TSA grows even more powerful

George Washington, our first and in the view of many, our best president, once said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” His prescient observation, delivered more than two centuries ago, aptly describes our present-day Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

For the last several months the TSA has been subjecting travelers to ever-increasing indignities, including naked body scanners and aggressive, police-type pat-downs, without any real regard or concern for the Fourth Amendment or our fundamental right to privacy. At the same time, the agency ignores long-standing requests by members of Congress – including Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – to determine whether full-body scanners expose passengers to potentially harmful doses of radiation.

Predictably, TSA scoffs at such suggestions; declaring there have been no instances of unhealthy exposure. In other words, “no one’s been proved to have contracted cancer as a direct result of passing through the scanning booths, so stop objecting.”

However, as noted in a USA Today article earlier this month a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found the TSA had “failed in the past to detect when some baggage X-ray machines were emitting excessive levels of radiation or had safety features that were missing or disabled.” While the TSA claims it has made necessary improvements to ensure the safety of passengers and their baggage, an investigation by AOL News found it failed to provide any proof whatsoever that the machines were “working properly.”

TSA has also put the brakes on a program that would allow certified private security firms to perform passenger and baggage screening at airports. TSA head John Pistole apparently sees no advantage in allowing airports to participate in this “opt-out program,” despite evidence it had been working successfully in 16 airports.

TSA has thus made clear to airports, airlines, and passengers concerned about its tactics, that they are going to follow the government’s mandates, whether they like it or not.

Robert Poole, director of Transportation Policy at the Reason Foundation, has noted this move is not based on effectiveness of non-government screeners. He points to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which found, the “[p]erformance results of the certified security firms were ‘equal to or better than those delivered’ by the TSA screeners.”

Poole also discovered that while the TSA cooks its books in a way that implies using private security firms is more expensive, they do not take into account factors such as workers’ compensation, insurance and retirement costs. It is entirely likely that private firms will not only deliver more efficient service, but could do it cheaper than TSA.

In another slap to the faces of air travelers, it was announced recently that TSA’s 40,000 workers have been given the green light to hold a vote on whether or not to unionize. Pistole argues that allowing these workers to unionize will boost morale and enhance productivity. In truth, federal workers’ unions pose a threat to the taxpayers, as they very well could use these new bargaining rights to procure more generous salaries and benefits, under threat of slow-down and other disruptive tactics. Greater job security and bargaining power for TSA employees hardly is likely to result in improved customer service.

Adding another layer of bureaucracy in the mix could affect security as well. National Review columnist Robert VerBruggen notes that collective bargaining could lead to schedules based on seniority, possibly giving the less-desired shifts to the most inexperienced workers. VerBruggen quotes a Republican aide, who argues that “Al-Qaeda might notice this: ‘Hey, the midnight-to-six shift doesn’t seem to have the quickest guys on the line. Let’s run a guy through with contraband and see if they catch him.’”

The TSA is a nightmare that simply will not go away. While the president jokes about pat-downs, the bureaucracy in the Department of Homeland Security continues growing, potentially putting both the security of passengers and taxpayers at risk, simply to pander to another special interest group.

by- Bob Barr, The Barr Code

59 comments Add your comment

deathportal

February 25th, 2011
5:42 am

I will do my best to avoid flying commercially from this point forward, that’s for sure.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Barr and dps782, Eva Miranda. Eva Miranda said: TSA grows even more powerful: His prescient observation, delivered more than two centuries ago, aptly describes … http://bit.ly/eHrJcg [...]

Thou shall not encroach

February 25th, 2011
6:54 am

”Hey, the midnight-to-six shift doesn’t seem to have the quickest guys on the line. Let’s run a guy through with contraband and see if they catch him.”

This is a great example of using hypothetical nonsense as the climax to a poor piece about terrorism and the compromises that accompany the defense of a free society. To throw in his anti-union hate for the dignity of the working class takes this propaganda into the realm of “Mein Pet Kampf”, (the book W was reading on 911).

