Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part article on TSA’s airport security system. Karen Cummings first looks at her philosophical disagreements with TSA procedures and in the next article will deal with her defense against the TSA security machine.
4th Amendment — part of the Bill of Rights
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Yes, the six-year-old girl patted down at the airport, definitely a terrorist. My brother’s 85-year-old blind mother-in-law made to get up from her wheelchair and stand precariously with her feet spread in a scanning machine – Oh, yes, she was a terrorist all right, until they determined that she wasn’t hiding a bomb in her underwear or her support hose. Those two had no right “to be secure in their persons,” nor do any of us who choose or have to fly anywhere these days.
Remember the time when you used to get dressed up to fly somewhere? Flying was something special. That was the era when you checked in and walked right to your gate without having to remove your shoes, your coat, your sweater, your belt, your change, your scarves, your computer, your toiletries – just about everything you so painstakingly packed or put on just before you went to the airport.
In fact, back then, friends and family used to be able to accompany you to your gate and kiss you good-bye before you boarded the plane and even wave from the windows as you taxied away. I miss those days. Traveling there was part of the fun, not just after arriving at your destination.
Now as I get ready to fly anywhere for business or pleasure, I think, plan and pack as though I were going into combat.
In a sense, I am. The ultimate goal of my almost covert operation is to get to my gate without being directed by the all-powerful TSA agent to the dreaded whole-body scanner. The machine that will see through my clothes and ultimately determine that I am not the terrorist they assume I am, at least on that day.
Really, my goal is not to thwart their efforts to determine I’m not a terrorist. My goal is only to stay secure in my person against an unreasonable search, which I consider my right as a U.S. citizen. I am a 65-year-old grandmother and a law-abiding U.S. citizen. The worst civil offense I’ve ever committed in my lifetime is getting a parking ticket.
I refuse to go through the scanners in an effort to make a statement against the use of these invasive machines in the name of security. Here are my main reasons why:
First, my aforementioned 4th amendment rights. I think that as an American citizen, I am guaranteed the right to not be subjected to unreasonable search and seizure (really, taking my 3/4ths-used tube of toothpaste was beyond the beyond don’t you think?).
Second, I don’t trust the TSA or Homeland Security or the manufacturers of the scanners when they say the radiation levels are safe. In my opinion, I get more than enough radiation in my everyday life, considering that we have no idea of the environmental factors that are affecting us. Having worked at a renowned cancer hospital for many years, I feel justified in saying “no, thanks” to any extra radiation no matter how miniscule they tell us it is.
Third, come on, do you really think this going to catch the next batch of terrorists? They put on a good act, but all of the TSA’s measures are supreme examples of shutting the barn door once the horse has gotten out. Taking your shoes off. The liquid ban. And now the scanners so they can see (or else feel) our underwear.
I am truly shocked at how many people blithely comply with this invasion of our privacy, this blatant flaunting of our 4th amendment rights. “As long as we’re safe,” they say. How they can stand by when they see old ladies and children frisked, the infirm made to struggle out of their wheelchairs so they can be scanned, even a baby’s booties being scanned for, I presume, bombs (yes, saw that on a recent trip).
Photo: Photoshop by Leocha