Detained at US Customs for Three Hours, Devices Unconstitutionally Searched

Patch from CBP uniforms.

Patch from CBP uniforms.

After having a wonderful time at Anarchapulco 2019, I was looking forward to coming back to New Hampshire. After being gone a total of twelve days, it felt like too long. Mexico was fun, but I missed “the Shire“. I’d scheduled a red eye flight back to the US via JFK airport and would arrive at JFK not long after 5am. This is generally a good time to speed through customs as the airport is pretty empty of passengers so the lines are very short.

Indeed, there was no line whatsoever in the main intake room with the Orwellian police state kiosks that demand ID and take your photograph, printing out a slip that you’re then expected to take to a Customs and Border Protection agent at a booth. There was only one person in the line at the booth in front of me. Despite having smooth sailing the previous year, this year was very different. After checking my ID, the initial CBP agent told me to report to a room off to the left, aka “secondary”.

After years of reporting on my talk radio program about the unconstitutional device searches going on at CBP checkpoints, I finally became part of the statistics. I was to have my devices searched in secret – or have them confiscated. According to the AP, CBP conducted searches of 29,000 devices in 2017, up from 18,400 in 2016, a 57% increase from the previous year! The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing over it but the border device search policy has been infringing on travelers’ privacy for over a decade.

CBP’s argument is basically that you don’t have rights at the border and they can search whatever they want. Though their policy was recently updated to clarify they supposedly can’t search your online accounts via your phone, how would you really know? Even though they’re supposed to put your phone in airplane mode when they search it, they are allowed to search it in secret, where you can’t observe. That means they can image your phone, plant something on it, and access your accounts, or they could follow their rules and not do those things. You have no idea.

In my case, I went into “secondary”, located off to the side of the main intake area. It was a dismal room with institutional lighting and a bunch of CBP officers sitting behind a counter that stretched the length of the room. Given the time of day, there weren’t many victims of the CBP’s aggression sitting in the several rows of chairs, but there were a handful. All of them with brown skin, waiting around to be “served” by one of the officious, uniformed CBP bureaucrats shuffling about. As each new victim entered the room and sat down, inevitably the victim would pull out their phone in an attempt to kill the time and would be shouted at by a bureaucrat: “no phones!”. No cell phone signs that looked like they were printed 15 years ago had been posted all over the room. For a group of bureaucrats with camera systems everywhere, they sure are awful concerned about pictures being taken of their drab, boring office.

Actual photo from CBP of the area I was held - you can see one of the no cell phones signs.

Actual photo from CBP of the area I was held – you can see one of the no cell phones signs.

Anyway, after waiting for a bit, an overweight Asian female officer called me up and had some questions about my name, like why I changed it. I told her, “I wanted to.” I understand that due to CBP refusing to respect rights at the border, you’re expected to answer questions about your identity and your travel, but beyond that scope you are not obligated to answer questions. She had me go sit back down for more waiting. Eventually an “Officer Uzzi”, also a portly New Yorker male-type, called me up to his counter. We were to go back to the table in the back hallway for a search. Uzzi acted like he’d be able to get this taken care of as quickly as possible. I knew better than to believe him. I’d gone into the office at about 5:30am and though there was no clock on the wall, it was taking a while and I suspected I’d miss my connecting flight to Boston despite it being at 8:00am.

After Uzzi pawed through my backpack and checked bag they’d had the Delta crew retrieve for them, it came time for the device search. At this point, from the reporting we’ve done on the issue on Free Talk Live, I know that you can choose to refuse to allow them to search the devices, but if you do, they will confiscate them. Whether you can ever get them back is another question. So, since most people don’t want to have to buy a new phone and laptop every time they come back into the U.S. and leaving them at home is probably not an option, CBP knows people are stuck in a place where 99.9% of their victims will hand over their devices for the unconstitutional search.

To Uzzi’s credit, he was fine with me observing his search, which included my camera, cell phone, and laptop. His search was cursory, at best. He opened up the photos app on my cell phone and looked at pictures of my dog and a bunch of landscape backgrounds. Not that I have anything incriminating, but on principle, I’d deleted most photos from my phone before arriving back in the United States. Also, when traveling I use a sanitized laptop that only has a web browser and remote desktop software on it, so there wasn’t much for him to see there either. While paging through the photos on my camera, he came across the photos of me with Ron Paul. I asked him if he knew who that was and he said he did, recalling Paul’s last name after a moment. Afterwards, it was more sitting and waiting.

