V.20 No.4 | 1/27/2011


Phil Mocek: You don’t have to show ID to fly

After plenty of trial postponements, Seattle software developer Phil Mocek had his day in court. He didn’t testify. Instead, a video Mocek made with his cell phone camera was shown to the jury. On Friday, Jan. 21, he was still found not guilty of four charges: disorderly conduct, concealing identity, refusing to obey an officer and criminal trespass.

In November 2009, he refused to show ID other than his boarding pass to Transportation Security Administration agents. They called police officer Robert Dilley, who wrote in the criminal complaint that Mocek raised his voice, refused to identify himself and wouldn’t stop photographing agents, passengers and the checkpoint.

I caught up with Mocek on Monday to talk about the trial results. Needless to say, he was pleased with the verdict. But why go through the trouble? Why get arrested? Why drive (not fly) back and forth between Seattle and Albuquerque for a number of trial dates that are then postponed?

This is what he wants you to know:

“It should be more obvious to the public now that TSA does not require us to show documentation of our identity in order to travel, and TSA staff are not law enforcement officers. TSA does not bar photography in airports, though there are arguably a few exceptions. “

TSA’s attempt to identify passengers has two objectives, he says. One is airline revenue protection. Years ago, classifieds sections of newspapers were filled with people selling airline tickets they couldn’t use. Anymore, if you can’t make your flight for some reason, the airline will resell your seat. “Presumably the airlines really like keeping people from using someone else's ticket,” he says.

The second objective, he says, is to allow the federal government to restrict people’s movements based on two blacklists—one if of people so dangerous they shouldn’t be allowed to fly, and the other is a list of people who can fly after additional searches. TSA confirms this in a 2008 blog, which says TSA doesn’t maintain its own watch list, but instead subscribes to a terrorist list from the Terrorist Screening Center.

From the blog:

“TSA uses two subsets of this list, the no-fly and selectee lists. These small subsets of the overall list are reserved for known or suspected terrorists that reach a threshold where they should not be allowed to fly, or should get additional scrutiny.”

Mocek says if the people on the blacklists are so dangerous, they should be hauled in front of a judge, not put on a secret security list.

But what about the argument that checking IDs before people board a flight is an important safety measure?

“It seems to be fairly simple for a 20-year-old college student to get a fake ID,” Mocek says. “A determined criminal would be able to get falsified identification documents. It's easy to get around these requirements. Checking ID only affects honest people.”

Mocek’s been flying without presenting identification since about 2006. He read about a lawsuit initiated by John Gilmore, who was barred from flying without identification in four years prior. So Mocek started not showing ID, too. “If we don’t flex our rights at times when we don’t feel like we need them, someday when we do really need them, they won’t be there anymore.”

Most of the time when he didn’t present a driver’s license, clerks would divert him to a second line, he says, but he would be allowed to board eventually. In 2008, TSA announced that anyone who willfully refused to show ID would not be allowed to fly.

From that announcement:

“This new procedure will not affect passengers that may have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers.”

Mocek says the policy suggests TSA is trying to enforce compliance, rather than actually being concerned with passengers’ identities.

Either way, he doesn’t fly anymore. After TSA started doing requiring invasive body searches or electronic strip searches, he’d had enough. “When I first started flying without ID, if I had said to people, ‘This is a trend. In a couple of years, TSA will be lifting crotches and breasts,’ people would have told me I was crazy. But that’s what’s happening today. We don’t know how far they’re going to go.“

He says he’s not sure what will happen next with his case, if anything.

Hear the trial for yourself. A nearly complete record of the audio can be found here.


The Daily Word 01.20.10: Garbage hotel, mafia, Gov. Martinez

The Daily Word

Remember that TSA trial in Albuquerque I was talking about? After much delay, it’s happening today.

130 arrested from seven mob families in a mafia crackdown.

This guy’s trying to learn how to speak prairie dog.

How about an extra year to decide about college without losing your lotto scholarship?

Only 70 percent of the population can see 3D movies.

What was served at the “quintessentially American” dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao?

National Republicans may be considering Gov. Martinez for bigger things.

UNM Regent Jack Fortner is sure the governor will reappoint him. Did the $40,000 he donated to her campaign help?

