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    Washington Times: Airport rules changed after Ron Paul aide detained

    The Washington Times reports on new rules at the Transportation Security Administration concerning airport searches.

    An angry aide to Rep. Ron Paul, an iPhone and $4,700 in cash have forced the Transportation Security Administration to quietly issue two new rules telling its airport screeners they can only conduct searches related to airplane safety.

    In response, the American Civil Liberties Union is dropping its lawsuit on behalf of Steve Bierfeldt, the man who was detained in March and who recorded the confrontation on his iPhone as TSA and local police officers spent half an hour demanding answers as to why he was carrying the money through Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

    The new rules, issued in September and October, tell officers “screening may not be conducted to detect evidence of crimes unrelated to transportation security” and that large amounts of cash don’t qualify as suspicious for purposes of safety. […]

    TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said the new “internal directives” are meant to ensure their screeners are consistent. She acknowledged the policy on large sums of cash had changed, but wouldn’t provide a copy of either document. She said the directives would not be released unless a Freedom Of Information Act request was submitted by The Washington Times.

    When news of the incident broke earlier this year, TSA said, “Movements of large amounts of cash through the checkpoint may be investigated by law enforcement authorities if criminal activity is suspected.” However, “The tone and language used by the TSA employee was inappropriate.”

    The ACLU received a copy of the September directive as part of the case documents and published it (download here from ACLU; Privacy Lives archive copy here (3 MB)).  TSA told the ACLU not to publish the October directive, though this was also part of case documents.

    The ACLU’s page on the case, Bierfeldt v. Napolitano, is here. It includes audio of Bierfeldt’s interrogation by TSA agents.

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