We often forget
that the power wielded by government exists only because there are
those willing to carry out its orders. The "Government"
is not an Artificial Intelligence that exists in a science fiction
movie. Rather it comprises real people who have the choice to either
follow or refuse an order. In wake of the 1832 Supreme Court case,
Worcester v. Georgia, presided over by Chief Justice John
Marshall, President Andrew Jackson is famously rumored to have stated,
"John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."
Knowing the Supreme Court had no army, police or agents to enforce
their decisions, the implication was clear.
A law passed
by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the courts will
never be carried out or enforced unless there are men with badges
and with guns willing to comply. It is important we remember this
when we reflect on laws that are passed, directives that are issued
and agencies that infringe on our civil liberties. Just one such
example of such an agency is the Transportation Security Administration
Liberty regularly holds conferences and events to energize our members
and educate those new to the ideals of liberty. From the sale of
tickets, books, t-shirts, and generous donations, a weekend of excitement
often finds Campaign for Liberty with money to transport back to
headquarters. In my responsibilities as Director of Development
I often find myself tasked with carrying this money. On one occasion,
As I always
do when transporting money from Campaign for Liberty events, I place
the funds in a thin metal cash box similar to that found at a raffle
or church bazaar, with the box then placed in my carry-on bag. After
working my way through the numerous levels of checkpoints, I finally
came to the baggage screening. I handed my ticket and my license
to the initial TSA agent and proceeded to the screening. After I
had walked through the metal detector and handed my ticket to the
attendant for further verification, I waited for my items to come
out of the machine. The screening attendant motioned for assistance
and an additional TSA attendant soon came over.
ordered me off to the side and proceeded to search through my bag.
As he looked through my belongings, he eventually took out the moneybox
and informed me he needed to look through it. I asked him if I was
being detained or if I was free to go. Upon his second demand to
search it, I asked if the box was being detained. Never did he provide
a direct answer to my question, and likewise never did I offer my
consent to a search.
He began to
grow hostile and told me he was sick of the back and forth. He ordered
me into a side room next to the security checkpoint. Not wanting
to inform Congressman Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty members
I had lost their generous donations, I followed him. As I was being
led into this room off the concourse, I thought of situations that
often begin this way and far too often do not end well for the lone
individual questioning the government’s presumed authority.
As the agent settled in I quickly took out my mobile phone, highlighted
the proper setting, slipped the phone upright in my front jacket
pocket, and began recording the conversation. The
full recording can be heard here.
It has often
been said that, "The Camera is the New Gun." Such words
ring true. In an age where agents of the government create more
regulations and wield more power, it can often seem hopeless for
individuals to do anything to challenge an authority that does not
follow its own laws. However, a simple video camera or audio recorder
can often have a far-reaching effect. In this case, it changed the
policy of the federal government. Some important things to remember
when dealing with anyone in law enforcement:
Some have asked
me if I planned the situation, wanting to be caught and wanting
to cause a scene. In reality I was tired from the weekend, trying
to respond to old emails via my cell phone, and gritting my teeth
as I had another few hours of air travel ahead of me. The last thing
on my mind was a desire to argue with the government. However, carrying
a pocket Constitution and having the presence of mind to record
a conversation are things everyone can do. Without question the
inquiry most often made is, "What program did you use to record
that?" The application was called "iTalk" and is
a free application you can download to your iPhone. Determine if
your mobile phone can record audio and if possible video. If it
cannot, download or buy the software. The tool it will provide against
government abuse will be worth it.
Bierfeldt is the Director of Development for Campaign for Liberty.
He co-authored the book Who Is the Real Barack Obama? and
often writes on issues of liberty from a Christian perspective.