Barr has become completely unraveled and is now part of the problem. Barr: just go away. Write travel pieces for accidental tourists, or something.

the watch dog

February 25th, 2011
7:28 am

Rep. John Mica,soon to be chairman of the house committee of transportation and infrastructure, wrote to the heads of 150 U.S. airports reminding them that they can opt-out of the TSA screening. Rep. Mica said of the TSA, “we have created a multi billion dollar mirage”. The x-ray may be dangerously high U. of California bio-chemistry faculty wrote.

U.S. airports could choose to kick the TSA program to the curb. After two years of using TSA screeners to check passengers at checkpoints, airports have the right to opt-out of the TSA program and hire private screeners.

As for TSA unionizing, that goes beyond the pale, Unions weaken the country not stregthen it. Collective bargaining has already pushed workers salaries well above what the workers are actually worth. As for the 4th Amendment rights to privacy, that is all gone when passengers are forced to “bare it all”.

jt

February 25th, 2011
7:37 am

The TSA is a mere pimply side-effect of a terrible cancerous malady that has been growing for about a 150 years.

Instead of straws, bales are being haphazardly thrown upon the camels back.

Ask a bedouin what a broke-down PO’ed camel is worth. Those in the middle-east are already learning the cost.

Given the corrupt nature of centralized authority, we will be no different.

Airport worker

February 25th, 2011
7:50 am

Firist off Mr. Barr, if you are worried about the radiation, purchase a dosimeter and you will see how little radiation the body scanners are emitting. The Average TSA workers that are “patting you down” make some where around 30K. If you think that is a suitable salary for your “last line of defense” before you get on the plane, you are seriously a joke. Mr. Barr I do think you help create problems between TSA & infrequent flyers because you “stir the pot” on all the stuff Big Bad TSA is going to do when you get to the airport. Most buisness and weekly travelers know the procedures and do not mind the AIT machine. Most “opt-outs” occur from people who travel once every 5 years or someone who has read one of your reports and says “I read those machines cause cancer or those perverts want to see me naked!” Next time you fly how about you ask the officer do they have a dosimeter. And for the record, the person that sees your image is 20 feet or more away in a shaded booth where they only communicate if you have something on you or not. How about planning another national OPT-OUT day? LOL! Last time that happened in my eight hour shift, five people opted-out. Mr. Barr, if you could understand that these officers don’t want to slow you up, pat you down, or go through your stuff for pleasure. We do this because it is our job to make sure the plane you step on is safe for you and your love ones to reach their destination safely. Why don’t you do a report on all the weapons confiscated from the airport on a weekly basis, then you will see that “the threat is real!”

Virgil Caine

February 25th, 2011
8:00 am

Airport Worker,

Last week, I took my first long trip since the new scanners were implemented – I DROVE the 750 miles, so you didn’t see me in the OPT-OUT line.

Thou shall not encroach

February 25th, 2011
8:08 am

Bob Barr wont be happy until they open up a firing range on the tarmac of every airport in the USA.

Unionizing TSA is a terrible idea

February 25th, 2011
8:10 am

[...] at the AJC, Bob Barr has a solid piece on the TSA, which closes by noting the federal government will allow workers the ability to collectively bargain: In another slap to the faces of air travelers, it was announced recently that TSA’s 40,000 [...]

Mrs.Virgil Caine

February 25th, 2011
8:12 am

Airport Worker-

Nuremberg Defense. Read it. Know it. Hopefully will not have to use.

It doesn’t work.

TnGelding

February 25th, 2011
8:14 am

We’ve met the enemy…

And we aren’t a damn bit safer!

Thou shall not encroach

February 25th, 2011
8:22 am

The nuremburg defense was simple: the SS was merely traffic cops. Orders were orders. Collateral damage turns every citizen into a soldier and you have to follow orders.

Mrs.Virgil Caine

February 25th, 2011
8:46 am

Thou shall not encroach

Defense of the nuremberg defense is no defense. People inherently know when they are doing wrong. This includes an “airport worker” who feels up grandma. He may convince HIMSELF that he is protecting the “homeland”, but the “homeland” will eventually see justice prevail.

Do yourself a favor “airport worker”. Leave your sordid “employment” behind and get a real job.
You’ll be thankful in the future.

LA

February 25th, 2011
8:46 am

Thou shall not encroach

Go sell stupid somewhere else.

