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New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek: A Quick Reminder on ID and Photography at TSA Checkpoints

Friday, January 28, 2011
identification

*** Update 1/30/2011 *** I referred to recent media coverage (which was all about Mr. Mocek's acquittal). The purpose of the blog was to focus on TSA checkpoint procedures which have not changed -as some have assumed- and to provide a refresher on TSA procedures.

Mr. Mocek was charged by the Albuquerque Police Department with trespassing, disorderly conduct, refusing to obey an officer, and concealing identity. He was acquitted. In so far as Mr. Mocek wants to fly in the future, like other passengers, he will still need to produce ID or work cooperatively with TSOs to confirm his identity.

TSA verification processes must proceed quickly and without interference. Any passenger holding a camera in the face of TSOs as they try verify identification should not be surprised if asked to step aside so that other passengers in line can be processed expeditiously without further disruption.

TSA's goal is to ensure that all passengers who fly are checked against government watchlists. This can be achieved only if a passenger's identity is confirmed at the checkpoint.

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A recent case -New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek- is making the news recently. The case stemmed from Mr. Mocek’s failure to cooperate with the instructions of Albuquerque police officers at the Albuquerque International Sunport Airport after interactions he had with TSA transportation security officers.

Mr. Mocek had a boarding pass, but would not produce ID when asked. As I've said before here on the blog, if you don’t have an ID, TSA will work with you to verify you are who you say you are. On the other hand, if you refuse to provide information, you will not be permitted to fly. This process had begun with Mr. Mocek, but was not completed. Without an ID that matches the individual holding the boarding pass, we can’t be sure the passenger has cleared government watchlists.

As far as photography, as I stated in a previous post, TSA does not prohibit photography at checkpoints as long as there is no interference with the screening process. As TSOs were talking to Mr. Mocek to verify his identity, he was holding a camera up to film them and appeared to be trying to film sensitive security information related to TSA standard operating procedures on ID verification. Such behavior interferes with the ordinary course of business at the checkpoint and may well delay other passengers.

We are grateful for the support provided to TSA by the Albuquerque police.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

You should not repeat the allegations made against a private citizen without mentioning that he was acquitted of the charges. To do otherwise is irresponsible.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"The case stemmed from Mr. Mocek’s failure to cooperate with the instructions of Albuquerque police officers at the Albuquerque International Sunport Airport after interactions he had with TSA transportation security officers."

The jury did not see it that way. That is why he was found NOT GUILTY on all four charges.

Why do you lie about this? It only puts you in the same company as the Information Ministers of other tyrants.

Submitted by Anonymous on

To tell the whole story would make the TSA look bad.

Hence the omission of Mr. Mocek's acquittal on all charges.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob,

Why are you repeating the allegations as if they were fact, when in reality he was found not guilty? You are misleading your readers into believing that Mr. Mocek's behavior was illegal. A jury found that it was not.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Not only was he fount NOT GUILTY on all four charges, but he was found NOT GUILTY without his defense having to present ANY evidence or call ANY witnesses - the TSA's case was so full of holes in its own right.

Submitted by DJ on

so photography at the checkpoint is permitted, so long as it does not capture the screening process?

that rings hollow, even for TSA...

Submitted by Anonymous on

How long did it take you to write that spin? Attempting to "film sensitive security information related to TSA standard operating procedures on ID verification?" That's probably the most ludicrous statement I've heard about the case.

Are you trying to claim that the contents of the question-and-answer game TSA plays with no-ID pax are SSI? Or that SSI paperwork is just laying around at the TDC waiting to be filmed? Or are you just trying to create a loophole in TSA's (correct) claim that there is nothing prohibiting photography in airports other than not permitting filming of the x-ray display (which is reasonable)?

And of course you utterly fail to mention that Mr. Mocek was acquitted. Not to mention that the trial very much made it seem that the TSO and LEO were the only ones causing a disturbance at the scene.

Do you care to comment on your TSO's testimony that he doesn't know why TSA checks ID?

Submitted by Anonymous on

A Jury of his PEERS found in favor of Mr. Mocek. This is one of the most important aspects of our system of justice, where CITIZENS can uphold JUSTICE and deny the authoritarianism of the government.

The American people DO NOT SUPPORT THE TSA's CURRENT TACTICS, and this case and many more to follow will clearly show that the TSA is not acting in accordance with the Will of The PEOPLE.

Submitted by Bruce on

The notion that he was trying to film "sensitive security information" is absurd. The screener testified that Mocek "might" have picked up a form containing his own information on the videotape. Is that supposed to be secret? Good grief, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Submitted by Anonymous on
"To do otherwise is irresponsible."

