Since when did the "S" in TSA stand for "sex"?

November 22, 2010 10:40 AM

In the last few weeks, airport security has gone X-rated in the hunt for terrorists. A new era has arrived when airline passengers are being quoted in the New York Times saying, "I didn't really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants."

We didn't have to go there. But we have. And we're still not likely to find Osama bin Laden.

But this is where we are in the one-sided debate over how to keep our skies safe, with the government acting unilaterally, taking away your rights without your consent to allow for personal groping in the name of public safety.

So far, reports of insensitive TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agents examining the breast prosthetic of a breast cancer survivor, and other medical devices of passengers, only add insult to injury.  For the rest of us, we may be willing to play along just to catch our flights on time.

But it all undermines the real strength and presence of the 4th Amendment. It's still in play, terrorists or not. And whether or not it was in the Founding Fathers' minds, I'm sure the idea of illegal searches and seizures includes the gratuitous touching of one's junk.

At an airport, where's the reasonable suspicion? Having bought a ticket shouldn't make you a suspect of anything but wanting to take modern transportation.

If you're lucky, you may not even be subjected to a pat-down if you pass the initial standard metal detector, or if you are sent to the full-body scanner and choose to end the matter by submitting to a dose of radiation.

A recent CBS survey indicated 81 percent were fine with the full-body scanners.  The developer of the scan units says the radiation you get from a scan is less than a medical x-ray, and less than from flying itself.  In fact, an executive at Rapiscan says you'd get more radiation from "eating half a banana."  That sounds low-on a banana radiation scale (Three Mile Island must have been rated in bunches).
But if the thought of any radiation, no matter what level, turns you off, or if the idea that these images of you could be kept in that secret file the government has for all of us, suddenly a pat-down seems like a safer choice.

That is, until you realize how invasive the pat-down can actually be.
What's clear is that someone has come up with all these new policies without a thorough public debate.

What can you do?  Some have already appeared at the security gates in nothing but their underwear, hoping to preempt either the scanner or a pat-down by being ultra-transparent.  For the slightly less demonstrative, there are two websites that let the powers that be know how you feel. and are calling for protests on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, traditionally one of the biggest travel days of the season. suggests opting out of the full body scanner and going straight for the pat-down in full public view so all can see your experience.

If you're outraged, then you can follow-up with a stern letter of protest. The logic is that Homeland Security, TSA, the Obama Administration, and Congress really need to hear from the other side of the debate-the passengers-on this touchy-feely anti-terrorist approach.

The voices of the flying public have been ignored to date and shouldn't. Maybe some input can help TSA from terrorizing innocent passengers. Bureaucrats shouldn't be allowed to use the war on terrorism as a handy excuse to easily take away freedoms we've long enjoyed in this country.

America isn't like milk. Two-percent America isn't better than whole, with rights intact.


Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


1. Glad I'm not flying home for Thanksgiving weekend to be groped or radiated for Big Brother's porn. Most of my family tolerates the "inconvenience" as a price for safety as they gobble up all the turkey. But, all I can think about at the dinner table is what Ben Franklin once wrote: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." I hope Ben is wrong.
Posted by: SJX | Nov 26, 201012:55 AM

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