Thursday, June 25, 2009

ACLU Sues DHS Over Unlawful TSA Searches And Detention (6/18/2009)

I hope that this case makes an impact on the TSA and law enforcement. Sometimes I want to weep for what is happening here in America.

To hear for yourself the recording of the interrogation of a passenger doing nothing illegal and simply asking "Am I legally required to answer" and getting a total line of crap please go to

ACLU Sues DHS Over Unlawful TSA Searches And Detention (6/18/2009)

Treasurer Of Ron Paul's Campaign For Liberty Detained And Interrogated For Carrying Cash At St. Louis Airport

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666;

NEW YORK – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is subjecting innocent Americans to unreasonable searches and detentions that violate the Constitution, according to a lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed the complaint on behalf of a traveler who was illegally detained and harassed by TSA agents at the airport for carrying approximately $4,700 in cash.

"Airport searches are the most common encounters between Americans and law enforcement agents. That's why it is so important for TSA agents to do the job they were trained to do and not engage in fishing expeditions that do nothing to promote flight safety," said Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "It is, of course, very important to ensure the safety of flights and keep illegal weapons and explosives off planes. But allowing TSA screeners to conduct general purpose law enforcement searches violates the Constitution while diverting limited resources from TSA's core mission of protecting safety. For the sake of public safety and constitutional values, these unlawful searches should stop."

On March 29, 2009, Steven Bierfeldt was detained in a small room at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and interrogated by TSA officials for nearly half an hour after he passed a metal box containing cash through a security checkpoint X-ray machine. Bierfeldt was carrying the cash in connection with his duties as the Director of Development for the Campaign for Liberty, a political organization that grew out of Congressman Ron Paul's presidential campaign.

Bierfeldt was detained and questioned as he returned home from a Campaign for Liberty event transporting proceeds from the sale of tickets, t-shirts, stickers and campaign material. Bierfeldt repeatedly asked the agents to explain the scope of their authority to detain and interrogate him and received no explanation. Instead, the agents escalated the threatening tone of their questions and ultimately told Bierfeldt that he was being placed under arrest. Bierfeldt recorded the audio of the entire incident with his iPhone.

"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," said Bierfeldt. "Most Americans would be surprised to learn that TSA considers simply carrying cash to be a basis for detention and questioning. I hope the court makes clear that my detention by TSA agents was unconstitutional and stops TSA from engaging in these unlawful searches and arrests. I do not want another innocent American to have to endure what I went through."

"Mr. Bierfeldt's experience represents a troubling pattern of TSA attempting to transform its valid but limited search authority into a license to invade people's privacy in a manner that would never be accepted outside the airport context," said Larry Schwartztol, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "Just as the Constitution prevents the police on the street from conducting freewheeling searches in the hopes of uncovering wrongdoing, it protects travelers from the kind of treatment Mr. Bierfeldt suffered."

TSA officials have the authority to conduct safety-related searches for weapons and explosives. According to the ACLU's lawsuit, 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. The lawsuit also charges that unconstitutional searches and detention by TSA agents have become the norm.

The ACLU's lawsuit was filed against Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which has authority over TSA. It was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Attorneys on the case are Wizner, Scott Michelman and Allen Hopper of the ACLU, Art Spitzer of the ACLU National Capital Area and cooperating attorney Alan Gura of Gura and Possessky, P.L.L.C.

More information about the case, including the ACLU's complaint and an audio recording of Bierfeldt's detention and interrogation, is available online at:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to the US Army

It looks likely that my son will, if not make a career of service in the Army, be re-enlisting for another few years. Captured below are two videos saluting the Army NCO, and the Army's 234th birthday in the Year of the NCO. So, as a proud mother of a wonderful son, proud of his service and his discipline as a Soldier, I salute Matthew and all the brave enlisted men and women serving and who have served, today.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saying Good-bye to Our Dear Cat, Yogurt

Yogurt, 1991 (?) - 2009

Yogurt came to our home, when we lived down in Bakersfield, back in 1992 and hung around outside (my husband put food out for him, so that may have been why). He had a collar, so we thought he'd eventually go home. But he just kept hanging around and nobody seemed to be looking for him.