Or libelous? It seems TSA will go to any ends to attack citizens. TSA personnel maintains an adversarial position with the American people. How can an organization that is contemptuous of the public be expected to run a real security operation?
Submitted by Anonymous on

This post completely misrepresents the facts of the case. Mr. Mocek was acquitted by a jury on all four counts.

Bob, your post was filled with half truths designed to misrepresent the public. That's what I expect out of totalitarian governments, not from an official representative of the United States government. Shame on you.

Submitted by Abelard on

Why did you intentionally leave out the fact that a jury acquitted Mr. Mocek of all four counts in about an hour?

Submitted by Al Ames on

Yes, Bob, the only thing Phil was guilty of was contempt of cop and TSA. He was acquitted of the charges by a jury of his peers.

It's intellectually dishonest not to mention that key fact, Bob. Not everyone will click on the link, and by the way you wrote it, many would think he was convicted.

If TSA is willing to play fast and loose with the truth, it makes one wonder how much TSA is playing fast and loose with security. Not that we don't already know that they are ...

Al

Submitted by Anonymous on

More doubletalk. We're allowed to take pictures...oh, except when we "appear to be trying to film sensitive security information". What would that be? TSA badges, faces, computer screens? We have no idea.

And you will never tell us, because it is deliberately vague so you can harass and arrest people who insist on their rights.

Not to mention you didn't even mention that the TSA LOST this case. Just another case where the TSA abuses are not legal or supported by the courts.

Submitted by Dunstan on

Our country has a long history of officials reacting badly in the face of proactive non-violent civil disobedience. Mr Mocek was well within his rights as a private citizen, followed TSA rules, and TSA and the police overreacted, anyway.

On another note, how is that new billboard in Philly working out for your PR staff?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Why do you lie about this? It only puts you in the same company as the Information Ministers of other tyrants."

I believe Curtis is just trying to put the best possible spin on another incident that shows TSA at its finest.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey Bob, were you a Philadelphia lawyer in a previous life? Because you certainly twist the truth like one. I might even go so far as to say this post is libel by omission.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on
Without an ID that matches the individual holding the boarding pass, we can’t be sure the passenger has cleared government watchlists.

Actually, given how easy it is to forge a boarding pass, presenting an ID that matches an alleged boarding pass doesn't provide any assurance, either.

As TSOs were talking to Mr. Mocek to verify his identity, he was holding a camera up to film them and appeared to be trying to film sensitive security information related to TSA standard operating procedures on ID verification.

So one can be arrested in this country for "appearing to be trying" to do something? Oy ve.
Submitted by Anonymous on

WOW! You do realize that the TSA testified in court that there is no law that requires anyone to provide identification in order to fly. Testified in court! Yet you deny this?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, are you even capable of telling the truth about anything?

Submitted by Tomas on

Bob, I have a problem with the statements you made in your post here on the TSA blog.

You state AS FACT allegations that a jury has DISMISSED.

In your statements you are again accusing Mr. Mocek of behavior already charged and dismissed, and your doing that should be, in itself, a crime against Mr. Mocek - especially as you are stating it as an official representative of your government agency.

Note also that what TSA's TSOs said while being recorded by Mr. Mocek did not comply with TSA "regulations," nor does it match with what you stated in your blog post.

I believe retraction of and apology for your allegations against Mr. Mocek are in order.

(I'm usually not all that hard on you, Bob, but in this case I sincerely believe you have stepped over the line.)

Take care,
Tom
University Place, WA

Submitted by Robert MacLean on

"As TSOs were talking to Mr. Mocek to verify his identity, he was holding a camera up to film them and appeared to be trying to film sensitive security information related to TSA standard operating procedures on ID verification."

Anytime the TSA invokes UNclassified "sensitive security information" (SSI), alarm bells should sound off and you need to question if there is anything being covered-up.

When the TSA could not fire me for blowing the whistle on them in July 2003 and again in September 2004, they RETROACTIVELY marked my July 2003 whistleblower disclosure with this non-classified designation, and THEN fired me.

I am 100% in favor of reasonable pat-downs because no one has a right to fly on "missiles of mass destruction" that move 500 MPH at 35,000 feet up. But passengers should have the right to film the pat-down process in order to record and expose any possible wrongdoing.

Be safe up there.

