Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TSA, Privacy, Freedom, & the 4th Amendment...

If you create an entity, and give it unlimited power while carefully insulating it from any sort of realistic negative feedback mechanism, it is only a matter of time until that power is abused - likely to the extent of inspiring rebellion in the masses, whether that rebellion takes the form of work-arounds ("screw flying and the TSA, I'll drive"), ridicule, white mutiny, litigation, bringing criminal charges, or outright confrontation with a sprinkling of violence to keep things from getting boring.

For those that cannot - or will not - submit to the indignities of these invasive procedures (such as myself), document each instance where the TSA costs the airlines money. Because the TSA is an unelected government agency - and thereby largely unaccountable to mere mortals - our only recompense is to deny them (the TSA) the opportunity to grope, fondle, X-ray, fold, spindle, or mutilate us by refusing to fly and thus declining their tender ministrations.

Sadly, this will damage an already fragile airline industry – an industry that, coincidentally, has lobbyists and influence in DC circles. If we can demonstrate the degree to which the TSA costs the airlines business, they will notice - and help reign in the TSA. Or perish.

That the entity in question is keeping a
list of the non-submissive that they are apparently willing to pass along...is a hint that the stimuli for rebellion phase has been passed a while back, and the recent "Nuke or Grope" for profit policy is simply the hurling of the phosphorus torch into the giant lake of gasoline, in addition to being an indication of a loss of sanity (and perhaps a claim to decency and status as civilized persons) by TSA leadership and those who perpetrate such acts of petty tyranny while “just following orders”.

The list should, obviously, be destroyed and the creators
disciplined (if not unemployed) as a fundamental violation of privacy. A bunch of glorified rent-a-cops with delusions of grandeur led by wanna-be’s making it up as they go along have no business keeping a list of "those to be harassed" – nor, for that matter, does any other agency.

Every chance you get - each time you drive (Skype, stay home,take a train, etc) to a destination that you would otherwise have flown to, get a quote from several different airlines and send them a note telling them about the business they are losing. Drive home the fault of the TSA - that you would rather burn time than health or dignity.

Even the media is
noticing. Even liberal blogs.

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." – Benjamin Franklin

It would seem we’ve given up a whole range of essential liberties in exchange for some rather questionable illusions of security as executed by a legion of petty tyrants. Getting them back isn’t likely to be easy. And creating a two-tier system with less offensive procedures for an “elite” while letting the full range of privacy-invading fondle-measures rain down on the rest of us, is simply not acceptable.

“Unions that represent pilots for American Airlines and US Airways, representing a total of 16,500 pilots, say they want a more efficient screening process for pilots instead of having them pass through the security procedures used for passengers. Pilots have compared the new pat-downs to "sexual molestation."” – Fox News, Stephen Clark, 11/15/10.

Separate but equal has never worked out terribly well for our nation. Just this once, let’s not stumble down that well-beaten path to idiocy and litigation.

Events would tend to bear out the notion we’ve given up essential liberties in the name of a false sense of safety.

“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.”
– Fourth Amendment, United States Constitution - December 15, 1791

At what point did we surrender our freedom and, by passive submission, become cowardly accomplices to TSA Porn-o-Scans’ and the punitive molestation of men, women, and perhaps most offensively, children?

The most insulting part is that these measures are mere theater, inflicting humiliation and civil rights violations for no gain better than “looking busy”. Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber”, was not stopped by airport security, he was stopped by the passengers on the plane. He got on the plane in England with everything he needed to cause havoc and mayhem. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber”, got on board a plane in Amsterdam with 80 grams of PETN sewn into his shorts. Once again, technical incompetence, combined with the help of passengers, averted a tragedy. The recent “printer” bombs sent via UPS also failed due to human intelligence and legwork, not from scanning.

