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Michael Yon Detained at the Seattle Airport

Michael Yon, who runs a blogging/online magazine focusing on military blogging in Iraw and Afghanistan was recently detained at the Seattle airport. The reason? He declined to reveal his yearly income to security.

Got arrested at the Seattle airport for refusing to say how much money I make. (The uniformed ones say I was not "arrested", but they definitely handcuffed me.) Their videos and audios should show that I was polite, but simply refused questions that had nothing to do with national security. Port authority police eventually came -- they were professionals -- and rescued me from the border bullies. . . . When they handcuffed me, I said that no country has ever treated me so badly. Not China. Not Vietnam. Not Afghanistan. Definitely not Singapore or India or Nepal or Germany, not Brunei, not Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Kuwait or Qatar or United Arab Emirates. No county has treated me with the disrespect that can be expected from our border bullies.
I understand the need for better security but what does income level have to do with that? Is there a correlation between income level and terrorism?

Hat tip: Instapundit.


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Comments (36)

Publicity stunt. N... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Publicity stunt.

Not that there's anything necessarily WRONG with a publicity stunt when the magic internet money runs low....

I feelz ya, bro!

What happened after Michael... (Below threshold)
Roy:

What happened after Michael said "These aren't the droids you're looking for"?

I guess the Won has had eno... (Below threshold)
Hermie:

I guess the Won has had enough of Yon's reports that have been giving a different side than the ones printed and broadcast by the anti-war MSM.

So it's time for a little Chicago-style harassment from Obama, Emmanuel and Axelrod.

bryanD,so you are re... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

bryanD,
so you are refuting the facts of this story or .......what.......?

Subject appeared quite agit... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

Subject appeared quite agitated and gave evasive, hostile answers to routine national security screening questions prior to his detention and even refused a simple body cavity search. Because he appeared to pose a risk, subject was placed in restraints and removed from the scene to avoid fostering spillover resistance from other passengers.

Subject was subsequently shot by uniformed security forces while attempting to escape. Forms HS-331A and B (Short form) have been filed with the local office.

Respectfully Yours,

Pure harassment, that's all... (Below threshold)
Lisa:

Pure harassment, that's all, because of who he is and what he does. Hey, wait, I thought they weren't supposed to be profiling?

Yes, there is a correlation... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Yes, there is a correlation between income and terrorism. The more well off you are, the more likely you are to be a terrorist (see Bin Laden, the EunuchBomber, etc). Of course, this is the opposite of what the Libs always tell us. So you know it's true.

When little fascist BryanD ... (Below threshold)
Michael:

When little fascist BryanD does not like a the way the story is going...he implies that it is not true. Goebbels would be proud!

"When little fascist Bry... (Below threshold)
Tim:

"When little fascist BryanD does not like a the way the story is going...he implies that it is not true. Goebbels would be proud!"

He doesn't just imply that it's not true, he also imputes the basest motives for such actions.

"Is there a correlation bet... (Below threshold)
914:

"Is there a correlation between income level and terrorism?"

Only if Your a white conservative. If you have mid eastern shady skin and are well bred to the tune of say 7 figure Lurchworth, You make it thru no prob..

Whats a lurch worth You ask... (Below threshold)
914:

Whats a lurch worth You ask? nothing on His own but when He gets to diggin gold its a whole new ballgame!

At least it appears somebod... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

At least it appears somebody is trying to do some screening no matter how ham handed. The question seems oddly out of place and certainly deserved a NunYa response.
For all the false liberal beliefs about only the poor or uneducated joining the military it appears that some of the border and TSA screeners appear to be of less than optimal intelligence for their jobs.

Heh, lets unionize them because while they won't get any smarter they won't be able to be fired for incompetence.

Do you suppo0se I'd get in ... (Below threshold)

Do you suppo0se I'd get in trouble if they asked me this question and I replied, "More than you"...?

