If they come a
and ask'in lots of questions...
the gov'mint comes a knock'in and they're ask'in lots of questions, about you
or people you know, consider this statement told to me year's ago..."When you
go to them with a problem, they may be your friend, but when they come to talk
to you, they are NEVER your friend. Be leary of them."
information below as a public service message. Stand up and ask some
Good input from a lawyer
friend, about the questionnaire...
- "There's nothing wrong with asking those questions, but
there's no requirement in the law that they all be answered. I don't think you
could ever require a public servant disclose his or her residence address when
acting within the scope of their job. Office address, yes."
- "It is kind of meaningless to ask them if they will
uphold the Constitution, since even if they answer "yes," whether they are
acting within the Constitution is a legal question for a court to ultimately
decide if the agent's conduct becomes an issue. They took an oath of office
already, and that oath requires them to support and defend the Constitution.
They're not going to say, "no." And if they do violate their oath, the signed
questionnaire answer will be superfluous."
- Questions as to whether cooperation is voluntary or
mandatory, and consequences for not answering, are good ones. I suspect few
agents will give you a direct answer unless they know they can charge you for
obstruction of justice, etc. If you really don't want to talk, it makes sense
to ask whether the agent thinks you must talk, or else."
- "You really can't require agents to disclose third
parties, and information they've obtained from them, as a general matter. Think
about a criminal investigation. You can't have a witnesses' testimony tainted
by telling them what another witness saw or heard, for example."
- Of course, no public servant is going to sign such a
questionnaire. But as a general matter, it wouldn't hurt to have the list handy
to ask some of the questions orally. If the agent refuses to answer the
important ones, then my attitude could well be less cooperative than if they
were forthcoming with me."
THE PUBLIC SERVANT
by Daniel J. Schultz.
- An American does not have to speak with a government agent
unless the citizen has been arrested.
- Americans have a right to privacy, to be left alone.
- The PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 (Public Law 93-579), empowers
citizens to require full, written disclosure from a government official who
- You may insist on complete disclosure as a precondition to
speaking with any government official.
The Limits On Federal
- Law-abiding citizens are sometimes visited by agents of
the Federal government for no apparent reason. It is helpful, at the time of
these visits, to recall that unless a citizen has been placed under arrest
(either because a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe the
citizen has committed a crime or because the officer has in his possession an
arrest warrant issued by a judge who believes there is probable cause the
citizen has committed a crime, a citizen does not have to entertain the company
of government agents.
- Citizens also have the right, guaranteed by the Fifth
Amendment to the United States Constitution, not to testify against themselves.
Thus, when "the government" comes knocking on one's door, you have the right to
simply say, "Please go away." Unless the government officer places you under
arrest (there must be probable cause, or an arrest warrant based on probable
cause), the officer must obey your wishes.
Be Helpful.... On Your
- Of course, citizens also have a vested interest in
assisting "the government" in its role of crime-solver. Most of us understand
the need to help "the government" to apprehend criminals. But it is also
helpful, when "the government" arrives at your place of employment or at your
home, to know how to find out why government agents have appeared on YOUR
- A handy little questionnaire that I came across years ago
will do the trick. It's called the "Public Servant Questionnaire." A version
accompanies this article. The "PSQ" was developed by Lynn Johnston, author of
Who's Afraid of the IRS? (Libertarian Review Foundation: 1983, ISBN
- The PSQ is based on the requirements placed upon the
government by the Privacy Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-579), an amending law to
Title 5, United States Code, Section 552, and is included as Section 552a.
- If a citizen chooses to cooperate with government officials
who are seeking information, BEFORE questioning begins, the citizen should
politely inform the government agent or agents that a prerequisite for the
citizen's cooperation with "the government" is the agent's cooperation with the
Do It Right, The First
- The questions should then be put to each agent, and the
citizen should enter the answers onto the questionnaire. Copies should be
provided to each agent, either at the time of the questioning or by mail to the
agent after the visit. The questionnaire informs the government agent that the
citizen knows his rights and knows which limited powers the government agent
has been granted by the people.
- Most probably some government agents will not want to fill
out or sign the PSQ. That's fine. They can then be sent on their merry way.
They may need to explain to their superiors, and a court of law, and a jury, on
another day, why they refused to cooperate with the reasonable questions of the
highest officeholder in the land, a citizen.
Public Law 93-579 states in part: "The purpose of this Act is
to provide certain safeguards for an individual against invasion of personal
privacy requiring Federal agencies... to permit an individual to determine what
records pertaining to him are collected, maintained, used or disseminated by
The following questions are based upon that act and are
necessary for this individual to make a reasonable determination concerning
divulgence of information to this agency.
- Name of public servant:
- Residence address:
___________________________________ State _________ Zip __________
- Name of department of government, bureau, or agency by which
public servant is employed:
____________________________________________________ Supervisor's name:
- Office mailing
____________________________________ State _________ Zip __________
- Will public servant uphold the Constitution of the United
States of America? Yes ______ No ______
- Did public servant furnish proof of identity? Yes ______ No
- What was the nature of proof?
ID No. _____________________
Badge No. _____________________ Driver's License No. _____________________
- Will public servant furnish a copy of the law or regulation
which authorizes this investigation? Yes ______ No ______
- Will the public servant read aloud that portion of the law
authorizing the questions he will ask? Yes ______ No ______
- Are the citizen's answers voluntary? ______ Or Mandatory?
- Are the questions to be asked based upon a specific law or
or are they being used as a discovery process?
- What other uses may be made of this
- What other agencies may have access to this information?
- What will be the effect upon me if I should choose to not
answer any part of these questions?
- Name of person in government requesting that this
investigation be made? __________________________________________
- Is this investigation "general?" ______ or is it "special?"
Note: By "general" is meant any kind of blanket investigation in
which a number of persons are involved because of geography, type of business,
sex, religion, race, schooling, income, etc. By "special" is meant any
investigation of an individual nature in which others are not involved.
- Have you consulted, questioned, interviewed, or received
information from any third party relative to this investigation?
- If yes, the identity of all such third
- Do you reasonably anticipate either a civil or criminal
action to be initiated or pursued based upon any of the information which you
seek? Yes ______ No ______
- Is there a file of records, information, or correspondence
relating to me being maintained by this agency? Yes ______ No ______
- Is this agency using any information pertaining to me which
was supplied by another agency or government source? Yes______ No ______ If
yes, which agencies and/or sources?
- Will the public servant guarantee that the information in
these files will not be used by any other department other than the one by whom
he is employed? Yes ______ No ______
AFFIRMATION BY PUBLIC
I, __________________________________________________, swear
(or affirm) that the answers I have given to the foregoing questions are
complete and correct in every
(Must be signed & dated in ink. This signature should be
witnessed by two people, if possible. Citizen may administer an oath if he or
she so desires.)
Daniel J. Schultz. Daniel is a graduate of the United
States Military Academy at West Point, New York and a practicing attorney in
Los Angeles, California. He is the President, and a co-founding member of
The Lawyer's Second Amendment Society (LSAS), a nationwide
network of pro-right to keep and bear arms attorneys. Inquiries to the LSAS may
be made to 818-734-3066 or by writing to the LSAS, 18034 Ventura Blvd, No. 329,
Encino, CA 91316. The email address for the LSAS is: