Making nasty faces now a Patriot Act Violation

Back when the USA PATRIOT Act (short for the complete title of the massive bill — the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act”) was being debated by the Congress in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration told the Congress the legislation had to be passed in order to protect the nation from any similarly destructive acts of terrorism in the future.  I distinctly recall being informed that the Patriot Act was absolutely essential to stop acts of bio-terrorism and similarly dangerous and frightening acts that could lead to multiple if not massive casualties.

Well, here we are, almost exactly eight years after then-President Bush signed the Patriot Act into law, and what do we have?  We have a respected Washington, DC public relations executive facing felony charges under the Patriot Act for allegedly “acting” or “appearing” drunk on a commercial airliner and — I kid you not — for making “mean faces” at a flight attendant.  No, I’m not making this up.  The allegation of making “mean faces” at the flight attendant is taken directly from an FBI affidavit.

The Patriot Act does make “interferring with flight crews” a felony offense carrying a maximum 20-year sentence.  However, using this law as a bludgeon to beat up a citizen who might simply have had a disagreement with a flight attendant over a glass of wine, is a monstrous abuse of federal law and federal power.  It represents “overciminalization” with a capital “O.”

Earlier this week, the US Department of Justice took the laudable step of issuing a new directive to United States Attorneys that they are not to prosecute citizens using medicinal marijuana, so long as the users do so in compliance with state law.  Let’s hope Attorney General Eric Holder exercises similar common sense and discretion, in dismissing the charges against David Bass, the Continental Airlines passenger who might have made a face at a flight attendant and who now faces potentially in excess of 20 years in federal prison.

31 comments Add your comment


October 21st, 2009
7:20 am

Mr. Barr-

I watched you the other night during a WACO documentary. Thank you for taking the side of liberty and trying to defend the people against an out of control government.
Good show!


October 21st, 2009
8:16 am

liberty is a myth. the Consitution is little more than the proverbial “fine print” from a used car transaction. the irony is amazing; the Federal Government doesn’t “trust” Americans, yet the country was founded by “Americans” who didn’t trust their government. The Patriot Act is nothing more than “hate crime” legislation. as if arguing with a flight attendant is “un-patriotic”. there were laws and policies in effect before 9/11. several of the 9/11 criminals were on FAA, CIA, FBI and INS “watch lists”. it was the Bush Administration that was “un-patriotic” in its abdication of duty. we’re moving in the wrong direction, folks – and noby seems to care. I’d quote Ben Franklin, but what is the point?

Northern Songs, Ltd.

October 21st, 2009
8:16 am

Denver7 – So don’t buy the paper, or read the blog. Idiot.

interested observer

October 21st, 2009
8:25 am

Bob: As a moderate not inclined to concur many of your viewpoints, I commend you for your relentless criticism of the Patriot Act. I shudder to think at what Congress may do if there is another successful terrorism attack anywhere near as spectacular as 9/11. While I concur with the need to prevent such attacks, I think Congress poses a greater threat to our liberty than do the terrorists. They can kill and destroy life and property, but Congress can steal our freedom.

Sadly, the Patriot Act (and thanks for reminding me of the acronym) was supported by politicians under the conservative banner – the same “fiscal conservatives” who exploded our national debt. I may disagree with you frequently, but you have held true to your conservative roots.


October 21st, 2009
8:39 am

hey Interested Observer, I’ll tell you what the government will do. the government will declare Martial Law (only they won’t call it Martial Law). I’m not one of Cynthia Tucker’s frindge wingnuts, but if you think the Patriot Act is a threat to liberty, think about this; last year (October 2008) the US Army announced that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, as an on-call federal response force for natural or man-made emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks. For the first time in U.S. history, an active U.S. Army unit will be given a dedicated assignment to “called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) attack.” These soldiers will also learn how to use non-lethal weapons designed to “subdue unruly or dangerous individuals” without killing them, and also includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and beanbag bullets. So, you see, they won’t call it Martial Law, they’ll call it “a federal response to civil unrest” or “crowd control”. And as always, they will provide this essential service in the name of Homeland Security. as I have argued previously in this very blog, Google Posse Comitatus Act and let me know your thoughts.

[...] Bob Barr says making nasty faces now a Patriot Act violation. [...]


October 21st, 2009
9:18 am

The whole Patriot Act needs to be scrapped. Criminal individual offenses should be defined narrowly, but prosecuted fully. This is the federal equivalent of the local “no tolerance” idiocies that have schools expelling kindergartners for drawing pictures of guns. Sheer lunacy. Has everyone lost their common sense?

joe matarotz

October 21st, 2009
10:22 am

Bobolink, were you on the plane and able to observe the defendant’s behavior? If not, what makes you qualified to comment on this case? Hmmmm. Nothing.
Maybe you should wait for the testimony of the witnesses before passing judgement. I suspect that the accused may have gone beyond ‘making faces’ at the flight attendant. But I am not going to say that he was a loud-mouthed drunk who got carried away because I wasn’t there. I will wait for him to have his day in court. Then we can discuss the case and it’s ramifications. Until then, go take a nap before your head explodes.

Mutts R Stupid

October 21st, 2009
11:02 am

I never fly any more by intent because I cannot stand authority drunk idiots with guns and badges. The rest of you can get in line like little sheep to be herded by the clown with an IQ of 90, but I will deny my business to the airlines and thumb my nose at the ignorant, ugly authorities. Ok, do you know what FBI stands for? Fat, Bald, and Ignorant…There that should git me on a watch list somewhere.


October 21st, 2009
11:07 am

Joe, I think the “mean faces” was a quote from the filing.

Public Option, NEVER!

October 21st, 2009
11:20 am

Bob, I love you, but get back to the real threat against freedom….It would be (all together now) mmmmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmmm Barack Insane Obama.

#1 Foxy Lady

October 21st, 2009
11:24 am

Good column – concise, unambiguous and persuasive.

Thanks for helping extract the sanctimonious law-and-order types out of America’s A-S-S.

Shananeeee Fananeeeeeee

October 21st, 2009
12:53 pm

Change in 2010 and 2012, Change we are looking forward to.


October 21st, 2009
1:09 pm

Fear & greed.

Chris Broe

October 21st, 2009
1:19 pm

I am shocked, SHOCKED, that Bob Barr would propose allowing stoned flight attendents to serve drunk passengers on commercial flights!!

In other news, CNN just reported that Jon and Kate have called 911 and frantically reported that 8 helium balloons have just lifted off from their backyard. (The eight children must have wanted to get away from Jon and Kate for a long time).

not given

October 21st, 2009
4:31 pm

Need to check your facts Bob. It can’t be a “maximum of 20 years” and “in excess of 20 years” at the same time.

What else did you miss (or mis-report)?

no thank you

October 21st, 2009
6:42 pm

I was on that flight. The man did more than make “mean faces” – the affidavit that you plucked that from said that and much more. You used a serious incident as a springboard for your platform to attack the PATRIOT act. I don’t care for the act myself, but you are picking the wrong story to skew facts on for support.


October 21st, 2009
8:11 pm

Where can I read the charges for myself? Sometimes people cherry-pick their “facts” to support their biased assertions and beliefs. I am not accusing Bob Barr of this but it would help if he provided a url for everyone to look at.


October 21st, 2009
9:44 pm

Is this blog a joke, or a serious attempt at helping Al Qaeda?

bill Gribson

October 22nd, 2009
12:18 am

Re: “No thank you”. Really???? I read the affidavit. It’s readily available through Mr. Barr’s commentary is sound – there’s nothing else. Oh, wait, I’m sorry; “climbed over a passenger to gain access to lavatory/storage bin”. I do this on every flight. Don’t you? Odd perspective, Sir/Ma’am….

joe matarotz

October 22nd, 2009
8:24 am

Wow, Bobolink! He faces ‘other charges’? So there is more to the story than ‘making faces’? Hmmmm. It sounds like you are only telling part of the story to support your conclusion. I guess the other part would negate your position. Once a politician, always a politician, I guess.


October 22nd, 2009
8:32 am

No TW. Bob’s point is that this Patriot Act has the potential to be the very document that will rob every person in this country of the day to day freedoms that we have formerly enjoyed. It amazes me that there are people in this country that are so damned scared that they will allow government to destroy freedom under the guise of security. The Patriot Act is a document that would be perfectly at home in Cuba or N. Korea.

links for 2009-10-22 | Yostivanich

October 22nd, 2009
10:07 am

[...] Mak­ing nasty faces now a Patriot Act Vio­la­tion | The Barr Code “The Patriot Act does make “inter­fer­ring with flight crews” a felony offense car­ry­ing a max­i­mum 20-year sen­tence. How­ever, using this law as a blud­geon to beat up a cit­i­zen who might sim­ply have had a dis­agree­ment with a flight atten­dant over a glass of wine, is a mon­strous abuse of fed­eral law and fed­eral power. It rep­re­sents “overcim­i­nal­iza­tion” with a cap­i­tal “O.”” (tags: patri­o­tact crime legal air­lline travel pol­i­tics) [...]


October 22nd, 2009
2:08 pm


You libs and your whining are really going to mess this up for all of us. Be a real patriot and put COUNTRY FIRST!

Turd Ferguson

October 22nd, 2009
3:13 pm

I hate the fat flight attendants. Ya know the ones whose rear-end brushes up against the other fliers. *PUKE*

The other flight attendants remind me of silly beeeatches that belong teaching at a nursery school.


October 22nd, 2009
4:09 pm

Darren you are probably a long way from being qualified to question my patriotism. But I will hazard to say that anyone willing to give up the constitutional freedoms that the Patriot Act erodes just might well be the kind of “patriot” that this country can do without. I understand you are scared to death Darren, but allaying your fear is not worth the rest of us giving up our freedom for a chicken little like you.

NoThankYou is an idiot

October 22nd, 2009
4:44 pm

So, nothankyou, if you were on that flight and were a first hand witness to what happened, I’m sure you will have no problem elaborating and expanding on what exactly happened on that flight.


October 23rd, 2009
11:37 pm

I distinctly remember that nobody in Congress, not even you, had a chance to read the Patriot Act before signing. Those with principles and courage, and a bit of common sense about how they were supposed to uphold their constitutional oaths VOTED NO.


Just think if all through your congressional career you had actually voted to protect, uphold, and defend the constitution. Just think of how many fewer regrets you would have today and how little blood of innocent americans, Afghanis, and Iraqis would be all over your hands.

The next time you want to find out what a clear conscience feels like, give Congressman Ron Paul a call. Maybe you can learn something.

gloom and doomer

October 28th, 2009
9:49 pm

To Mr. Liberty:


But dead on.


November 1st, 2009
1:04 pm

Barr, since the only eye witness (a commenter) says the arrest is justified I assume this guy was seriously threatening a flight, drunk maybe? So, what difference does it make what law he is charge under? They may find him not guilty, he might get a much lesser sentence, who knows?Appropriate action was taken and let’s all be glad it was.

dave tribbett

April 9th, 2010
6:22 pm

Good post here defining the Patriot Act and its ability to impose martial law on the country. Obama has consistently mislead American’s about his intentions, one lie after another. Thanks for the post.