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I Am Detained By The Feds For Not Answering Questions (April 2010)
The Nomad Lawyer ^ | Saturday, April 24th, 2010 | Paul Karl Lukacs

Posted on 03/30/2012 6:04:11 PM PDT by expat1000

Sherman Oaks, California

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.

* * *

“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.

“None of your business,” I said.

Her eyes widened in disbelief.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.

This did not go over well. She asked a series of questions, such as how long I had been in China, whether I was there on personal business or commercial business, etc. I stood silently. She said that her questions were mandated by Congress and that I should complain to Congress instead of refusing to cooperate with her.

She asked me to take one of my small bags off her counter. I complied.

She picked up the phone and told someone I “was refusing to cooperate at all.” This was incorrect. I had presented her with proof of citizenship (a U.S. passport) and had moved the bag when she asked. What I was refusing to do was answer her questions.

A male Customs and Border Protection officer appeared to escort me to “Secondary.” He tried the good cop routine, cajoling me to just answer a few questions so that I could be on my way. I repeated that I refused to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country.

“Am I free to go?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

The officer asked for state-issued ID. I gave him my California Identification Card. I probably didn’t have to, but giving him the ID was in line with my principle that I will comply with an officer’s reasonable physical requests (stand here, go there, hand over this) but I will not answer questions about my business abroad.

The officer led me into a waiting room with about thirty chairs. Six other people were waiting.

The officer changed tack to bad cop. “Let this guy sit until he cools down,” the officer loudly said to a colleague. “It could be two, three, four hours. He’s gonna sit there until he cools down.”

I asked to speak to his superior and was told to wait.

I read a book about Chinese celebrities for about 15 minutes.

An older, rougher officer came out and called my name. “We’ve had problems with you refusing to answer questions before,” he said. “You think there’s some law that says you don’t have to answer our questions.”

“Are you denying me re-entrance to my own country?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, and walked away.

I read for about five more minutes.

An officer walked out with my passport and ID and handed them to me.

“Am I free to go?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

But we weren’t done.

I picked up my checked bag and was told to speak to a customs officer. My written declaration form had been marked with a large, cross-hatched symbol that probably meant “secondary inspection of bags.”

The officer asked if the bags were mine; I handed him my baggage receipt.

He asked if I had packed the bags myself. I said I declined to answer the question.

He asked again, and I made the same reply. Same question; same response. Again; again.

“I need you to give me an oral customs declaration,” he said.

“I gave you a written declaration,” I said.

“I need to know if you want to amend that written declaration,” he said. “I need to know if there’s anything undeclared in these bags.”

I stood silently.

Visibly frustrated, he turned to a superior, who had been watching, and said that I refused to answer his questions.

“Just inspect his bags,” the senior officer said. “He has a right to remain silent.”

Finally! It took half an hour and five federal officers before one of them acknowledged that I had a right not to answer their questions.

The junior officer inspected my bags in some detail, found nothing of interest, and told me I could leave.

* * *

Principal Take-Aways

1. Cops Really Don’t Like It When You Refuse To Answer Their Questions. The passport control officer was aghast when I told her that my visit to China was none of her business. This must not happen often, because several of the officers involved seemed thrown by my refusal to meekly bend to their whim.

2. They’re Keeping Records. A federal, computer-searchable file exists on my refusal to answer questions.

3. This Is About Power, Not Security. The CBP goons want U.S. citizens to answer their questions as a ritualistic bow to their power. Well, CBP has no power over me. I am a law-abiding citizen, and, as such, I am the master, and the federal cops are my servants. They would do well to remember that.

4. U.S. Citizens Have No Obligation To Answer Questions. Ultimately, the cops let me go, because there was nothing they could do. A returning U.S. citizen has an obligation to provide proof of citizenship, and the officer has legitimate reasons to investigate if she suspects the veracity of the citizenship claim. A U.S. citizen returning with goods also has an obligation to complete a written customs declaration. But that’s it. You don’t have to answer questions about where you went, why you went, who you saw, etc.

Of course, if you don’t, you get hassled.

