If you believe that the thugs in Customs & Border Protection have any respect for your 4th amendment rights and your constitutionally guaranteed freedom to travel, think again.
These articles relate the stories of private pilots flying cross-country from California eastward, the reward for which is sometimes a length , relatively polite, interrogation by ~20 thugs from CBP & DHS, as happened to Clay Phillips in Cordell, Oklahoma, and a sometimes thorough & illegal ransacking of one’s plane and baggage, as happened to Gabriel Silverstein in Iowa City, Iowa.
The stops were made under the guise of a “ramp check”, where the plane’s registration, inspections, etc., are checked. The FAA has the legal authority to conduct ramp checks, and they do not involved ransacking personal belongings. CBP has no such authority.
I love the part in the first Atlantic article where Clay Phillips refuses to allow them to search the plane and insists they they even keep their dog off his wings unless the assume liability for damage & scratched paint.
Atlantic: Annals of the Security State: More Airplane Stories (May 21 2013)
”My dad fought a war so this can never happen in America. I will not dishonor my father’s memory by giving up what he fought for. No, sir. With all due respect, I will not consent to a search without a proper warrant.”
Another group of CBP thugs showed no such restraint with Gabriel & Angel Silversten when they landed in Iowa City, Iowa:
Atlantic: Annals of the Security State, Gabriel Silverstein Division (May 19 2013)
… a few days later, in Iowa, a group of police were apparently waiting for the plane and surrounded it after it landed. They inspected it, with a dog, and took two hours to look through every part of the plane and all of the onboard baggage and possessions, before letting the Silversteins go. According to a fascinating account on the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) site:Silverstein, the pilot in command, raised objections and was given three options: wait inside the FBO [the "Fixed Base Operator," the little office that exists at most small airports] or wait quietly outside, or be detained in handcuffs. An instrument-rated private pilot and AOPA member, Silverstein is also an active real estate investment banker who has never committed a crime, he said.
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association: Pilot detained, searched for mysterious reasons
… a brief delay in Oklahoma that all but passed from Gabriel Silverstein’s mind by the time he landed in Iowa City four days later, on May 5. That fuel stop, one of many made during a business trip from New Jersey to California and back in the Cirrus SR22 that Silverstein shares ownership of, proved much more troubling: Federal agents called out the dog. A search lasting more than two hours produced nothing incriminating. Silverstein was free to go, but he and his husband of nine years, Angel, were on their own to re-pack luggage, the contents of which had been emptied along with the rest of what could be removed from inside the aircraft.“I was told they had every right to do this,” Silverstein said in a May 14 telephone interview with AOPA Online. “They were proceeding with it whether I agreed or not. There was nothing to find, there never would be anything to find.”…“Based on what we know so far, this appears to have been an extraordinarily intrusive search,” said AOPA Manager of Aviation Security Tom Zecha.…
Silverstein said about half a dozen local officers arrived after he walked into the FBO with his aviation papers, as the federal agents had requested, for his second “ramp check” in four days. Federal agents in tan jumpsuits soon directed him back outside, where the local police dog was already at work.
“As I approached the plane, the K-9 handler didn’t ask my permission, he informed me that the dog was inspecting the plane and then informed me that I had to open the cargo door, the baggage door,” Silverstein said in the telephone interview. “There was intimidation, very clearly there … it was not a question of may we check your plane, or hey, by the way, just walking around.”
Silverstein, the pilot in command, raised objections and was given three options: wait inside the FBO, wait quietly outside, or be detained in handcuffs. An instrument-rated private pilot and AOPA member, Silverstein is also an active real estate investment banker who has never committed a crime, he said.
They also tried to get him to confess to a bogus marijuana possession charge, which he didn’t possess and the thugs didn’t find:
Silverstein said the agents in Iowa City urged him to confess to possessing a small amount of marijuana, suggesting such a confession could cut the whole process short.
And they wonder why we call them “pigs”? It’s an appellation well earned.