TSA snoops in passenger’s bag, finds money, calls DEA to take it

From the Washington Post comes this story of not only another instance of TSA abuse, but the TSA’s bragging about said abuse.

The headline reads: “Why the TSA posted a photo of a passenger’s cash-filled luggage on Twitter.” And the TSA tweeter in question is none other than PR flack Lisa Farbstein, about whom we’ve written so many times before. From the Post:

. . . The photo, from the Richmond airport, shows a passenger’s luggage containing $75,000 in cash. Farbstein asks, “Is this how you’d transport it?” Most people would not, but there is nothing illegal about simply checking a bag containing $75,000, or carrying it with you on the plane. Passengers aren’t under any obligation to report large sums of cash unless they’re traveling internationally, though the TSA recommends that passengers consider asking for a private screening.

First of all, it’s none of Lisa Farbstein’s business how someone chooses to transport their money. And I don’t need to hear from any know-it-alls out there either, with their predictable and painfully obvious castigating of the passenger about how stupid it is to carry cash. We get it. I wouldn’t carry $75,000 in cash either. But I’m not that passenger. There are many places in the world where it’s normal to carry cash. Don’t assume that American standards obtain everywhere.

Second, I don’t care whether the passenger was carrying $75,000 or 75 cents — it’s none of the TSA‘s business. The TSA has no right to look for or question any of us about anything other than weapons that could (supposedly) bring down a plane. The TSA isn’t law enforcement. The TSA has no right to know what we’re transporting or why.

Third, “the TSA recommends that passengers consider asking for a private screening.” Yeah, by all means. Ask for a private screening, away from witnesses, so you can get your genitals even more thoroughly groped and so the TSA can steal your money. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Here, the TSA didn’t get a chance to steal the money; the DEA did:

In this case, the cash was seized by a federal agency, most likely the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to Richmond airport spokesman Troy Bell. “I don’t believe the person was issued a summons or a citation,” he said. “The traveler was allowed to continue on his way.”

So the traveler obviously didn’t present any danger of any kind, yet his money was stolen and god knows when or if he’ll get it back. The DEA has a history of violating people.

If true, that would make this incident just the latest case of civil asset forfeiture at the nation’s major transportation hubs. In recent months several high-profile stories have surfaced of passengers who had large sums of cash seized by the DEA, including a young man at an Amtrak stopa college student at the Cincinnati airport, and a nail salon owner in New York. While the DEA took the cash in these cases under suspicion of its involvement in drug trafficking, no drug charges been filed in any of the cases.

But we live in a free country. Uh-huh.

And, of course:

Farbstein didn’t respond to a question about whether posting photos of the man’s luggage and property violated his privacy, nor did she offer any more details on the situation.

That’s right. Because she doesn’t owe us peons any explanation about why the TSA does what it does. Abuse is okay, harassment is okay, bullying is okay, causing people to miss their flights is okay, theft is okay, physical assault is okay. And when that’s not enough, publicly shaming people is okay.

Welcome to the USA. Hope you enjoy your stay.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)