Breaking: Michael Yon arrested at Seattle airport

posted at 1:22 pm on January 5, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Thank goodness our Homeland Security people are on the job after the EunuchBomber botched attack on Christmas Day.  We certainly don’t want to have independent war correspondents passing through our airports without revealing their annual income:

Got arrested at the Seattle airport for refusing to say how much money I make. (The uniformed ones say I was not “arrested”, but they definitely handcuffed me.) Their videos and audios should show that I was polite, but simply refused questions that had nothing to do with national security. Port authority police eventually came — they were professionals — and rescued me from the border bullies.

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.

Jazz Shaw wonders what the hell is going on:

Very strange. Even if you’re into profiling, Yon would hardly fit one you’d be interested in. Of course, his passport, by now, doubtless has a list of countries stamped into it which could give an inspector pause, but that’s no excuse. Very, very strange. I expect this one will be high profile enough that you’ll see an apology coming from the government.

Unless there is more to this story, an apology would be the least owed to Yon.  When an American citizen with a valid passport presents himself for travel, there should be some reasonable screening to verify identity and to determine whether there is a physical risk, ie, weapons and the like.  Why should border security be interested in Yon’s annual income?  How does that relate to national security and border protection?  Unless this is an arm of the Internal Revenue Service, it doesn’t, and Yon was right to refuse to answer the question.

Instead of hassling American citizens about their income or watching the ice melt, how about paying attention to actual security and intelligence issues?  Please?

Update: Media Matters wants to quibble over the use of the word “arrested,” but when the cops slap handcuffs on you and detain you, you’ve been arrested, both literally (as in “motion stopped”) and practically.  Yon didn’t get booked, or charged with any offense, as Yon himself notes.


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Except he wasn’t asked this when he was trying to fly. He was asked this after he was already back on the ground, back in America, trying to leave the airport. How is that supposed to make us safe?

–Esthier, it’s not real clear that this occurred when he was trying to leave. It’s much more likely this occurred as he was coming into the country. And Michael now says it was the Customs people, not TSA, were the ones who handcuffed him.

From his twitter thingie (link in Ed’s story): Michael Yon There is some confusion about who arrested me. TSA was not involved. The Customs people (CBP) were the actors who handcuffed me.

Jimbo3 on January 6, 2010 at 12:23 PM

If we have federal officers who are so uninformed they don’t at least know who Yon is , they should be terminated for gross ignorance ..

borntoraisehogs on January 6, 2010 at 12:25 PM

–Esthier, it’s not real clear that this occurred when he was trying to leave. It’s much more likely this occurred as he was coming into the country. And Michael now says it was the Customs people, not TSA, were the ones who handcuffed him.

Once you’ve entered the airport of your final destination, you’re already trying to leave it. That’s all I meant, that he wasn’t about to board another plane and go anywhere else, meaning this isn’t a flight security issue.

As to customs, I’m not sure how much that changes about my argument other than it being a different agency. I understand that they have different roles, responsibilities and authority, but I still don’t see how forcing the man to stay in there because he refused to answer that question will help anything.

And I’m no more impressed with their ability to perform their jobs than I am TSAs, at least not so much more impressed that I’m willing to give them power they don’t currently have.

Esthier on January 6, 2010 at 1:18 PM

You absolutely implied race.

Absolutely implied? That’s rich.

The only thing absolute is your need to ignore what I said and supplant it with your own meaning. You are absolutely typical.

Your view is stupid.

Should a passenger on the “no-fly list” be treated equally?

blink on January 6, 2010 at 9:36 AM

You’re amazing. You twist one statement to mean something that suits your needs.

You got me genius. No, people on the no-fly list should not be treated just like you me or Michael Yon. Allow me to restate for clarity:
We should all be treated equally unless we are on the no-fly list.

You can profile me racially, economically, rhetorically, whatever. If I don’t like it, I can drive or fly charter. Profile away!

blink on January 6, 2010 at 12:22 PM

/ Here’s your tag.

The Race Card on January 6, 2010 at 2:48 PM

Michael Yon Got arrested at the Seattle airport for refusing to say how much money I make. (The uniformed ones say I was not “arrested”, but they definitely handcuffed me.) Their videos and audios should show that I was polite, but simply refused questions that had nothing to do with national security. Port authority police eventually came — they were professionals — and rescued me from the border bullies.
http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=273914137066&id=207730000664

Yon’s Facebook page post.
Exclusive Big Government interview with Yon:

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 BigGovernment.com. “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.”
http://biggovernment.com/2010/01/05/exclusive-interview-military-blogger-michael-yon-detained-by-tsa-in-seattle-airport/

As is usual with “pigs jumped me” stories, there’s a point where the fuzz weren’t acting on a hunch or going through a checklist, they were reacting to a live pain in the ass.