During this batch of waiting, there was a lot of interaction with a rotund manager bureaucrat into whose office Uzzi would report more than a few times. It wasn’t possible to catch all of the conversation from where I was seated, but the manager, who told me later he was “Supervisor Van Ihsen”, definitely was making a bunch of phone calls to someone else. I also could have sworn I heard them say something about “child porn”. Longtime readers of this blog will recall when my home radio studio were raided and dozens of devices confiscated back in 2016. No charges have been filed against anyone who works or lives here in three years, and they still have the devices. The raid had been a part of the FBI’s running of a child porn website called Playpen, where for two weeks they allowed thousands of child porn images and videos to be downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. Recent news shows they are continuing to facilitate illegal distribution of child porn by taking over and running child porn chat rooms for at least eighteen months, despite not one single known arrest from their latest investigation.

In the three hours CBP detained and searched me, not a single other person in the room was searched, and several victims came and went during that time, all of them with brown skin. One lady was told she was being denied entry and the officer said he was going to give her a choice – she could accept the decision and go back to Ghana and apply again for a VISA or he could just deny her entry for the next five years. He acted like he was doing her a favor. Presumably, interactions like this go on all day in what CPB refers to as “Secondary”.

Electronic Frontier Foundation is Suing CBP over Unconstitutional Border Device Searches

Electronic Frontier Foundation is Suing CBP over Unconstitutional Border Device Searches

Uzzi eventually called me up and told me I was free to go. I was able to check my phone and at that point I’d been detained there for ninety minutes. However, as I was leaving secondary, they decided they weren’t done with me after all and ordered me back in and told me to sit and wait some more.

After more waiting, I was told again to come back to their search table and was met this time by two plainclothes, badge-on-a-necklace individuals who previously had been joking around with their uniformed coworkers during the time I’d been sitting. It was now time for a second search of my devices, by people who seemed to know what they were doing. Finding a cryptocurrency sticker in my backpack, one officer, whose name was allegedly Kragoras, asked me if I was into crypto, referring to “hodling” and saying he knows about it and has had crypto in the past. They then asked me for the password to my phone. I told them I wasn’t willing to give that to them, but I’d be willing to unlock the phone for them and turn off the lock feature. They agreed and I provided the unlocked phone to them. Kragoras, thin and Middle Eastern, and his tall and skinny cohort then began to leave the search area and I protested saying I wanted to observe the search. He then claimed that they have special border search powers and left with my three devices, though he never asked me to login to the laptop, so they shouldn’t have been able to search that since it’s an encrypted linux operating system.

After more waiting, the officers brought back my devices and left them with Uzzi. To their credit, they did not falsify charges against me by planting anything on the phone. However, did they image my device and copy everything from it? There’s no way to know. The phone was returned to me in airplane mode, which suggests they were following their own rules and didn’t access my internet accounts through the phone, but I can’t know for sure, since I was prohibited from observing their search. Besides, I’d logged out of my google account and instant messaging clients before arriving back in the United States, as I know to prepare my devices in case a search like this happens. It finally did.

Uzzi again met with supervisor Van Ihsen and I was ultimately released at about 8:30am, three hours after initially detained. At this point I demanded to know the names of everyone who’d interacted with me. As is common with bureaucrats, they refused to provide first names, but Uzzi and Van Ihsen revealed their last names. However Van Ihsen initially refused to provide the names of the two plainclothes agents who’d conducted the secret search of my devices. After pressing him on it, he relented and gave me Kragoras’ name. He acted like he didn’t know who the second plainclothes guy was.

Before letting me go, they asked if I’d taken a photo of their office since being given back the devices. Sadly I had not considered sneaking a photo of their boring, dull office, but it turns out that I didn’t have to, because they posted a picture of the exact place I was on their own website here. You can see the tall counter behind which a multitude of bureaucrats sits as they decide the fates of countless peaceful people simply trying to come to what they believe is a free country, and you can even see one of the “no cell phones” signs as well. The very room they are so worried about being photographed, they themselves photographed.