"Do you suppo0se I'd get... (Below threshold)
914:

"Do you suppo0se I'd get in trouble if they asked me this question and I replied, "More than you"...?"

Yep... You would be frisked, fondled, fingered and asked if the UN was on Your donor list? Next the TSA ( TRANSGENDERED SOCIALIST ALINSKIVITES ), would train You off to a Barrinski re-education camp.

BryanD would bend over and ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

BryanD would bend over and spread 'em if Barry asked him to.

BryanD would bend over a... (Below threshold)
Tim:

BryanD would bend over and spread 'em if Barry asked him to.

He might offer unasked.

My brown shirts will contin... (Below threshold)
Barry Soetoro:

My brown shirts will continue the harassment till say so.

This story really bothers m... (Below threshold)
Baggi:

This story really bothers me. I've asked for Ed Morrisey to interview me on this story but since i'm nobody, I doubt that will happen.

Unfortunately, we who work for the Department of Homeland Security are not allowed to talk about this incident, or any other incident, as we could lose our jobs for doing so.

There are certain things we can say though.

1) TSA was not involved. TSA was no where near Mr. Yon when he came in to the Seattle Airport yesterday. While it is true that both TSA and CBP work under the Department of Homeland Security, the differences are night and day.

2) Neither the FBI nor TSA have border search authority. If you are not aware of what border search authority is, please google it. We who work for Customs and Border Protection (once known as Customs Inspectors, Immigration Inspectors and Agriculture Inspectors) have border search authority. This has been determined as constitutional by the supreme court. The minute you step off of a plane from an international port, you are detained and all of your belongings are subject to search. It may not feel like you're detained as your movement doesn't appear to be restricted, but it is.

This means if you attempt to depart the area without being released, you will likely find yourself being restrained. This may come as a shock to some of you, but you don't have your 4th amendment rights on the border. I didn't decide this, it was decided a very long time ago by the Supreme Court and our legislatures.

3) If you are attempting to enter into the United States from a foreign country and you refuse to answer questions, you will find yourself the subject of further scrutiny. You will not be arrested for refusing to answer questions, but we will look at you much more closely than we otherwise would.

4) Ever since Hugh Hewitt turned me on to Mr. Yon, ive loved reading his dispatches and even talked my wife into allowing me to donate once. I seriously doubt i'll ever donate again after this farce he is creating, all by his own actions.

5) The real shame in this is that there are things that happen all of the time, instances like what has happened with Mr Yon, to other individuals and we officers are not allowed to respond. We get investigated for the incidents by Internal Affairs and we worry about keeping our jobs because someone like Yon has a microphone and connections and he has no idea of the repurcussions of the stories he tells.

My apologies for the emotion behind the words here. Hopefully ive been clear even though i'm very upset at Mr. Yon at the moment, it has probably hurt my ability to communicate clearly.

Maybe i'll be fortunate enough that Mr. Aylward will give me a momentary spot on his website to respond to Mr. Yon.

Sincerely,

Someone who isn't allowed to respond to Mr. Yon's accusations.

I wouldn't answer questions... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

I wouldn't answer questions about my income, either. What I do for a living, yes. Where and why I traveled, yes. What was in my luggage, and where it came from, yes. Did I pay for it all my self (travel, luggage, contents), yes.

If it's true, why is Yon wrong to report his experience, Baggi? And if you aren't allowed to respond, why the hell are you begging Kevin to let you respond and Cap Ed to interview you?

Maybe I wasn't clear.... (Below threshold)
Baggi:

Maybe I wasn't clear.

There are things we are allowed to educate the public on.

For example. We're allowed to say that you need a visa and passport in order to visit the United States. We're allowed to be general, in other words, but not specific, as Mr. Yon's experience is covered by the privacy act.

If the media wanted, they could get our reports about the incident (Assuming they exist) and then share them, by making a request through FOIA. Otherwise, we can't share specifics.