Michelle Obama teams up with Wal-Mart on her healthy food campaign.

A hotel made of garbage! What will the Spanish think of next?

The ladies of death row. (Not the record label.) Wait, why is this a story?

V.19 No.51 | 12/23/2010

Council Watch

Cars for Coppers

Police union president Joey Sigala had a last-minute Christmas wish for the City Council at its Monday, Dec. 20 meeting. He asked the Council to put a little something in the Albuquerque Police Department’s stocking and consider reinstating a take-home car policy. Sigala said the officers have offered to chip in $20 a week, which would generate about $187,000 annually to help offset the overall cost. He also said the plan to end the vehicle benefit for about 180 officers come Jan. 1 would cause financial hardship.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

V.19 No.50 | 12/16/2010


TSA trial postponed indefinitely

Phil Mocek was arrested by local police after refusing to show his ID to Transportation Security Administration agents at the Sunport. He drove down from Seattle for the trial that was scheduled to begin Tuesday. The prosecution wanted to postpone until today to get a chance to review video evidence. But the judge was slated to do military reserve duty for a couple of weeks starting Monday, according to this blog over at The Identity Project’s website. So the trial I promised to cover this week has been put off until 2011.

V.19 No.48 |


The Daily Word: 12.7.10

The Daily Word

Julian Assange arrested in London.

City Councilor urges Sunport to can TSA agents.

It's the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Taking aspirin cuts cancer death risk by one fifth.

Indiana business owner fires self to save employees' jobs.

Artesia man charged with manslaughter in Russian Roulette death. (They were playing with a semi-automatic pistol.)

Happy Birthday, Eli Wallach.

Wesley Snipes will appear on Larry King Live before going to jail.

Deer gets other deer caught in antlers, fights off coyotes.

Wife bites off husband's tongue during kiss.

V.19 No.49 | 12/9/2010
Joshua Davis, jdavis.info


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.

V.19 No.32 | 8/12/2010


Nudes in the News

Remember how paranoid you were when you first heard about those whole body scanners at the airport? You know, the ones that make your clothes disappear so fat people in uniforms can make sure you aren’t trying to smuggle more than 3 ounces of hair gel onto a Delta flight. Remember how the Transportation Security Administration reassured you by saying “scanned images cannot be stored or recorded.” Well, it turns out that “cannot” in government speak means “Oh they totally can!” The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had secretly saved “tens of thousands” of high-tech nudie pictures recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse. CNET news has got the whole freaky story. This follows an earlier disclosure by the TSA saying the government organization requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training and evaluation purposes.” Not to mention masturbation purposes, as well.

There are several different full body scanning systems in use today, each offering a varying degree of resolution. Millimeter wave systems are fuzzier, while backscatter X-ray machines show fairly precise anatomical detail. Defenders of the program say the computerized images are hardly erotic. Those people have clearly never spent time on the Internet—which has found ways to eroticize everything from vinyl pool toys to farting on cakes. (Those two sites are not safe for work, by the way.)

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced last week scanners will soon become standard issue in virtually every major airport in America. (We’ve had them at the Albuquerque International Sunport for some time now.) In response, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed suit asking a federal judge to grant an immediate injunction against the TSA’s body scanning program. Good luck with that.

V.19 No.6 |


The Daily Word 02.17.10: Lasers, Freaking, Assassination Squad

The Daily Word

It's Ash Wednesday. What are you giving up for Lent?

New Mexico's very own Airborne Laser successfully shot down two missiles this month. Pics and video here.

Authorities in Dubai released surveillance video of a 11-member assassination team before, during and after they killed a Hamas leader last month.

Keep up the good work! The TSA makes a disabled 4-year-old take off his leg braces and walk through a metal detector.

When will these kids stop it with all their freaking?

Epic profile of Roger Ebert here.

These mini-flying lizards from Indonesia are pretty cool looking.

Are you pregnant? Do you like filling out questionnaires? The government wants to be your friend for the next 21 years.

Who are the ten men who changed martial arts movies forever? (Spoiler alert: Chuck Norris is on the list)

When the shit goes down will you know how to make a roasted rat salad? If not you should check out these books.

Why proposing at sporting events is never a good idea.