and the GOP will then have to decide on a shutdown or a bipartisan budget deal with Kent Conrad and his allies.

The above citation most clearly and concisely sums up the current state of affairs regarding the possibility of a government shutdown. The administration encourages readers to click on the above links as this issue is quite complex. Those interested in understanding the ramifications of a government shutdown may be best informed by this administration quoting directly from Wikipedia:

A government shutdown occurs when a government discontinues providing services that are not considered “essential.” Typically, services that continue in spite of a shutdown include police, fire fighting, armed forces, utilities, air traffic management and corrections.

A shutdown can occur when a legislative body (including the legislative power of veto by the executive) cannot agree on a budget financing its government programs for a pending fiscal year. In the absence of appropriated funds, the government discontinues providing non-essential services at the beginning of the affected fiscal year. Government employees who provide essential services, often referred to as “essential employees”, are required to continue working.

Although the above citation clears up the issue of what constitutes a government shutdown, the question likely on the mind of those with foreign loved ones processing through the immigration system is: how would a government shutdown impact the processing of my loved one’s visa? The answer: a Federal government shutdown would result in a sort of “freeze” of most of the immigration apparatus as this falls within the bailiwick of the Federal government. Therefore, a Federal shutdown would likely result in little, if any, action being taken with regard to adjudication of visa applications  at each US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. For further insight it may be best to quote directly from a recent posting on the Diplopundit blog:

In 1995, all visa applications are walk-in.  Today, a good number of consular sections have online appointment systems. Which means, visa appointments will have to be canceled and rescheduled if there is a shutdown.  Consular sections may only be open for life and death emergencies. That means lost passport applications, reports of births abroad, adoption cases, notarials, etc. will all have to wait until the Federal government reopens.

The administration of this blog highly encourages readers to click on the above hyperlinks as the quotation above was found in a very interesting and detailed posting dealing with these issues.

Clearly, the ramifications of a government shutdown will be severe for those awaiting processing of a visa application. Meanwhile, it would appear as though USCIS will continue to operate as normal despite a possible shutdown. To quote directly from the website Martindale.com:

USCIS has announced that, because it is funded by filing fees, it should remain open during a government shutdown. The operations of the four Service Centers should remain largely unaffected. Local USCIS District Offices should also remain open.

Again, this blogger highly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to learn more.

Notice that the above quotation uses the word should. This blogger only points this out as it goes to show how difficult it is to foretell what the impact of a government shutdown would be on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) since that agency has attempted to remain self-funded through application fees. That said, the overall issue of government shutdown has yet to fully manifest itself, but that should not be construed to mean that it will not. In fact, those seeking American visas are likely to see an overall slowdown in the overall processing of cases as a result of a shutdown (should one actually occur, which remains to be seen).

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11th March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule regarding the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005. To quote directly from the official website of the Department of Homeland Security:

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule to establish minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards in accordance with the REAL ID Act of 2005.

These regulations set standards for states to meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act, including:

  • information and security features that must be incorporated into each card;
  • proof of identity and lawful status of an applicant;
  • verification of the source documents provided by an applicant; and
  • security standards for the offices that issue licenses and identification cards.

This final rule also provides a process for states to seek an additional extension of the compliance deadline to May 11, 2011, by demonstrating material compliance with the core requirements of the Act and this rule.

For those who are unfamiliar with the REAL ID Act, this piece of legislation greatly altered the dynamics of identity documentation in the United States. As usual, Wikipedia concisely describes some of the implications of the REAL ID Act in the context of State driving licenses, to quote directly from Wikipedia:

After 2011, “a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirements” specified in the REAL ID Act. States remain free to also issue non-complying licenses and IDs, so long as these have a unique design and a clear statement that they cannot be accepted for any Federal identification purpose. The federal Transportation Security Administration is responsible for security check-in at airports, so bearers of non-compliant documents would no longer be able to travel on common carrier aircraft without additional screening unless they had an alternative government-issued photo ID.[16]

Clearly, advocates of a limited Federal government may take some exception with some of the notions outlined above. There are some who have voiced concerns regarding the Federal government’s role in the context of the REAL ID Act as advocates in favor of civil liberties and privacy rights have mentioned some of the more eerie implications of the REAL ID Act. States Rights proponents and Constitutional scholars have also raised interesting issues in discussions regarding the REAL ID Act. Some even speculate as to the scope of an agency such as DHS when examining programs such as the implementation of the REAL ID Act in conjunction with technology such as the Iris scanners and DNA screeners previously mentioned on this blog. Notwithstanding controversy, the REAL ID Act and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) seem to be increasingly ubiquitous issues in the dual pantheons of both the so-called “Alternative Media” as well as the “Mainstream Media“.