And he's not wrong to report his experience, necessarily. We do get freedom of speech in this country and we have to deal with that and let the chips fall where they may.

But my point is, this was an interview of Mr. Yon and it's very one sided. And it's completely and totally wrong in many respects. As I stated, TSA were not at all involved.

And that is only the beginning of the errors.

So my point here is to get someone, anyone, to hear our side of the story even if that means in general, and hopefully, some enterprising young reporter will put in a FOIA request and get the full story.

"This may come as a shock t... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"This may come as a shock to some of you, but you don't have your 4th amendment rights on the border. I didn't decide this, it was decided a very long time ago by the Supreme Court and our legislatures."

And yet we give American Constitutional rights to foreign, enemy combatants who commit terrorist acts of war against us.

Unbelievably sick irony.

Baggi: " But my point is, t... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Baggi: " But my point is, this was an interview of Mr. Yon and it's very one sided. And it's completely and totally wrong in many respects. As I stated, TSA were not at all involved."

What interview are you referring to?
I've only seen his Twitter post that is referred to above and didn't see any mention of an interview or TSA.

The interview is over at Bi... (Below threshold)
Baggi:

The interview is over at Biggovernment.com.

Let me see if I've got this... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Let me see if I've got this right.

A guy, who has by his own admission been to areas of the world that are known to be hot beds of terrorist activity, comes back to the U.S. after "visiting family" in Red China. He gives the Customs and Immigration a hard time by refusing to answer their questions and let them do their job. And you guys are coming down on his side?

The should have been arrested for indulging in self-important dickish behavior.

Rance is a little fascists ... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Rance is a little fascists too.

I didn't expect Godwin's la... (Below threshold)
Rance:

I didn't expect Godwin's law to kick in that quickly.

Rance,Wha... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

Rance,

What does yearly income have to do with Border Security unless IRS records are in their possession and they are verify his answer against tax records.

If they are asking how much he has in monetary instruments that valid.

What type of work you do is usually valid because when they screen you they might find tools of the trade.
Example some one in IT may travel with two computers. some who is reporter may have multiple cameras.

hcddbz,According t... (Below threshold)
Rance:

hcddbz,

According to the interview at BigGovernment.com,
"Yon was escorted to a room elsewhere in the airport where he said he remained silent during much of the questioning."

Since we have only his side of the story, we don't know what other questions were asked but not answered. We also don't know what he was trying to bring through customs.

We do know that his passport would be stamped in Indonesia, China, the U.A.E., Iraq, and Afghanistan.

When dealing with the Immigration and Customs, "I don't have to answer that -- you don't know how to do your job" is rarely a good answer if you want to shorten you interaction with them.

Baggi, Rance,Explain... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Baggi, Rance,
Explain how his income is relevant? Seriously. Just explain that.

Also, Baggi, since you aren't allowed to respond, why are you both responding and begging for a platform to respond?
You're contradicting yourself.

SCSIwuzzy,Suppose ... (Below threshold)
Rance:

SCSIwuzzy,

Suppose a person comes through customs carrying a sizable amount of cash and that is inconsistant with their appearance. You ask the person what he/she does for a living and how much it pays. If the answer is "baby sitter" or "office temp", you might suspect that they are a courier in a money laundering operation and proceed with a line of questioning to uncover the truth.

i.e. the real question is "Something here leads us to believe you might be engaged in illegal activity. Explain the situation to us. If you to to our satisfaction, you can go on your way."

I believe Customs and Immigration officers are allowed to use some common sense.

Baggi, this is from the Tw... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Baggi, this is from the Twitter page:

" Michael Yon There is some confusion about who arrested me. TSA was not involved. The Customs people (CBP) were the actors who handcuffed me. "

Umm. . . . IANAL but once y... (Below threshold)
DavidB:

Umm. . . . IANAL but once you have provided your US Passport proving citizenship and answered a few simple questions, like where are you arriving from, what was the purpose of your travel and do you have anything to declare, that is all they have a right to know. As a citizen you have a right to remain silent and they do not have a right to detain you unless they have probable cause. Refusing to answer a question about income level is not probable cause, and if that was the case, he had every right to refuse a response.

