Key Points:

checkmark.gif (392 bytes) An American does not have to speak with a government agent unless the citizen has been arrested.

checkmark.gif (392 bytes)Americans have a right to privacy, to be left alone.

checkmark.gif (392 bytes)The PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 (Public Law 93-579), empowers citizens to require full, written disclosure from a government official who seeks information.

checkmark.gif (392 bytes)You may insist on complete disclosure as a precondition to speaking with any government official.

The Limits On Federal Power:

checkmark.gif (392 bytes) 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.

checkmark.gif (392 bytes)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 oneıs 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 Terms

checkmark.gif (392 bytes)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 doorstep.

checkmark.gif (392 bytes) A handy little questionnaire that I came across years ago will do the trick. Itıs 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 0-930073-03-7).

checkmark.gif (392 bytes) 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.

checkmark.gif (392 bytes) 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 agentıs cooperation with the citizen.

Do It Right, The First Time

checkmark.gif (392 bytes) 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.

checkmark.gif (392 bytes) Most probably some government agents will not want to fill out or sign the PSQ. Thatıs 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 such agencies...."

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.

1. Name of public servant ____________________________________________

2. Residence address _________________________________________________

City ___________________________________ State _________ Zip __________

3. Name of department of government, bureau, or agency by which public servant is employed __________________________________________

Supervisorıs name __________________________________________________

4. Office mailing address:____________________________________________

City ____________________________________ State _________ Zip _________

5. Will public servant uphold the Constitution of the United States of America? Yes ______ No _______

6. Did public servant furnish proof of identity? Yes _____ No _____

7. What was the nature of proof? ID No. _____________________
Badge No. _________________  Driverıs License No. ____________

8. Will public servant furnish a copy of the law or regulation which
authorizes this investigation? Yes _______ No __________

9. Will the public servant read aloud that portion of the law authorizing the questions he will ask? Yes __________ No _________

10. Are the citizen's answers voluntary? _____ Or Mandatory? ____

11. Are the questions to be asked based upon a specific law or regulation? ___________ or are they being used as a discovery process? ________

12. What other uses may be made of this information?

13. What other agencies may have access to this information?

14. What will be the effect upon me if I should choose to not answer any part of these questions?

15. Name of person in government requesting that this investigation be made? __________________________________________

16. 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.

17. Have you consulted, questioned, interviewed, or received information from any third party relative to this investigation?    Yes ______ No _____

18. If yes, the identity of all such third parties?

19. 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 ____________

20. Is there a file of records, information, or correspondence relating  to me being maintained by this agency? Yes ________ No _________

21. 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? _____________________________

22. 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 ____________


I swear (or affirm) that the answers I have given to the foregoing
questions are complete and correct in every particular.

(Must be signed in ink. This signature should be witnessed by two people. Citizen may administer an oath if he or she so desires.)

Witness ____________________________________________________________

Witness ____________________________________________________________

This questionnaire was written by 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 ³The Lawyerıs 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:

This page was reproduced with permission from
Free Radio Tuscon

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