But that’s a small price to pay to remind these thugs that their powers are limited and restricted.


TOPICS: Politics; Society; Travel
KEYWORDS: idiotalert; learningcurve; post911; stuckonstupid
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1 posted on 03/30/2012 6:04:14 PM PDT by expat1000
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To: expat1000

At least they let him go. Other countries may have not.


2 posted on 03/30/2012 6:08:27 PM PDT by Dallas59 (President Robert Gibbs 2009-2011)
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To: expat1000
Bump for later.

/johnny

3 posted on 03/30/2012 6:10:44 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: expat1000
well, now, you appear to be coming of age.

2. They’re Keeping Records. A federal, computer-searchable file exists on my refusal to answer questions.

they'll be back. you got lucky.

3. This Is About Power, Not Security.

Truly, Einstein is your daddy.

4 posted on 03/30/2012 6:11:55 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: Dallas59
At least they let him go. Other countries may have not.

Yeah, like Florida.

5 posted on 03/30/2012 6:12:32 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: expat1000
“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.

“None of your business,” I said.

I've been travelling internationally for the past 40 years, and they always ask questions like that (both here and abroad). Answering with "none of your business" is just plain stupid.

6 posted on 03/30/2012 6:12:57 PM PDT by Cementjungle
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To: Cementjungle

Having never been put on the stand in court before, I told the questioning lawyer, “thats none of your business”...the judge got POed at me and told me to answer the question...I gave a none answer to the question but the judge accepted it....


7 posted on 03/30/2012 6:16:30 PM PDT by goat granny
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To: Cementjungle
“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.

Just getting oriented.
8 posted on 03/30/2012 6:16:30 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: expat1000
“Why were you in China?”

It's obvious, ya wanted to speak to Obama's boss.

9 posted on 03/30/2012 6:17:19 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it and the law is what WE say it is.)
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To: expat1000

The dude is just asking for a cavity search.


10 posted on 03/30/2012 6:20:13 PM PDT by Drango (A liberal's compassion is limited only by the size of someone else's wallet.)
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To: expat1000

Reminds me of this video

The RIGHT Way to Handle a Police Stop
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDJrQBwJpqk

and this video.

Dont Talk to Police
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc&feature=related


11 posted on 03/30/2012 6:28:42 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: expat1000

Good post.

I am shocked and ashamed at the answers I’m seeing here from freepers.

The lawyer was polite, but firm —courage.

I feel like I am NOT AT FREE REPUBLIC, seeing the idiotic answers here...


12 posted on 03/30/2012 6:29:38 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: expat1000

Congratulations; I doff my hat to you. I don’t know if I would have had the patience to have so courteously waited them out.


13 posted on 03/30/2012 6:32:13 PM PDT by Oceander (TINSTAAFL - Mother Nature Abhors a Free Lunch almost as much as She Abhors a Vacuum)
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To: aruanan

lol


14 posted on 03/30/2012 6:35:05 PM PDT by Cementjungle
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To: expat1000

I have a boot on my left foot, going through Jamaica security on the way to my ship. A female security told me to take it off and I said, “no.” She did a double take and asked why not. I told her I couldn’t get it back on correctly without the air pump, which was on the ship. She called over her supervisor, who patted down my pockets and let me go.


15 posted on 03/30/2012 6:36:01 PM PDT by razorback-bert (Some days it's not worth chewing through the straps.)
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To: expat1000
A returning U.S. citizen has an obligation to provide proof of citizenship

From Wikipedia:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) article 13 states that [...] everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

It may be difficult to block you from returning (where would you go?) but it is much easier to prevent you from leaving ever again. It's still against the UDHR, but since they are issuing passports they are firmly in control. They can deny you a passport for several reasons already.

16 posted on 03/30/2012 6:37:21 PM PDT by Greysard
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To: Cementjungle

I agree with you. Asked many times in assorted countries, you answer the questions and you go on your way.