I absolutely support the US govt keeping an eye on guys visiting Muslim countries. Please note, and I tried to get Yon’s own story here, he did NOT tell them he was a journalist. He just refused to answer, because he knows these pigs, and they ain’t got the power. At which point he was treated like any other political protestor on public property.

BTW I agree with him, when an American citizen does this crap, the TSA shouldn’t bother with him. Hold him for questioning by the FBI.

Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Yon is now saying on his facebook page (not twitter thingie, as I originally wrote) that it was Customs, not TSA, who handcuffed him.

Jimbo3 on January 6, 2010 at 3:43 PM

If the officer has a good enough reason to detain you, then he won’t be shy about exercising that right. At that point you might want to consider answering in order to expedite any further delay. But if he’s shy about exercising it, then you can probably leave without answering the question.

That is the key. If it’s some bubba who’s got a big pot belly speaks like a hick and says screw the Constitution, THAT IS A SIGN OF DANGER!

Guys, please visit OathKeepers…these guys including police officers SUPPORT AND DEFEND our Constitution. They don’t play around with it like Glenn Beck or Chris Matthews do just to spew propaganda!

BobAnthony on January 6, 2010 at 3:47 PM

As is usual with “pigs jumped me” stories, there’s a point where the fuzz weren’t acting on a hunch or going through a checklist, they were reacting to a live pain in the ass.

Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Maybe you’re right, I honestly can’t say with any authority; however, it’s clear that this has been your attitude from the start: that Yon had this “pig” mentality the whole time. That doesn’t make you any less biased than anyone who knee-jerkingly defended Yon.

Esthier on January 6, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Now you can tell everyone what you meant by this statement.

He probably meant that not all Muslims are of any specific ethnicity.

Maybe you should take your time to think about who exactly should “all be treated equally” unless you want me to keep doing this to you for the remainder of day.

blink on January 6, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Not to stop a legitimate argument, but I don’t think ignoring behavior necessarily falls into the “treat everyone equally” argument. Most who argue this would say that all people (and not just Muslims or people who look like terrorists) who pay cash for a one way ticket, are on a terror list, have no passport, etc., should be denied entry onto a plane.

If Race disagrees with what I’ve said here, I doubt he’ll be shy about admitting it.

Esthier on January 6, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Me, too. But I think there’s a better way to keep an eye on guys visiting Muslim countries than asking a question of salary. Like Yon states in this telephone interview – he would have been happy to answer questions which were fair game. He would have answered questions such as, “which country are you coming from” and “what was your purpose of the travel?” These weren’t the questions asked.

Quite possibly. But this is not the Kingdom of Yon, where Yon’s ideas are implemented in realtime.

And you also should know that a lack of responsiveness is NOT justification for initiating an investigation. Law enforcement can’t use circular logic with that – although some may try.
blink on January 6, 2010 at 4:49 PM

No, I believe the Supreme Court has rejected that logic. A cop may chase who runs.

Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 5:11 PM

It’s basic criminal law that once you are not free to leave an officer’s presence, you’re under arrest, whether cuffed or not. Yon, a U.S. citizen, is most definitely entitled to our Constitution’s protections–i.e., no arrest without probable cause that he has committed a crime, the right against self-incrimination, against unlawful search and seizure, and the right to counsel, all of which were violated by the officers who cuffed him. Yes, he might have defused the situation by telling them he was self-employed as a journalist, but it is more likely that he was already targeted and the questioning was going to continue, regardless. There are, sadly, “bad cops” amidst the many “oath keepers” out there. The fact that Port Authority Po-Po turned him loose is the 10 ton gorilla in the room.

Ay Uaxe on January 6, 2010 at 5:14 PM

A cop may chase who runs.

Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 5:11 PM

That sounds more like a response than a lack of one to me.

Esthier on January 6, 2010 at 5:34 PM

A traffic cop once asked for my SS#,
replied, “sorry don’t remember it.”
I didn’t lecture him on my RIGHTS!
Happily didn’t get ticket,
and was waved on with a

“HAVE A NICE DAY”

You get more with honey than vinegar

How hard is that Michael?

