It seems like every NH Liberty Forum I have a post about my interaction with the TSA while flying home. In 2012 I was even declared Rebel of the Week by Wesley Messamore from the Silver Underground for my cool but assertive approach. But this year has proven to be the most frightening, as well as the most cautionary for the Bitcoin community.
I was majorly harassed by the TSA after opting out with Bill Buppert from ZeroGov.com, even after I’d already been cleared by security. I was given the standard blue glove pat down, so was Bill, and then a second agent searched my bag because all my lapel pins looked suspicious in the x-ray machine. I sold metallic lapel pins from ShinyBadges.com at the conference. She unpacked my bag and ran all my lapel pins separately. That was the first indication of something strange.
After she cleared me and I was free to leave I was approached and questioned by two supervisors in dress shirts and ties because they said they “saw” Bitcoin in my bag. This is, of course, absurd. They asked me about international travel. They asked to search my bag again. They evaded my questions, and ultimately threatened to arrest me when I said, “Do you have a superior officer, because I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.”
The issue was about international travel carrying over $10,000. I think what happened is that they saw my Bitcoin Not Bombs hoodie, then all the metal lapel pins, and they thought they hit the jackpot on a stockpile of Casascius coins. For the record I was sold out of Bitcoin pins, and out of Bitcoin flyers. The only Bitcoin logos on my person were my Bitcoin Not Bombs hoodie and a Blockchain.info logo that I drew on a plastic case in my bag.
As soon as they discovered I was not traveling internationally they disappeared as quickly as they appeared.
It was scary. I was shaking. Immediately afterward I made a voice recording with Bill to record all the facts as we observed them while the experience was fresh.
While making that recording one of the supervisors walked through the terminal appearing to be looking for me, then a blue shirt agent was stationed out of the screening area and within eye sight of me, and two police officers wearing flak vests and side arms hung around near my gate until I left. Which is purely an intimidation tactic.
What’s clear from this encounter is that the TSA is looking for Bitcoin, and targeting those with visible Bitcoin logos. This is bad for everyone, and I’m mainly sharing those so other Bitcoin users know to be careful out there.