Subject: Abolish the TSA
Abolish the TSA, and permit airlines to provide their own security plans.
I have four items for you, and some questions.
1. A four year-old girl in Wichita was treated like a terrorist because she violated TSA protocol by hugging her grandmother at the airport. (http://bit.ly/IP6Dv1)
If a private security firm did this, wouldn’t it face horrible publicity and lose business? Might Congress call the CEO of that firm to testify before a committee, so your colleagues could grandstand?
2. Rep. Francisco Canseco (TX-23) got into an altercation with an overly-aggressive TSA agent. (http://bit.ly/Ic4bP7).
Rep. Canseco asks, “What on earth is a U.S. congressman going to do on a plane? Pull out a gun and shoot everybody?” (http://politi.co/JG1zsK)
He’s right; no Congressman is going to shoot up the plane. But wouldn’t private security firms compete with each other to be less invasive, and respect the dignity of all passengers?
3. TSA agents asked a 79 year-old woman about “an anomaly in the crotch area” — loud enough for others to hear. Refusing a pat-down, she passed through the scanner again. (http://bit.ly/IuzWI2)
Again, wouldn’t private security firms compete with each other to be less invasive, and respect the dignity of passengers?
And why are the body scanners so unreliable?
4. Current and former TSA employees are under indictment for receiving bribes from drug couriers in Los Angeles and New Haven. (http://lat.ms/IMQIxS)
Wouldn’t a private security firm be more interested in detecting weapons and explosives, instead of drugs?
The TSA is a typical government agency. It has no incentive to please the customers. If airline security was completely privatized, airlines would compete with each other to provide not only safety, but also a dignified process and a pleasurable trip. Customer satisfaction would be their priority.
Don’t “fix” or “reform” the TSA. Abolish it.
Our Presidents can now, on their own: order assassinations, including American citizens; operate secret military tribunals; engage in torture; enforce indefinite imprisonment without due process; order searches and seizures without proper warrants, gutting the 4th Amendment; ignore the 60 day rule for reporting to the Congress the nature of any military operations as required by the War Power Resolution; continue the Patriot Act abuses without oversight; wage war at will; and treat all Americans as suspected terrorists at airports with TSA groping and nude x-rays.
After many long months, Congressman Ron Paul received the “You’re a great American” treatment on the Sean Hannity Show. In a wild turn of events for the smiley-faced neocon, Hannity appeared to show a somewhat genuine appreciation for Dr. Paul’s work, and lifetime of service- in spite of the two’s baggage from the past. This was risky, of course, since perhaps some Hannity listeners might recognize an authentic voice for true conservatism. A generally friendly, agreeable interview about TSA policy ensued, despite the host’s propensity for right-wing statism and uniform worship. Dr. Paul thanked Sean for being nice to Rand during the campaign, proving that Hannity (in the words of the Congressman) “is not owned by the establishment part of the Republican party.” Priceless — and not likely to be repeated again in the near future.
The growing revolt against invasive TSA practices is encouraging to Americans who are fed up with federal government encroachment in their lives. In the case of air travelers, this encroachment is quite literally physical. But a deep-seated libertarian impulse still exists within the American people, and opposition to the new TSA full body scanner and groping searches is gathering momentum.
I introduced legislation last week that is based on a very simple principle: federal agents should be subject to the same laws as ordinary citizens. If you would face criminal prosecution or a lawsuit for groping someone, exposing them to unwelcome radiation, causing them emotional distress, or violating indecency laws, then TSA agents should similarly face sanctions for their actions.
This principle goes beyond TSA agents, however. As commentator Lew Rockwell recently noted, the bill “enshrines the key lesson of the freedom philosophy: the government is not above the moral law. If it is wrong for you and me, it is wrong for people in government suits. … That is true of TSA crimes too.” The revolt against TSA also serves as a refreshing reminder that we should not give in to government alarmism or be afraid to question government policies.
Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. We have seen the videos of terrified children being grabbed and probed by airport screeners. We have read the stories of Americans being subjected to humiliating body imaging machines and/or forced to have the most intimate parts of their bodies poked and fondled. We do not know the potentially harmful effects of the radiation emitted by the new millimeter wave machines.
In one recent well-publicized case, a TSA official is recorded during an attempted body search saying, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” I strongly disagree and am sure I am not alone in believing that we Americans should never give up our rights in order to travel. As our Declaration of Independence states, our rights are inalienable. This TSA version of our rights looks more like the “rights” granted in the old Soviet Constitutions, where freedoms were granted to Soviet citizens — right up to the moment the state decided to remove those freedoms.
The incident of the so-called “underwear bomber” last Christmas is given as justification for the billions of dollars the federal government is spending on the new full-body imaging machines, but a Government Accountability Office study earlier this year concluded that had these scanners been in use they may not have detected the explosive material that was allegedly brought onto the airplane. Additionally, there have been recent press reports calling into question the accuracy and adequacy of these potentially dangerous machines.
My legislation is simple. It establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.
Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries.
I warned at the time of the creation of the TSA that an unaccountable government entity in control of airport security would provide neither security nor defend our basic freedom to travel. Yet the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats then in Congress willingly voted to create another unaccountable, bullying agency– in a simple-minded and unprincipled attempt to appease public passion in the wake of 9-11. Sadly, as we see with the steady TSA encroachment on our freedom and dignity, my fears in 2001 were justified.
The solution to the need for security at US airports is not a government bureaucracy. The solution is to allow the private sector, preferably the airlines themselves, to provide for the security of their property. As a recent article in Forbes magazine eloquently stated, “The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility.” In the meantime, I hope we can pass this legislation and protect Americans from harm and humiliation when they choose to travel.
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H.R. 6416 – The American Traveler Dignity Act
To ensure that certain Federal employees cannot hide behind immunity.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. NO IMMUNITY FOR CERTAIN AIRPORT SCREENING METHODS.
No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.
This is intended as a guide to procedures and technologies you may encounter in your travels. Much of the information here is based on DHS internal policy – not law – so it is subject to change and inconsistent application. If you encounter different policies at the airport or feel your rights are being violated, please contact the ACLU.
This guide is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if you seek legal advice.