Back in March, Steve Bierfeldt was pulled aside while going through the security line at Lambert-St. Louis (Missouri) International Airport, taken to a room, and questioned for half an hour about the box of cash he was trying to check through. Bierfeldt, who works for a Ron Paul organization, recorded the conversation. Now with the help of the ACLU he’s suing the TSA.
CNN notes that “there are no restrictions on carrying large sums of cash on flights within the United States,” which is something the TSA agents surely should have known. Instead, they subjected Bierfeldt to exchanges like this:
Officer: Why do you have this money? That’s the question, that’s the major question.
Bierfeldt: Yes, sir, and I’m asking whether I’m legally required to answer that question.
Officer: Answer that question first, why do you have this money.
Bierfeldt: Am I legally required to answer that question?
Officer: So you refuse to answer that question?
Bierfeldt: No, sir, I am not refusing.
Officer: Well, you’re not answering.
Bierfeldt: I’m simply asking my rights under the law.
The officers can be heard saying they will involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and appear to threaten arrest, saying they are going to transport Bierfeldt to the local police station, in handcuffs if necessary.
The TSA says passengers are required to answer questions about their property. Bierfeldt says he didn’t refuse, he only asked for straight answers about his rights before providing any information.
“I asked them, ‘Am I required by law to tell you what you’re asking me? Am I required to tell you where I am working? Am I required to tell you how I got the cash? Nothing I’ve done is suspicious. I’m not breaking any laws. I just want to go to my flight. Please advise me as to my rights.’ And they didn’t.”
You can hear the entire recording here.
“Passenger says TSA agents harassed him” [CNN] (Thanks to Dooley!)
“Audio Full Version: Campaign for Liberty’s Steve Bierfeldt detained and questioned by St. Louis TSA” [Daily Newscaster]