Also, many folks have asked about my income,
I give them a pat answer, “NOT NEARLY ENOUGH”!

The key is to SMILE when you say it, that-a-way
you don’t offend naive or deceptive interrogators.

Problem with Michael Yon is that he often acts as tho his
perception of the world is the only valid one–
and worse — that all should endure his oftimes
sophmoric lectures, based solely upon his POV.

Still, as mentioned earlier,if Rivers and Yon’s sob-stories can hold off a Union takeover of TSA and the installation of a LIAR at its Head, that’s all good. Or, will it become more likely>

“Let’s Roll”

On Watch on January 6, 2010 at 6:25 PM

Yes, he might have defused the situation by telling them he was self-employed as a journalist, but it is more likely that he was already targeted and the questioning was going to continue, regardless.

I hope he was due for some questioning, having been to where he’s been. No one has the right to demand trust from the TSA. They’re there because America don’t trust air travellers. We don’t trust air travellers because Al Qaeda abuses our civilian air transport system for suicide bombing.

The fact that Port Authority Po-Po turned him loose is the 10 ton gorilla in the room.

Not at all. Most Code Pink protestors ejected from the Senate Gallery were not charged. They were detained, moved out of the way of purposeful use of public property, and set free.

That sounds more like a response than a lack of one to me.
Esthier on January 6, 2010 at 5:34 PM

Both are evasion of police authority, which, being limited by the 4th and 6th Amendments, is also confirmed.

Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Quite possibly. But this is not the Kingdom of Yon, where Yon’s ideas are implemented in realtime.
Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 5:11 PM

This has nothing to do with Yon’s ideas. This has to do with appropriate requirements with respect to answering DHS questioning. Do you actually think this issue only applies to Yon?

Who, in that airport room, said it wasn’t appropriate DHS questioning? Whose opinion did Michael Yon rely on? It has everything to do with his ideas about what he should answer.

Second, you’re even wrong about your supreme court claim. The courts have been very specific about NOT stating that a cop may chase who runs without specific requirements.

The course I had on that was before 2000. Your link is dead, please gimme the name of the case.

Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 8:14 PM

Hh, I thought it was Indianapolis vs Edmond.

You could be right, because the cases I looked at involve a criminal charge, even if its a fine. And that was cited by the majority as a factor in finding the search or stop reasonable. And Indianapolis which was also decided in 2000 said that a checkpoint may be licit if it is aimed at an immediate and specific threat. Maybe Yon should do America a favor and sue the US govt so the Supreme Court can rule on that specific issue, if a checkpoint is constitutional how far can the cops go to demand cooperation with the checkpoint?

Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 8:52 PM

B … bb…. but he doesn’t like Israel!

From his Facebook page:

Actually…the Gold Medal for border harassment goes to Israel. The U.S. gets the Silver on border bullying. Among the most professional that I’ve encountered is UAE (United Arab Emirates) and also Singapore. Very professional. UAE confiscated my body armor during one trip, but took good care of the armor and gave it back at the airport when I left.

So do we still like him or is he a left-wing anti-Semite?

A Axe on January 6, 2010 at 9:58 PM

There’s more recent rulings on checkpoints. Indianapolis v Edmonds, which I read trying to track your case down, says broad checkpoints are unconstitutional…

I’m up too late to wrangle it right now. I see I don’t really have supreme court authority for the idea that you have to answer questions at a checkpoint. I would think it logically follows from the existence of a checkpoint, but there’s no ruling on that specific aspect. However when I think about it, a search and seizure can be compelled but not self-incrimination. in other words, Yon cannot be compelled to answer, not because its an irrelevant question, but because it IS a proper question for law enforcement. In all the cases I’m looking at tonight, if you refuse to cooperate you either walk away, or forfeit a privilege such as driving a motor vehicle on public roads. what’s the next step when an arriving person will submit to a search but stands mute at an airport checkpoint? Detention for a hearing? Release to another airplane back to where he come from? release to the parking lot? Remember what answer we give applies to foriegners on US soil as well as citizens.

Chris_Balsz on January 6, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Media Matters can suck it. When law enforcement has restricted your movement and you no longer feel that you are free too leave, it is a de facto arrest.

Squid Shark on January 6, 2010 at 10:35 PM

@ blink

What country has the largest number of Muslims? What race were the terrorist at Beslan?