17 posted on 03/30/2012 6:44:04 PM PDT by mojo114 (Pray for our military)
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To: gaijin
I think that you are the idiot. The US Border is not Main street USA and this jerk is an expat for a reason. He abandoned you and yours because he thinks that he is above you. See the following-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception
This douche unnecessarily occupied US Border Officers while potentially dangerous foreigners slipped through with less attention than they may have deserved because of his massive ego. He wasn't protecting your rights, he was endangering you. If he wants to show us how tough he is, all he has to do is go preach the Gospel in a Mosque and then scream some racial epithets in an inner city bar. It's his right, isn't it?
18 posted on 03/30/2012 6:46:00 PM PDT by patfan
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To: patfan
OK, uh...you think THIS man is a Muslim:

And you think the fact that he practices law outside the US and visits the US makes for an act of ABANDONMENT...?

19 posted on 03/30/2012 6:51:16 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: patfan
Sucks that the 4th amendment is pretty much a dead letter these days.

/johnny

20 posted on 03/30/2012 6:56:08 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Cementjungle; expat1000

Thew real reason they ask questions, as this fool already knows, is to hear you speak. CBP agents are trained to listen for the very subtle differences between native-spoken English and English that which was aquuired after age 2. No one who learns any language after learning another fluently is completely free of the accents, inflections, words patterns, etc. of their first language.

Back in the day, there were certain phrases they would lead Eastern Eurpeans to speak, and in doing so, they could detect a Russian native pseaker as opposed to a German, Yugoslav or other person who could get into the US more easily.

In addition, since they make no record of the persons answers to these questions, this idiot is simply a ballbreaker.


21 posted on 03/30/2012 7:01:05 PM PDT by MindBender26 (New Army SF and Ranger Slogan: Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord.... but He subcontracts!)
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To: Oceander
Seriously? You are the same person who would be bitching about some illegal slipping through that same airport and killing some kid in your hometown. It happens everyday. First of all, the fourth amendment does not apply to the border. Second of all, although I generally support the strictest of limitations on Federal Authority, the Border is nothing to play with. Even libertine goofballs can sense that. Notice that I didn't say “understand”.
22 posted on 03/30/2012 7:01:26 PM PDT by patfan
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To: MindBender26
They heard him speak. He just didn't answer their questions.

/johnny

23 posted on 03/30/2012 7:03:41 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: MindBender26

>>Thew real reason they ask questions, as this fool already knows, is to hear you speak.

Actually this fool (above) is out of date by a few decades.

They know very well he is American. The real reason they ask is to look for signs of stress, no accents.


24 posted on 03/30/2012 7:05:26 PM PDT by expat1000
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To: patfan
the fourth amendment does not apply to the border.

I'm missing that part of my copy of the Constitution.

Besides, refusing to answer questions falls under 1st and 5th amendments. He let them search (4th amendment).

/johnny

25 posted on 03/30/2012 7:05:30 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: gaijin

No, but he could use a much better hairdresser, and an updated photograph since his graduation from law school in the 80s !

:)


26 posted on 03/30/2012 7:07:59 PM PDT by MindBender26 (New Army SF and Ranger Slogan: Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord.... but He subcontracts!)
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To: gaijin

What are you talking about? His screen name is expat and I said that if he had any real balls he would preach the Gospel in a Mosque rather than show us how tough he is by occupying Border Officers in a Sterile environment that he know that he is safe in. Are you slow?


27 posted on 03/30/2012 7:08:14 PM PDT by patfan
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To: expat1000

All of the above.


28 posted on 03/30/2012 7:09:12 PM PDT by MindBender26 (New Army SF and Ranger Slogan: Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord.... but He subcontracts!)
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To: Cementjungle

What’s worse, is I think that fate has relegated me to always being behind that guy.


29 posted on 03/30/2012 7:09:23 PM PDT by Melas (u)
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To: patfan
"This douche unnecessarily occupied US Border Officers while potentially dangerous foreigners slipped through with less attention than they may have deserved because of his massive ego"

Douche, massive ego...?

No wonder your handle is PATFAN!

You probably never had an Area 51 Anal Probing by TSA you didn't enjoy...!

30 posted on 03/30/2012 7:11:17 PM PDT by Dacus943
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To: patfan

Ah uh...so you’re some Boston cop or something, right?