All of these plots have two critical things in common: First off, they were not stopped by screeners. Secondly, and more importantly, all of these attempts originated outside of the United States - yet the TSA responds by forcing American citizens to endure humiliating, most likely unconstitutional, and pointless assaults (and yes, assault is precisely what this is) because of the inability of screeners in areas outside of our control. We are being forced to remove our shoes and submit to strip searches because Yemen, Amsterdam, and the UK have failed to prevent persons with illegal items from getting on airplanes.

It also ignores a very basic truism: you could make every single person get on board the plane stark naked and keep them in a drug-induced stasis the entire flight, and all it takes is one fanatic with 100 grams of PETN implanted in his gullet to bring down the plane. These folks are ready to give their lives to take down airplanes - setting themselves up as organic bombs won’t phase them in the least.

The recent media coverage of the San Diego blogger (follow-up 11/14/10)first barred from the secure area of the airport (and thus prevented from boarding his flight) when he declined both the back scatter X-Ray Scanner (aka, TSA Genitalia Examination Device) and the enhanced “Grope’n’Molest” pat-down is but the tip of the iceberg. While subsequently having been directed to do so, the blogger was then assailed by a TSA supervisor threatening him with lawsuits and unappealable $10,000 civil fines if he left prior to completing the screening he’d objected to.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
-Seventh Amendment, United States Constitution– December 15, 1791

Reports are still coming in, but the author of Nobody Asked Me recounts his recent experience which certainly bore out, in my opinion, the kind of fun we’re all destined to enjoy if we keep flying or tolerating this sort of vaudevillian Security Theater. But these were far from the first, or only, incidents indicating a culture of reckless incompetence and disregard for civil rights over in the Homeland Security/TSA cesspool. Reported on November 14th over at HotAir.com (and since “mysteriously” vanished down the memory hole) the “forced body search”/molestation of a screaming and crying three year old girl by TSA officers. Forcing an 8 year old boy to remove leg braces and walk unassisted through a scanner, apologizing only after the incident became public. A rape survivor re-traumatized by an invasive pat-down.

Amputee’s could have told us months and years ago – if we’d been willing to listen, and more importantly, take action. Pt I Pt II Pt III .

And for little or no benefit, as illustrated in Part III.

Being puny humans, most of us needed a larger clue-bat applied upside our collective heads. A clue-bat the TSA is only too happy to provide. We don’t have rights, they tell us, if we buy an airplane ticket – we waived them when we bought the ticket. Foo on that silly Bill of Rights, anyway.

That the “Grope Option” appears to be primarily punitive in nature, intended to compel compliance via humiliation, fear, and embarrassment with the “Nuke Option” doesn’t make things any better. One is given the choice of a potential health risk and significant privacy violation vs. emotional, physical, and mental harassment.

Clearly, neither choice is acceptable – particularly with the additional knowledge that the only way to keep an electronic image or data private is to never create or record said picture or data in the first place (various banks, credit card companies, and institutions have been gracious enough to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt with repetitive massive data losses and exposures despite of what we are assured are absolute top-notch security measures).

Late as it is, however, a series of responses seems to be gelling. National Opt-Out Day on November 24th, where *all* passengers are encouraged (website here) to opt out of the invasive body scanners (scanners with questionable safety and certain invasion of privacy) is one such measure. Others are both more public and more personal, ranging from Tam’s notion, to a few cynical thoughts, to letters to the airline industry, vows to give up flying, more direct means, mainstream calls to abolish the TSA in its’ entirety, and more.

When direct confrontation can carry unwanted consequences, the approach of malicious cooperation (historically referred to as a white mutiny).

To the extent practical, we would endorse making *EVERY* Wednesday a “no-fly” day after the November 24th event until both the “Nude Nuke Option” scanners are gone from our nations
airports, and the punitive pat-down has been ended. Punish the airlines with our lack of custom until they pressure Congress to take appropriate action.