Muslim is not a race. Many ethnic groups contribute to the worldwide Muslim population. I did not have to imply anything; my statement was unencumbered. Take my words at face value or admit that you’re unable to deal with the face value of said words.

Regarding no-fly list. It’s a new day, flying is not a privilege. I don’t care how you got to the airport, what you’re wearing or what’s on your Ipod. Everybody needs to go through the same protocols.

I’ve had a gun pulled on me by a senior citizen. I’ve known more than one kid with a genius-level IQ who ended up murdering a family member. Of the many Muslims I’ve known, I’ve never known a terrorist. My version of reality makes it easy for me to give the same middle finger to all parties.

Profile away TSA!

No need to respond — your wit and wisdom are oh-so-taxing on my tired wittle bwain.

===
@ esthier
It’s not easy being honest when that honesty makes you a target for derision or ridicule among one’s chose peer-group. It might be easier for me to be more diplomatic/agreeable in many threads wherein I have commented. However, I prefer to speak my mind openly and honestly.

Truth is its own reward. Thank you for acknowledging my efforts.

The Race Card on January 6, 2010 at 11:20 PM

However, opting for honey is certainly not a requirement. And condemning those that opt against honey is lame.

blink on January 6, 2010 at 7:47 PM

Get your head outta your nethers pal!
Never said “honey” was a “requirement”,
just a tactic that those(like Yon)when confronted by authority should consider, rather than telling the man with the badge he has no right to ask a specific question, or to lecture him on what questions he can ask! A simple “I’m not sure how much I make – I work for donations” could have deescalated the confrontare.

Certainly, in the wake of the Christmas Airport security breech, a wise and worldly player like Yon could pull in his neck and not present as part of the problem to the Security types. From Yon’s report it doesn’t sound as though he acted very wisely! As for me “condemning him”, I think you’re reading more into my comments than I wrote.

Odd though, that so often lately, Yon’s Big story always seems to be about him. Perhaps, the “Border Bully” that Michael excoriates, inadvertantly pushed his most sensitive button–MONEY? At any rate, Yon should get some folding cash out of his latest “Oh Poor Me” lament – How dare customs ask about his income, as he returns stateside from Hong Kong?!

“Let’s Roll”

On Watch on January 6, 2010 at 11:46 PM

Under these circumstances, you’re right. Even answering a question such as, “what was the purpose of your visit?” could self-incriminate (for example, if your purpose was to purchase drugs, to bribe overseas officials, or have intercourse with minors), therefore, one is under no legal obligation to answer. However, in such circumstances, law enforcement would have every right to further detain.

That’s as far as I got in my thinking, when I realized that asking questions is part of running a checkpoint–but that’s interrogation, not search. A search can be compelled. A search can be conducted while the owner is absent. An owner who disrupts a search can be restrained. Interrogation is cooperative, and the Fifth Amendment guarantees a right to stand mute.

I think US citizens would be treated differently than non-citizens. A non-citizen could probably have visas legally revoked quickly and deported simply based on the suspicious behavior. I think a citizen would need to be charged (difficult to do without evidence) or released.

That makes sense, but after Hamdan v US, I’m not sure the court would agree.

Remember, Yon isn’t claiming that he shouldn’t have had to answer ANY questions to avoid being further detained. He is simply claiming that refusal to answer questions regarding income and passwords shouldn’t provide reasons to be further detained.

I think that formula is bogus, but, he’s in a good position to take it to the Supreme Court.

Chris_Balsz on January 7, 2010 at 12:15 AM

Get you head out of your nethers.
blink on January 7, 2010 at 12:01 AM

I see, you’re from another country!

“Let’s Roll”

On Watch on January 7, 2010 at 12:29 AM

Got that, Michelle
blink on January 7, 2010 at 12:18 AM

She’s not going to translate for you pal!

“Let’s Roll”

On Watch on January 7, 2010 at 12:33 AM

Nobody needs a translation to know you’re wrong.

blink on January 7, 2010 at 12:45 AM

Quit playing with yourself pal — not impressed by your hallucinations of lower court outcomes before the facts, other than Yon’s confused lament are known.

“Let’s Roll”

On Watch on January 7, 2010 at 12:58 AM

@blink

Basically, anytime I dispute the party-line on race and/or gay marriage invariably some genius calls me a lib. Do you get off on that?