LA

February 25th, 2011
8:47 am

“the SS was merely traffic cops.”

Why do you hate Jews?

LA

February 25th, 2011
8:57 am

“if you are worried about the radiation, purchase a dosimeter and you will see how little radiation the body scanners are emitting.’

And TSA workers wonder why the general public sees them as incredibly stupid people.

“The Average TSA workers that are “patting you down” make some where around 30K.”

That’s a nice salary for someone who barely got their GED.

“If you think that is a suitable salary for your “last line of defense” before you get on the plane, you are seriously a joke. ”

TSA isn’t the last line of defense. The TSA is nothing but gloried mall security.

““I read those machines cause cancer or those perverts want to see me naked!””

Yeah, that’s because you CAN see people naked and TSA workers HAVE been fired for passing around photos. As far as cancer goes, not even the company that makes the scanners know whether or not those machines cause cancer.

“Next time you fly how about you ask the officer do they have a dosimeter. ‘

Uh, TSA workers can’t even pronounce that word.

sean Yankee

February 25th, 2011
8:57 am

Bob, I think you need to see a doctor about your paranoid delusions, they seem to be getting worse.

Maybe you better stay home in a locked room with the shades pulled so the big bad government doesn’t get a picture of you and steal your soul.

LA

February 25th, 2011
8:58 am

Do what Israel does. Profile Muslims.

Muslims are the ONLY group of people who blow up planes.

LA

February 25th, 2011
8:59 am

“The TSA is a nightmare that simply will not go away. ”

Same with Islam.

Carlosgvv

February 25th, 2011
9:00 am

LA

I agree. The real problem with the TSA is that the security it gives is only an illusion. If a terrorist really wants to blow up an airplane, the TSA is little or no problem.

LA

February 25th, 2011
9:04 am

“If a terrorist really wants to blow up an airplane, the TSA is little or no problem.”

TSA workers continue to fail security tests that the federal government mandates. I have seen plenty of TSA workers slacking off, cutting up and acting like children when I’ve flown from Hartsfield etc. Some of the TSA workers I’ve encountered spoke ebonics and therefore I could barely understand what they were saying.

LA

February 25th, 2011
9:05 am

Thanks to Obozo and all the leftist morons who put him in charge.

US Will Be the World’s Third Largest Economy: Citi

http://www.cnbc.com/id/41775174

I Won't Fly

February 25th, 2011
9:11 am

Hey Airport Worker,

Hope you enjoy laughing to yourself at the 5 opt outs. Many are opting out of flying all together. It’s not worth it to us to have your hand jammed into our vaginas. You should be ashamed of yourself for working at your fake security job.

LA

February 25th, 2011
9:13 am

“It’s not worth it to us to have your hand jammed into our vaginas.’

That’s the only way the uneducated GED holding TSA workers can get any action.

I Won't Fly

February 25th, 2011
9:15 am

TSA workers are not allowed to have dosimeters. So, why would a passenger ask for one? Secondly, any passenger who gets out of line is treated like crud by lowly paid, barely educated security guards. One guard asked a woman to remove her prosthetic breast! Another guard forced a bladder cancer patient to remove his tubing, which caused urine leakage. Another guard searched a 9 year old AFTER the 9 yo got off a bus?! Another guard–several actually–made lewd comments about seeing good-looking women naked. So, don’t tell me you are “just doing your jobs.” Get another job.

This is about control and not about security. A sane country does not treat its citizens as terrorists.

And if you have to touch my vagina for me to fly on a plane, then maybe you need to rethink your foreign policy.

Lee

February 25th, 2011
9:17 am

What I really want to see is Obama standing by while some TSA pervert feels up his wife and daughters. Lead by example, right? If it is good enough for us, shouldn’t the first family be offered the same, er, protection?

If they were serious about preventing another 9-11, all they have to do is arm every adult on the flight with a taser and show them a 30 second video of those planes flying into the World Trade Center.

Hey, what’s that burnt smell? Oh that. Just some Arab guy in first class who got up to use the restroom.

Lee

February 25th, 2011
9:35 am

@I Wont Fly; count me as one of those former frequent flyers who now instead drives.

