MORE TSA Stupidity: Milblogger Michael Yon Harrassed at SeaTac (UPDATED)


Seattle Customs officials circle the wagons to defend their stupidity.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport officials recently interrogated and handcuffed Army Green Beret-turned-reporter Michael Yon because he refused to tell them how much money he makes.

Ten days after the underwear bomber’s foiled attack aboard Flight 253 to Detroit, the award-winning war correspondent was detained by U.S. Customs Border and Protection after having spent most of the last 12 months reporting from the front lines of Afghanistan.

“I was caught off-guard by the question [about my income],” Yon, who had flown into Seattle from Hong Kong, told The Daily Caller. He said he cooperated fully when asked standard security questions about what was in his suitcase: “I was on better-than-normal behavior.”

Yon, an American citizen traveling on an American passport, said he politely but firmly refused to answer questions he considered invasive and irrelevant to ascertaining whether he was a threat to the country. He was subsequently handcuffed, detained and interrogated. Yon said he largely maintained silence after he realized what was happening, and waited for Port Authority Police to arrive on the scene.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection processes about 1 million international travelers a day. On average, CBP officials arrest 63 people a day (the majority have warrants out) and refuse entry to 575.

“There is not a regulation or law that says what you can or can’t ask,” Mike Milne, a 31-year veteran of U.S. Customs and a spokesman for the CBP, told The Daily Caller.

“We may ask someone for sources and types of income, asking them how they have the means to travel and how they paid for the ticket. If someone doesn’t answer questions it leaves us fewer options for how we’re going to declare their admissibility,” Milne said.

Yon said the incident seemed neither contrived nor politically motivated. “It was more like spontaneous incompetence,” he said, adding that in his travels to more than 50 countries he had never been treated so badly. Moreover, Yon has written about undue harassment at the border before, and said he doesn’t believe this was a result of increased security in the wake of the Christmas day incident.

“I am a U.S. citizen. If a cop on the street asked me how much money I make, I wouldn’t answer him either,” he said. “I wish they would just release the tapes so we could be done with this.”

They won’t release the tapes, nor will they admit to being way out of bounds and thoroughly inept when it comes to profiling for terrorists.

Not long after the inception of the TSA, an Israeli security expert stated: “We have a system for detecting terrorists. You have a system for annoying people.”

Via Big Government:

Award winning war correspondent Michael Yon was detained and handcuffed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Yesterday by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel.

Yon was returning to the United States from Hong Kong to visit family when TSA officials stopped him during a routine security checkpoint. “Officials asked me what was in my bag—nothing wrong with this question,” Yon said in an interview with “I told them it was normal stuff, clothes and toothbrushes.”

At this point the TSA officials escorted Yon to a designated screening area where they examined the contents of his bag. “Then they asked me how much money I make,” Yon said.
Yon suggested to the TSA officials that the question was inappropriate and unrelated to transportation security. The award-winning blogger noted another TSA officer approached Yon: “he asked who do I work for.” ”I did not answer the question which clearly was upsetting to the TSA officers.”

Yon was escorted to a room elsewhere in the airport where he said he remained silent during much of the questioning. According to Yon, “they handcuffed me for failing to cooperate. They said I was impeding their ability to do their job.”

Yon described the TSA officials as noticeably frustrated by his refusal to answer their questions: “I always assume everything is being recorded. I was trying to be professional.”

Yon continued, “They said I wasn’t under arrest, but I’m handcuffed. In any other country, that qualifies as an arrest.”

Ultimately Port Authority police released Yon; according to Yon, the police were “completely professional.”

In January of 2009, Yon’s article “Border Bullies” detailed a Homeland Security officer coercing a friend to give up her e-mail password so that he could read private email correspondences between her and Yon.

Regarding the incident in Seattle, Yon was adamant the TSA agents had overstepped their bounds: “If I am the guy on that passport and I don’t have any contraband in my luggage, it is a matter for the FBI, not the TSA.”

“TSA people are out of control,” he said. “They are not doing their jobs, they are harassing people, creating animosity. They ask you ‘what time is your connective flight?’ and they bully you until you miss the flight.”

From Mike’s Facebook page:

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 can that can be expected from our border bullies.

The link to Michael’s online homepage:

The link to the January 2009 article, “Border Bullies”:

Some comments that accompany the “Border Bullies” article:

As a TSA employee, most of you are confusing Customs and TSA. They are two different departments. It was a Customs employee who gave her a hard time, not the TSA. TSA only gives older, 50’s and up men and women a hard time. Most likely the Customs Officer was waiting for an offer for sex to let her go. Lots of bad apples in these agencies. TSA has policies that the Officers MUST follow on harrassing anyone but a Middle Eastern looking person. The TSA rank and file do not like the policies, but if you don’t follow them you lose your job. So, you must meet your quota for patting down the wheelchair bound elderly and other important terrorists. Up until recently, TSA treated their own employees as the general public so we had to constantly go through screening each other , so a TSA employee could not do a terrorist act. That finally has ended. So, the entire DHS is so screwed up it will take a decade or two to fix it. It really is a mess.
Doug TSA Screening Oficer , January 05, 2009

To set the record straight, this officer works for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP was born in March, 2003 as a new agency in the new DHS. CBP consists of part of the previous INS (Justice), part of the previous Customs Service (Treasury), Border Patrol (Justice) and port of entry agriculture inspectors from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) with USDA. From the top down the agency stresses that every employee is to maintain professionalism at all times and to treat all passengers and crew members with dignity and respect. The fact that incidents such as described here by Mr. Yon still occur points out the gap between agency directives and reality.
Dan Wilkinsson , January 06, 2009

CBP Officer’s Name
His name is Caleb.
CBP Insider , January 10, 2009

At least the SeaTac Port Authority had the common sense the TSA/CBP pukes lacked. 
Instead of targeting a Middle Eastern/muslim/male who has the potential to actually be a threat, they go hog wild on an United States Army veteran/journalist returning from the war in Afghanistan.

Gee, I feel safer already.

As a commenter on Ace of Spades put it:

TSA screener: How much money did you make last year?

Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah: I made $31,264, you accursed infidel.

TSA screener: Have a nice flight.

I fired off an email to Michael Milne, U.S. Customs spokesman, with this:

Some food for thought about the moron SeaTac CBP officer who arrested an Army war veteran/journalist because he wouldn’t reveal his personal income. Maybe Michael Yon fits the CBP ‘profile’ of a ‘terrorist’ instead of the following example:

CBP Officer Barney Fife: “How much money did you make last year?”

Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah: “Bin Laden cut me a check for 500,000 dollars, you accursed infidel.”

CPB Officer Barney Fife: “Welcome to the United States.”

Your CBP officers need remedial training.

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