What makes me a lib? Please be specific. I would love for you to explain precisely what positions I have expressed that comport to your accusation. These days, the Republican label leaves a lot to be desired. But, I am nobody’s lib.

What tests is the conservative-credentialing board issuing these days? You self-important rowdies are a stain on the party.

If you’re interested in genuine discourse, I’m here. If you just want to sling mud, the floor is yours.

The Race Card on January 7, 2010 at 1:13 AM

I didn’t forget and I don’t retract the “effyou.” You accused me wrongly and you know it. I owe you know apology for defending my self against an obvious smear. I’m sure you’d do the same.

Don’t feel bad for calling me a lib. Feel bad for making such a strong accusation with zero veracity.

Look if it works for you then, Yes, I’m incapable of genuine discourse. But you need to check the record. You have thousands of comments from which you may choose. Experience the incapability for yourself.

Regarding the questions(?) you posed here:

blink on January 6, 2010 at 11:48 PM

I simply don’t know what you’re asking. It sounds to me like you’re trying to support your odd posturing, but I can’t be sure. I’ll take your etymology and raise you a contemporary connotation any day of the week! I don’t care what you think you know about language of yore.

Frankly, I’d love to answer your question just to see how daft a response you will puke up. But I simply don’t understand what you’re trying to say. A thousand typing-monkeys have nothing on you.

Read it for yourself, then marvel at the drool running down your chin.

Just because I’m a nice guy – you can save yourself from future embarrassment (you can’t save yourself from present embarrassment) by instead writing that Muslim is not a nation or nationality.

Muslim doesn’t fit either of those definitions. It comes close, but doesn’t fit either requirement of: 1) fitting with the etymology “nasci, to be born”; or 2) being part, or capable of being part, of a nation state.

blink on January 7, 2010 at 12:12 AM

Thank you for your time and consideration herein. Good day kind genius.

The Race Card on January 7, 2010 at 3:07 AM

Chris and Blink, I posted this yesterday. The searches at borders by customs agents aren’t subject to the usual rules:

FYI from Wikipedia:

The border search exception is a doctrine of United States criminal law that exempts searches of travelers and their property from the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement.

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security, is permitted to search travelers and their belongings at the American border without probable cause or a warrant. These searches are therefore exempted from the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. Pursuant to this authority, CBP may generally stop and search the property of any traveler entering or exiting the United States at random, or even based largely on ethnic profiles.[1] However, CBP may only conduct searches of the traveler’s body — including strip, body cavity, involuntary x-ray, and in some jurisdictions, pat-down searches — if the Customs officer has reasonable suspicion to believe the traveler is concealing contraband.[2]

Although border-searches are exempted from the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement, they are still subject to the amendment’s reasonableness requirement.[3] Whether a border search is reasonable depends on a judicial analysis that balances the intrusion into an individual’s legitimate privacy and dignity interests against the government’s legitimate interest in the subject of the search.[4] In reviewing the reasonableness of border-searches under the Fourth Amendment, many courts have distinguished between “routine” and “nonroutine” searches.[5] CBP may conduct “routine” searches without any level of suspicion, while “nonroutine” searches must be supported by “reasonable suspicion”.[6] Under this analysis, searches of a traveler’s property, including luggage, briefcases, wallets, and other containers are “routine,” while searches of a traveler’s body, including strip, body cavity and involuntary x-ray searches, are considered “nonroutine.”[7]

Jimbo3 on January 5, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Jimbo3 on January 7, 2010 at 9:57 AM

Hopefully somebody already said that no when you are handcuffed it doesn’t mean you’ve been arrested. It means you’ve been detained. Of course semantics or not this is insane, but handcuffs don’t equal arrested.

ac1 on January 7, 2010 at 10:32 AM

blink on January 7, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Your penchant for telling others what they meant to say is ironic considering you have said nothing of substance yourself.

***
Michael Yon is a journalist. What other journalists deserve expedited treatment at our nation’s entry points? What other professions, first responders notwithstanding, should be granted such graces?

The Race Card on January 7, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Being handcuffed is not the worst thing in the world. Everyday in neighborhoods all across the country, people are securely detained by officers trying to get to the bottom of some BS story.

If you’re arrested falsely, file civilly. If you’re detained, humiliated and humbled by LEO but not arrested and did not have your rights violated — get over it. Any news of Yon’s official complaint or suit against TSA or its agents?

The Race Card on January 7, 2010 at 1:28 PM

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