Respectfully,

Robert MacLean
Fired Federal Air Marshal

Submitted by Anonymous on

Remember folks that Mr. Mocek was found NOT GUILTY on ALL CHARGES by a jury of his peers. The only party(ies) that should be guilty are the TSA and the Albuquerque Airport Police for trying to interfere with his rights.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please, Mr. Blogger Bob. Pray tell why, after discovery, the prosecution decided not to call most of its witnesses, and those that did testify in court were not credible with the tribunal?

And, while you are at it, pray tell why TSA is not credible with Congress?

Or American Citizens for that matter.

I eagerly await your response.

Submitted by BillyC on

Blogger Bob

Once again you are conveniently twisting and leaving out key facts.

If the TSA clerks acted correctly and Mr. Mocek acted wrongly as your article leads the reader to believe then why was he acquitted?

In fact why don't you mention that he was found not guilty?

The only thing that trial proved was that it was the TSO's that were interfering with the screening process by causing the scene, and the only one yelling and "disturbing the peace" was the Alb LEO.

Thank god Phil had recorded this incident otherwise I have a feeling the security footage would have been lost or lacking audio... which isn't the first time TSA has done that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Mr. Mocek ... would not produce ID" is inflammatory. A more neutral statement is that Mr. Mocek did not produce ID.

"... appeared to be trying to film sensitive security information..." That is not supported by the video evidence presented in court.

Please remove the bias in your blog post.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It's important to realize that Mocek didn't present any evidence at his trial. He was acquitted based on the evidence submitted AGAINST him by the government. Think about what that means. The government's own evidence, when evaluated by the jury, led to them finding him not guilty of any wrongdoing.

You know how I know TSA is nothing more than security theater?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Apparently the jury disagrees with you and the TSA.

On all charges: NOT GUILTY

Lies of omission are still lies.

Please at least do not repeat allegations for which a man was found not guilty of.

Submitted by Corgan on

Since Mr. Mocek was found innocent we must assume that he didn't do anything that was illegal or against TSA procedure (that they could prove)

Therefore, when I read this case I see a man who was inconvenienced and was forced to spend thousands of dollars defending himself from a needless situation where TSA and the LEO overreacted.

The fact that you paint the story as that TSA did nothing wrong, and leading us to believe he was trying to video the screening procedure (when it was clear in court that he wasn't) isn't only terrible reporting but destroys your credibility?

Does everything you post have this uneccesary Pro-TSA spin. If the TSA really cares about servicing and building trust and cooperation with the traveling public you can't treat us as if we are stupid.

Submitted by Anonymous on

And he was acquitted of all wrong doing in court.

Why did you leave this out?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"A recent case - New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek - is making the news recently. The case stemmed from Mr. Mocek’s failure to cooperate with the instructions of Albuquerque police officers at the Albuquerque International Sunport Airport after interactions he had with TSA transportation security officers."

It is irresponsible if not downright libelous to assert those charges with no mention to the fact that he was completely acquitted of all charges.

I'm curious what you would call that statement if not an attempt to falsely defame the character of Phillip Mocek?

Submitted by RB on

Why do you lie about this? It only puts you in the same company as the Information Ministers of other tyrants.

January 28, 2011 6:59 PM

................
If it's not a TSA lie Bob won't post it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Not mentioning Moeck's acquital is a serious omission.

But it was on purpose, wasn't it? You'd prefer to keep that nicely restricted to the comment section.

Our tax dollars at work!

Submitted by RB on

What a dishonest posting Bob.

It was TSA that created the problem.

It was TSA that escalated the problem and then called police.

It was a TSM that put his hands on Phil as clearly seen in Phil's video record. That sir was a battery and possibly an assault.

It was TSA employees not knowing or carrying out TSA policy that was the problem.

Oh, you seem to have missed the tiny little fact that Phil was found guilty on any charges.

Why is it you left that out of your post Bob?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Mocek was acquitted on all four counts. The jury delivered its verdict in less than an hour.

Prosecution witnesses included a single TSA agent and a single Albuquerque police officer.

Defense witnesses included no one. Not a single witness was called in rebuttal. But the jury voted to acquit in less than an hour.

This story was written in such a way as to make Mr. Mocek out to be a criminal, which in fact he is not. In fact, your TSA agents were noted to be disrupting the peace, not Mr. Mocek.

And while you may not like "such behavior," and it may or may not "interfere with the ordinary course of business at the checkpoint" it is neither illegal nor unreasonable to insist that government agents act within very limited powers granted by the Constitution.

