I’ve been fairly critical of no-fly lists in general and particularly the push by Delta Air Lines to create a new government-run no-fly list for unruly passengers. A horrible false arrest incident at LAX Airport helps to make my point why a new government watchlist is a bad idea.
TSA Detain Wrong Woman At LAX – Then She Was Jailed For 13 Days
Bethany K. Farber claims she was wrongly jailed for 13 days. On April 16, 2021 she was detained by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) while waiting for a flight to Mexico. TSA agents claims there was an open arrest warrant for her (identify theft) in Texas. Law enforcement personnel were notified and Farber was kept in an airport holding room for two hours without food or drink, according to her lawsuit.
Airport police officers took her to the notorious Lynwood correctional facility for women, where she was booked, all while pleading with officers that she was the wrong Bethany Farber, had no criminal record, and had never been been to Texas.
Her lawsuit claims that authorities “failed to do the bare minimum” to confirm her identity, including never asking for her ID card, social security number, or other identifying information. As you can see by the picture above, she looks nothing like the actual suspect (and that goes well beyond just her blonde hair color).
The even sadder thing? The lawsuit alleges that when Farber’s grandmother heard about her arrest, she suffered a stress-induced stroke and died shortly after. She was 90, but extremely healthy and agile prior to the incident according the the lawsuit. Farber is suing for emotional distress.
To make matters even worse, Farber alleges that even after Texas authorities confirmed it was the wrong Bethany Farber, she was still held for three more days in jail.
This Is Why I Am Against No-Fly Lists
If Farber’s account is correct, this was an egregious error on the part of law enforcement officials. And this is exactly why I am against an expanded no-fly list to include passengers who have been “convicted” of disruptions onboard. In a country of 320 million, there are quite a few names that are shared by many. There is simply too much room for error to justify a list that cuts people off from internal travel when other more proportionate remedies exist (jail, fines, and carrier-specific bans). By all means, throw the books at those who are disruptive onboard: I’m in favor of maximum sentences for those who are violent. But once they serve their time, cutting them off from all air travel is unnecessarily punitive.
Some have used logical fallacies to argue that being against no-fly lists suggests I am against all government registries. That is absurd: we know that government exists to solve collective action problems and there are many instances in which govenrment-administered lists make sense. But this is not one of those cases.
Los Angeles Police Department officials have refused to respond to inquires on the case, but it seems fairly clear that Farber’s 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and her 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law were violated by this arrest.
Farber’s sad case clearly demonstrates why a new national no-fly list should be troubling. I predict she’s going to (rightfully) enjoy a huge windfall from Los Angeles City taxpayers for what happened to her.
image: Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Diggs (the law firm representing Farber)
This won’t end until cops are personally held accountable for their actions. If cops are going to arrest someone and hold him or her, they ought to absolutely verify claims and know they will face direct consequences for their choices. Just following procedure or laws are not excuses when those procedures or laws are abusive. Any conservative who supports the police despite all current cops being agents of the government we hate needs re-education.
People complaining about Putin are blind when this type of stuff happens every day in the U.S. and Europe and most of the laws cops enforce in the first place violate fundamental freedoms. Christians were arrested for going to church, bakers are bankrupted for not wanting to bake a cake, and half of the people in jails or prison are there for violating the rights of no one in choosing to possess drugs for their own bodies. Speech is a crime in Europe. The western globalist politicians who rave on about Putin pretend they are not worse.
How does one find a criminal defense attorney? Should one look for one now and keep the name handy in case of future trouble?
Hope Bethany hires a very good Lawyer., and they ID every person who was a part of her arrest and detention. If Cops are Big enough to uphold the Law? They’re Big enough to be held responsible for their actions, even more so when they’re wrong. Go for Big Money and don’t stop until they pay and apologise in writing. In that order!
So which picture is the innocent victim and who is the innocent one? Did I miss that somewhere?
Innocent one is the blonde one.
Are you suggesting that we just shouldn’t bother with any sort of law enforcement that would involve verifying passengers’ identities? Because if not, this incident does absolutely nothing to advance the argument against the creation of a no-fly list of individuals convicted (your use of quotes around this term is utterly nonsensical) of in-flight disturbances.
It does advanced the arguments because no fly lists give both flight attendants and the government more opportunity to abuse the public. From what is being proposed, no fly lists will include people who are arbitrarily put on a list by flight attendants, airlines, tsa, feds, or the police with someone not being convicted of anything or not having an opportunity to defend him or herself. Think the current watch list where people are put on it on a whim by the government despite a person not being convicted or even charged with any crime. Think of civil asset forfeiture that allows the police to seize money on your person with no charges or convictions. No fly lists are ripe for abuse.
Flight attendants are known to abuse their authority over flight safety by claiming someone is interfering with aircraft operation when he or she complains of poor service that he or she is paying for as a passenger. I honestly don’t see how you can’t see the danger in flight attendants putting someone on a list or reporting people to management who will automatically believe flight attendants and put people on a list given how flight attendants are in America.
@tda1986: I have no idea why you would ask that question. Of course, as a baseline, identities must be properly verified before arresting someone or blocking them from flying. The fact that police egregiously failed to do so in this case strengthens my point that a no-fly list can be dangerously abused.
And I put “convicted” in quotes because if you read Bastian’s WaPo column, you can reasonably deduce he is not just talking about criminal convictions…
In Texas, you cannot be legally compelled to identify yourself until you’ve been arrested, so there would be no legal grounds for a pre-arrest verification. It’s a fantastic rule that preserves ones 4th amendment rights in a way that I personally believe is appropriate.
