Agents of SHIELD kicked off with a great World War II introduction featuring Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos. I have high hopes for Season 2 and really enjoyed the premiere. However, the episode also had a HYDRA of legal issues, because they kept cutting off heads with two more torts or crimes growing to take its place.
Director Coulson has been flying coach to recruit SHIELD Agents. As “Phil Coulson” is likely on not just the “No-Fly List,” but the FBI most wanted list, Director Coulson has to be traveling under a fake name.
To have an understanding of how air security works, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) administers the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), which develops and maintains the government’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). The No-Fly List is a subset of the TSDB. The TSC provides the TSA with the No-Fly List. Latif v. Holder, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85450 (D. Or.June 24, 2014).
If Coulson was flying coach, he had to be doing so under a false identity. This would mean he is either committing identity theft or fraud. Moreover, the government would view his recruitment efforts as not one for a cool club, but a terrorist organization.
Is Buddy the Dog Still Howling Agent Ward?
Grant Ward has achieved a new level of creepiness while talking to Skye in his cell. Besides taking obsessive to a new level, Ward actually would have a real legal gripe against Director Coulson: Ward had been falsely imprisoned by a former law enforcement agency without a trial in solitary confinement.
There are very valid reasons Ward should be in prison for all the people he killed, terrorists he aided, and weapons of mass destruction he stole. However, the Constitution guarantees everyone in the United States the right to know why they are arrested, the right to an attorney, the right to a trial, the right to confront witnesses, plus many other “inalienable” rights. There is little question Ward earned a firing squad for his treason, however, he should have had a trial. Moreover, as SHIELD is no more, keeping Ward locked in a high security basement would be false imprisonment.
Assault on the US Military
SHIELD agents kidnapped General Talbot and made an armed assault on a secure military facility to capture government property from the SSR. All of these things are bad from a legal perspective, but there was a significant change in tactics since TAHITI: the SHIELD agents used ICERs (formerly known as “Night Night” Guns) on military personnel. This is a marked improvement since the good guys killed two people without justification to save Skye. As the heroes were not using lethal weapons on US soldiers, this makes the likelihood of pardons for stopping HYDRA more likely in the future.