We support all those finding other means of travel allowing them to avoid what we consider a violation of both privacy and what we suggest are fundamental civil rights. We believe that the leadership and staff of the TSA have long since forfeited any claim to civility, let alone all but the most insincere and unhelpfully enthusiastic cooperation. We favor filing criminal charges against TSA personnel at the vaguest hint of impropriety. We actively suggest asking every question, however trivial, regarding procedure and acceptable items vs. contraband that you can imagine. We encourage immediately reporting *anything* you observe that is even *slightly* out of place in or near any secure area in a fearful and panicked tone of voice. We hint that it is NEVER a good thing to go ANYWHERE with a TSA agent, demanding that unless you are actually under arrest that all interactions take place of full view of the public, so you can be certain of witnesses.

We cannot suggest the use of body functions as a communications tool, as that would (in many jurisdictions) be considered assault – which, regrettably, gets in the way of pointing and laughing at those who offend you.

We suggest loud orgasmic sound effects and requests for further stimulation as a viable alternative, though you may wish to consult an attorney prior to employing this approach. Almost as embarrassing, and in our lay opinion, less likely to produce jail time and other complications. Teaching children that it is especially appropriate to scream “RAPE!!” and “BAD TOUCH!! BAD TOUCH!!” when inappropriate fondling is performed by persons wearing a TSA uniform occurs seems to us, as non-attorneys, to likely be well inside the safe zone – if they can cry on command for the camera, it’s a bonus. It seems likely that such a technique might also be useful for teens and adults, as well.

We are annoyed, and believe that the “system” – which depends for its function upon cooperation, reason, and submission - harbors a vast array of mechanisms with which to vent our annoyance while remaining utterly within the law. We urge you to select strategies for maximum effect and an acceptable level of risk for yourself and those you care about.

Until such time as sanity starts to rear its head at the security gate, I will not fly.

Until you have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you understand the difference between true security and the sick farce you foist upon us, I will drive or find another way to my destination - or I will simply not go. You have managed to make any destination in a 10 hour driving radius pretty much the same time as flying: 1.5 hour flight with 1 hour on either end to/from the airport and arriving 2 hours ahead for probulation = 5.5 hours total to fly. I’ll give up four and a half hours to not have to subject myself to the indignities you force upon us.

The TSA has shown us, time and time again, that they prefer Security Theater to actual security.
To hassle those defenseless by virtue of their age, gender, disability, or generally law-abiding nature
. The TSA would rather an eight year old boy be humiliated going through a metal detector, or a three year old girl be scarred for life from a grope-down, or humiliate a grandmother than take actual security measures. It is time those abuses not only end, but result in consequences.

Humiliating children has nothing to do with keeping people safe on an airplane. Molesting a rape victim doesn’t improve air security. Harassing elders and the disabled certainly cannot be considered a valid preventative measure that requires ignoring 4th Amendment guarantees. There are, perhaps, other reasons for such measures – whether simply a political drama or for more sinister purposes matters little, as these measures are sufficiently objectionable as to make the reason for them largely irrelevant. They simply must cease. Swiftly, lest a law-abiding American trained from birth to expect his or her civil rights to be respected, their children well-treated, and their friends and parents not be ill-used at bureaucratic whim – simply snap.

I refuse to be that American - therefore I will not fly until these intrusions end.

I, also, will not be that American. I will also not be the American who remains silent and asks "who or what's next?" or meekly goes along to get along. I will avoid flight where practical, and employ painfully lawful strategies to express my dismay when I must fly.




Justthisguy said...

I am a rather shy and private person. In my nearly 60 years on this planet I think I have only let maybe 4 or 5 people handle my dick. And, no, none of them were government employees whom I'd known for about 10 seconds.

This shit is just wrong, in all sorts of ways.

Anonymous said...

RE: kilts

Perhaps a stenciling of "TSA: Place lips here" should be applied to the glutius maximi of said kilted individual.

Anonymous said...

The Breach of the 4th Amendment by goons has consequences under law:

Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241
Conspiracy Against Rights

This statute makes it unlawful for two or more persons to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person of any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same). It further makes it unlawful for two or more persons to go in disguise on the highway or on the premises of another with the intent to prevent or hinder his/her free exercise or enjoyment of any rights so secured. Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to ten years, or both; and if death results, or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years, or for life, or may be sentenced to death.