In my job, I used to fly all over the Southeast in those one hour hops down to Pensacola, Gulfport, etc. Now, I just get a rental car and drive. The time difference between driving and putting up with the airport crap is not that much. I figure I’ve cost the airlines about $20,000 lost revenue the past 2-3 years.

LA

February 25th, 2011
9:38 am

“What I really want to see is Obama standing by while some TSA pervert feels up his wife and daughters.’

Yep, and what else is funny about that is Obama builds up public schools and teachers unions yet his two daughters have never set foot in a public school. Even when he was a crappy Illinois senator living on the south side, his oldest went to private school.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 25th, 2011
9:39 am

I am ready for our tea party officials to do the responsible thing, to abolish TSA and place security duties where they logically belong, with the airlines themselves. Only the airlines have a financial interest in preventing aircraft from blowing up, and only the airlines have an interest in providing good customer service. Bureaucrats have no vested interest in either.

Carlosgvv

February 25th, 2011
9:49 am

LA

And when a plane is eventually bombed, if you point the finger of blame at them, they will cry “racism”.

jconservative

February 25th, 2011
9:56 am

I am trying to remember the last new Federal agency that actually started to shrink in size & authority after it was funded.

When I think of it I will get back with y’all.

LA

February 25th, 2011
10:03 am

“they will cry “racism”.”

Only libs cry racism.

StJ

February 25th, 2011
10:25 am

“Performance results of the certified security firms were ‘equal to or better than those delivered’ by the TSA screeners”

Not surprising, given that the government hires via the quota system and private firms hire mostly via the merit system. The merit system will win every time.

Robin

February 25th, 2011
10:26 am

TSA=a bunch of mouth breathing, uneducated goons that only took a TSA job cause they where not getting an unemployment check and food stamps anymore. Ever get a look at a YouTube video that caught a couple TSO’s picking through a trash can at the screening line AFTER they made someone toss out a candy bar???!!! Yep, they got it out and ate it! Over the holidays they allowed one lady to pass through with a pumpkin pie but not the next lady. It was Rhubarb and Strawberry…..TSA claimed the “gel” in the pie could be a possible bomb (this was right after they asked her what kind it was)…..funny how they got caught gobbling it up in the breakroom. TSA ARE THEIVES, LIARS AND PERVERTS! You think those rag-heads in the middle east think they got some great deal with going to heaven and getting all those virgins? When a TSO dies they get 1000 9yr old boys to grope! Quess that’s the only “one up” we have against terrorists!

Sharon

February 25th, 2011
10:50 am

Airport Worker is not upholding the American Constitution or being a good citizen.
Like all the people who work at an airport as “security”, they breech the fourth amendment as part of their so called job. Their frail minds subvert the inportance of their role in national security similiar to the soldiers of concentration camps convinced themselves “we were just following orders”. Stanley Milgram’s theory of authority obedience are alive and well.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcvSNg0HZwk
No American has committed an act of terror on our country via an airplane. I don’t need to prove every Monday morning and every Thursday afternoon that I am not a terrorist. They need to know me after all these years and put in an express lane, bypassing even the metal detector for me and every other American. Citizens are much better at thwarting terrorist efforts at the airport than the TSA.
Nothing is working in the screening process. It is an insulting waste of my hard earned tax dollars going to TSA. The people are not in physical condition, they are not in mental condition – 8 hours of moving plastic bins back and forth hardly draws the upper echelon of personnel. Smaller airports need two to three in physical condition state troopers with bomb sniffing dogs to keep us safe. The bags going on board an airplane need to be x-rayed for weapons. That is it. I refuse to have a naked picture taken or someone’s hands on me. I traveled every week to my job. For 4 1/2 years I go to airport at 5 am on Mondays. The TSA don’t even recognize me. I go to the Dunkin Donut counter and the lady remembers my order – my exact coffee, my muffin order, and the fact that I like water too. Plus through small conversations – she knows about where I live and I know about where she lives. She knows where I am going. Meanwhile, the people that I am paying how much for will strip search me because they think I am a terrorist after 4 and a half explicative years? I refuse. I thought when President Obama came into office stupid was abolished but apparently not.

sean Yankee

February 25th, 2011
11:29 am

“only the airlines have an interest in providing good customer service”

Yea right, you must not have flown lately. Airlines dont care squat about customer service. Their people are unpleasant and the overall experience from beginning to end is nasty. I am not blaming the airline employees, they have been treated like crap by there employers and just give what they get.

