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Robert Longley

TSA Detains Ron Paul Campaigner for Carrying Cash

By June 19, 2009

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s campaign treasurer after the man was detained and questioned by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents for carrying approximately $4,700 in cash at an airport.

According to the ACLU, Rep. Paul’s campaign treasurer Steven Bierfeldt was detained and interrogated on March 29, 2009, at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after he passed a metal box containing cash through a TSA security checkpoint X-ray machine. The cash had been collected at an event held for Campaign for Liberty, a political organization that grew out of Rep. Paul's 2008 presidential campaign.

“I do not believe I should give up my constitutional rights each time I choose to travel by plane. I was doing nothing illegal or suspicious, yet I was treated like a potential criminal and harassed for no reason,” Bierfeldt told the ACLU. “Most Americans would be surprised to learn that TSA considers simply carrying cash to be a basis for detention and questioning.”

Charging that “unconstitutional searches and detention by TSA agents have become the norm,” the ACLU’s lawsuit claims that “TSA agents are using heightened security measures after 9/11 as an excuse to exceed their search authority and engage in unlawful searches that violate the privacy rights of passengers.”

Also See:
TSA Expands Whole Body Scanner Searches
TSA Now Conducting Random Behavioral Screening

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June 19, 2009 at 9:31 am
(1) Marcia Purse says:

What law does carrying cash on a plane break? I don’t get this at all.

June 19, 2009 at 9:45 am
(2) usgovinfo says:

Hi Marcia — I don’t know. Maybe there’s a presumption that large quantities of cash at airports are being flown straight to al Qaeda headquarters? But seriously folks, at this point, all we have is Mr. Bierfeldt’s side of the event. The TSA probably won’t comment on pending litigation.


June 19, 2009 at 11:38 am
(3) Jason says:

Teaming up the ACLU with the C4L is pure genius…

And by the way, if you haven’t heard the audio from the interrogation, it’s here:


June 19, 2009 at 2:20 pm
(4) logicprobe says:

Maybe TSA knew that Mr Bierfeldt intended to bribe the captain to crash the airplane…

Makes as much sense as anything else the airport goons do.

June 19, 2009 at 7:50 pm
(5) Liberty for Life says:

The Transportation Security Administration protects the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.

The Transportation Security Administration will continuously set the standard for excellence in transportation security through its people, processes, and technology.

Core Values
To enhance mission performance and achieve our shared goals, we are committed to promoting a culture founded on these values:

We are a people of integrity who respect and care for others.
We are a people who conduct ourselves in an honest, trustworthy and ethical manner at all times.
We are a people who gain strength from the diversity in our cultures.
We are a people who embrace and stand ready for change.
We are a people who are courageous and willing to take on new challenges.
We are a people with an enterprising spirit, striving for innovations who accept the risk-taking that comes with it.
Team Spirit:
We are a people who are open, respectful and dedicated to making others better.
We are a people who have a passion for challenge, success and being on a winning team.
We are a people who will build teams around our strengths.

Isn’t DHS wonderful?
Either they have to drill the above into head or change their. Because they are not even close to what their mission.

June 20, 2009 at 8:27 am
(6) Dylan says:

If you want to get stopped at almost every security checkpoint around the world, not just TSA, try carrying about 100 coins along with a couple of gold or silver coins. Apparently carrying a large amount of change is suspicious as well.

June 20, 2009 at 10:10 am
(7) Harold says:

The only way to carry money in large amounts and break the law is is you are traveling outside the United States with $10000 and don’t declare it. TSA has no right to even question the man if his destination in within the Borders of the US. TSA is only their to keep the plane safe . They seem to believe they are the police or the military.

June 20, 2009 at 3:18 pm
(8) Replying says:


You are correct that it is illegal to carry 10,000 outside of the U.S. and not declare it, but why are you so calm about that.

Where is the outrage?

The implications of such a restriction are terrifying.

Imagine you were a Jew running from the Nazis in 1942 or so. You sold everything you had and were running for your life. Now, you get on a plane and think you might be safe, but, you had to declare all that cash. Off the plane you go. Back into the hands of the Nazis.

Ok, so the above scenario sounds ridiculous, but is it really? Who is the law there to control? Certainly not the criminals. They don’t care. They find ways around this. No, this is to control YOU.

A rich person can get on a plane in a 10,000 suit, with a 100,000 fur coat, wearing 1,000,000 in diamonds, 5000 in footwear, and carrying a 30,000 handbag. But if you have a fraction of that in cash you have to “tell the government.” What business is it of theirs?

We have become so used to abuse that we just accept it these days.

June 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm
(9) Peter says:

From what I’ve read it’s to keep the money in the hands of the U.S. Government. That’s right. Even though you may have money in savings, in an American Bank. The Federal Reserve has access to that and pretty soon EVERY Banks/monies.

So the last thing that the Fed wushes is to have Americans moving large sums of money to Foriegn/Offshore accounts.

June 21, 2009 at 11:55 am
(10) sonofliberty says:

The entire confrontation with the TSA was caught on tape, this is NOT a case of He said, They said. Thank goodness the ACLU is standing up for the Constitution.

June 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm
(11) Randy says:

How many people think that carrying thousands of dollars in a metal box onto a plane is unusual? Why did he have his cellphone on record before this confrontation took place? This libertarian wanted a confrontation, and wanted to cause a problem to further his cause. His other friends use of nazis and cuss words were not recorded because that is a breach of freedoms granted to us. This organization has been labeled militant like by law enforcement agencies for a reason.

June 22, 2009 at 12:14 am
(12) rokdevil says:

Don’t bee an idiot. He didn’t have the phone turned on until they asked him to come to a private room. He’s certainly not militant and neither are the majority of CFL member. However, we definitely don’t stand still and allow our rights to be trampled and in the process of attempting to protect our rights we end up protecting your right to stupid speech as well.
You are welcome.

June 22, 2009 at 2:22 pm
(13) Roy T says:

first off – $4700 is not a “large” amount of money – just ask the chinese

July 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm
(14) Jackson says:

My job takes me all over the world, and I have to have reserve cash at hand. Most places in the third world don’t have a cash machine on every corner; not to mention the fees and limits. If you’re in country for six months and need to pay rent and buy a car, you don’t want to wait 15 days and scrupulously take your max allotted $500 per account each day until you’ve got enough. It’s ridiculous. So the $10k limit can be a major hassle.

TSA types are usually undereducated JC recruits who’ve watched too many cop shows. Like most Americans, the majority of them don’t have passports and have never been out of the country. Even if I felt like answering their questions about what I’ve been doing abroad for the last six months or where I’m going with all that money, they wouldn’t understand or sympathize. My lifestyle is, to their extremely limited experience, incomprehensible. And if you think they’re bad, try moving $10k past a rural Cambodian border guard who speaks no English. Although there’s something to be said for low-level corruption; at least you can bribe those guys and get on with your life. They aren’t interested in causing you problems if you’re willing to chip in a bit.

So I’ve devised various ways of doing it. Firstly, it’s $10k per trip per person, so bring your wife. Most countries require you to declare more than that anyway, and their customs agents are usually a lot scarier than the TSA. Never fly through Mexico, they tear all your bags open when you change planes there. They do that in front of you, right after the second bank of metal detectors; think fast, have the wife flash some skin, stuff those envelopes in your shorts or consider them gone. Don’t try that in an Islamic country.

It always pays to open a bank account wherever you’re going and squirrel away what you can, if they’ll let you do so as a non-resident. Many countries allow it if you’re on an extended visa. Then you can wire in more when you need it, and it only takes a couple days.

My grandparents fled the Nazis. Having heard their stories, I would never assume the

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