Badge banger, right?


31 posted on 03/30/2012 7:14:36 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: patfan
Seriously? You are the same person who would be bitching about some illegal slipping through that same airport and killing some kid in your hometown. It happens everyday. First of all, the fourth amendment does not apply to the border. Second of all, although I generally support the strictest of limitations on Federal Authority, the Border is nothing to play with. Even libertine goofballs can sense that. Notice that I didn't say “understand”.

What sort of a raving, idiotic lunatic are you? First, and foremost, you know nothing about me and therefore cannot characterize what I would or would not do absent a necessary inference from what I posted; since what I posted had nothing to do with your screed, you're simply demonstrating your own incapacity for thought, period, let alone rational thought.

Second, had you read the article you would have realized that the original author could not have been an illegal trying to slip into the country because he presented a valid United States passport to border control as well as a state identification card. Beyond that, however, what on God's good Earth makes you think that answering those stupid questions would have allowed the border guard to tell if the author was an illegal or not? Do illegals engage in a particular set of activities when they go to China that US citizens do not engage in?

Third, did the original author say anything whatsoever about the Fourth Amendment, which is concerned with searches, something that the original author submitted to without a single complaint - something you would have learned if you had actually read the article instead of simply foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog.

Finally, I'm glad you aren't implying that you "understand" because your inanity passeth understanding.
32 posted on 03/30/2012 7:14:54 PM PDT by Oceander (TINSTAAFL - Mother Nature Abhors a Free Lunch almost as much as She Abhors a Vacuum)
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To: expat1000
“Am I free to go?”

The best question to ask when being detained. If the answer is yes, you can just turn and walk away as if the police don't exist. If the answer is no, it can come in handy if there is ever a related trial.

33 posted on 03/30/2012 7:16:11 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: patfan
He did what was legally required, submitted to a search of his posessions, filled out a written declaration, all of that.

This isn't about testicles, it's about enforcing the law. And the law doesn't require him to answer questions, apparently.

/johnny

34 posted on 03/30/2012 7:17:16 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper
There is a long standing a 4th amendment exception for customs inspections when entering and leaving the country. All of your belongings are subject to inspection in a search for items which may be charged a duty, or are contraband.

I know you might not agree with that, but it is good to know information the next time you get to customs.

35 posted on 03/30/2012 7:21:27 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: gaijin

Maybe not a terrorist, but maybe they should search his computer for kiddie porn.


36 posted on 03/30/2012 7:23:17 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: USNBandit
There are 4th amendment exceptions for just about everything, these days. I understand that. And I don't agree with it. I doubt the founders would, either.

And I don't have to worry about customs, because I don't intend to leave Texas, ever again.

/johnny

37 posted on 03/30/2012 7:24:36 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Ping to read later......


38 posted on 03/30/2012 7:30:03 PM PDT by basil (It's time to rid the country of "gun free zones" aka "Killing Fields")
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To: expat1000; gaijin
With all due respect to my fellow members, this may show why the Bar is falling into general disrepute.

This is a classic example of being an ass because you can.

Here is an overriding example. There was a time when commercial lawyers ensured that all contracts were in proper legal form, clearly expressed the desires and expectations of all parties and provided remedies for failures to perform under the terms of an agreement. Then, a contract was simply an enforceable agreement.

Now, lawyers (because there are so many and they need something to do) have set themselves up into a new arena.

Time and again, two non-lawyer parties reach a mutually advantageous agreement. They then call their respective lawyers to reduce the agreement to writing. The lawyers, however, decide that it their job to get their client a “better deal.” They often spend hundreds of (billable) hours, achieve no substantiate benefit for their clients, and only get the two contracting parties mad at each other.

Often what was to be a mutually beneficial arrangement is never concluded, or even worse, becomes so one sided the underlying business proposition fails, after everyone has put a few million into it.

It's especially bad with female lawyers who think they have to enter every meeting with a scowl and an adversarial attitude.

