The TSA got more than they bargained for when they detained Steve Bierfeldt, a staffer at Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty. They wanted to know why he was carrying $4,700 and he wanted to know whether he was legally obligated to tell them. Fortunately, he was able to record the incident on his phone. This FOX News clip has the audio:
All he did was ask what his rights are in this situation and they start cursing and threatening to call in the DEA. It’s ridiculous. There are an infinite number of perfectly legitimate reasons why someone might travel with cash (in this case, the money came from selling merchandise at a conference).
Bierfeldt made it perfectly clear that he would answer the question if the law required him to do so. He wanted to know his rights and there’s no excuse for public officials refusing to help a citizen understand the law, especially when the individual has been detained for allegedly suspicious activity.
Fortunately, TSA has now acknowledged that their staff handled the situation badly:
The tone and language used by the TSA employee was inappropriate. TSA holds its employees to the highest professional standards. TSA will continue to investigate this matter and take appropriate action.
This provides yet another example of the potency of recorded evidence towards exposing questionable behavior by public officials. Without the recording, I highly doubt Bierfeldt could have convincingly demonstrated the rudeness to which he was subjected.
Hopefully, TSA will do more than just remind its employees not to curse and insult people. All government officials should be trained to give an honest and helpful response when citizens ask questions about the law.