This stink going on with the TSA doing their body scanner/aggressive pat-down thing truly is ridiculous, if only for one reason: the 4th Amendment.
The 4th Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Since when did wanting to fly on an airplane constitute probable cause to have breasts and genitals groped in search of explosives? I totally understand the safety concerns surrounding terrorism and air travel, but this situation is ridiculous. The new policies were put into place because of last year’s underwear bomber, but that situation could have been avoided had they given this type of increased screening to each and every passenger who was on a terrorist watch list. Doing this to random people just doesn’t make any sense at all.
Personally, I fully support National Opt-Out Day. The government does not have the right to perform these searches solely based on the fact that people purchased airline tickets and want to fly on a plane. I know there has been a lot of hysteria over “racial profiling,” but “no profiling” is not an acceptable alternative. Is it too much to ask to have some expectation of competency for the people expected to keep our airports safe? They should be able to use at least some basic profiling criteria to differentiate between potential terrorists and innocent civilians.
But then, to add insult to injury, the TSA is threatening $11,000 fines for people who opt-out of the body scanners and then leave the airport without going through the groping pat-down.
On the one hand, I can understand the TSA’s mentality: if they automatically assume that everyone who flies is a terrorist, they will be more likely to catch the terrorists…but what the Department of Homeland Security and TSA seem to be ignoring is the fact that Americans have rights, and their current policies violate the US Constitution. When President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program became public knowledge, the bottom line was that, whether it helped to catch terrorists or not, it violated the Constitution, and it could not be used. The same message needs to go out about the TSA’s new policies: while these aggressive new policies might help the TSA to catch terrorists (emphasis on the might, because it’ll only help if the terrorists get chosen for random screening), they have already violated hundreds, if not thousands of American’s 4th Amendment rights. It may be inconvenient for the TSA to have to work around the 4th Amendment in order to do their job, but the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure is a fundamental right for all American citizens. It was written into our Constitution for a reason, and the TSA, as an agency of the US government, is bound by US law to abide by it.