I was recently called in to help mediate a libel and slander case against a TV station. Three times I had it settled, and everyone was happy, but the opposing lawyers screwed it up.

I finally called in both counsel and told them if they screwed up this 4th settlement, I was going to call their clients in and tell them I thought both counsel were simply trying to ensure the case went to trial, to vastly increase their billable hours.

They said I wouldn't dare. I gave them three names of other bar members they both knew and offered to have them call and ask if they thought I would do that.

The deal was dictated, reviewed and inked in 40 minutes!

Lawyers, stop acting like assholes because you can!

39 posted on 03/30/2012 7:30:45 PM PDT by MindBender26 (New Army SF and Ranger Slogan: Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord.... but He subcontracts!)
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To: Greysard
A returning U.S. citizen has an obligation to provide proof of citizenship

Not entirely true. A USC can show up with nothing, declare themselves a citizen and they have to be admitted. Obviously there will be a process involved in proving the claim but you must still be admitted. Even if this guy was a complete jackass, once it is determined he is a citizen he must be admitted. There are quick ways and slow ways to get through customs. This guy seems to relish the slow way.

I would bet that he wouldn't act like this if he had a tighter connection.

40 posted on 03/30/2012 7:31:53 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Thank you for the videos.


41 posted on 03/30/2012 7:40:11 PM PDT by TaxPayer2000
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To: Cementjungle
The guy thinks he's 'back home', but until the federales say you are, then you aren't.

This border control stuff has some logical discontinuities at the D-mark!

I've never been asked questions crossing to and from Mexico. Otherwise they ask questions.

42 posted on 03/30/2012 7:44:36 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: USNBandit
I LEARNED my lesson one time returning from Europe. There was this young man in front of me who mouthed off to the customs guy, so he ended up having ALL of his underwear put on display, unpacked, unrolled ~ right down to the dirty socks, and he got to stand there for a long time as they searched even the liner of his bags.

I resolved to never PO any of these people ~ not ever!

43 posted on 03/30/2012 7:47:25 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Oceander

OK, I incorrectly inferred that you would dislike some illegal slipping through that airport and committing some crime in your hometown. All who would infer the same must also be incapable of rational thought. Agreed? Who said anything about this citizen entering the US? I alluded to the 10 illegals behind him in line who did not get the scrutiny that they may have deserved because Officers were busy with this narcissist.
Rabid dog? I’m OK with that. I’m also OK with lawyers holding the government to their standard and protecting the constitution, this BS did none of that.


44 posted on 03/30/2012 7:48:29 PM PDT by patfan
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To: Cementjungle
I've been travelling internationally for the past 40 years, and they always ask questions like that

Israeli airport security agents (arguably the best in the world) are trained to ask those kinds of questions. They're looking for odd answers or odd physical responses.

45 posted on 03/30/2012 7:49:35 PM PDT by Leaning Right (Why am I carrying this lantern? you ask. I am looking for the next Reagan.)
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To: JRandomFreeper
Everybody is motivated by something.

1. U.S. citizens and residents are subject to U.S. income tax on worldwide income, while nonresidents are subject to U.S. income tax on U.S. source income and income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business.

What is this guy's motivation? Open border activist? Personal skeletons? Constitutional crusader? Anybody’s guess.

46 posted on 03/30/2012 7:58:44 PM PDT by patfan
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To: patfan
What is this guy's motivation?

Maybe somebody told him that with 20 referrals to secondary you get a free t-shirt.

47 posted on 03/30/2012 8:02:47 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: Oceander; patfan

For the record, a buddy sent this to me and I thought it would be of interest. I am not the lawyer in question.


48 posted on 03/30/2012 8:05:02 PM PDT by expat1000
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To: muawiyah

Why are you afraid of having your underwear displayed? Wouldn’t bother me.


49 posted on 03/30/2012 8:11:49 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature not nurture TM)
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To: JRandomFreeper
Outstanding. I guess I can stuff 11k in US Dollars in my pants and waltz across the border exercising my 1st and 5th amendment rights. Are you going to defend me?
50 posted on 03/30/2012 8:15:39 PM PDT by patfan
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