Passengers’ convenience trumps liberty

The Transportation Security Administration did what it could last Wednesday to dampen the impact of “National Opt Out Day” — a protest aimed at educating travelers on the invasive techniques being employed by the government as they pass through security check-points at airports. The principal tactic appeared to be simply turning off the naked body scanners. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported there was “limited, if any, use of the controversial full-body scanners.” A similar story appeared in the Newark Star-Ledger, noting that “a majority of Newark’s full-body scanners were idle throughout much of the day, depriving most passengers of the chance to opt out of the controversial screening procedure even if they had wanted to.” 

The reactions elsewhere to the tide of opposition to naked body scanners and invasive “pat downs,” run the gamut from the disappointing to the absurd. Some supposed defenders of civil liberties on the Left are criticizing those who are questioning a policy of their government, saying in essence that objectors to the TSA’s policy should just accept a blatant violation of constitutionally-protected rights. 

Others are taking the criticism to level of absurdity difficult to even comprehend. Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-hosts of the television show The View, for example, equated passengers opting-out to an “act of terrorism” creating a dangerous atmosphere in airports. 

Even more discouraging are results of a recent survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute; a well-respected, non-partisan research center. In a comprehensive survey of air travelers just last month, Ponemon’s research found that travelers’ main concern is not safety, privacy, or unconstitutional government searches. Of concern to many passengers is something far more mundane and ultimately inconsequential – convenience; how long it takes to get through a security line.  

According to this survey, even though 79 percent of travelers believe protection of their privacy is important, and two-thirds are not even sure the TSA policies are necessary, more than 60 percent still say they value security more than privacy, and only 30 percent of respondents say they would be willing to wait longer than a minute for a screening that did not involve a full-body scan or a groping by a TSA official. In other words, for seven out of ten air travelers, one minute is the cut-off point beyond which the only concern is convenience. 

In the modern world, convenience and time trump everything. We would prefer to purchase an E-Z PASS to get through a toll booth quickly, for example, even though it creates a discoverable record of our private travels. 

Thank goodness this mentality did not prevail at earlier times in our nation’s history, else we never would have fought the war for our independence, or won the Second World War. Instead of our children reading about Patrick Henry’s famous quote; “Give me liberty, or give me death,” they would instead read about how colonists told the British, “Take our liberty, just do not inconvenience us too much.”

-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

36 comments Add your comment

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Barr Fan

December 3rd, 2010
7:09 am

People should wake up and realize that the biggest reason that 9/11 happened is not because terrorists snuck box cutters on planes but because there were sheep on the planes. I’ve sworn not to fly again (unless there is no other way) until some common sense returns. If I do have to fly, I will opt out and TSA will do their groping out in front of God and everybody.

As much as the invasion of privacy, I object to this because I have zero confidence that TSA is really doing anything to make us safer. So they pull 2% of travelers at random for naked body scanners? To stop the terrorists, we have to bat 1,000, but they only have to bat 1.

BornAware

December 3rd, 2010
7:11 am

Thanks Bob for once again attempting to wake people up…too bad most folks just don’t realize that a police state happens incrementally and creeps up on a society, this is just another step in that direction. When is that line in the sand drawn for these people who don’t yet get it? Is it when your kids are scanned daily to go to school? How about when we start getting the knocks on the door just so they can make sure you aren’t up to anything that the gov’t disagrees with. To me I am much more terrified of people like Whoopi Goldberg calling people who stand up for liberty and disagree with a gov’t policy terrorists than the ACTUAL terrorsits…That is scary, this is the McCarthy era happening all over again.

Eric

December 3rd, 2010
7:21 am

Great article once again, Mr. Barr!

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Pats and Taps

December 3rd, 2010
8:01 am

….. Instead of our children reading about Patrick Henry’s famous quote; “Give me liberty, or give me death,” they would instead read about how colonists told the British, “Take our liberty, just do not inconvenience us too much.”

or

“Take our liberty, just don’t touch our junk….”

BornAware

December 3rd, 2010
8:07 am

…even further proving my point how unconcerned people are about how bloated and powerful their government gets…inteliigent Bobb Barr Blog = 4 comments in 2 hours….Rodney Ho Blog about the Bert Show = Dozens upon dozens.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Barr, Mike Spinney. Mike Spinney said: RT @bobbarr: Barr Code: Passengers’ convenience trumps liberty http://bit.ly/fxW6tK [...]

Ezra

December 3rd, 2010
8:31 am

Well, we keep inventing the wheel because of political correctness. Profiling as done by Israel looks for terrorists not bombs. When are democrats going to take back their party and put reality back into the party?

carlosgvv

December 3rd, 2010
8:39 am

It seems to me the choices are pretty clear. We can either put up with invasive pat downs and naked body scanners or run a real risk of being killed. Life is not always fair and sometimes you have to do what is necessary if you want to live.

