The Patriot Act needs a minor revision

Meet Tamera Jo Freeman, mean drunk, questionable parent, Jerry Springer devotee; meet Tamera Jo Freeman, American Terrorist.

There is no doubt that Ms. Freeman is all of the above and more. She lost custody of her two children after that fateful Frontier Airlines flight in July 2007. It is well documented that she was indeed drunk, abusive towards her kids, other passengers and the flight crew.

A mother accused of cursing at and beating her young children and hurling a drink at a flight attendant on a Frontier Airlines flight appeared in federal court this afternoon and was ordered held until July 26 [2007].

Tamera Jo Freeman, 38, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, was arrested Monday after Flight 108 from San Francisco landed at Denver International Airport. She is charged with assaulting her children and interfering with a flight crew, according to federal court documents. — LINK

So you ask, how exactly is this San Francisco resident a terrorist? It turns out that in the USA Patriot Act, Chapter 97 of title 18, USC, Sec. 1993. Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence against mass transportation systems

§801(a) GENERAL PROHIBITIONS- Whoever willfully—
`(5) interferes with, disables, or incapacitates any dispatcher, driver, captain, or person while they are employed in dispatching, operating, or maintaining a mass transportation vehicle or ferry, with intent to endanger the safety of any passenger or employee of the mass transportation provider, or with a reckless disregard for the safety of human life…

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, if such act is committed, or in the case of a threat or conspiracy such act would be committed, on, against, or affecting a mass transportation provider engaged in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or if in the course of committing such act, that person travels or communicates across a State line in order to commit such act, or transports materials across a State line in aid of the commission of such act.–LINK

And there it is. The Patriot Act has given a tremendous latitude to federal prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against people who are unquestionably causing problems aboard public transportation (although this appears limited to aviation) yet are not in any way terrorists as defined by common sense.

The Justice Department does not keep data on how many such prosecutions or convictions have occurred, Boyd said. But according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a Syracuse University program, the federal government has obtained 208 felony convictions for disrupting flights since 2003, when data first became available…
The confrontation on the Frontier Airlines flight to Denver was particularly harsh, recalled Amy Fleming, the flight attendant who told Freeman to stop spanking her children. In a recent interview, Fleming [the flight attendant who reported the altercation] called Freeman the most unruly passenger she had seen in 11 years on the job.

“Absolutely she deserved a felony conviction,” she [Fleming] said.

And there it is, the money shot if you will. A flight attendant determined that Tamera Jo Freeman DESERVED to be charged with and convicted of a felony and took it as her responsibility to affect that outcome by using her position as “flight crew” to leverage the power of the federal government instead of local law enforcement.

Freeman is one of at least 200 flight passengers who have been convicted under the amended law. In most of the cases, there was no evidence the passengers had attempted to hijack an airplane or physically attack flight crew members. Many have simply involved raised voices, foul language, and drunken behavior…Some security specialists say the use of the law by airlines has run amok, criminalizing incidents that did not start out as threats to public safety, much less acts of terrorism.

The single case of actual terrorism cited by Boyd was that of Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, who is serving three life sentences. Reid was subdued by passengers and flight attendants on a 2001 flight from Paris to Miami after he was seen trying to ignite explosives in his shoe. –Link

Disruptive behavior on an airline flight that rises to the level of assault and battery or greater deserves to be prosecuted fully, but the unlimited abuse of offenders by the Justice Department for activities that are unquestionably not terrorism needs to end now.

If this is not changed the next time a flight attendant tells you to turn off your video recording device Absentee I’m looking at you; may just be an introduction to the legal nightmare of the federal government.