And yes, I did miss my connecting flight. Delta scheduled me for the next one gratis.

With the numbers of devices being searched going up in recent years, don’t think this can’t happen to you. Consider preparing your devices for search prior to coming back into the country by removing any information or accounts you don’t want government agents to see. Or, prepare to lose your devices to confiscation if you don’t allow the search. Meanwhile the EFF’s lawsuit is the only hope to get this policy ended.

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  1. The US is an immoral bankrupt warmongering police state.

    Those who warned about black helicopters and jack-booted thugs twenty years ago were called nutjobs.

    Ten or fifteen years ago, patriotic and thinking Americans really started to worry about the direction of the USA.

    Today most Americans know something is wrong, but they either don’t know what or don’t care.

    The few Americans who are awake are increasingly becoming more pessimistic as the US obviously declines. The situation in USA looks hopeless.

    Everyday the elites make more laws, the debt rises, wars are conducted, and Americans become more immoral.

    Courts won’t rule against unconstitutional laws, politicians don’t repeal laws, the Gestapo has become more brazen, no one cares about government spending, wars are not being ended, and Americans are not flocking to churches and embracing morality.

    Trump is either part of the establishment, naive, or being drugged or threatened to build the police state, increase the debt, and keep the wars going.

    Some say the USA could last another 100 years, but that outlook seems unlikely.

    Concerned Americans who once didn’t take the US collapse seriously are wondering what to do.

    Buying guns, gold, and food is good advice, but something more must be done other than just waiting for the US Ponzi economy to implode, riots to happen, Civil War 2.0 to break out, the concentration camps to open, and WWIII to start.

    Having a few thousand prepared Americans won’t do much good against the evil ruling class when they launch their final solution against the 99%.

    The US needs millions of Americans to get out into the streets with pitchforks and torches now. Windows will need to be broken, people are going to be arrested, and people are going to die.

    Americans must start making sacrifices today to wake people up, prepare, protest, and resist.

    Americans need to talk to everyone to get the word out. Americans need to spend some money to start websites, print up flyers, and rent billboards.

    If Americans remain quiet then there is nothing to stop the ruling powers from sending the 99% off to the gulags.

    This is no joke.

    Anyone who has eyes and studied a little bit of history can tell you what’s going to happen.

  2. What happened to Ian is unfortunate and I sympathize with him. However, when you have a history that includes arrests, a name change, drug use, and a history that includes defending pedophilia, you open yourself to this kind of enhanced scrutiny when you travel internationally. I lack the knowledge to say whether the specific actions taken were reasonable or not. Free Speech Forum-you are a complete nut job and I can only hope that you live nowhere near Keene. My only comment to FSF is that people are trying to get into the United States in record numbers. No one will stop you from leaving.

  3. Activists are always crying foul about these border checkpoints but it doesn’t change anything. Ian, you have an extensive criminal record and you are being investigated by the FBI. You bet they are going to check you especially leaving or returning to the United States.

    Since you had no control over this situation, you attack the CBP agents by calling them names. Childish. You are no prize yourself.

    From what you described in your article, it sounds like TSA did the jobs they were supposed to because you never once stated TSA was going out of their way to violate policies and procedures. You are just upset thinking you deserve total white glove treatment and all the agents should have just let you through without being checked.

    I can only guess this will happen to you again if you decide to travel internationally. Remember you did this to yourself. No one else was at fault. They were doing their jobs and obviously they did.

  4. early last year I was on a flight from Houston to Boston, and they “lost” my duffle bag that I’d checked. They found it and put it on a later flight, which I needed since I was flying out of NYC the next day. When I got the bag, my Ledger Nano wallet was missing from the duffle bag.

  5. “To their credit, they did not falsify charges against me by planting anything on the phone.”

    I’d hold my breath on that one. They can plant evidence on the image they made of your phone. It was pretty apparent they planted evidence on the Freedom Hosting guy years ago. He encrypted his laptop and refused the passeord, but then “found” 3-4 images on his phone claiming he forgot to delete them. It was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of for someone of that caliber, knowledge, and paranoia. Who the fuck would take such images on a phone like that? Especially one that was unencrypted? And then 3-4? I don’t believe it for even a moment.

    The crazy thing is that if you weren’t in the United States yet then US law shouldn’t apply. It doesn’t matter if its drugs, this sick shit, or something else.

