Six Lines

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Posted by Aaron Massey on 04 Oct 2010.

I’m not sure how I missed this earlier, but here’s a fascinating write-up from Paul Karl Lukacs, who exercised his rights as a U.S. Citizen attempting to re-enter the United States:

I was detained last night by federal authorities at San Francisco International Airport for refusing to answer questions about why I had travelled outside the United States.

The end result is that, after waiting for about half an hour and refusing to answer further questions, I was released – because U.S. citizens who have produced proof of citizenship and a written customs declaration are not obligated to answer questions.

This post generated hundreds of comments on multiple sites. Don’t miss his follow-up post, which addresses ten of the most common comments on the first post. He even cites the Cardinal Richelieu quote that inspired this blog:

The only way to immunize yourself against a false statements charge is to refuse to speak to federal officers.

“Wait,” you ask, “what about telling the truth?” Doesn’t work. If, in the course of your conversation, you mis-remember something or speak inarticulately, you can now be arrested. Innocent mistake? Prove it in court after being jailed, charged, tried and paying for a lawyer.

Cardinal Richelieu is alleged to have said, “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” That’s also how the false statement charge works. Any cop or prosecutor can concoct a “lie” from your statements.

(via Daring Fireball)