Opt-Out

Have Americans finally had their fill of the heavy-handed tactics of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)?  Are parents en route to Disney World fed up with having their three-year olds brought to tears by manhandling TSA employees?  Will senior citizens stop consenting to be prodded and poked while seated in a wheelchair from which movement may be quite painful?  Are adult air passengers finally ready to declare, “enough is enough?”  

TSA has greatly increased the number of full-body scanners at airports across the country, and instituted a program of aggressively hand- searching passengers who decline the full-body x-rays.  Whether these indignities finally will prompt the travelling public to rebel, however, remains to be seen.  

After all, for every traveler who realizes that a full body scan or physical body search conducted after they already passed a weapons and explosives detection device, adds little if anything to their safety, there are others who shrug that, “if it makes us safer, well, that’s the price we have to pay.”  And for every citizen who understands that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting an intrusive search of one’s persons and possessions without any suspicion they’ve done anything wrong, there’s another who accedes to such searches, because they “have nothing to hide.” 

Recent polls indicate an air passenger rebellion is brewing; and none too soon.  As a nation, are we ready to reaffirm our heritage and cast off the yoke of fear that has gripped us since September 11, 2011?  Do we become once again a nation of laws – in which the Bill of Rights still has meaning – or have we succumbed to the federal browbeaters who assert that whatever intrusions they assert are necessary for them to protect us, are permissible?  Are we willing to ask the tough questions? 

Unfortunately, in TSA World anyone — pilot, flight attendant or passenger – who presses the government employees to articulate a justification for such intrusive technological or manual searches based on nothing more than chance or vindictiveness, risks ejection from the airport and even threats of civil lawsuit or arrest.  Such official government intimidation often discourages people from properly questioning what is being done to them; but it should not.  

The Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures serves as a fundamental check on government power.  If a person has already passed successfully through a weapons detector before boarding a commercial airliner, the government has no right to then demand that they submit to a further and even more invasive search for no articulable reason.  

Horror stories of run-ins between TSA employees and average, law-abiding American citizens are becoming more common place.  Top government officials, rather than trying to work constructively with the public, are digging in their heels and playing hardball.  Just ask a young man from San Diego named John Tyner.  

While recently attempting to fly out of San Diego International Airport, Tyner was directed to a full-body scanner. He declined, citing health and privacy concerns. Tyner was allowed to go through a metal detector, and what he thought would be a routine pat-down. Upon realizing this “pat-down” would require the TSA officer to touch his groin, Tyner politely declined.  For his effrontery, Tyner is now the subject of a federal criminal investigation and threatened with a civil suit and $11,000 fine. 

November 24th has been declared “National Opt-Out Day.”  This tactic may help draw attention to TSA abuses; but, reining in this rogue agency will take much more.  Lawsuits challenging TSA x-ray and body searches are pending and deserve our support. Airport authorities should be reminded they can in fact opt out of having TSA in charge of their screening.  And, perhaps most important, the incoming chairmen of the House oversight and transportation committees should make TSA the subject of the first investigations they conduct in January 2011.

-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

113 comments Add your comment

D Ross

November 22nd, 2010
6:25 am

Even the Nazi’s didn’t pull this silly stuff at their railroad stations. Is America going insane, or are they sissy’s?

Matt

November 22nd, 2010
6:25 am

No one forces you to fly. Opt-out by taking the train or driving. It’s funny, the technology to make weapons gets more sophisticated, and the methods of hiding weapons gets better, those who may want to do harm look like everyone else, but folks don’t want to be harassed when checked to make sure they’re not going to hurt others? Hmmm…I want everything safe, but don’t both me while you do it? Time to understand the 4th Amendment was made in a day before plastic, before shoe bombs….we’re ALL SUSPECTS now.

BlahBlahBlah

November 22nd, 2010
6:29 am

If all the airports went to private security, the 4th Amendment argument would vanish.

What happened ?

November 22nd, 2010
6:38 am

Obama the former Constitutional Law professor promised to review all Executive Orders that were unconstitutional and repeal them….I’m still waiting and in the meantime he appears to be overseeing and advocating a bunch of new requirements that violate our rights – unfortunately the dumbed-down sheeple that make up the majority of Americans don’t realize how oppressive the long term ramifications will be – this is just the tip of the iceberg

Tim

November 22nd, 2010
6:41 am

Matt: Some employers DO force people to fly. If your job requires that you fly, then you’re going to have to choose between being groped and nuked. Have you ever even set foot in an aircraft?