As the role of the DHS and the TSA becomes more defined it seems likely that new and interesting legal, social, and political issues will will arise as a result.

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3rd March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention through the Huffington Post website that a legislator in the sovereign State of New Hampshire has introduced a bill that could criminalize certain activities of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). To quote directly from the story posted on the Huffington Post official website:

A Republican state representative from New Hampshire named George Lambert has co-sponsored a bill that would make it a felony to touch or view someone’s private parts without probable cause.

Lambert was interviewed by MSNBC on Wednesday to discuss the bill, which would apply to TSA pat downs, as well as the agency’s x-ray scanners. The bill would essentially make it a sexual assault to conduct an invasive pat down or look at images of a traveler on one of the TSA’s new high-tech scanners.

Clearly, the TSA’s current policies on so-called “pat downs” (which many argue are unduly invasive and violate Constitutional protections prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure) and scanning are under fire from many different circles. However, the question must be posed: is New Hampshire Constitutionally permitted to enforce criminal sanctions against TSA officers? TSA officers operate under the jurisdiction of the United States Federal government’s Department of Homeland Security. Most currently binding American jurisprudence has found against the notion that State’s may enforce State law against Federal agents or institutions. The most notable case in this vein is probably McCulloch v. Maryland. In the language of the McCulloch decision, the Court found that the State of Maryland did not have the right to levy a tax upon the Bank of the United States. This decision set the stage for the, now rather sophisticated, premise that the States’ power to enforce State law is curtailed when attempting to enforce that law against the Federal government. Through later cases, this notion was expanded upon. This blogger recently found an interesting article on this topic entitled: What Kind of Immunity? Federal Officers, State Criminal Law, and the Supremacy Clause. This article delves deeply into the issues associated with Federal preemption of State prerogatives in matters pertaining to Federal operations and Federal agents and this blogger highly recommends those interested in this issue click on the link above to read this article.

It would appear from the plain language of the McCulloch decision that the States’ ability to enforce actions against the Federal government are not restricted completely. To quote directly from page 2219 of the What Kind of Immunity? article noted above, the article’s authors, Seth P. Waxman and Trevor W. Morrison, cited a section of the McCulloch decision which is noteworthy:

[N]o principle [of state power] . . . can be admissible, which would defeat the legitimate operations of a supreme government. It is of the very essence of supremacy, to remove all obstacles to its action within its own sphere, and so to modify every power vested insubordinate governments, as to exempt its own operations from their own influence.

At first blush, the above citation may appear to fully favor the Federal authorities on the issue of whether the sovereign State of New Hampshire has the authority to enforce criminal penalties against TSA officers, but one phrase is critical to an analysis of New Hampshire’s proposed legislation and that phrase is “legitimate operations“. In the McCulloch case, the Bank of the United States was deemed to be a legitimate operation of the Federal government notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution did not expressly permit such an institution because the Court reasoned that the Federal government, through the Necessary and Proper Clause, could establish a bank so as to facilitate the express Federal powers granted under the Taxing and Spending Clause. In short: the Federal government’s ability to tax and spend is considered a “legitimate operation” of the Federal government and if a bank facilitates that operation, then it is operating lawfully.

This analysis begs the question: Is groping Americans’ genitalia (also referred to as “enhanced pat downs”) and capturing nude body scanner images a “legitimate operation” of the Federal government? If not, then the State may have a right to enforce State criminal law against those who engage in such activity. That said, this issue is far from resolved and the State of New Hampshire has yet to actually promulgate this legislation, but clearly the issues noted above make for interesting jurisprudence.

For related information please see: US States.

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