November 16, 2010

Submit to porn or be groped... your choice

The Fourth Amendment guarantees the people a right against unreasonable searches and seizures, but because of the special risks inherent to air travel, and because we have the option not to fly, U.S. courts have allowed a gradual relaxing of 4A protections at airports.

Lower courts have approved the use of metal detectors on individuals wishing to board an airplane, and the use of x-ray machines for carry-on luggage. These are ruled as being consistent with 4A, and SCOTUS has indirectly suggested agreement. The camel’s nose is Chandler v. Miller, in which the Court stated:

"where the risk to public safety is substantial and real, blanket suspicionless searches calibrated to the risk may rank as 'reasonable' - for example, searches now routine at airports and at entrances to courts and other official buildings."
Since I find myself on airplanes probably no more than three or four time a year anymore, these enhanced security procedures haven’t really bothered me all that much. Sure, I hate having to pull my shoes off, but it is something with which I could live.

The newest set of security procedures, I must admit, has me a bit piqued. The new requirement of either full-body screening (porno-scanning) or “enhanced” pat-down, is going too far.

Most of us will suffer from at least some mild discomfort knowing some random person is peeking at our naked body. It is an invasion of privacy that I don't appreciate.

When they first started showing up at the airports, and because they were being used randomly on an opt-out basis alongside the standard metal detectors, the backscatter scanners were not much concern. Now however, the choice is between being digitally stripped searched or being physically molested by a low-wage security guard employing the same sort of “frisking” once reserved for certified peace officers (with probable cause) searching a criminal suspect.

This pisses me off. I am not a criminal and they have no probable cause to search me. For over 4 more than decades I’ve flown at least a couple times a year. Over a 13-year period between 1992 and 2005 I averaged 100,000 air miles annually. Until 9/11 happened I carried tools in my carry-on, including a pocketknife. Seems to me that if I posed any threat they could have figured it out by now. 

The checks are part of an unsustainable strategy. How in the world do we think that inspecting everybody and all of their belongings for every possible kind of weapon, and treating ever passenger as a potential terrorist, including infant children, elderly females and uniformed crewmembers, is actually making us any safer?

It doesn’t... plain and simple, and given the lack of evidence to suggest that these searches will have any positive benefit at all it all seems "unreasonable" and therefore contrary to 4A to inflict them upon a generally innocent travelling public. TSA is successfully proving that it is quite possible to diminish privacy without enhancing safety.

The scanners raise health issues as well as constitutional privacy issues, and the pat-downs are simply invasive. Those however are the least of our problems. The false sense of security engendered by these checks may cause otherwise vigilant passengers to be lulled, removing the so far most effective security mechinism we have found. 

If there has ever been a terrorist discovered by any TSA security check it has never made the news. Since 9/11/2001, even including United flight 93 on that very day, every terrorist incident on board an aircraft has been discovered and terminated by the passengers.

The cost of these scanners and pat-downs is not worth the price we pay in dignity. There is not an iota of documentable evidence that the violations of our 4A rights serve any claimed purpose, yet the proponents of assert otherwise... and plan to subject people to something that in any other context would constitute sexual assault.

In England, where they also use the machines, there is broad concern that images produced by backscatter scanners may be in violation of that country’s pornography laws. Has TSA considered that the same might be true here? Would using them on children constitute a kiddie-porn violation? If we pat-down instead, what about the potential effect on child sexual abuse victims? Breast cancer survivors? Sufferers of PTSD?

The purpose of the terrorists on 09/11/2001 was to instill fear and to destabilize our economy. Homeland Security has played into their hands on both counts, and We The People have behaved as sheep. As a result, either we non-suspect citizens submit to porno-scanning, or to the nonconsensual touching of our breasts and/or groins, or we refuse both we will be terrorized by our own authorities, sued and fined (note that this link has over 5,000 comments)... all as a condition for simply being allowed to travel…

It seems to me that it is possible to enhance safety without diminishing privacy, but Homeland Security and TSA seem not to be interested in exploring that avenue. All either has accomplished is to cost us a hell of a lot of money, waste a hell of a lot of our time, and serve up a healthy load of fear and mistrust.

Osama must be chortling.

H/T EBM, Marco, TCP, and a host of others.

UPDATE, via Wing Nut Daily and courtesy of TUX.
Former TSA Asst. Administrator says that the scanners and pat-downs are a 4A violation.


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2 Comments:

fuzzys dad said...

I shudder to think of what would happen to me.I have lots of metal in my body.Lower back,right hip and my neck.

Old Weird Libra said...

This does not affect me, as I have not considered flying in years; but if I should fly, I think I would say to anyone wanting to grope this 81-year-old body, "Go ahead, honey, I can't remember the last time anyone has touched that part of me!"