  6. Live free or die: Your an idiot. You missstate what people have done and lead others to believe there is some sort of evil in Ian. Most of us know Ian hasn’t advocated rape, murder, or for any form of violence. He is nearly a pacifist. A name change isn’t useful for someone who is a career criminal or otherwise trying to evade the law. It explicitly creates a record for criminal investigators to follow. Name changes are on the other hand a form of activism which can demonstrate ones disaffection with the government.

  7. Thanks for the fake story, we already know they didn’t falsely search your phone. In fact you handed it over to them with your consent 🙂

  8. I’d like to thank the FBI for recognizing the pedophile that is Ian Bernard Freeman!

  9. The FBI have investigated Ian, yet have never once made any attempt to arrest him. Have you ever stopped to think why that might be, NNH my dear? Don’t think too hard though, sweetie. I wouldn’t want you to smash the pea!

  10. Say, Jacks? So what do you mean exactly when you refer to the whole “white glove treatment?” Because back in the old days, the law prohibited an unlimited, non-specific, and potentially ongoing search without a subpoena or a warrant from a judge.

    You know Jacks, I remember when it was once considered sound policy to not presume everyone was guilty of something until they proved otherwise. Even if that meant letting a guilty man go free rather than unjustly punishing an innocent one. But you much prefer the safety of subjugation over being safe from the exercise of arbitrary authority, now don’t you pookums?

  11. Either Ian is an agent (generally the top people are) and that is why he hasn’t been arrested or they really don’t have anything. Given the number of investigations they have done and constant harassment it seems he is a target.

    Nathan: He didn’t consent to the removal of his phone.

    Ian must be doing something right. Otherwise he wouldn’t have so many haters. You guys lie, deceive, and mislead like the thugs (ie government agents) you probably are.

  12. Indeed kk. Ian chose the path of least resistance because he was threatened with an unpalatable alternative should he have refused. Nathan uses the word “consent” to mask this fact. mostly because he’s too much of a sissy to admit that this sort of thing is nothing but an assault on our constitutional rights.

  13. Love it or leave it? That’s kind of an overused clichĂ© for such a proud conservative like yourself, don’t you think LFoD?

  14. police , the new terrorists.

  15. Drac-yes, but the nonsense that Free State Forum spews about “99 percent of us being sent to the Gulag” misses a key point about Totalitarianism. People weren’t free to just leave places like North Korea or East Germany or the old Soviet Union or Iran or Nazi Germany. Many people died trying. Nor were people trying to get INTO those places in record numbers. America has its faults, but it is a great country and New Hampshire is a great state. Jane’s comment that “your an idiot” is pretty funny.

  16. I misunderstood your previous sentiment, LFoD. Thanks for the clarification.

  17. Consent given under duress, is not actual consent.

    Getting dupes to believe euphemistic word smithing is how you dupe the dupes. Threatening force is how you get the nondupes to “consent” .

  18. Ian Bernard Freeman for prison 2020. He can hang out with the other know pedophile Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  19. Say NNH, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the FBI is way too busy looking for inter-dimensional Russian colluders to be wasting their valuable time trying to frame Ian for crimes he didn’t commit. Maybe you should fantasize about something a tad more likely, dear? Like maybe a Bernie Sanders presidency?

  20. Sanders Sanders Sanders! !!

  21. Live Free or Die: The US doesn’t let just anybody leave. The US has a lot of similarities to the soviet union and NAZI Germany even if the impacted population isn’t quite as great. Everything from internal checkpoints to steps to prevent people who don’t want to remain here from leaving. You have to be an obedient cock sucker in order to have the authorization to leave and the governments in large part collude to make darn sure you come back (ie limit peoples stay, extradite if a country suspends your passport, etc). There are a variety of circumstances where they will make it impossible to leave or will act in such a way to revoke your authorization to be out of the country. Suspending peoples passports for example or they want you because of a “crime” (ie you oppose the government or its agents actions, ie think Cody Wilson). They will deny your exit if you owe child support (even if you agree with that it’s not the only reason they will deny you exist either). They will even try to steal from you even after you renounce your “citizenship”. Try denying your citizenship without paying them thousands of dollars. They won’t let you go. And if you don’t have any connection to the United States and they want you? They’ll make shit up and get foreign governments to extradite you to the United States. Very few states you might actually want to move to won’t cooperate with the US government(s). Even then the US has shown it is willing to kidnap people from such uncooperative states.