Total Morons

February 25th, 2011
12:31 pm

True story: I typically fly 2-3 times a year for business, and then once a year I go home for the holidays. Never have ANY issues, until I try to leave Salt Lake International (located in my home state by the way).

Last year I renewed my drivers license at another model governement agency (the DMV)they had mistakenly taken the (I) out of my name, no big deal as the pronunciation and the spelling are pretty much identical without it.

Long story short, after travelling all year, I ended up getting stopped by the TSA in Salt Lake because my name was mis-spelled. Then had to endure a 20 minute lecture from the TSA Supervisor about how I wasn’t the same person on my DL. I explained what happened, and even showed them every form of I.D. in my wallet, credit cards with my picture, Social Security cards, Broadcasters license, I even found my old college and High School id’s in there all with my name spelled correctly, and several with my picture on it! The supervisors response was that none of that was a government issued picture id and could not be used for idenitification. Gee sorry officer Fife, I don’t usually carry multiple government issued id’s around with me. They finally allowed me to move on down the concourse with about 5 minutes to spare to get to my plane, but not before telling me that I need to be better prepared next time or else I won’t be allowed to fly. Yeah, amazingly enough I never had a problem in Atlanta, New York, Boston, Chicago or LA, But damn straight, the “A” Team at SLC is right on the job! Morons!!

LA

February 25th, 2011
12:37 pm

sean Yankee

Maybe they don’t like you. I can’t imagine why(sarcasm)? Anyway, maybe you should branch out and fly different airlines. Southwest/Airtran have fantastic customer service and I love to fly with them.

Heath

February 25th, 2011
12:50 pm

Airport full body scanner implementation is a joke. Many airports don’t have them period. Others have them only in certain security lanes. You just have to be a little observant. The only people that will ever get a pat down or body image under the current system is the non-terrorist; unless the terrorist is just a complete idoit.

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Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 25th, 2011
1:11 pm

Dear Sean @ 11:29, good afternoon. I fly Delta twice each week, and I can affirm that they treat me royally. I flew Southwest once during Christmas, and they also have an excellent operation. Occasionally I get to sit near the entrance, and after watching the abuse the poor flight attendants get from the boarding public, I am amazed they can continue to smile.

seabeau

February 25th, 2011
1:43 pm

Why are we non-flying taxpayers footing the TSA costs. The TSA should be shut down and private companies perform this task , paid for by the flying public!

killerj

February 25th, 2011
2:05 pm

Hey Bob,lets also bring to light the”Prez” has state,s fighting against each other while he sit,s back waiting for them to ask for federal courts to do the rulings,people your being screwed by a tatic he,s been using all along,wait and see.Come on 2012,Go Tea Party,This man is bad people.

jj

February 25th, 2011
2:08 pm

TSA pay scale, I doubt the average is $33K as posted earlier

Pay Band Minimum Maximum
A $17,083 $24,977
B $19,570 $28,546
C $22,167 $33,303
D $25,518 $38,277
E $29,302 $44,007
F $33,627 $50,494
G $39,358 $60,982
H $48,007 $74,390
I $58,495 $90,717
J $71,364 $110,612
K $85,311 $132,237
L $101,962 $155,500
M $120,236 $155,500

LA

February 25th, 2011
2:29 pm

“The TSA should be shut down and private companies perform this task’

Well, that’s the catch 22. Before 911, a private company DID handle security and then we had 911. Bush brought about the TSA and here we are.

Profile Muslims and we’ll all be fine.

Native Atlantan2

February 25th, 2011
2:31 pm

@Ragnar — agree completely. I fly Delta and American exclusively unless I’m heading overseas and I am amazed at how poorly the airline employees are treated by the general public. The employees clearly aren’t slaves but you’d never know based on how they are talked to and treated.