If I have a weapon, a bomb, drugs or other contraband, then detention is warranted. I'm not aware of any limits that the United States places on the amount of cash you can carry on your person, take out of the country or bring in, so your example is crap Rance. I would refuse to answer as well and request the services of a lawyer. If you have been detained for any reason, particularly by petty self-important officials, then you had better lawyer up to get yourself on a more even playing field.

DavidB, you are factually i... (Below threshold)
Baggi:

DavidB, you are factually incorrect.

US Passport proving citizenship and answered a few simple questions, like where are you arriving from, what was the purpose of your travel and do you have anything to declare, that is all they have a right to know.

We don't have a "right to know" anything in particular. You do not have to say a single word. While there may be some legal requirement somewhere, there is no AUSA that will prosecute someone for refusing to speak to us at the border.

As a citizen you have a right to remain silent and they do not have a right to detain you unless they have probable cause. Refusing to answer a question about income level is not probable cause, and if that was the case, he had every right to refuse a response.

You're incorrect about the use of the words "probable cause". Please google "Border Search Authority" to learn more about it. It's called reasonable suspicion, and anyone who refuses to answer questions meets the very low standard of "reasonable suspicion".

Also, I believe I said this before but its worth repeating.

Every. Single. Person. Is. Detained.

Everyone. Without exception. You might not feel like you're detained, but you are not free to leave when you are at a Port of Entry.

You cannot fly into the United States, take a boat into the United States, or walk or drive into the United States through one of our Ports of Entry and avoid inspection. You are not free to do as you please. You are, under the legal definition, detained.

I'm not aware of any limits that the United States places on the amount of cash you can carry on your person, take out of the country or bring in, so your example is crap Rance.

There are no limits, you are correct.

However, if you have more than $10,000.00 it must be declared to Customs on form 6051b and the fincin must be filed. If it is not declared and you are carrying with you more than $10,000.00, it will be seized and if you do not have a good excuse for trying to hide the money from us, you will not get it back.

If you have been detained for any reason, particularly by petty self-important officials, then you had better lawyer up to get yourself on a more even playing field.

I understand the outrage of people like Michael Yon and his supporters here because it comes from a place of deep ignorance.

And I do not mean that to be insulting, only factual. Unbelievable to most, you have no right to a lawyer while you are detained in our custody.

But perhaps you will have had to walk in my shoes for a time before you understand why. Imagine every single person, who is detained at the Border (And that is 100% of the crossers) asking for lawyers everytime a question is asked of them. We'd have an army of lawyers on the border. Which would result in no security.

Also, Baggi, since you aren't allowed to respond, why are you both responding and begging for a platform to respond?
You're contradicting yourself.

My apologies. I attempted to clarify but perhaps did not do a good job of it.

There is more to the story that what Mr. Yon is telling you. I'm not at liberty to say what that is.

However, I am at liberty to explain the process, to people like DavidB who think they have a right to a lawyer, that we need probable cause and who think we don't have a need to know things about income when making entry into the United States.

And these are the things I want to address to a wider group than those who read these comments.

Hey dude, I was and being a... (Below threshold)
Ret Army Dude:

Hey dude, I was and being a smart ass with the aircrew. And giving the officers a hard time.

YOUR not a SF Soldier anymore so grow-up , RLTW

Hey dude, I was on your fli... (Below threshold)
Ret Military Dude:

Hey dude, I was on your flight you were drunk and being a smart ass with the aircrew. And giving the officers a hard time.

YOUR not a SF Soldier anymore so grow-up , RLTW

Uh, RMD, you know Michael Y... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Uh, RMD, you know Michael Yon is not on this blog, don't you?




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