You may be grateful for the support provided by the Albuquerque police, but as a law abiding citizen, I am outraged that a law abiding citizen was detained, arrested and forced to endure prosecution for going about his lawful business. As your own agent admitted in court, Mr. Mocek had every right to film what was in pubic view and if TSA has placed in the public view at an airport, sensitive security information, which I as a traveler am in no way bound to not reveal, then shame on you. Not the filmer's fault...it's you agencies.

Submitted by Avxo on

Blogger Bob wrote: "Mr. Mocek [...] appeared to be trying to film sensitive security information related to TSA standard operating procedures on ID verification."

Your TSO tried to make that argument while testifying. You may not have heard his testimony, but the defense attorney for Mr. Mocek shred it into a million, tiny little pieces.

After all this SSO document is the very document that the TSO, by his own admission while on the stand and under oath, would have to show to Mr. Mocek, so he could verify the information on it and then sign. Some "sensitive" information... What a joke.

Frankly, the video speaks for itself -- and the jury in this case heard it loud and clear and they sent you all a message.

Also, while you did point out that photography is permitted, out you didn't make any comment about the behavior of the TSOs or their inaccurate statements as far as recording video on the checkpoint.

Of course, there was no comment about the TSA person that grabs the camera and tries to either take it from Mr. Mocek or push it down. I would point out that this sort of action can get those of us without a shiny badge cited for assault. As for your guy? Who knows? Was he cited? Was he disciplined? Was he retrained?

And then there's the ABQ police. The people who spouted nonsense like "You're almost there. You pushing it. You really pushing it. OK?" and "Well, you can be arrested and you check into it more." Are these the people you wish to thank?

Good thing that there was video, and that there are sensible jurors out there to protect us from you.

Submitted by Gadfly on

Two quick questions for Mr. Bob.

1. A camera is an inanimate object. How does a camera, by itself, interfere with the screening process without engaging in other unlawful acts, such as battery? I understand how it could be a problem if the camera was being physically shoved into someone's face, but standing back a foot or two with a camera operating would not meet that definition.

2. In regards to "...appeared to be trying to film sensitive security information related to TSA standard operating procedures on ID verification."

It would seem that travelers who do not have valid ID would be not uncommon and the procedure in place to work with those travelers would be well known to any agent with any amount of experience at that position. As such, was the Travel Document Checker new? If not, why would the TDC have sensitive security material out and visible in order to follow a procedure that should be well known for that position?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob--

You are a civil servant. I am a citizen. I am requesting the name and contact information of you immediate supervisor. I expect you to provide it. This post is ridiculous and I am outraged that even a fraction of a penny of my tax dollars are paying you to maintain this blog.

Submitted by BlognDog on

Bob: you have already attempted to sell a jury that particular barrel of rotten fish, and they noticed the smell at distance and found Mocek "not guilty", a fact you choose to completely ignore your post.
Then you go on to express gratitude to police officers for their "support," despite the fact that that support was found to be inappropriate, and is undoubtedly going to be the subject of a civil suit.

"SSI" has no legal meaning, and the only reason that particular form has to be kept private under the privacy act is because once completed, it has private information belonging to that individual. You are trying to suggest that there was something wrong with Mocek's filming of a form containing his OWN information. There seems to be no limit to your willingness to attempt to distort and misrepresent fact. Both your blog entry and the TSO's testimony at Mocek's trial attest to that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Liar liar pants on fire, Bob. Not guilty means you didn't have enough to prove your allegations beyond reasonable doubt. Shame on you.

Submitted by Rock on

Bob: please please please just answer one direct question for once.

Why didn't you mention the TSA LOST this case and he was found not guilty? The way you present this in the blog doesn't mention this.

Surely you can see how what you posted was not exactly leading people to the conclusions of the jury.

Please don't just respond here - amend the post.

Submitted by Ari on

It looks to me like Francine dictated much of the words that Bob used-- and also that he did't use-- in this post.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob,

Mr. Mocek was found innocent of all charges.

Apparently the TSA not only believes guilty until proven innocent, but guilty even when proven innocent.

Your blog post is just another example of why the people simply cannot trust you or the TSA

Submitted by Anonymous on

There are reasons we have laws that your agency is required to follow to keep things like this from happening. We take these laws seriously, unlike your agency, which assumes it can break the law with impunity under the color of SSI, and you report you are grateful for the APD aiding and abetting unlawful activities of the government! Please explain why you operate outside the law.

The "sensitive security information related to TSA standard operating procedures on ID verification" appears to be a form entitled, "Transportation Security Administration Certification of Identity" which asks for a name, address, signature and date. Actually quite reasonable, in my opinion.

