On 9/11 ponder: What kind of children are we (is TSA) raising?

by Charlie Leocha on September 11, 2012

This is a reprise of a TSA-related post that still bugs me. Today is a good day to reflect on the legacy that 9/11 and the institution of TSA has left us as a society.

Recently, I have been watching passengers moving through TSA lines. They shuffle along, don’t make eye contact, obey all instructions, submit to full-body scanners, have their luggage pawed through and watch others get called out for additional screening. All the while, most hope that they can move through TSA inspections quickly and quietly, without being noticed.

Parents cringe when their children protest being patted down by uniformed strangers, not because the pat downs border on abuse, but because they hate to see their kids cause a stir. I feel, somewhere in this shuffle through threatening uniforms we are losing the American soul. Worse, children and teenagers growing up under these kinds of “normal” searches are losing their internal compass of freedom.

Americans are soothingly accepting the government’s counsel that in order to be free to move about the country we have to give up some of our freedoms and submit to more government invasion of privacy.

Anyone with half a brain knows that our “privacy” has been severely compromised through warrantless wiretaps, the ability to intercept wireless communications, credit card transaction tracking, grocery store membership cards, international integration of police files and sharing of everyday travel data. Those kinds of privacy invasions are distant and nebulous to most.

But, at the airports, when TSA agents actually put their hands inside our pants, touch genitals, disrobe infants and have senior citizens remove adult diapers in the name of security, that is where true damage to our society takes place. With all of the aforementioned surveillance, these kinds of hands-on pat downs are not necessary and are un-American.

I have not heard of one single person since the institution of pat downs and whole-body scanners who has been detained for a contemplated act of terrorism. Not one.

The old tried and true metal detectors and luggage x-ray machines are working fine in the rest of the world. Why Americans have to go through the added indignity of being patted down and stripped virtually naked when our intelligence is often a quantum leap better than any other country’s in the world, is beyond me.

It is not as if Americans consider probable cause for search and seizure a luxury that can be abandoned. It is a bedrock of our country and has been since its inception. With classic doublespeak, our leaders make speeches with promising words supporting liberty and then institute police-state actions to “protect” those liberties.

Back in the dire days of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Today, we as a nation have succumbed to that fear. Worse, it is not only fear of foreign terrorists that worries us, but fear of our own government, our domestic police and our federal officials that hammers the soul of American freedom.

America needs an honest appraisal of the need for TSA airport inspections given our other intelligence assets. We need to rachet back invasive searches and focus on the real dangers that take time and planning to develop. If we focus there, rather than on the last line of defense as citizens walk through airports, America will be a safer place. And, at least the unproven and unnecessary hands-on invasive touch of the police state on our children, our elderly and us will be lifted.

Photo: Cover of Majority Staff Report, Subcommittee on Transportation Security, Committee on Homeland Security

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  • http://twitter.com/johntbaker John Baker

    Charlie … shame on you for attempting to use this event for your personal and political gain. You don’t like the TSA. Everyone gets that.
    Even the presidential candidates took today off… Why couldn’t you

  • DaveS

    Brilliantly stated, Charlie. This is not personal or political gain in any way. This is standing up for rights that we used to take for granted, but which an out of control government agency is now abusing daily. We have let 9/11 become a springboard for humiliating us pointlessly in a vast apparatus that oversteps its legitimate purposes and our legitimate safety. The only organization that can stand up to it is the Congress, which is quite dysfunctional and hasn’t got the guts to do it.

  • srdshelly

    To illustrate one of Charlie’s points. About a month ago I took a trip to another region of the world. I flew about a half dozen domestic and international flights within that region. Security was very straightforward and efficient. We didn’t even take off our shoes. Then came the day for flying back to the U.S. Suddenly we had to do all the shoes, liquids and everything else at security, then at the gate, after showing boarding passes, there was a team of 10 airline employees pawing through every last piece of every passenger’s carry on bags one by one. I asked why they were doing this and the answer was simple and to the point, “The U.S. government.”

  • srdshelly

    To illustrate one of Charlie’s points. About a month ago I took a trip to another region of the world. I flew about a half dozen domestic and international flights within that region. Security was very straightforward and efficient. We didn’t even take off our shoes. Then came the day for flying back to the U.S. Suddenly we had to do all the shoes, liquids and everything else at security, then at the gate, after showing boarding passes, there was a team of 10 airline employees pawing through every last piece of every passenger’s carry on bags one by one. I asked why they were doing this and the answer was simple and to the point, “The U.S. government.”

  • Anonymous

    No, shame on you, Mr. Baker.

  • Anonymous

    The lasting tragedy of 9/11 is the damage that the unscrupulous fear mongers at TSA have done to our rights and values. They co-opt 9/11 to justify their existence and abuses even though over half of their screeners were working for the private security firms when it happened.

    Nearly a million people died defending the liberties that are now being stripped away in the name of safety without really providing any value. It is disgraceful that the government that is supposed to defend the Constitution is complicit in its destruction and that Americans dishonor the fallen by acquiescing to this.

    Granting unbounded authority to TSA and it bureaucrates has led to wide spread and recurrent abuse of innocent airline passengers and their children. There have been thousands of reports of excessive and punitive searches that are amount to nothing more than gratuitous harassment of innocent people.

    TSA operates with complete immunity and there a no consequences for abusing their authority. TSA is currently the sole arbiter of complaints leaving no avenue of redress for those who have been harmed by the agency.

    It is unacceptable for any agency to be authorized to act contrary to the Constitution and the law. Both TSA and DHS need to be dismantled and their duties assigned to responsible and accountable agencies subject to strict Congressional and judicial oversight.

    TSA has done more damage to our way of life and human rights than Al Qaeda could ever have hoped to do and Pistole and Napolitano have been their accomplices.

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