Tychus Findlay

December 3rd, 2010
8:44 am

I enjoyed this read by former VP candidate Wayne Allyn Root as a feasible response-

http://www.rootforamerica.com/blog/index.php

BornAware

December 3rd, 2010
8:54 am

Carlos and sometimes you just get killed…life is full of risks terrorism is one of them…at what point do you draw the line and say this is enough precaution. Are you going to be lined up in security to get checked when we finally have to put precautions in place because of the Anal Bomber?

carlosgvv

December 3rd, 2010
9:57 am

BornAware

At what point do you think terrorists will draw the line and say this is enough? Can’t you see that these fanatics will do anything and everything to kill as many of us as possible? Does a pat down or scanner frighten you that much? If you are ever unfortunate enough to be on an airliner taken over by terrorists I’m sure you will be singing a different tune.

petka

December 3rd, 2010
10:10 am

Ezra,

The ‘profiling’ done by Israel is not the same as the ‘profiling’ demanded by the anti-PC crowd. Ben Gurion/El Al interviews and ‘profiles’ EVERY passenger. These interviews are conducted by highly trained experts who know how to pick out a potential threat based on their behavior, body language, and answers – not their ethnic/religious/racial characteristics. They run every name through major criminal database and pressure check every piece of luggage for explosives. Everyone gets the same treatment. I’ve been to Israel several times (the first of which when I was 14), and have been interviewed every single time.

The US needs to consider actually training people instead of just trying to find the quickest or easiest solutions. The ‘underwear bomber’ bought a one way ticket with cash and had no substantial luggage. His father had alerted authorities that he thought his son was up to something. It doesn’t matter if he’s arab or white, male or female, christian or muslim – if you can’t pick that person out as a potential threat, there’s a serious problem with your security – one that won’t be solved by privacy-invading scanners or racial/ethnic/religious profiling.

Jimmy62

December 3rd, 2010
10:14 am

Carlosgvv: 99.999% of the people who have ever flow a place did so without either being patted down or blown up. Had these measures been in place in 2001, planes still would have been hijacked, they would just have had to adjust a little. You know what can take out a man just as fast as a box cutter? A laptop to the head, and no one cares if you bring a laptop onboard. Please, tell me of one single incident that was prevented by these “advanced” security measures? If terrorists were going to start underwear bombing en masse, well they had almost a year from the underwear bomber till these new measures started, and amazingly no one died.

So we not only have something that invades our privacy, but it has absolutely no utility, other than providing jobs for TSA employees. And that is the real reason we have to deal with this stuff. Too many TSA employees are the type that couldn’t get a minimum wage job, except through the government. The employees aren’t smart enough for TSA to do it the Israeli way, and there are too many employees to just end it. Once government expands and creates a new department, it rarely, if ever, shrinks again.

Bob

December 3rd, 2010
10:27 am

Carlos??? Whatr makes you think TSA is effective? TSA would have NEVER detected the underwear bomber because he was flying from OUTSIDE the USA where TSA has no control. What do you think will happen when some nutjob flies from Yemen with a bomb hiding inside of him? Would you be for cavity searches?

Just because you want to sacrifice liberty for convience doesn’t mean I should be forced to do the same. I don’t use EZ-PASS, I use VPNs on the internet, I turn off the GPS function on my smart phone until I need it and I lock down my credit. Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death”! This man died only once while we die a little inside each time we are treated like a criminal without a hint of cause.

OneFreeMan

December 3rd, 2010
10:32 am

I “ain’t” scared nor am I impatient. Give me liberty or I will drive.

Whiz

December 3rd, 2010
10:36 am

In the future, thousands of TSA employees will be blowing their brains out with .45’s because they had to look at the junk of an nation of fugly people for 8 hours a day.

nelson

December 3rd, 2010
10:56 am

Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson in the case of Brinegar v. United States-1949

“Fourth Amendment freedoms I protest, are not mere second-class rights but belong in the catalog of indispensable freedoms. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the human spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart. Uncontrolled search and seizure, one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. And one need only briefly to have dwelt and worked among a a people possessed of many admirable qualities but deprived of these rights to know that the human personality deteriorates and dignity and self-reliance disappear where homes, persons and possessions are subject at any hour to unheralded search and seizure by police.”

carlosgvv

December 3rd, 2010
11:26 am

Jimmy 62 & Bob

I never said our airport security was the best. Israel is the only Country I know of who gets it right. However, ours is better than NOTHING at all, which seems to be what you are suggesting. If you know how our security can be truly effective, let’s hear it.

Richard

December 3rd, 2010
11:47 am

I say we put everyone in a small room and lock the door. We can bring them food 3 times a day and provide pleanty of water.

The logic is that they might be killed at anytime by a terrorist (or hit by a bus).

Politiciants will throw ‘enhanced’ on it and call it something like “enhanced secure living.” The rest of us will call it prison.