Lynn43

November 22nd, 2010
6:47 am

If these “illegal” pat downs were done in any other setting, the “pattor” could be charged with sexual abuse and put on a sex offender list for life. What they are doing is no different.

tough

November 22nd, 2010
6:48 am

I am diamond status on delta, which means I have the terrible achievement of flying far, far too much. I have to insist that the TSA do their job – keeping dangerous materials off my flights.

If that requires checking junk, packages, or cabooses – so be it. I get much worse from the doctor every year during my physical examinations.

Keep the airways safe and free from incidents. thank you TSA

Joel Edge

November 22nd, 2010
6:57 am

“reining in this rogue agency will take much more”

The airline industry is already beginning to decline. Paying these kind of fares for the comfort of a Greyhound bus. Not likely. If you people want to be groped by the government to boot…..go for it.

Bill O Rights

November 22nd, 2010
6:58 am

http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=en&safe=off&q=kurt+haskell+underwear+bomber&aq=1&aqi=g5&aql=&oq=Kurt+Haskell&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=d46a99aa0316a90b

GOOGLE KURT HASKELL

Haskell was an eyewitness to the Underwear Bomber episode and reports that the U/B was “escorted” onto the plane by an “Handler” Furthermore, the U/B did NOT EVEN HAVE A PASSPORT!!! How and why did they allow someone to board an International flight to America without a passport?

There is something very wrong going on with this entire issue.

The TSA has been lying to us repeatedly.

They told us that the agent would “slide their hand up the inside of the thigh until it meets resistence” No actually, many agents are placing their open hands directly on the entire genital area! There are even credible reports of MALE agents doing this to FEMALE passengers, both adult and minors.

The TSA is telling us that the X-RAY machines are safe. However, many very credible medical professionals are telling us the exact opposite.

The TSA is telling us that the GENITAL SEARCH SEXUAL ASSAULT is not punishment for refusing the X-RAY Porno-scanners. THIS IS AN OBVIOUS LIE!

Perhaps one of the most obvious reasons that the TSA is doing all of this is because Michael Chertoff, the former head of Homeland Security is making MILLIONS as these devices are being deployed around the country.

One last thing. If a terrorist is willing to blow him or herself up in a suicide bombing event, what would stop them from placing the C-4 or Semtex in a body cavity to gain access to the plane?

Will the TSA begin body cavity searches next?

FarmerRob

November 22nd, 2010
6:59 am

BlahBlahBlah

“If all the airports went to private security, the 4th Amendment argument would vanish.”

Yes, and so would most of TSA.

I feel fortunate that there is no place I need to go bad enough to subject myself to such degradation. I would be very concerned about the cumulative exposure to radiation if I were a regular traveler. I would be more concerned about controlling my anger and outrage if I had to submit to sexual assault as a precondition to traveling about in my own country.

The really sad thing here is TSA’s refusal to follow the one most successful model on airline security in the world–that being Israel. Rather than checking your sneakers or confiscating your nail clippers they observe people and interview them. Hard brisk questioning yields results.

Relying on technology rather than human observation, reasoning and deduction is foolish and less productive. And of course another drain on the taxpayers.

DeborahinAthens

November 22nd, 2010
7:01 am

After 9/11, when the Bush administration implemented these unlawful searches, along with the passing of the Patriot Act, I would call in to the Neal Boortz show questionning the legality and constitutionality of them. He hung up on me. I have an artificial knee and for years I have been subjected to invasive patdowns, so I couldn’t understand why, all of a sudden, we’re getting this righteous indignation from the right wing talk show pundits. Lo and behold, I read an article about the FL Congressman who is pushing this “grass roots” movement. Believe it or not, he received a lot of money (as did others) from a private firm that is trying to snag the contract for airport security from the TSA. Follow the money, dummies. Either you, the right wing electorate are being manipulated by corporate America, or you are suddenly “outraged” for other reasons. Which is it?

Willis

November 22nd, 2010
7:03 am

Let one plane blow up in the sky killing all on board because of a successful terrorist and the fuss will be all about how the government was lax with security precautions. The TSA was created under the regime of Bush/Cheney who cared zilch about the 4th amendment as long as it suited their political purposes. Calm down, take a deep breath, and be thankful we haven’t had another 9/11, yet.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 22nd, 2010
7:05 am

No rational human affirms that only the government should be responsible for air safety. If we abolished TSA, and empowered each airline to do anything they thought necessary for safety, including a full exemption from any theoretical cause of action for discrimination, we would be safe and significantly less inconvenienced. To really screw things up, you have to get the government involved.

Northern Songs LTD

November 22nd, 2010
7:10 am

One word: Profile.

Karl Marx

November 22nd, 2010
7:17 am

Easy, 1. Don’t fly. 2. Raise heck with your congressman. I’m not going to fly until this is changed. All you poor guys who have to fly for business use the internet and save a ton of money to boot.