  22. Jumping Jack: “Jane – Yes Ian has advocated sexual assault. He believes adults should be allowed to have sex with children. That is statutory rape. ”

    No he didn’t. You’d have to redefine the meaning of sexual assault:

    “Sexual assault is an act in which a person coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will.”

    The video you linked to doesn’t demonstrate or confirm your argument. What you did was twist the facts and assert that he said something he didn’t.

    “He believes adults should be allowed to have sex with children. That is statutory rape. ”

    At no point did he advocate for adults to have sex with children and I’ve heard him clarify this on a number of occasions for morons like you who like to spread bull shit and twist words. He at most has indicated that he has had consensual sexual relations with an older male in his youth where that relationship may have been criminal for one or both parties. He doesn’t consider himself a victim, but if you think he is then why are you attacking the VICTIM.

    So no, he has not advocated for adults to have sex with children. He should logically be advocating for freedom for all however and age of consent laws are bull shit because it takes away the rights and punishes mostly “children” for having sexual relations. Near every 13 year old boy is technically committing a crime in the eyes of the law and a certain percentage get persecuted for doing what comes naturally of every post-pubescent male. While I’ve never heard Ian say this I will. Any consensual act between two or more people should be legal regardless of age. If you are doing something to another human being that the other human being does not like or consent to that is fucked up period. Age should have nothing to do with it.

    Nobody disagrees about the general legal definition of statutory rape. However this legally invented terminology doesn’t make any sense. It’s a logical fallacy. Rape is non-consensual forced sex. Statutory rape completely redefines what rape is by removing the a persons right to consent. Maybe kids shouldn’t be consenting to sex- but that is another matter or argument to be had. Governments shouldn’t be passing laws based on moral prerogatives particularly when they remove the rights of some parties and there are no victims of violence. It opens the floodgates to taking away rights of everyone- but it doesn’t really matter if it is a small group or everyone. It’s morally wrong either way.

  23. In Jacks’s world view, modern notions like consent can’t be allowed to exist. Only acts of conformity and obedience are considered acceptable. He defends this orthodoxy with the blind faith of any religious zealot. It’s absolutely thrilling to examine this sort of thing up close, isn’t it kk?

  24. The term “statutory rape” is ironic. Given that many statutes (laws) forbid people from exercising control over their own bodies, which is a legal process of consent removal. Isn’t consent removal under threat of force a main ingredient of actual rape. ? Why, yes it is.

    In that sense every prohibitionist drug law is a kind of “reverse rape” where somebody else makes your choices for you, under threat of harm to you for disobedience. When swat guys show up, that’s a form of gang “statutory rape”.

  25. “rape by statute” Kinda catchy eh?

  26. kk – Yes, Ian did advocate adults having sexual relationships with children. Obviously you didn’t watch the whole video that was posted. He had a relationship with Renee who was 16 at the time and he was 31. She was a minor there for sexual contact with her is a crime called “statutory rape” It has been proven children do not posses the capability to to consent to that type of emotional commitment and you are just gong to have to accept that because there is no argument to prove otherwise. So the laws are not based on a “moral” clause. It is based upon an age that has been determined by medical professionals and put into law. Too bad for you That you can’t visit the rehab unit. 20% of those being treated has been people who were molested while they were young into their teens and it isn’t just women.

    I have given you educated statements. Your jaded and uneducated statements are to far below me to attempt to crawl to that level. You need to be educated before attempting to stand up for Ian. By the way, Would you feel fine if Ian were having a sexual relationship with your teenage daughter. How about your sister or favorite cousin who might be under 18. Hypocrite.

  27. Jacks my love, the age of consent has never been determined scientifically. You made that whole thing up. One only has to notice how different states define the age of consent to understand why this is true.

    So pookums, would you care to try this one more time? I’m sure you can do better if you put your mind to it.