Tripp

December 3rd, 2010
12:19 pm

I don’t understand why, with a shining example in Israel, we continue to try things the way we are. The TSA has become a HUGE waste of money and resources. Anyone see the video of Jamie from Mythbusters making it through the body scanner with a 12-inch razor?

We can do it the way Israel does – using common sense to interrogate people. Or we can continue down this path into new era McCarthyism. I laughed at how stupid “old” people were when I read about McCarthyism a little over a decade ago in school. Now, I watch our country going through the same motions, and the populace is just as blind and stupid. This has to stop. Regardless of party affiliation and unyielding positions based thereupon – this has to stop.

ryan

December 3rd, 2010
12:26 pm

Glad Israel is getting some recognition. I assume since we’re on an ‘emulate Israel’ kick ya’ll are also suggesting we repeal DADT right?

Tripp

December 3rd, 2010
12:34 pm

It appears less to be an ‘emulate Israel’ kick and more an ‘emulate their vastly superior airport security measures’ kick. Generalizations for the sake of argument aren’t a glimpse of brightness.

BornAware

December 3rd, 2010
12:55 pm

Tripp…well said my friend, there are not many of us out there that seem to see the big picture though. It is actuall getting so bad that people who disagree with the way things are head are being labeled extremists or domestic terrorists…Today people scream terrorist like they screamed Communist in the past and Witch before that. It is mass hysteria not based in reality.

Tripp

December 3rd, 2010
1:20 pm

Lots of people my age feel the way I do. Sadly, not a lot of people in their late 20s gets out to vote. And even more sadly, there isn’t a party that fits us. Most everyone I went to school with seem to label themselves “libertarians” more and more. I think it’s only because we aren’t fans of liberalism, but the GOP seems to be stuck in the past and they both argue with each other for the sake of being right. The GOP needs to step to the lavatory and freshen up a bit. Get some of that musty, old gentleman smell off. There are lots of us waiting for the right people for whom to vote.

Business Man

December 3rd, 2010
1:22 pm

Sorry Bob, if you carry a cell phone, smart phone, or laptop computer; you are leaving a discoverable record of your travels constantly. It is the world in which we live.

Jimmy62

December 3rd, 2010
3:01 pm

If you carry a cell phone, smart phone, or laptop computer on to a plane (or a belt, or glasses, or nothing at all), you have a weapon that could be used to capture and hold a stewardess in order to hijack a plane. Why are we allowing those potentially deadly weapons on planes? Do you want people to die?

Gerald West

December 3rd, 2010
3:38 pm

Thank God we don’t get to vote on airport security procedures. We’ve screwed up everything else ever put to a vote. What the American public really wants is a guarantee of absolute security without any inconvenience. Sure enough, some pandering politician will promise it.

Let the security experts decide on the security procedures. Keep public opinion out of it!

Tripp

December 3rd, 2010
3:55 pm

And who are the “security experts”? The TSA? What makes the head of a bureacracy an expert?

[...] TSA Can't Back DownThe AtlanticDoing Away with the TSAThe Emory WheelSupply Chain Digital -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Las Vegas Sunall 22 news [...]

Business Man

December 3rd, 2010
5:23 pm

Stewardess? Really Jimmy62. You must not have flown since, well, ‘62.

Elizabeth Conley

December 3rd, 2010
5:37 pm

Mr. Barr,

Thanks for filing the FOIA request. I suspect it will take forever, and what you will get will be so heavily redacted as to be meaningless – but thanks.

It may be encouraging to realize that only about half of the American Colonists sympathized with the “rebel cause” and half or less of those sympathizers actually took up arms or gave active support.

It turns out that many significant changes come about through the acts of determined minorities. There’s hope.

J.B. STONER

December 4th, 2010
9:24 am

Soon,real soon you WILL be patted down/screened to board a stech-laden marta trolley.

Hide and watch .Glenn Beck has already reported inter -city transit will use government control to see this made law.

Oh, I keep forgetting, you dummies don’t watch Fox News.

Pity.

H. Potter.

December 4th, 2010
5:26 pm

qwcqwcqwcwqc

Michael H. Smith

December 5th, 2010
11:05 am

Here’s something I’d like to see the Barr Code comment on at some point: The rights of Commerce trumps Individual rights of liberty and privacy. The FTC, is proposing a Do Not Track list of Internet users regulation. A Libertarian view of this would be most helpful, considering the hard right business bent of many Libertarians and Conservatives who think Commerce should enjoy the privilege of a laissez-faire immunity from Congressional regulation of the economy. I know Bob Barr’s strong positions on individual liberty and rights of privacy. Now it would be interesting to see where he draws the lines between the rights of Commerce and those of the individual, since the individual really has no Constitutional protection from Commerce, other than whatever the Congress sees fit to enact as law: That is, when Congress actually regulates instead of delegates this power away to the bureaucrats in the bureaucracy.

Privacy Report: Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change

http://www.ftc.gov/os/2010/12/101201privacyreport.pdf