So we posted an ad in the "found cat" section of the local paper for quite a while and let him into the house while we waited, and introduced him to the two other cats we already had (Oatmeal and Pumpkin). No calls. Eventually we adopted him, named him Yogurt and trained him to be an indoor cat - something he didn't really appreciate but eventually became resigned to.

He got out a time or two in Bakersfield before we had him neutered, but was content to be inside after that. - except for one night here in Silicon Valley a couple years back, when he was out almost all night. The DH didn't sleep a wink, wandered around the neighborhood calling for him, looking behind bushes. Finally, so tired he had to try to get some rest, he went out front one more time and there was Yogurt in the front yard. He looked like he got into a small tussle with another cat, but was otherwise fine.

Yogurt was always a very talkative cat. You could get him to vocalize pretty easily and we'd have long 'conversations' with him. He loved to sit at the back door and chat with the birds that landed out back. I'm sure he'd have loved to have them for dinner, too. He was a patient, kind cat as well in these last years, who'd come sit on your lap and let you scratch him as long as you wanted, purring up a storm the whole time.

Last week all the cats went in for shots and check-ups and the vet was worried about how much weight Yogurt had lost. He had been a bit sick that week but otherwise seemed ok. Unfortunately, when the blood work came back yesterday, the diagnosis was total kidney failure. While we could possibly have kept him going for a while, he'd be in a lot of pain because it appeared he'd also suffered some nerve damage - which hadn't been a problem, it seems, before the vet visit, but he was definitely having trouble now with his back legs and tail - he's fallen over a couple times in the last day. So the decision to let him go was made.

He was the last of the 'elder' cats, we lost Pumpkin first and then Oatmeal not that long after. We became the people of two 'grandkitties' not that long ago, when my son joined the Army and moved to the East coast. We love them dearly, but we have a lot of great memories with Yogurt and he leaves us with a huge empty place in our hearts.

Edited to add: I'm bringing this comment from my husband up to the main page:

I have several distinct memories of Yogurt. Dawno already mentioned one: when he showed up at our door. He was a gangly pre-teen. 17 years later I still remember he had a light blue collar on.

A month or so after that, I was piddling around doing something in the bedroom. Yogurt jumped onto my lap, turned around, and sprayed me. He got fixed the very next day. We had him de-clawed as well... a decision I'd later regret. The two cats we have now have their claws and they don't destroy our furniture.

Not too long after we moved up to the bay area (maybe a month, maybe a year... it's all starting to run together), Yogurt and I were rough-housing a little and he got freaked out. He felt cornered and chewed his way through my hand to get out. I spent 3 days in the hospital with a bad infection.

Dawno also mentioned the time he escaped the house. This was just three or four years ago. She didn't mention she was the one who left the back door open, though :). I spent hours wandering up and down the street, between houses, along the driveways, etc. I was so worried. It eventually got too late and I had to stop. For some reason, people didn't really appreciate me wandering around their yards at 1:00 am with a flashlight. I was ready to crawl into bed and I decided to poke my head out the door one more time. I opened the door, called his name and he literally stepped onto the patio and meowed at me. He had a few scrapes above his eye and was missing a small notch or two from his ear... another reason I regretted declawing him. I slept pretty well that night with him back in the house.

Ever since Pumpkin and Oatmeal died, Yogurt very much became my cat, and I became his person. He slept with me every night, either within arm's reach or actually physically on me. He even went through a phase where he slept on my head. Thankfully that was a short phase.

Last night he was so miserable that he found his own quiet corner to sleep. It was the first night in years (that I can remember) in which I was home and he didn't sleep with me. I'll have to get used to that, I suppose.

Good-bye Yogurt. I love you.

Friday, June 05, 2009

This Post Needs No Title

This is Pudding (sister: Jello, Uncle: Yoghurt) one of my grandkitties - I've shown other pictures of him and his sister on this blog so you may remember him.

Anyway, he just had his haircut. He was not happy at all when he got home, growling and hissing at us and the other cats. He went to every food bowl and ate something then went upstairs and put himself on the little half-wall that overlooks the stairwell. It proved to be a great place for some pictures.

The hair around his face is much shorter and more rounded than normal.

show that cleavage kitten!

That looks like a glamor shot!

A very dramatic pose

And another one! I have no idea what he was looking at, shadows maybe?