However, it contains this notice:
" This information is being collected in accordance with 49 U.S.C. § 114(f) and 49 C.F.R. §§ 1540.105(a)(2),
1540.107 in order to verify your identity and complete the passenger screening process. This information may be
shared with the Department of Justice or other Federal agency in the review, settlement, defense, and prosecution of
claims, complaints, and lawsuits over matters in which TSA exercises jurisdiction, or for routine uses identified in
TSA’s systems of records, DHS/TSA 001 Transportation Security Enforcement Record System (TSERS) or
DHS/TSA 002 Transportation Security Threat Assessment System (TSTAS). Disclosure of this information is
voluntary; however, failure to furnish the requested information may result in an inability to complete the security
screening process and, consequently, an inability to grant you access to the sterile area.
False statements may be punishable under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. Section 1001by fine, imprisonment or both."

What it does not contain is the mandatory OMB control number required under the Paperwork Reduction Act 44 USC 3506(c)(b)(i). To obtain this control number your agency must publish this information in the Federal Register and obtain Office of Management and Budget approval. If you do not, the 44 USC 3506(c)(b)(iii)(V) applies and you may not compel anyone to disclose the requested information nor penalize them for failure to do so.

The precise wording of the applicable law is, "the fact that an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid control number;"

Pointing out further that 44 USC 3512(a) PUBLIC PROTECTION further mandates "no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that is subject to this subchapter if—
(1) the collection of information does not display a valid control number assigned by the Director in accordance with this subchapter; or
(2) the agency fails to inform the person who is to respond to the collection of information that such person is not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a valid control number.
(b) The protection provided by this section may be raised in the form of a complete defense, bar, or otherwise at any time during the agency administrative process or judicial action applicable thereto.


If you are statutorily exempt from the Paperwork Reduction Act, please cite the statute that gives you the exemption. Thank you.

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

This case was not about TSA and Mr. Mocek, this case was between New Mexico and Mr. Mocek. The situation originated with TSA, but once the LEOs arrived, it became a situation between Mr. Mocek and New Mexico. This case has nothing to do with ID requirements (which have not changed at TSA, they remain exactly the same as they have been), or TSA policies (they have not changed either). Filming has been allowed (with the same exceptions that have been there for ages) at the checkpoint areas since before I came to TSA (6 years ago). For all of you trying to present that this was a case against TSA, nothing has changed, the same requirements are there.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

You messed up with this post. I am still dizzy from the spin.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"GSOLTSO said:
his case was not about TSA and Mr. Mocek, this case was between New Mexico and Mr. Mocek. The situation originated with TSA, but once the LEOs arrived, it became a situation between Mr. Mocek and New Mexico. This case has nothing to do with ID requirements (which have not changed at TSA, they remain exactly the same as they have been), or TSA policies (they have not changed either). Filming has been allowed (with the same exceptions that have been there for ages) at the checkpoint areas since before I came to TSA (6 years ago). For all of you trying to present that this was a case against TSA, nothing has changed, the same requirements are there.

West
TSA Blog Team"

Ah, but it is considering the TSA has no arresting powers they have to bring in Local Law Enforcement.

This gentleman was arrested "because" of the altercation with the TSA and subsequently acquitted of charges without ever bringing any witnesses or testifying himself.. The local cops should have known better as should the TSA.

Submitted by RB on

GSOLTSO said...
This case was not about TSA and Mr. Mocek, this case was between New Mexico and Mr. Mocek. The situation originated with TSA, but once the LEOs arrived, it became a situation between Mr. Mocek and New Mexico. This case has nothing to do with ID requirements (which have not changed at TSA, they remain exactly the same as they have been), or TSA policies (they have not changed either). Filming has been allowed (with the same exceptions that have been there for ages) at the checkpoint areas since before I came to TSA (6 years ago). For all of you trying to present that this was a case against TSA, nothing has changed, the same requirements are there.

West
TSA Blog Team

January 29, 2011 8:28 AM

.......................
The case was clearly about TSA and a citizen who stood up for their rights.

TSA had to call in reinforcements but it was all TSA that created a problem that did not exist.

TSA employees not following secret rules.

TSA employees being afraid to have their actions documented.

TSA employees acting like, well I can't say what they acted like here!

It was TSA.

And it was TSA that didn't post the outcome of the trail while TSA attacked a person on a government publication funded with taxpayer monies.

Blogger Bob has again put his name on something that demonstrates his disregard for the Constitution of the United States.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Is there a reason you don't mention that Mr. MOcek was acquitted of all charges?

Or does that not fit in with your agenda?

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