on Security

“The right of the People to be secure in their  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 to be seized” 4th Amendment (Bill of Rights) to the U.S Constitution

The TSA blinked this past Thanksgiving. With the threat of an Opt-Out protest, the TSA turned off the nude scanning machines at many large airports and went back to the old metal detectors and non-groping pat downs. I know this to be true, as I just returned from Phoenix and witnessed it myself. So, if these new techniques were so critical to safety, then why were they disabled on the busiest week of the year? Either the TSA cared more about PR than our safety, or these new techniques are really not all that critical to our safety and are about something else entirely. Neither answer provides comfort to the American people. We want real safety, not the illusion of safety.

As someone who travels by air at least three times a year, I have learned to tolerate some inconveniences in the name of security. However, the government has now overreached with these “nude” body scanners and custody search type body pat downs. They are conducting unreasonable searches of persons without probable cause and without a warrant. Some may consider flying to be a privilege (I disagree, as I believe the right to travel is a fundamental right of citizens within a free society), but the rights guaranteed under the 4th amendment are still not waived at the airport door. Asking Americans to choose between their constitutional rights and flying is wrong. Being ok with the rights of others being violated just because you are not personally affected is wrong. A little bit of unconstitutional behavior should not be any more acceptable than a little bit of racism. 

We must not give into fear. It will change us forever if we do. Besides, can anyone really say with a straight face that watching an elderly disabled woman in a wheelchair getting groped makes them feel any safer? How about a pretty young teenager? Or a rape victim? The terrorists must be laughing their heads off as ordinary Americans are treated like farmyard animals, all because our government refuses to do and act on the intelligence work that it takes to keep bombers from even getting to the airport in the first place. The government had the intel on the Christmas Day bomber, yet failed to act; so the solution is to make all airline passengers suffer for their incompetence? I think that before we continue along this path of surrendering more of our liberties in the name of safety, we should take a step back and evaluate if what we are doing is actually working. Given the fact that all terrorist attempts since 9/11 have been stopped by either ordinary American citizens or field intelligence, why do we continue to throw more resources at things that don’t seem to work?  It is time to start profiling for behavior, instead of profiling for stuff.

Treating all law-abiding American citizens like criminals is not going to prevent terrorists from trying to blow up planes. Do you really think an $11,000 fine or the threat of arrest by refusing such an intrusive screening is really going to deter terrorists from accomplishing their mission? Who is more likely to be punished by this TSA policy, the terrorist or the average law-abiding American citizen whose only crime is refusing to be groped without cause? Consent under duress is not consent – it is assault. Since terrorists also seem to be willing to place bombs up their butts too, will we next be expected to submit to random cavity searches as well? Where do we draw the line? The terrorists have shown themselves willing to do the unthinkable in the name of religion. How are we any different by being willing to do the unthinkable in the name of safety? Who is the true victor here?

When we as Americans are expected to give up our privacy, constitutional protections, health and be willing to submit to public humiliation in order to complete a business transaction (like taking a flight) or keep a job, then the terrorists have won. When we put political correctness ahead of our safety and security, or ahead of the dignity of those that should be presumed innocent, then the terrorists have won. When we accept in the name of safety what used to be considered repugnant or unconstitutional, or is illegal under any other circumstance, then the terrorists have won. If you believe that this is the best that we can do, then the terrorists have won.

The path to a police state is never marked with road signs, but the road bumps of a hundred little surrenders, things that seemed reasonable at the time. In addition to airports, the TSA is already instituting these scanning techniques at courthouses, and are now talking about doing it at train stations, bus stations, subway stations, ships, and other public areas like stadiums. So, does that mean that if we don’t like these screening methods, not only can we “choose” not to fly, but we can “choose” not to take the train, bus, subway, boat or go to a ball game? Just how many more of our freedoms can we “choose” to give up and still be able to call ourselves free?

Remember, if all you want is guaranteed security, then you can have it instantly, right now. You only have to do one thing.


 “The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.” James Madison (1751-1836), 4th President of the United States

 “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

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