DLS

November 22nd, 2010
7:24 am

Don’t you people remember 911? These Monsters are EVIL, they want ALL OF US DEAD. If you are too PRISSY to be checked for everyones safety, then maybe you should Walk, drive a take a bus or a train, that way those of us who are smart enough to see the reality of this world can still fly with a sence of safety. Use your head, not your ___ to think. These Tea Party idiots think they can get thier way by thowing tantrums, just look at 11/2/10, America was scammed. THANK YOU TSA, DON’T FOLD TO IGNORANCE.

Barr Fan

November 22nd, 2010
7:24 am

If I had some level of confidence that TSA was actually doing anything to keep us safe, I MIGHT feel a little better about this. As it stands now, not only are they abusive but incompetent as well.

For now, don’t fly unless you absolutely must. If you must fly and are pulled out of line for the enhanced search, insist on the pat down and, most importantly, insist that it be done in full view of God and everybody.

Deirdre

November 22nd, 2010
7:25 am

No one forces you to fly That’s an incredibly lame argument, Matt and you know it.

Of course some people have to fly…it’s their jobs! And what’s your next argument? Get a new job????? In 9.5% unemployment????????

And it is really those people who MUST fly who are in danger from the radiation of the machines or the groping of a strangers’ hands.

This does NOT make us safer! This makes us SHEEP!

Deirdre

November 22nd, 2010
7:26 am

DLS Those monsters are evil Yes they are but we’re not searching THEM!

JPC

November 22nd, 2010
7:26 am

I’m not sure why this argument about going to private screeners is being pushed.

According to the current rules, if an airport changes to private screeners, they are still under TSA supervision and must still do exactly the same things that the TSA does. That means porno-scanners and pat-downs.

The only real solutions are: (1) airlines operating under Part 135 from private airfields, which permits them to do away with screening altogether, and (2) changing the laws so the TSA no longer has oversight, or the nature of their oversight is changed.

I wonder if the people who are pushing so hard for privatizing screeners have these security companies in their back pockets…

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Barr, iamamro and Joshua Ian, Trakgalvis. Trakgalvis said: Opt-Out http://goo.gl/eSSAR Have Americans finally had their fill of the heavy-handed tactics of the Transportation Security Administration? [...]

Peter

November 22nd, 2010
7:33 am

There is a typo in this article. September 11, 2011 – And to blah 3x – If the 4th amendment were not needed to protect us from a government entity i.e. the TSA we would still be protected by existing privacy laws and laws regarding sexual molestation. A private firm is accountable to not only lawsuits but also local law enforcement.

However, I’m not a 100% percent on this. If the int’l airports are federal jurisdiction can zone 3 for example arrest someone who is technically on federal land?

Lynn43

November 22nd, 2010
7:34 am

Karl, I “have” to fly to another country soon for a necessary event. I am a cancer patient in the middle of radiation with marks all over my body for the placement of the radiation. I’m almost 70 years old and scared to death of what these sex offenders might to do me. Not going is not an option, so what am I to do?

Martin, Phoenix, AZ

November 22nd, 2010
7:36 am

There is no logic to the TSA pat-down. Consider this. Two people go through security. One is a terrorist who has a powder explosive sewn into his underwear. The second is a person like me, who has a metallic knee implant and NO other metal on his body, having taken off shoes, belt, etc. The terrorist goes through the metal detector and does not set off an alarm and therefore can head directly to his plane. The second person’s knee implant sets off the metal detector and is now subjected to a pat-down to detect, amongst other things, powder explosive substances. How is this logical? We should consider having the TSA director patted-down for signs of intelligence.

Trapped in a Red state

November 22nd, 2010
7:50 am

Some reasonable degree of profiling would make too much sense, I guess.

Barney Frank

November 22nd, 2010
8:01 am

Bob Barr = pickle smoocher. Lame article.

Interested observer

November 22nd, 2010
8:01 am

What? We still have a Constitution?

Another

November 22nd, 2010
8:04 am

Barr’s argument is junk, but in the interest of antiquity, I shall explain why, so that the ditto heads, who plague this blog with sel- aggrandizing narratives that explore nothing and advance only the discussion they’ve heard on the roundtables, will know that their minds are what makes them the very little people who alone pay all the taxes.

the naughty habit of hijacking planes was an sixties-era aeronautical phenomena. Every other day , it seemed, some cowardly kook would demand that the plane he had boarded fall out of the sky where he wanted it to. Curiously, it was always Cuba. ( Castro denied any involvement in both the hijackings and the Kennedy thing. The CIA still believes him.)

