Let me just start this rant off by saying I have thought Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, should have been fired a long time ago. Her agency missed the Christmas Day underwear bomber (even after his father warmed the FBI ahead of time), her agency would have missed the Time Square bomber had it not been for New York City street vendors and when the Arizona immigration law was discussed on Capital Hill she criticized it while admitting she hadn’t even read it. She’s the Homeland Security Secretary and the previous Governor to the state of Arizona and she couldn’t be bothered to read the new law of her home state that deals with, um, homeland security?
When questioned about the latest airport scanners and “pat downs” Napolitano’s rebuttal was “if you don’t like it you don’t have to fly.” I’ll be sure and tell my boss that when I am required to attend a meeting out of state. I’m sure he’ll understand that I will require a train or bus ticket next time I need to be at a two-day meeting.
I have an obvious bias both against Napolitano and the new TSA procedures but that bias is based on incompetence and my need (not desire) to fly. Surely, I don’t want to see American lives lost because some extremist gets his jollies off killing Americans but our security procedures are solely reactive. A guy builds a bomb in his shoe and now we all have to take off our shoes when going through security. A guy builds a bomb in his underwear and now we all are subject to intrusive imaging and/or groping pat downs.
Just wait for the “Turd Bomber” and be ready for your cavity search. Think that is out of the question? Think again. Last year, a Saudi man’s “Butt Bomb” that was invisible to detection nearly killed the Saudi Prince in charge of anti-terrorism (source). Saudi Arabia was already using the scanner technology we do today. Israel already does body cavity searches as part of their screening process but only for those who are viewed as a threat because of their nation of origin or because of behavior profiling.
Unfortunately, because we’re so politically correct – we choose to treat everyone equally poorly in the process. The video below of a young boy being patted down is a gross injustice of the system. This boy had already gone through a metal detector without incident and was “selected” by TSA for pat down and then asked to remove his shirt. I’ve personally witnessed TSA making the family of an elderly man hold up the man out of his wheelchair so they could scan him with a wand. The man looked like he was in his last days and it was embarrassing to watch.
Of course, the question has to be asked, isn’t it easier for a TSA agent to ask a child, elderly man or even a woman to be subject to humiliation than, say, a young fit or professional man? Especially if you are required to select so many pat downs in a shift? Never underestimate the power of intimidation against those who appear weak especially to those who yield even just a little bit of power.
The U.S Constitution’s Fourth Amendment (in the “Bill of Rights”) is the fundamental protection against unreasonable searches unless with probable cause. Is getting on a plane now probably cause? Doesn’t the taking of under clothing images go against “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects?” Doesn’t patting a man’s groin or woman’s breasts violate our right “against unreasonable searches and seizures?”
Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, the TSA and federal government don’t seem to think so. Certainly, we all want the same thing – safety for all Americans but is this the right course of action? We’ll pat down or scan ever person on a plane but we’ll leave 2000 + miles of international border open for any jihadist to cross. Does that make sense to you?