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Disruptive plane passengers prosecuted under Patriot Act

January 20, 2009 by  

Does disruption count as terrorism?Although the Patriot Act is intended to combat terrorists, it is also reportedly being used to fight back at unruly passengers.

A report in the Los Angeles Times describes how mother Tamera Jo Freeman was convicted of a federal felony defined as an act of terrorism, after she apparently engaged in some disruptive behavior on a plane.

In fact, her particular behavior consisted of spanking her two children, swearing at a flight attendant and throwing a can of tomato juice on the floor, according to the article.

At least 200 people on flights have been convicted of terrorism under the Patriot Act. The Times says most of these cases do not contain any evidence of hijacking or physical attacks, but have instead consisted of arguments, bad language and unruly behavior.

"We have gone completely berserk on this issue," security consultant Charles Slepian told the news provider. "These are not threats to national security or threats to aircraft, but we use that as an excuse."

The Patriot Act was passed by Congress 45 days after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
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