To hijack a plane, one needs a real or perceived bomb. Most passengers are easily-frightened when it comes to dyin’, so a hijacker needed only to show some chicken wire and a roll of toilet paper painted silver, and voila: Le Bomb.

So, it’s not so much that a passenger’s fears justify the fondling of their tingling, engorged naughty parts, as it is that the perception of safety and control can keep our economy growing. We need to fly to grow. We need to feel that our children can board and then disembark an airplane all in one piece complaining only of the movie selection or the flight attendant’s stink eye.

Our founding fathers dreamed of flight, and certainly lesser men, (probably loyalists or royalists) have dreamed of hijacking some flying contraption that as yet was nonexistent. Pirates hijacked ships for ten thousand years. Outlaws hijacked trains for, say, oh, I don’t know, probably five thousand years. Hijacking is in our DNA, man.

So when I read an argument about the constitutional limits of counter-intelligence like the one Bob Barr just laid, I feel a duty to expose the cracks, the feathers and the parallels to children’s fairy tales.

If a circumcision is required to remove any doubt about an innocent passenger, then let the taxpayers fund an airport Mohel, and let the constitutional lawyers signal the sudden, infamously-deliberate assault on our rights by crying, “Torah, Torah, Torah”.

Ex Marine

November 22nd, 2010
8:06 am

I once fought for the freedom of all Americans, seems I lost.

Forest

November 22nd, 2010
8:06 am

The organizers of this movement are just trying to push everyone else to the body pat line so they can just walk through the scanner and make their flight

touchy feely people

November 22nd, 2010
8:12 am

It’s been said that people fear what they don’t understand and that’s absolutely the truth with the full body scanners. Of those people citing fear of radiation, have any of you actually read a study about the effects of these machines? Do you know what a terahertz is, much less understand biological physics? Probably not. There is in fact little to no credible evidence that these machines are harmful to humans. Furthermore, this article goes out of its way to say the body scanners are unnecessary as people have already passed a “weapons and explosives detection device”.. you mean a metal detector? The shoe bomber, the underwear bomber and countless others have passed their home made weapons through a metal detector without issue. If these body scanners would have been used additionally, those individuals likely wouldn’t have made it to the tarmac. This entire article is written by a scared, misinformed author. If you think your personal liberties are worth more than your life, by all means don’t fly. I for one wouldn’t mind extra space on the aircraft because people like you chose not to submit to safety searches.

Ted Striker

November 22nd, 2010
8:15 am

The word “terrorism” is now used a lot like the word “commie” was used by McCarthy to justify his infringements on american freedoms through scare tactics.

Barney Frank

November 22nd, 2010
8:15 am

Another = self-obsessed, tedious neurotic

Disgruntled passenger

November 22nd, 2010
8:26 am

One of the definitions of sexual assault is unwanted touching or groping, and yet in order to board an airliner perfectly innocent citizens are subjected to this assault. Certainly we don’t want a repeat of 9/11 but TSA has gone crazy with its powers. This political correctness is a bunch of crap-we need to go after the people who are the threat. How politically correct is it to pat down every senior citizen who has a pacemaker, or a hip or knee replacement or anyone who is in a wheelchair and yet this is being done. Our 4th amendment rights have been taken away from us and it’s time we started fighting back. START AGRESSIVE SCREENING ON THOSE WHO WOULD DO US HARM AND LEAVE THE REST OF US ALONE.

BlackGeorgian

November 22nd, 2010
8:26 am

I haven’t been felt up yet, but next time I fly, I hope I get groped by a fine TSA agent. And I’ll have but one thing to say to him:
Touch me, tease me
Feel me and caress me
Hold on tight and don’t let go
Baby, I’m about to explode…

miguel

November 22nd, 2010
8:29 am

@Matt, how can you be a suspect to a crime that hasn’t been comitted yet? and what about innocent until proven guilty? there are still rules here in America. one would hope.

if you wanna play suspect – fine by me, but not your statement isn’t even remotely true. but it’s that sort of thinking that will keep the American Public under the Government’s thumb.

bruce

November 22nd, 2010
8:31 am

I love to be patted down. It’s the only reason I fly. :)

Vince

November 22nd, 2010
8:32 am

Truly, I fail to see the problem with the scanners or the searches. I am a fairly modest person, but you can do whatever you want if you can assure me no one will get onto my plane carrying a bomb or weapon.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian

November 22nd, 2010
8:34 am

@ touchy feely people:

With this comment “If you think your personal liberties are worth more than your life, by all means don’t fly.”, you sir or madam, have just insulted every single person who has served, fought and died for those very personal liberties that you take so lightly. And I’m sure that you consider yourself a proud and patriotic American.