Also, been flying EVERY week for the past 13 years — never, ever, EVER had a problem with TSA. I’m not a huge fan of the process and believe it’s overkill but they are getting paid to do a job. I can’t believe someone actually denigrated the airport worker for having a job versus sitting at home drawing unemployment. You can’t have it both way — complain if someone draws unemployement AND complain if they have a job…damn…just damn…

David

February 25th, 2011
3:22 pm

And when the next would be bomber has a device in a body cavity will we have to submit to a body cavity search? I will not subject myself nor my family to needless radiation exposure nor TSA molestation. I will not be flying until the TSA changes these procedures.

“They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP.”No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial. We know X-rays are hazardous but we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner,” he said

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/body-scanners-dangerous-scientists

http://www.aolnews.com/2010/12/20/aol-investigation-no-proof-tsa-scanners-are-safe/

Jeb

February 25th, 2011
3:29 pm

Bob:

Maybe your next mistress can be a TSA screener?

Schrodinger's cat

February 25th, 2011
6:42 pm

Shut down the TSA..It’s only window dressing anyway
Do like the do in Tel Aviv…Profile…not Muslums but body language…they don’t single anyone out, but everyone gets a few interviews or more depending…

Raymond Huffman

February 25th, 2011
7:13 pm

what is with this continuing war against the airline passenger? the airlines are cutting routes, not adding them. With all this extra check-in inconvenience, the time saved for many flights makes air travel a less attractive option than driving to most places. By the time you park, check-in, go through the warrantless TSA search, get delayed by weather, crew, or aircraft maintenance, you could be half-way across the southeast, for less money, and in more comfort. The airlines are tagging passengers with baggage fees. At the time they said it was due to rising fuel prices, but when the fuel prices dropped, the baggage fees increased. It is not worth the price, time or trouble to fly anymore.

Thou shall not encroach

February 26th, 2011
7:56 am

The nurenberg defense? I’ve seen actually historical video of the Nurenburg Trials, man. Look, when Burt Lancaster said, “Take it!”, he convinced me that der heetler was right. If a country can “take it” it should “take it”. That’s why W was……RIGHT!!! We “could” take Iraq, and so we “should” have! “TAKE IT!”. Just because it caused the middle east to explode ten years later creating the rube-goldberg descent into armageddon a thousand years too soon is no reason to question boy george now.

Der Heetler, unt his frauline Teetler are der new Cameltoelot! May it last for a thousand years!

morons.

[...] Bob Barr at The Barr Code: [...]

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Jefferson

February 26th, 2011
6:05 pm

This country is full of fraidy cats…from the gun toters to the give up freedom for security crowd. Just faidy cats…

For my country

February 27th, 2011
5:24 pm

It is routinely stated that TSA officers are uneducated perverts, unable to do any advanced tasks or worthwhile work. At our mid-sized airport most of our offices are mature men and women with extensive work backgrounds, many with collage degrees, years of military experience, business owners or retired after working for the nations larges companies.

Only one in ten applicants make it through to become sworn federal officers, including many well educated people. It requires an extensive background/credit check, intensive training and OJT. After all this they start at an average salary of $13.00/hr. They also undergo daily tests and must successfully pass a high percentage. You only hear about the ones that don’t, not the thousands that do. Would you be able to do your job perfectly, every day with secret tests thrown in to test you?

Are there some officers who do not represent them selves or the country well? Of course, as in any large organization of 40,000 plus employees. They are eventually weeded out and let go, some sooner and some later.

So talk of “privatizing” airport security is to disregard history and ignore the fact that since 911 we have a situation where the average citizen does not perceive a threat, as evidenced by their behavior as they pass through security.

Criticize TSA all you want, but do yourself and our county a favor and at lease be factual.

Lee

March 1st, 2011
8:43 am

Video of TSA agents seaching passengers AFTER they get off an AMTRAK train. One more reason not to use the train.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZjmzVuvIqM

[...] is not taking this lack of disclosure lying down. Recently, Barr went after the TSA in his blog, The Barr Code. Though he does not bring up his request specifically in the article, Barr does make a stand on his [...]