It’s Okay What You Do. Just Keep Me Safe
February 22, 2010 by Bob Livingston
Scan me, strip me, pat me down, abuse my kids: it’s all okay, just keep me safe. That’s the mindset of today’s airline passenger. So that’s precisely what agents from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) do.
And the more compliant passengers become the more abusive government becomes.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks the traveling public gladly handed over their 4th Amendment (that’s the one that is supposed to keep people “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”) rights to a government promising to keep them “safe.”
Hoping to remain safe we allowed airline security personnel to search through our luggage and carry-on bags as if we’re criminals and, if we “looked suspicious,” pat us down as well. Then the TSA was formed and in a matter of months thousands of new people were hired as screeners, and things got worse.
Now, according to press reports, this is what we get:
- Sippy cups taken from toddlers—A former Secret Service agent who left the service to raise her child was stopped by TSA because there was water in her 19-month-old son’s sippy cup. She asked if she could have it back if she drank or poured out the water but the “friendly” TSA agent refused. She asked for a supervisor. The supervisor told her she had to leave security, empty the cup and be re-screened. While being escorted out by TSA and a police officer she unscrewed the cap to drink the water and some spilled. She was then made to get down on her hands and knees to clean up the spill while her son cried for his cup. Then she was ordered to apologize for the spill and was threatened with arrest. In all, three TSA agents and four police officers were brought in to detain and harass a mom trying to have on hand what she needed to keep her son happy on a flight. Of course, she missed her flight. (The Philadelphia Enquirer)
- Moms forced to drink breast milk—A mother with an infant brought bottles of breast milk in her carryon bag so she wouldn’t have to nurse her child on the plane. TSA agents made her drink it to prove it wasn’t harmful.
- Kids’ Play-doh confiscated—TSA agents found tubs of Play-doh in a parent’s bag and confiscated it in front a 3-year-old, saying it looked like plastic explosives. The parent brought it to occupy the child on the flight. Sorry kid, you could be a terrorist.
- White-haired grandmothers strip searched—Suspicious-looking white-haired grandmothers are often taken out of the screening line and taken to another room for extra screening. It makes perfect sense. They fit the profile after all.
- Diminutive business woman charged with assaulting TSA agents—A small 57-year-old business woman was for some reason singled out for extra screening and TSA agents began emptying her carry-on bags. She objected and asked for a private screening. TSA took her to a private room and examined everything in her bags, including sniffing lipstick and pulling out credit cards. TSA agents claim the woman demanded the bags be carefully repacked. Upon leaving the room, according to TSA, the woman hit TSA agents with her bag and threw sandals. She was arrested, spent 17 hours in jail and charged with 10 felonies. A judge threw out all the charges and expunged her record because TSA didn’t save the video tape of the alleged incident. (The Philadelphia Enquirer)
- TSA agents as jokesters—A TSA agent confronted a young woman who had just come through the metal detector. Holding up a bag of white powder he asked her, “What’s this?” The woman said she was dumbfounded and became very frightened because nothing like that should have been in her bag. After harassing her about it for a moment the TSA agent smiled and said, “Just joking.”
- Four-year-old forced to remove leg braces and walk himself through screening—A Camden, N.J., police officer, his wife and their 4-year-old son were traveling to Orlando for the child’s birthday. The child, who was born 16 weeks premature, is developmentally delayed and has malformed ankles, was forced to remove his leg braces and walk through the metal detector on his own—something that he was just learning to do. He managed to make it through. The father, understandably upset, confronted a supervisor who turned and walked away. A local police officer approached and told the father he should calm down and enjoy his vacation. When a reporter asked a TSA spokesperson how such a thing could happen the TSA representative said the boy should never have been made to remove his braces, he should have just been taken to a screening room and had his braces swabbed for explosives instead. (The Philadelphia Enquirer)
Incidents like these leave you scratching you head. But it’s not just foolishness on the part of some undertrained agent—although there is a lot that throughout the TSA—it’s a power play by people given a little authority that they begin to abuse. And it plays into the hands of government seeking more control.
And here’s an example of how they always want more control: On the heels of the Christmas Day underwear bomber incident, TSA said it was installing naked body scanners in all airports: a boon to some well-heeled government players, as we documented here.
Now it’s not enough for them to rifle through your bags, humiliate you or feel you up, they now want to see you and your kids naked—and expose you to harmful radiation to boot. We documented the health risks posed by naked body scanners here.
Of course, TSA promised that there is no way for the images taken by the scanners to be saved or transmitted. As implausible as that was, that was their story. Now we see that TSA was indeed lying when it said the machines could not store or transmit images.
In London, Indian film star Shahrukh Khan told a British television audience that after he went through security at Heathrow Airport female security agents had printouts of his image made by the scanners. He said “you could see everything.” He autographed them and returned them to the women.
As usual, the goal by government is not to keep you safe, as evidenced by the facts that have come out about the Christmas Day underwear bomber. The goal is to continue to peel back your resistance to their tyranny. Scare you, show you a government solution and sell it, all while enriching a few well-connected people. That’s the government way.
But most go along to get along, as long as a semblance of safety is promised.
Scan me, strip me, pat me down, abuse my kids; even take pictures of my kid’s naked body. I feel safer already.