Instead of wasting money on DARE resource officers, schools should teach children about their constitutional rights. Ms. Farber would have probably been wise to remain silent once the TSA, and ultimately police, tried to question her. Either way, she has a settlement coming, it’s just a shame the taxpayers have to foot the bill and not the police pension fund.
Police abuse this right ALL THE TIME!!
Agree with tda1986
This opinion piece is at best premature. You start with “If Farber’s account is correct”
and your conclusion is
“Los Angeles Police Department officials have refused to respond to inquires on the case, but it seems fairly clear that Farber’s 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and her 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law were violated by this arrest.”
What kind of click bait logic is this???
Ummm, SHE WAS RELEASED and looking NOTHING like the REAL suspect.
No, WE are suggesting police, DAs and Judges Be Held Accountable and Not above the law as they are now. The Wrongful Convictions & Deaths(Kidnapping & Murder) Need To Come Directly From the Pockets of piglets, DAs and Judges, NOT The MF Taxpayers for cryin out loud
I have no problems with either life imprisonment or a permanent flying ban across ALL airlines — or both — for problem passengers, but false arrests are really infuriating because more often than not, it’s police officers who don’t follow protocols or simply have no common sense. I propose an equal time served in jail or in prison, including all the different forms of torture that come with such a penalty, imposed on every police officer making a wrongful arrests. I want the same punishment as well imposed on the person updating such a list if that list is not accurate.
Awfully kind of you to not put the death penalty on the table.
Only for rape or murder AFAIAC.
Law enforcement must be one of handful of professions where the cop commit professional malfeasance and someone else pays the bills.
Cops should start getting licensed, should have to carry liability insurance, and their union should pay for their pension as well as monetary legal judgements against them. Cop unions have better PR and marketing teams than anything. They have corrupt politicians feeding from their hands.
In other news in AP LA county is spending 800k per homeless person per year to house them. That pretty much sums the corruption of the liberal Democrats and why they can’t solve problems. Its more lucrative for them to not solve problems and then skim money.
Strangely, Matthew, the guilty girl has a remarkable physical (face) resemblance to you … 🙂
Am I really the only one to spot this ???
Oh goodness, am I that bad?
I thought this “no fly list” being “discussed” was only to be implemented AFTER conviction … how is it then that FAs can add then to the list?
A lot of things are being and have been discussed. The current no fly list that already exists has people on it who have not been convicted or charged with anything. There is even no mechanism to challenge being on the list. A government agent doesn’t like someone and that person can be put on the list. A lot of the discussion points to this. That’s the danger with red flag laws that allow the police to take away guns without a person having committed a legitimate crime or being charged or convicted with anything. If someone doesn’t like you, they can make up allegations. Flight attendants who don’t like a passenger who complains about poor service can do the same.
In addition, we’ve had people on death row convicted by juries on eyewitness testimony later exonerated. Juries are rubber stamps for the government. It’s very easy for a person in a position of power (flight attendants) to lie and for it to be believed by rubber stamp judges and juries. If a person can be fined administratively like with the DOT, then there isn’t even a court of law a person can defend themselves in before being put on the list if the policy allows this adjudication to be a reason for a ban.
Access to Transportation for citizens is a human right.
Conservative foreign policy was/ is famously red flag based. Iraq lost half a million people based on it.
A few white men wrongfully put in the no fly list, should we spend any time worrying about it? Conservatives have a strong cognitive dissonance when it’s come to their own rights.
The perp looks like Isabella Rossellini
I’m confused. If I have a criminal record (or an open warrant), the TSA ID/make sure my nail clipper doesn’t have a hidden blade checker person has access to such information?
And with regards to ‘no fly’, isn’t that discovered at check-in (or maybe even at ticketing); a few steps prior to the security checker?
Furthermore, this story seems strange. It took 13 days for a lawyer (or somebody) to get her released? Why wasn’t she asking for a public defender, at a minimum? Or if you are held on another jurisdictions warrant, you have zero rights? I find that hard to believe.
The remote chance of a false positive on a no-fly list is a ridiculous reason to oppose one. Why not simply solve the mistaken-identity problem. Think about all the countries were thousands of people have the same name (Mexico, Korea come to mind). They have it figured out. So can we.
It’s not the only or even the primary reason to oppose one, but this incompetence forms another reasonable basis to oppose an expanded no-fly list.
FYI, TSA checkpoint employees are not agents. Their title is officer.
Thanks. Will note that for future posts. I hesitate to use that term because I don’t want them being linked to law enforcement.
The reason I’m opposed to no fly lists as currently implemented is that I just don’t trust most FAs with that much power.
Recent example – I’m in a middle seat and the woman in the window seat becomes ill. She’s slumped over, sweating and just doesn’t look good.
At this time the seat belt sign is on and flight attendants are all seated due to turbulence. I ring the call button to get someone’s attention and no one comes down. Ring again and FA announces that they can’t get up due to turbulence. I look for an FA but they are a good distance away and no one can hear me. I pull my mask down and try to make myself heard better and an FA announces over the PA “ladies and gentlemen I must remind all of you to keep your masks on at all times.”
I start to stand up to get a crew member’s attention and an FA yells “sit DOWN sir”
Fortunately the purser came back to see what was happening, saw the ill passenger and obtained medical attention. I think she was alright but we didn’t divert snd there were no ambulances waiting so I’m pretty sure things were fine.
Now, the concern for me is that FAs apparently had no way (and no real interest) in seeing why I was trying to get their attention. I was doing everything I could to follow the rules and I was still worried about the response to my efforts.
Thankfully the purser had it together and dealt with the situation effectively but if she hadn’t been that professional it could been a lot more difficult for everyone