I wipe you from my shoes as I do any other form of excrement I have the misfortune of stepping in.

Wilfredo giron

November 22nd, 2010
8:34 am

What is going on with this opt out if they don’t like the dray or pat done drive where you are going if anything should go down the people held responsible is the security at the airport beginning with a sarcastic way he is getting ratings on e web maybe that is what he wanted maybe he is launching a web site and the best way to get up the rankings the old fashion way Print
I think whist he did was uncalled for he should just red the bus or drive to his destinations since he feels this way about it

nelson

November 22nd, 2010
8:40 am

No one should try to hide or be offended by intrusive searches. It is a new openess in the U.S. It is only through complete transparency that Democracy will succeed. I am surprised that many see this as a violation of their 4th Amendment right to privacy.
Pat Downs and xray screening would put an end to “identity theft.” No two bodies are the same. It could make a whole new meaning when the question is asked, “show me some identification”.
I hear all the time about falsified identification, this will put an end to all that. Every little dimple and wart will be your new ID.

michael

November 22nd, 2010
8:40 am

I frequently fly commercially for work and I’m also a private pilot. I don’t particularly like getting scanned or patted down but what people need to remember is that flying is not an “right” provided to us by the Founders in the Constitution – it is a priviledge. The airspace above most of our airports and above 18,000 feet (where most commercial airliners operate)is controlled by the FAA. And like it or not, if you want to use that space (or ride in a plane that uses that space) then you need to know that you are subjecting yourself to rules and regulations – and the potentially changing security measures required to gain access to that controlled space. And for those of you who think that driving a car will make you more “free” of intrusive search, you are mistaken. Sure, there is no one to “pat you down” as you leave your garage, but don’t forget that you are subject to random police road blocks where police have the right to ask for your information, where you are going, etc. And if you try to avoid that roadblock – rest assured that you will likely see blue lights in your mirror as you make the u-turn.

Deirdre

November 22nd, 2010
8:46 am

Isn’t it frickin hilarious that the same people who were screaming about individual liberties under the Bush administration now find illegal search and seizure not only acceptable but necessary?

Wilfredo…explain to me how I drive to Germany for business.

You know, this may be hard to believe but 1000’s of people fly everyday for reasons that have nothing to do with “pleasure”. For example, my neighbor flew to Los Angeles every month for cancer treatment. What was she supposed to do…drive?

Deirdre

November 22nd, 2010
8:48 am

Repeating!!!!!! The TSA is NOT patting down the very people who should be patted down!!!!!!! So how does this keep us safer?????

justmy2cents

November 22nd, 2010
8:52 am

@touchyfeely-

So all a bomber has to do is reject the scanner, and get patted down with c4 up his poop chute, and he has successfully passed through security and can still blow up your plane. OR, board a flight at an airport that does not have these scanners and take a connection through a major airport…you are successfully in a secure area without “advanced” security measures.

Not EVERYONE gets the advanced screening machines or pat downs, many still go JUST through a metal detector. So security is not being ensured for anyone on ANY plane. So, if you get the warm fuzzies because a few random people are being groped, you are a fool.

carlosgvv

November 22nd, 2010
8:57 am

When the next 9/11 happens, and it will, the resulting new security mesures will make the current ones seems like the good old days.

Duane

November 22nd, 2010
9:10 am

If there is justification for such searches and said justification is not concerned with placement in line. I have seen, searched, and eliminated terrorists for this country, so I do not feel I should be treated like one for no reason. If my appearance or demeanor provides justification that would be valid, but I should not have my rights violated while wearing a combat uniform of this country. The people mentioning ground trans as an alternative are wrong, I am usually flying on official duty with orders. That means I have a higher federal rating and security clearance. Btw, whoever spit on me when I was going back to Iraq at hartsfield can suck it.

ButtHead

November 22nd, 2010
9:52 am

11/24 should be save your gas day for the TSA. Everyone eat beans and let the TSA have the gas..

David Patton

November 22nd, 2010
9:53 am

Amazing how the Israelis have NO scanners but have 100% success rate in their screening of airline passengers. They simply have a security officer ask each passenger a few simple questions re their travel plans and itinerary. Anyone who can’t look them in the eye and answer their questions withour getting nervous gets frisked and their luggage searched. Everyone else gets on the plane without problems. All it requires is an intelligent person to do the screening. Oh, wait–that rules out the TSA employees.

Drunk at the Barr

November 22nd, 2010
9:55 am

Barr once again, you present a problem without a solution. Where’s the solution? National Opt-Day?