Liberty For Security: The TSA and America

June 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

For months now we have been hearing about the absurd and intrusive screening processes of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  First we had to all remove our shoes and belts, and then we had to be subjected to random pat downs, x-ray scanners, and “enhanced” pat downs for anyone who protested.  The horror stories of the TSA just keep coming.

The latest headline involves a 95-year-old cancer patient.  The elderly Florida woman was traveling with her daughter Jean Weber, through Northwest Florida Regional Airport.  When they reached the TSA security checkpoint Weber’s mother was wheeled off to a screening area walled off with glass partitions where an invasive pat down was conducted.  A TSA agent reported to Weber that “something suspicious” was felt on her mother’s leg.  At that point the 95-year-old was taken into a private, closed screening room.  When the TSA agent emerged from the private screening room they informed Weber that her mother’s incontinence undergarment was “wet and firm” and could therefore not be checked thoroughly.  Weber was asked to take her mother to a bathroom and remove the undergarment, forcing the elderly woman whose name was not released to go through the airport without any underwear.

How many more of these reports will it take until the American people wake up and do something?  There are some movements in action to stop the TSA, but without more people taking part, no real change will come.

Benjamin Franklin once said:

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Today Franklin’s words should echo through the minds of Americans with as much urgency as ever.  The TSA and their demoralizing methods are one of the most obvious examples of our liberty being taken from us in exchange for what Big Brother assures us is for our safety.  This may seem as if a small inconvenience to some, but it is a blatant invasion of your privacy and of your physical and emotional security.

The Founding Fathers laid out protections to prevent the government from enacting such obtrusive policies against Americans.  It cannot be stressed enough just how important the Constitution is today.  The Forth Amendment clearly sets limits on governmental intrusion of privacy.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Clearly, the use of x-ray scanners and “enhanced” pat downs is unreasonable.  Please, use metal detectors, use bomb sniffing canines if you wish, but do not virtually strip search or lay a hand upon me or a member of my family without probable cause!  The fact that someone wishes to exercise their right to travel freely does not count as suspicious behavior.

Does this seem reasonable to you?

Does this seem reasonable to you?

When will the TSA and their barbarism hit home with you?  When they remove the diaper from your baby daughter?  When they give an “enhanced” pat down to your husband or wife?  Maybe it will be when you are forced to choose between being groped or standing in a radiation chamber to be virtually strip searched?

Back in November 2010, and reported that the TSA had 385 full body scanners installed in 68 airports throughout the United States.   The reports also noted that the TSA intended to have 1,000 scanners installed by the end of 2011.  Each one of these scanners costs $150,000 to $180,000.  That puts the total cost of these invasive devices at $150-$180 million dollars so far.

In February NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported that an undercover TSA agent went through multiple full body scans with a concealed handgun undetected.  Not only are these scanners a serious invasion of privacy, but they do not even work reliably.  Or at the very least, the TSA agents using them are too incompetent to use them with consistent success.  Either way, they are not effective, a terrible misuse of tax dollars, and most importantly a violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

Contrary to what the TSA says, the scanners save the nude images that they take of travelers.  In August 2010 it was leaked that the US Marshall Service had saved 35,000 images of virtually strip searched citizens.  Tech site Gizmodo posted 100 of the leaked images on their site in November 2010.  If you consider the purpose of these machines, it makes perfect sense that they save the images.  For example, say there was a successful terrorist attack against an aircraft.  The investigators would want to go back and review the scans to see if something was overlooked.  Despite what the TSA or Department of Homeland Security say, the TSA’s own Procurement Specs require that the machines be capable of saving and transmitting the images.  So not only is your privacy being violated, but the images are being saved, and could possibly be leaked online for the world to see.

We haven’t even talked about the potential health risks of the full body scanners.  The TSA insists that they are safe; however there have been reports of the radiation levels that travelers are exposed to being as much as 20 times the official numbers.  Some of the scanners also have controls that allow the screener to adjust the clarity of the scan, which causes fluctuation in the radiation exposure.

There are even some overzealous lawmakers hoping to ram this deplorable invasion of privacy down our throats.  Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) introduced the S.A.F.E.R. A.I.R. Act on Jun 24, 2010 which would have made full body scans mandatory.  Thankfully the bill died in Committee, but we must be vigilant in case it is reintroduced.  We must send a clear message to our elected officials.  We voted them in.  They need to be reminded constantly that they answer to us.

If you agree that the TSA continues to go too far please contact your state and federal officials and push them to end this grievous assault on our privacy.

What is your opinion on the TSA?  Feel free to discuss in the comments!

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