Frank Hannibal got more than he bargained for when making his way through the TSA screening area at LaGuardia Airport. TSA agents were apparently concerned about the thin layer of oil over top his gourmet Crazy Richards peanut butter and pulled the married father of two out of line for inspection.
Jokingly, Hannibal commented to his family that “They’re looking to confiscate my explosives”. A TSA agent overheard the comment and immediately called for police, who proceeded to handcuff the dangerous jokster and took him to jail where he spent the next 25 hours after being charged with falsely reporting an incident, which is a felony.
The charges were baffling – Hannibal made the remark to his family, not a TSA agent or police officer. It remains unclear how making a comment to one’s family can be considered “reporting an incident”. Apparently the local police department agreed and eventually dropped the ridiculous charges.
Hannibal is suing the TSA for $5 million. “It sounds laughable now but at the time to be led out of there like a terrorist was unbelievable,” Hannibal said. “My whole life was up in the air. It was a nightmare. My children were overwhelmed. It was crazy.”
Although Illinois has some of the toughest laws against monitoring the police, TSA and other authority figures, the Supreme Court this week struck down an eavesdropping law that allowed for the imprisonment of up to 15 years for the “crime” of videotaping police while on duty. The Supreme Court ruled the law violates the right to free speech.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the law in 2010 in response to legal trouble regarding the group’s video recording of officers while on duty. The high court left in place a lower court’s decision that the anti-eavesdropping law in Illinois violates the Constitution. The law had been in place in the state for 50 years.
Outrageously, Illinois prosecutors pleaded with the Supremes that the lower court’s decision provides “a novel and unprecedented First Amendment protection to ubiquitous recording devices”. First amendment protection is unprecedented? Who knew. Apparently, state prosecutors believe that the protection of first amendment rights of the American people is somehow strange.
Civil libertarians and lovers of freedom and liberty, of course, believe the monitoring of enforcement officers in this country is not only a protected constitutional right (apparently, the court agrees), but also a critical monitoring tactic to ensure against the abuse of powers given to police and government. Americans should, and do, have every right and obligation to “watch the watchers”.
After victory, the ACLU said of the incident, “Empowering individuals and organizations in this fashion will ensure additional transparency and oversight of public officials across the state.”
The case now goes to an Illinois district court in Chicago where the ACLU will ask a judge to make the temporary injunction of the enforcement of the law permanent.
This comes just months after a similar case in the District of Columbia, where a bystander to a traffic stop on a public street in our nation’s capital was detained and questioned for 30-minutes after snapping pictures of the incident. The ACLU filed suit on behalf of the man, and the court ruled “a bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members in the public discharge of their duties.” Videotaping officers while on duty is perfectly legal and constitutional provided the photographer is not interfering with enforcement officers.
In an act of extreme cowardice and betrayal, a U.S.-trained Afghan police officer opened fire and killed at least three members of the American Special Forces after being invited to a dinner under the pretext of discussing security.
According to reports, details of the incident remain foggy. The premeditated murder occurred in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan at a checkpoint location. The gunman ran from the scene after the shooting and disappeared into the surrounding landscape. The names of those killed will not be released until their respective family members are notified.
This continues to beg the question of why our American forces are forced to maintain a presence in the area in a clearly dangerous environment where even our so-called allies are blood thirsty.
Here’s a link for further details of the situation: