Most recently this writer returned from a consulting trip abroad in the country of Afghanistan. While working in Kabul, the opportunity was afforded to apply for the Department of Homeland Security’s “Global Entry Program” and was approved. The program is described below as taken from their website:
“Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.
How Does the Global Entry Program Work?
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Though intended for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for the program. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at select airports.
At airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.
Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and interview before enrollment.
While Global Entry's goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program's terms and conditions will result in appropriate enforcement action and revocation of the traveler's membership privileges.”
Notice the second to last sentence in the description shown above. Although this writer did not learn of this program from the official website it was recommended to expedite entry into the US for people like me who travel internationally frequently. The process requires a preliminary questionnaire which asks about personal information, place of employment and residence as well as criminal history. Applicants are subject to a criminal background check and then must undergo an interview with a DHS investigator.
All of this is very relevant to the rest of this article because not only were all of these steps necessary for this writer, but as a consultant for the US Government, one must also hold a security clearance. This means that as a clearance holder there is nothing that the government doesn’t already know about this writer that hasn’t been adjudicated prior to the application for Global Entry. I am probably among some of the most vetted people in the country.
16 May, 2014 – Dubai International Airport
This writer posts a status on Facebook after leaving Afghanistan on a five month business trip, while sitting at the International Airport in Dubai. “Free at last!!!!!” These were the words chosen after leaving the war torn depressed country of Afghanistan. Longing for the liberty of America and eager to return to sovereign soil, the words “Free at last” were the only words that one cared to share with the rest of the world.
17 May, 2014 – Atlanta International Airport
Excited to use the newly approved “Trusted Traveler” status, this writer hurried to the kiosk. Bustling past everyone seated in front of me after I exited the plane I was eager to swipe my passport, look into the camera for facial recognition and biometric fingerprint scan and move to the head of the line. The kiosk had spit out a receipt with an X marked upon my likeness on the receipt. This was my very first entry with the program and I was warned in advance by a DHS investigator and a colleague who had enrolled the same time as me, and was also approved. If there was any arrest record it would spit out a receipt with an “X”. I would then be taken to see a supervisor and they would clear me since I was approved already. I was told there was no hassle involved. Still excited and happy to be back in America I made my way to the customs counter.
I passed the Customs officer my passport, my receipts from the kiosk and a laminated letter from the DHS that said I was an approved “Trusted Traveler”. The customs officer scanned my passport and then asked me not to leave. He explained that I would be escorted further by another officer. Again, this was expected. What was interesting is that neither the officer at the counter nor the escort officer even attempted to explain to me the reason I was being escorted. In fact they began acting suspicious. The officer attempted to escort me by moving to what we call the 2.5 or the tactical position in defensive tactics. Since I showed no signs of threat, nor intended to be a threat, I found this a little over zealous, but being a security professional I understood how inexperienced people may not know of any other response.
I did however decide to test the waters, to see if they would be honest with me if I simply asked why I was being escorted as if I didn’t know. The officer played ignorant and told me he didn’t know, but it is routine. This is something that I had heard time and again, nearly every time I enter the US via international airport. Once more another reason I decided to apply for the trusted traveler program. I have yet to this day to hear a DHS officer tell the truth to why they bring some people in for additional questioning and searching. Its as if they believe that they are so slick and smart that most of us would never guess that they have our identities marked based on a plethora of criteria; much of which the government keeps secure from us. Most of us who are regularly pulled for additional search and interview are on some sort of DHS government black list.
When I arrived at the supervisor desk under escort, I observed to my right, two lines of people, none who either appeared or sounded American. I also observed at my front a glass holding chamber with chairs approximately ten by fifteen feet. The room contained an electric door which could only be opened by a DHS official from the outside. I recognized this set up from a jail stay, in my distant past. As we approached the desk one of the men behind the counter directed my escort “Put him in the Fish Bowl” as if I weren’t even in the same room or was incapable of understanding the English language. This is when I spoke, and asked if I could wait in line like the others I was observing. I was told in a firm voice by the man at the counter, “I’m asking you sir, get in the room” as if I were a child being told to go to my room by my parents. I then explained that if it was all the same I’d prefer not to but to just wait in line. He then raised his voice and commanded that I go in what he referred to as the “Fish Bowl”. I refused to go and requested to speak to a supervisor.
