TSA case goes to trial tomorrow in Albuquerque
Phil Mocek's trial in Bernalillo County Metro Court tomorrow might be the first of its kind in the country. He was arrested after refusing to present identification to the Transportation Security Administration. Mocek's case may be the first time someone has been arrested or charged with a crime after trying to travel by plane without showing ID. He'll will be driving—not flying—from his hometown of Seattle to the Duke City for the trial.
He was arrested at a Sunport security checkpoint about a year ago when Transportation Security Administration agents called on Albuquerque police. Officer Robert Dilley reported that Mocek raised his voice and created a disturbance, so Dilley told him to leave the airport. Mocek refused to identify himself and would not stop photographing TSA agents, passengers and the checkpoint, Dilley wrote in the criminal complaint.
Mocek was charged with disorderly conduct, concealing his identity, refusing to obey an officer and criminal trespass. He is being represented by Nancy Hollander [Talking Points, "A Terrorist Lawyer," April 22-28, 2010] and Molly Schmidt-Norwara. His lawyers refused to comment.
Edward Hasbrouck is a consultant to the Identity Project in California. The nonprofit looks at civil liberties and human rights issues related to air travel. The group is particularly interested in TSA checkpoints and borders, what requirements are placed on travelers to show ID, and surveillance. "We were obviously disturbed to find that Mr. Mocek had been arrested and had been essentially framed on these charges," Hasbrouck says in an interview with the Alibi.
He adds that the four charges leveled against Mocek are not the real reasons he was arrested. "The real reason he was arrested is that the TSA didn't like what he was doing," Hasbrouck says. "The real charge is questioning the illegitimate authority of the TSA. Now, why the local authorities are choosing to put themselves out on a limb, trumping up bogus charges just to keep the TSA is a question that you'd have to ask the prosecutor in Albuquerque."
Neither Dan Rislove, the attorney representing the state, nor TSA spokesperson Luis Casanova have yet returned the Alibi's calls. But we'll keep you updated as the case unfolds.