I get a warm welcome Homeland Security.
I just returned from a week in Mexico on Sept. 18, 2009. My flight landed in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas and I headed to Customs/Immigration. My wife was first through the check-in. Her passport was scanned without incident; then it was my turn.
I handed my passport to the officer. She scanned it and right way it appeared that there was something not quite right. I remembered when I came through the airport at the beginning of my trip that the officer had problems scanning my passport and had to enter the numbers in manually. I thought it was because the passport is fairly worn, but the agent acted like it was odd that it would not scan. So, I thought the difficulty on the way back was no different. However, this agent exhibited an expression that was more telling then I would know. She picked up a telephone and briefly spoke with someone while I stood there. It was then that she said that I would have to go with her. She did not elaborate any further.
We were escorted a short-distance to a waiting room where behind glass a number of officers were visible. There were monitors and other equipment in their area. In the waiting room was a man who appeared of middle-eastern descent. He told me his name, but I can’t recall what it was. He said it is common for him to be detained, since he was from Jordan. It happens all the time, he said. While inside the waiting room the officer who escorted had disappeared into the inner office area. There was another officer sitting outside the door. We waited for some time, realizing that there was less than an hour before our next flight left for St. Louis. My wife went to the window to see what the hold-up was. She is told that there is a ‚“problem with my name‚, and they had to get things straightened out. My wife told them that we had a flight to catch and they told her that it ‚“was not about you‚ (my wife), and that it was to do with me.
We watched the officers congregating behind the glass. The officer who escorted us back was discussing something with them and they were looking at some information on a computer monitor. Watching the expressions on their faces, it appeared to me that this was not something out of the ordinary. Some of the agents looked puzzled and curious. The man from Jordan left at some point and other officers came from the back office and left through the door. My wife and I waited, somewhat impatiently.
Eventually, an agent came out to meet me who identified himself as agent Brock. He explained that there may have been some mix-up with my name, or another individual named Mark McCoy, and they needed to find out if I was that Mark McCoy, whoever that Mark McCoy was. He said they would try to get us to our flight, but they had to speak with me to find out information that may be associated with the possible mix-up of Mark McCoys. We were escorted down to the baggage claim where we picked up our bags and then to another area where they could be examined.
On the way down the escalator we discussed some things. Agent Brock said he did not know exactly why they needed to interview me. He believed it may be due to some mix up. He asked if we had brought any contraband into the country. I admitted that the only thing I brought back were two apples, but those were apples that we had purchased at home and took to Mexico for eating on the flight and that we brought them back for the same reason. They were not apples from Mexico. Agent Brock said that should not be a problem. On the way down the escalator I made a remark about the detainment being a result of something I had written or said. Agent Brock asked why I would think that and I replied that I am politically outspoken and may have made someone mad.
We picked up our bags at the baggage claim and then proceeded to an area for them to be examined. At that point, agent Brock and another agent named Murdock assisted in examining all or our bags. The apples were discovered and confiscated, as agent Murdock explained they were not permitted back into the country after being in Mexico even though they were purchased in America. In all, my backpack, camera bag, and suitcase were examined and my wife’s two bags were examined. The net result was two apples.
Appearing satisfied with the search, agents Brock and Murdock left for some time, leaving my wife and I at the examination station. Upon returning, agent Brock asked me to accompany him to another room for further discussion.
I was led into a smaller, more private room, that appeared to be specifically for interviews. I did not notice any microphones or cameras. In the room were agent Brock and another agent whom I don’t recall getting a name from, but who was younger and was not there for the whole time. Eventually, it would be agent Brock and Murdock who were present for the bulk of the interview.
The interview consisted of agent Brock making notes on a blank sheet of 8.5×11 paper. He had my immigration form in front of him. He began by going down the form, verifying the information I had submitted, such as my name, address, etc. He made a comment or question about my being a United States citizen. I said I prefer the word, ‚“American‚, and he too said that he was an American. Other questions were such as where I worked, if I had ever been arrested, if I had my own business‚¦.etc. Agent Brock asked me about my comment coming down the escalator where I may be detained for something I had said and he wanted me to elaborate. I explained that I had ran for Governor of Illinois and mayor of Collinsville, and in doing so I took the opportunity to rail against the system and those in power; making possible enemies in the process. That comment led to more questions, such as how much money did I raise in my bid for governor, what party I ran under, as well as for mayor of Collinsville.
I want to add that the interview exhibited no discernible structure or objective. It was more conversational than anything. My arrest record and current issues with Fairview Heights were discussed. He commented that the only times I had ever been arrested were while in Fairview Heights and asked if I had a problem with Fairview Heights. I replied that I can’t have a problem with Fairview Heights, since it is a political entity, but it was with two men acting as officers with whom I have the problem. I told him that one of the charges consisted of my not having a driver’s license. He asked if I did have a driver’s license; to which I replied no. I said I had no identification, per se, other than my passport needed to enter the country.
There were other questions which were curious. I was asked if I heard of or listened to Alex Jones, if I liked Alan Keyes, and if I heard of Democracy Now (www.democracynow.org), and had I read a book by Amy Goodman. I replied that I don’t listen to Alex Jones, liked Alan Keyes, and used to listen to Democracy Now. I took the opportunity to bring up my philosophical and political beliefs. I can’t remember if agent Murdock compared me with Alex Jones, but I would differ on that perception. He did mention Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, both of whom I hold in high esteem. I also mentioned Henry David Thoreau as being the progenitor of civil disobedience, and that such an approach is my philosophy. Agent Murdock did mention that Dr. King paid the ultimate price for his beliefs. I commented that I don’t believe myself to be so important or significant that I would be killed for my beliefs because the majority of people do not identify with such beliefs and therefore my threat to the status quo is negligible, although, I would not fear facing such a consequence for my beliefs since they are non-violent, and well-reasoned.
I was also asked about my feelings on the Federal Reserve, an un-Constitutional, unaccountable private banking cartel; as well as on taxation. I informed them that I marched on Washington over taxation and that the government exceeds its constitutional taxation powers and wastes the taxpayers money on foreign aid and other wasteful endeavors.
Finally, the interview ended and I was led back out to where my wife was sitting and the agents went to check on the status of my delay. They were waiting for a phone call from someone in Washington, D.C. to clear me through. We chatted with agent Murdock for a while until agent Brock came back to meet us with his supervisor, I believe, who was later identified as supervisor Jack Cannon.
We were escorted to the American Airlines counter where we were given new tickets for a flight, which resulted in about a three hour delay in total, including having to wait for the next flight.
So, what happened, why did it happen, and what does it mean?
I was detained. I was detained against my will. I would have preferred not, but I understand the reason for it happening. Immigration is actually one of the few constitutionally authorized functions of government. However, I depart from that concept on this point; an individual born on this land has an unfettered right to exit and re-enter his home land without interference. I told the agents that I was a believer in no borders. Political borders hinder the progress of mankind. They are a means for control and hindering the freedom of people who would evolve societally if left to their own devices. But, the world being what it is at this time, if we desire an agency to keep undesirables out and limit immigration, there has to be a procedure in place for differentiating between the two. As a result, we have to submit to a level of inconvenience in being surveyed in order to determine who belongs and who do not.
I was interviewed. I was not interrogated. I was not fingerprinted. I was not personally searched. I was not cuffed or shackled. I was not touched in any way against my will. I was not photographed, unless if possibly by surreptitious means. The experience was not contentious, adversarial, antagonistic, or unpleasant. Most of the questions involve information readily available through public information. I was not asked for an SSN or other number. It seemed more like there being some hold or other flag on my name or passport that made someone somewhere uneasy or curious; possibly after having read some of my writings posted on the internet or elsewhere, and my being an unknown quantity, they wanted to possibly assess just what the ‚“man‚ was like and what threat, if any, I may pose. To be honest, after all my challenging to government to engage me; and all of the silence and avoidance resulting therefrom, I finally had the attention of agents of that government with whom to engage in civil discourse and discussion. Even the agents said that they were not sure as to the purpose for my detention, and that they were merely following standard interview procedures. I believe they were just killing time, having me within reach just in case, and discerning any possible threat or illegal purpose. Whoever was pulling the strings was not in Dallas-Fort Worth, but in Washington and the agents was somewhat in the dark regarding the purpose for my detention.
Why did this happen? I don’t know. I can speculate, but I was hoping for the agents to broach the subject. I was never directly approached about anything in particular. The speculation from the agents encompassed everything from an identity mix-up to ‚“I don’t know‚. I believe that something attributed to me caught the attention in Washington and they needed to put a ‚“person‚ to the words. They wanted to know if I was possibly violent, treasonous, dangerous, belligerent, uncooperative‚¦.etc. Depending on the circumstances, I could be uncooperative and belligerent, if that be how I am approached. These men were respectful and reasonable. Even I do not accept the ‚“I am just doing my job‚ excuse for injustices being perpetrated; men can exercise reason and discretion in achieving a peaceful and lawful objective without infringing on the life and property of others. I saw no reason to be anything other than what I always aspire to be, viz, a peaceable and reasonable man who longs for the evolution of mankind in transcending war, divisiveness, mistrust, violence, and suffering.
What does this mean? Someone is listening, or has listened. I may be dismissed as inconsequential. I hope to be dismissed as being non-violent, and not-consenting to the authority of government over my person. I can do without it just fine. Will I be detained again? I can’t say. Agent Brock said he will write a report that will hopefully resolve any uncertainty and avoid this from happening again. I can say that had it not been for my wife being with me I may have taken a different tact. I did not want to elaborate too much on some things so as to continue the interview to the point of delaying her from getting home. I actually told her that if I were to be detained for a time that she should continue home and make appropriate contacts. Is that to say I would have been less than civil? No. I would have taken the opportunity to go further into depth on my history with challenging government, removing my consent from same, tendering my Declaration and many other things. I would have taken the opportunity to talk them to deaf. I finally had a ‚“captive‚ audience who dared ask, ‚“Who are you?‚
At the conclusion, we shook each other’s hands. I commented on their professionalism and civility. I harbor no malevolence or discontent as a result of the experience. Have my opinions about government changed? No. I did not deal with government. I dealt with men. Even though I believe the office they occupy to be subordinate to that of a man, I was not assaulted with the persona of the official, but engaged by men acting in that capacity. Maybe they were very well trained and shrewd in furthering an ulterior agenda by appearing respectful and civil. My responses were genuine, honest, non-violent, and lawful. I kept telling my wife she had nothing to fear for I had committed no crime. If my experience was a sum of government agents seeking to know the truth about me then I have no issue with their tactics. We will see what happens next time, but for the time-being, I have to give credit to these men for treating me the way they did.
I do plan on following up with a comment card and filing a DHS TRIP inquiry. I will update this mailing list with the ensuing results, if any. There were other things said that essentially reiterate much of what I usually espouse and many of you would rather not hear again, so I will dispense with the redundancy. Hopefully, I will be left alone or they will want to know more. Either way, I win.
Upon checking my Google Analytics after returning home I find that Homeland Security visited my website on Sept. 18 and 19.
On April 5, 2011, I received a response to my Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to my detainment at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport by TSA. They failed to find any documents responsive to my request. This is their response.
On April 7, 2011 I wrote an appeal to the FOIA response. That appeal is here.