TSA Let Explosives Go through Security but Seize Traveler’s $75,000

It was reported recently that undercover federal agents tested the TSA’s security protocols by trying to get through (inert) explosives, weapons, and other contraband. Apparently, these undercover agents were successful about 95% of the time in getting these items passed security. That success pointed out the extreme failure of the TSA’s security protocols.

But when there’s cash involved, they’re quick to find it, confiscate it, and announce it to the social media world, together with a picture of their find loot. WTVR reported:

A man continued on his flight out of Richmond International Airport without a large bag of money that was confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The man, who was stopped at a checkpoint, was carrying $75,000 in cash. The TSA kept it and he boarded his flight.

The man’s bulky bag left TSA agents wondering what was inside, and when they opened it they found bundle after bundle of cash stacks inside the passenger’s carry-on bag. Authorities checked out the passenger, but he was not charged and was given clearance to continue his flight.

Travelers in the airport and on social media had a strong reaction once the TSA tweeted out a picture of the cash seizure.

“If you had 75,000 bucks is this how you would transport it? Just asking!”

[…]

An airport spokesperson said the money was turned over to an unspecified federal agency. It’s now part of a continuing investigation. WTVR CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said there are questionable statutes that allow the government to seize large quantities of cash.

“The fact of the matter is that there are laws that deal with reporting cash that’s over $10,000 and there are also laws that deal with reporting it to the IRS,” Stone said.  “So the theory is when someone is carrying this much cash you’re trying to evade those laws.”

The passenger may never be reunited with his cash again.  The property owner has to come to court and explain why it is lawfully held, Stone said. If he doesn’t do it then the money gets forfeited to the federal government.

The traveler wasn’t charged with any crime, and he was allowed to board his flight. They had no probable cause to search his stuff, much less take pictures of his stuff, post it on Twitter and then seize it. They assumed he must have been some kind of criminal, because only criminals carry that much cash.

Maybe he is some kind of criminal. But before they arrest him or seize his stuff, they’ve got to have good reason to do so. Having what most people would consider to be a large amount of cash isn’t good enough. People only think this is “reasonable suspicion” because it’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe. “Only criminals carry large amounts of cash.”

Besides all that, I thought the TSA’s main concern was making sure dangerous people with weapons or explosives don’t board planes. Did the TSA actually think that this guy was going to bring down a plane with his cash? Obviously, they didn’t think he was a threat at all, because they let him go on his way. Now, he’s going to have to somehow prove that he’s in lawful possession of that cash. He has to prove his innocence even they helped themselves to his private property without any probable cause that he had committed any crime.