Although to the statist and those with less than a spine and even less respect for liberty it appears as if I was being resistant, you are absolutely correct in that assumption. What most people don’t understand is that by being placed in that “Fish Bowl”, one is denied of their liberty. This can only be done legally for one of two reasons. Either one is being lawfully arrested, or they are being detained for “Probable cause”. The first option of lawful arrest is done with lawful authority and a preliminary investigation has been executed based on probable cause. The second option of detention does not require lawful authority but probable cause in order to execute a preliminary investigation to determine whether an arrest is necessary. These are the only two reasons that one may be denied liberty.
After refusing to be held and demanding the reason for detention and the “Parley” with a supervisor, the man behind the desk shouted “Back up, Back up, Backup” Once more the DHS, Border and Customs Agents were overreacting. This is when one found himself surrounded by what I counted as 6 agents. One came to the forefront an officer named Coder. He approached in my personal space when I posted an arm approximately shoulder level for guard and stated firmly “Arms reach” in a warning manner. Mr. Coder much more intelligent than he looked stepped out of my box. It should be stated from the perspective as a security professional and instructor of protective operations, that Mr. Coder was keen on placing his primary firearm within my reach. Yet another example of DHS incompetence. Mr. Coder was asked respectfully whether or not one was being arrested. Officer Coder was taken off guard by the question and said “What?....No.” Immediately after he answered that I asked whether I was being detained. Again the answer was “No”.
One then asked that if I wasn’t being detained or arrested then why I had to be held in a glass cage against my will, and why I couldn’t just wait in line like the others. He then explained very clearly in plain English for me, “Because I said so.” I explained that I don’t execute orders for him or anyone else because they say so and asked for a better reason why. After moments of threatening to revoke my Global Entry status and add additional fines to me and hold me longer with no effect on me, I asked again, “Give me a good reason why I should allow you to deny me my liberty?” This time he responded with the answer that I had no authorization to enter the United States of America and that he couldn’t allow me to mingle with those who were. This is the point where I realized that they didn’t have the courage to attempt a hard hands approach on me and that they were also not intelligent enough to realize why I was asking about detention or arrest. I decided it quickest to feed their delicate egos and step into the “Fish Bowl”.
After waiting about 20 to 30 minutes and after every non-American Citizen had been either arrested, held or adjudicated the thick glass door slid open. I waited for my name and from outside I could hear the man behind the counter say “Do you think he’s learned his lesson yet?” They were referring to me in a manner that was intended for me to hear in an amateurish way to impose their “authority” on me. Clearly they were still insulted and intimidated by my lack of respect for them and challenge of authority. I then heard Mr. Coder call me by my last name “Curtiss”. I answered without moving and awaited the officer to come to the door; another passive resistance technique designed to make the officer come to me and it worked. Mr. Coder then came to the entrance and escorted me even deeper into the DHS section of the airport. I had asked again why I was held, making the false assumption that they had looked into my record and straightened everything out.
Mr. Coder then again explained to me that it was because he said so. I then stopped walking and attempted a rational conversation, placing him in the shoes of everyday Joe or Jane American citizen. I asked about the Constitution and the fourth amendment. He fired off with “I like the fact that guys like me (referring to himself) are checking into everyone, you don’t know how many lives we save each day by stopping attacks”. He also explained to me that most cases of mal-intent involved American citizens and not foreigners. He then explained to me that the airport was considered a border and that the fourth amendment was nonexistent there. He then gave a crooked nod and said well it does but doesn’t exist. I then interjected and said either you abide by the constitution or you don’t. Mr. Coder then referenced the Border Search Exception Law and recommended that I read it.
Mr. Coder, agitated by my relentlessness then blurted angrily “Your arrest record says I can do whatever I want to do to you. You did that not me.” At this point I asked him why I was being further interviewed and searched, and he explained that I was carrying a suspicious baggage. The reader should be minded here that I only had a laptop and carry-on backpack. I explained to him that my baggage was carry-on and that it was previously checked by security officials in Afghanistan and Dubai prior to getting on the plane. He then explained to me again in very clear English, that because I had an arrest record, I was a threat and that because of my arrest record I would always be brought in like this every time I attempt to enter the country. This I know to be true because prior to this every time I return to the US I get pulled in for further questioning and searching. Its getting old and beyond annoying, which was why I applied for the additional clearance of Trusted Traveler.
He went on to explain to me that because I had an arrest record (older than 7 years) I was not eligible for Global Entry or the Trusted Traveler program. He then went on boasting about how much he knew about my arrest record, my military background and other stuff, which he proudly explained because "He has access to that kind of stuff". At one point the officer tried to rationalize how I as a soldier would respond to someone not taking heed to my commands in a combat zone. I explained first off that when I was a soldier, I was acting in the capacity of a professional soldier in a time of war and that he was not. I also explained in the many door to door raids and searches that I went to I gave everyone who deserved it the respect that they deserved. I also gave him pointers on how to better approach the situation in the future. He wasn’t happy with any of my responses.
At one point he explained to me that the Global Entry “Trusted Traveler Program” does not allow for anyone to be approved if they had ANY arrest record. He then asked me who approved me. When I told him it was at the US Embassy in Afghanistan he complained about how he believed that it was approved based on a professional courtesy from one “veteran to another” and that the individual who approved me will be losing his certification to approve people when Mr. Coder reports it. Mr. Coder also explained how he sometimes thinks he should have joined the military because he “would have been awesome at it”. Just when one thought they had their fill of the unprofessionalism of the DHS foot soldiers, it got even better.
At one point another Border officer made his way near us as Coder was going through my bag and passed asking “Is that the guy”. I replied simultaneously with Coder “Yes I am the guy”., “Yes that’s him”. This is when the other officer; completely unremarkable other than the fact that he like the others on duty that day appeared to be overweight and unprofessional, sloppy in procedure and appearance, made a comment about bringing me into another room and holding me longer. That’s when Coder chimed in about how he was revoking my Global Entry because I didn’t comply with his commands. He then asked if I had traveled with cash, I said no. He then went through my wallet. He then asked if I had food in my bag I said yes, I had a package of jerky. He then asked why I didn’t claim it and said “that’s another fine I’m adding.”
This is when I said “I see that’s how it is now, you just make up reasons to mess with people. Shut up and just hurry up and do your F@#$ing job!” He then had the audacity to whine about how he was trying to do his job but I was a bully telling him how to go about doing it. I told him that I believe the type of people that apply to jobs like his are the ones selected based on their propensity to be bullies themselves. The whole exchange was rather bizarre. The question then came about as to what I was doing at the embassy in Afghanistan. I explained that I was a contracted consultant on the behalf of the US Government. Mr. Coder, then wanted specifics of my job, at which point I respectfully declined and explained to him that the specifics of my job were none of his business. This is the point that he explained to me that it is his business because he says so. I was beginning to get the feeling that this jerk really loved his job. One could clearly see at this point there was no reasoning with this guy and I just finally decided to let him “do his job”. He again made it known that I was resisting and I made it known to him that if I wanted to resist there wasn’t much he could do about it. Somewhere along the line he pulled my mouth guard athletic supporter and MMA gloves out of my bag and mentioned how much he trained in the martial arts.
At last finding common ground and being tired of going tit for tat with Mr. Coder, his colleagues and the Stalin/ Hitler-esque organization they worked for, I decided to allow Mr. Coder and his affinity for the martial arts be the bridge between two warring factions. Eventually he finished, offered a hand shake as a peace treaty and escorted me out the doors to true freedom. Before parting ways I again offered my hand and explained that I wasn’t trying to resist but I take my liberty seriously and that I couldn’t allow that type of treatment to take place without standing up for what I believed was right. For those out there who lean toward the side of the statists and that I was being unnecessarily resistant; we live in a nation where the police believe that they are warrior cops and every bureaucracy wants to become an enforcement agency complete with their own jackbooted thugs. If each and every one of us doesn’t stand up against this type of treatment before we know it we will have nothing left to stand up for.
Ironically enough the type of treatment that this writer received is not protected by the fourth amendment. The 111th Congress has done so much damage to the United States in terms of destroying our liberty and sovereignty, particularly in regard to the fourth amendment of the bill of rights. The border Search Exception Clause basically turned America into NAZI Germany. Allowing exceptions to both the fourth and fourteenth amendments. The law loosely dictates what a routine and non-routine search is and allows the benefit to go to the US Government.
Then there’s § 287 (a) (3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 66 Stat. 233, 8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(3), which simply provides for warrantless searches of automobiles and other conveyances "within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States," as authorized by regulations to be promulgated by the Attorney General. The Attorney General's regulation, 8 CFR § 287.1, defines "reasonable distance" as "within 100 air miles from any external boundary of the United States. A few years back this writer published an article about Constitution free zones being within 100 miles of any border.
Fellow Americans, the law no longer protects any of us from invasive searches or draconian procedures executed by the government on the behalf of the government. Please feel free to research the below links as sources to better educate one’s self on this matter. In closing I issue a challenge to all those who love liberty. Resist by all means first by passive means but also be ready to stand in the face of tyranny with more stern methods if and when the time should ever come. This in itself was the premise for the American second amendment. The government abuse we have been subjected to as citizens is ridiculous and now the US teeters on the verge of becoming a banana republic. Do not cave and be relentless in the endeavor for liberty.