  28. Oh, and Jacks? In NH, the age of consent is 16. So how was Ian committing statutory rape exactly?

  29. Jacks if Ian had advocated for adults to have sexual relationships with children in his radio show I think he’d of been taken off the air

    Plus as the age of consent in NH is 16 therefore Ian was committing no crime having sexual relations with a 16 year old & so calling a paedophile is pure slander

  30. As usual, Jacks is engaging in his ritual act of character assassination. To people like Jacks this is the suitable punishment for nonconformity.

    You see ZX, Jacks objects to Ian’s position that it’s illegitimate for the law to be defining consent by a cutoff age instead of taking the time to examine each case individually. This isn’t a particularly controversial position, by the way. Age of consent laws have been criticized for years – and not just by libertarians. But Jacks hates being reminded that consent really matters. So much so that he consistently botches his arguments with emotional justifications, instead of facts. He’s quite the spectacle, isn’t he ZX?

  31. For haters of America like Free State Forum and KK, I would just offer you this: You may find that your real problem in leaving the United States is that nobody wants you. Some countries like Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Australia are considered easy to emigrate to. But, after 6 months, Canada requires a Work Visa and you must have specific skills. After 6 months, Mexico will allow a 4 year temporary resident visa but only if you can prove that you have adequate income or assets. Australia will allow a one year visa, but only if you are under 30 years old. Ireland is similar. If you are over 30, you can only stay 90 days without a work visa. I believe that the only place that you can work and live without strict visa requirements is north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. However, you are required to carry a firearm at all times to protect yourself from polar bears. Adios, amigos.

  32. I made a mistake. My bad. Doing a little research into past statements and statements from Ian, He hooked up with Renee when she was 14 years old. Not 16. Also, Ademo Mueller hooked up with Kate when she was in high school. A thirty year old man sexually active with a a high school student. There were two copblockers who raped a 14 year old. When they were released on bond, they fled the country and killed themselves in Mexico. There are a number of registered sex offenders who are part of or support copblock and freekeene.

    This is very sad and disgusting. By the way, Ian is still under investigation with the FBI. They haven’t returned any of his computers and other media devices.

  33. Renee was in fact 14 when Ian Bernard started dating her. Her poor family was so scared of the thought of it. What a shame. Well Renee does have time to think things over and realize she can put him away for a long time.

  34. NNH – “Well Renee does have time to think things over and realize she can put him away for a long time”. You are very correct. She could bring charges at anytime and put Ian in prison for a while. She still has a number of years to do that.

  35. Boy Jacks, you sure seem to know an awful lot about these guys’ private lives, now don’t you? That’s quite a remarkable feat by the way. Especially since you don’t even live in NH! I trust you’re not depending upon internet rumor mills for all of these juicy tidbits of yours. We all know how unreliable those sorts of things can be, right pookie bear?

  36. You know Jacks, I’ve been thinking. I live in NH. So maybe if you asked me really, really nicely, I could call the cops on Ian for you! That way we could save Renee together! What do you say, pookums?

  37. Nature has a way of telling us when someone has transitioned from childhood to adulthood – it is called puberty. Someone who is 14 or 16 is almost certainly post-pubescent and therefore not a child. Just because some governments erroneously classify them this way does not change that basic fact of nature.

    Of course they generally like to treat all of us as children to the extent they can get away with it, so expanding the definition of who is legally considered a child is an obvious tactic.

    It is a shame that there is still so much of a witch hunt atmosphere in this country around anything involving sex and young people that some cowardly individuals feel entitled to use this topic as a kind of scarlet letter to smear and demonize good people like Ian while hiding behind Internet identities.

    Online anonymity is an important freedom to be preserved, and the folks running deserve a lot of credit for not censoring certain statist individuals who are obviously just here to be trolls and haters, taking advantage of freedoms they probably would be happy to see those in power deny to others.

    The fact that they justify their supposed concern with Ian based on people they falsely call children supposedly not being able to give consent, while not giving a damn about all the things governments are doing to both adults and actual children without their consent, is further evidence of their hypocrisy and lack of moral character.

  38. i like everything starchild said and how clearly it was said.. I think preserving the right to control a private website like free Keene; allowing trolls if he wants to is his choice and should be. I’m a person who believe people should stand behind what they say and take responsibility for it, so I might run things differently from Ian’s way. Maybe there would be less arguments if people couldn’t hide in the shadows. Maybe Ian tried that and the discussion went silent

Care to comment?