Sunday, November 7, 2010

TSA Gropes Woman, Airport Says Passengers "Enjoy The Experience"

On several occasions, I have written about the farce that airport security has become. In the words of professional security consultant Bruce Scheider, it is "security theatre" -- designed to make us feel secure without actually making us secure. If you would like to read some of the earlier postings click here or here.

The latter posting included this quotation,

It's a remarkable fact that a nation founded, fought for, built by, and transformed through the extraordinary courage of figures such as George Washington, Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. now often seems reduced to a pitiful whimpering giant by a handful of mostly incompetent criminals, whose main weapons consist of scary-sounding Web sites and shoe- and underwear-concealed bombs that fail to detonate.
Terrorball, in short, is made possible by a loss of the sense that cowardice is among the most disgusting and shameful of vices. I shudder to think what Washington, who as commander in chief of the Continental Army intentionally exposed himself to enemy fire to rally his poorly armed and badly outnumbered troops, would think of the spectacle of millions of Americans not merely tolerating but actually demanding that their government subject them to various indignities, in the false hope that the rituals of what has been called "security theater" will reduce the already infinitesimal risks we face from terrorism.

On November 1, the Transportation Security Administration put in new "grope search" procedures. If you want to opt-out of the Nude-O-Scope, you get a grope search. In airports (like Wichita) without the Nude-O-Scope setting off the metal detector gets you the grope search.

Here is the account of a woman in Odessa, Tx Friday:
"I was violated. I was violated, I have never felt so humiliated in all of my life," Ferguson said.
The same day the new guidelines went into effect, Ferguson says she was screened by a TSA agent who touched her chest and bottom.
"What got me was, she came back around to the front and told me to put my arms out and spread my legs out," Ferguson said.
She says the agent felt under her dress. The TSA agent was performing what's called an "enhanced pat down screening." Using the palm of their hands, agents can slide them up and down a passenger's body. They can even move inside your legs, and have the authority to touch breasts and genital areas, with the over-the-clothes pat down.
And, when she complained, what did the male airport representative say?

I think this is the first time that I've heard of anybody that didn't enjoy the experience...

Since when did we give up our basic civil and human rights to get on an airplane? And, why are we tolerating it? And, why are local police assigned to airports going along with it? The state laws against sexual assault are still on the books.

People are starting to wake up.  The U.S. Libertarian Party issued this statement yesterday:
 "The TSA should end the strip-search machine program immediately."
"We've reached a point where our government has no qualms about humiliating us."
"Everyone who cares about civil liberties should be outraged that the Obama administration has shown no respect for travelers' privacy or their right to be free from unreasonable searches. The fact that I want to travel on an airplane does not make me a threat, and it does not allow anyone to conduct a warrantless search under my clothing. The Obama administration apparently agrees with the neoconservative philosophy that there are no limits on government power in the areas of security and terrorism.
"Terrorists win when they provoke our government into overreacting. Apparently they have manipulated our government into chipping away at our rights and privacy. We should not let them get away with it."
Airline pilots are starting to rebel. The American Airlines' pilot association has issued a statement that says,

It's safe to say that most of the APA leadership shares my view that no pilot at American Airlines should subject themselves to the needless privacy invasion and potential health risks caused by the AIT [nude imaging] body scanners. 

and, here is one from an ExpressJet (the facts are not in question) pilot who refused the Nude-O-Scope and the grope and was detained. Here are his comments:

As a side note, I cannot refrain here from expressing my dismay and heartbreak over a civil servant’s personal resignation to the loss of civil liberty among the people by whom he is employed to protect and serve. If he no longer affirms the rights and freedom of his fellow citizens, one can only wonder exactly what he has in view as the purpose of his profession.

What happened to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?

It is time to stop this madness and this threat to civil liberties. Dial the passenger part of airport security back to where it was prior to September 11, keep the screening of checked luggage, and increase the scrutiny of parcels shipped on passenger aircraft and the people who service passenger aircraft. Doing so would actually make us safer than we are now.

I have personally spoken with my new congressman and new senator and will, now that the election is over, be contacting the rest of the Kansas congressional delegation. If you don't want your young daughter groped (and, by extension, taught this behavior is acceptable) merely to get on an airplane, I urge you to do the same.

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