Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

By , on November 23, 2010


I have not yet been through the new security system required by TSA to board a flight, but will do so in December. My plan is enduring the pat down to avoid the body scanner. My gut tells me the images the press are showing are less detailed than the best images available to TSA, and I am skeptical of the assertion that the TSA cannot store the images. I also do not appreciate not knowing the frequency, energy rate and duration of the scan.

The administrators at TSA are already developing a cavity scanner that will, apparently, determine whether explosives are tucked away in the rectum or vagina. The federal government is on a path of trying to achieve perfect security, which requires ever-increasing levels of detection for folks embarked on air travel. If you think the current protocols are reasonable, will you find that an inspector knowing what you had for dinner yesterday a problem? How do you feel about him knowing you are wearing a tampon? I can find no argument that what is happening can be defended as reasonable. We have taken the concept of equal treatment for all passengers to an illogical extreme. Now granny, a young American student, or federal judge  is checked the same as a young adult male coming from an Al Qaida training camp.  TSA reportedly checked my father when he was in his nineties and in a wheelchair. My dad was a retired federal law enforcement officer, WWII combat veteran, and loved everything about the United States, even the Democrats! Folks, these searches are really Gestapo-like. Although hard on the TSA officers to hear this, it is true. Our honor of equal protection has completely supplanted notions of reasonableness.

The TSA  justifies the severe current compromise to our notions of reasonable search because of the danger of explosives being concealed on the body. But my observation of the pat downs shown on the News Hour last night revealed in a few seconds how one could conceal a large amount of explosives on the surface of the body and pass a pat-down search. I have every right to state here what I learned, but will exercise restraint in the interest of safety. But my conclusion is simple. The search strategy to achieve security will be increasingly intrusive, will continue to violate our rights, and the bad guys will continue to find weak links in the security system at far less cost in time and money than the United States is spending on security. Our national approach to safe flying is travesty, and that is being proven increasingly with each level of security enhancement.

6 Comments to “TSA and the Growing Unreasonableness of Security Searches”

  1. [New Post] TSA and the Growing Unreasonableness of Security Searches http://lawyermusings.com/?p=622

  2. Tony Woody says:

    Could not agree more with your post. I really hope that the government will come to their senses on this issue and realize that we really are no safer as a nation with body scanners and “enhanced pad downs”, but unfortunately, I know that this will not be the case.

    Once again our civil liberties are being infringed upon by short-sighted politicians and intrusive government practices in the name of fighting terrorism. I have yet to decide how I will deal with this when I fly next – at this point I’m not sure what the answer is.

  3. Tony Woody says:

    One more comment I would like to add. I just read another article related to the TSA screening about why the screening is ineffective. You can read it here. http://bit.ly/dECnwM

  4. Anneke says:

    It seems to me there needs to be a reasonable cause to search a person. I don’t think being a passenger is reasonable cause enough. Complete “blindness” when determining whether or not a further search of someone is warranted seems unjust and unproductive at best.

    I will refuse the body scan. Not only is it a privacy violation but I just cannot believe the claims of safety. I don’t understand how anything that can see through clothing is a good thing to subject the human body to.

    The last time I flew I was asked to remove my sweatshirt; it was apparently deemed a “jacket.” I refused to remove it because under it I was only wearing an undershirt. I was then forced to stand in a windowed box, while my purse, laptop, shoes and other carry-on belongings went through the scanner and sat there for anyone to take at their leisure. The TSA attendant refused to “wand” me because he was male. He was also an obstinate jerk who made my blood boil. Finally after arguing with him and waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I yanked off my sweatshirt and went the metal detector. The whole experience was revolting and upsetting.

  5. admin says:

    Tony and Anneke,

    Thanks for the comments. Tony, the linked post was interesting and thorough. Anneke, you proved that the TSA employees have traits similar to those of every law enforcement or military force connected with a totalitarian regime. How sad.


  6. VI says:

    It is important to note that those with private airlines are not subjected to this humiliating procedure (as if Al Qaeda cannot afford a private plane). I intend to get a private airplane license and rent planes rather than deal with the TSA any longer. Fuck the TSA, they are racist and incompetent.

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