~ New Jersey And Others Push Back At TSA

In case you haven’t had the “pleasure” of flying lately, here is a little taste of what you might expect at the airport …

And as shocking as this video is, the push back is only now starting to build. Fortunately, there are still some true government representatives willing to take action.

In a news conference yesterday, New Jersey State Senators Michael J. Doherty (R-Hunterdon, Warren) and James Beach (D-Camden) announced they will present resolutions to the New Jersey Senate and Assembly that calls on the U.S. Congress to end TSA screening procedures that require either Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), full body scans, or an Enhanced Pat-Down (EPD) at U.S. airports.

From Senator Doherty:

“The pursuit of security should not force Americans to surrender their civil liberties or basic human dignity at a TSA checkpoint,” said Doherty. “Subjecting law-abiding American citizens to naked body scans and full body pat downs is intolerable, humiliating, vulnerable to abuse, and is fast becoming a disincentive to travel. Particularly concerning to us is the fact that physical searches result in children being touched in private areas of the body. Terrorists hate America because of the freedoms upon which this great nation was built. By implementing these screening measures, the TSA has already handed a victory to those who seek to destroy our freedoms.”

From Beach:

“While no one questions the need for greater security at our airports, no one should be forced to hand over their dignity in the name of safety, ” said Senator Jim Beach (D-Camden). “Creating a pat-down procedure that is purposely invasive and time-consuming is no way to make passengers feel safer or more secure. In fact, it can do the opposite. With the busiest travel day of the year just 10 days away, the TSA needs to get a reality check and soon. Airport security is meant to make passengers feel better about flying, not humiliate them.”

Joining Senator Doherty at the press conference was N.J. Senator Diane Allen (R- Burlington), American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Executive Director Deborah Jacobs, and Assembly members Erik Peterson, Alison McHose, John DiMaio, and Valerie Vanieri Huttle.

Senator Allen expressed reservations about passenger exposure to unnecessary radiation.

“Certain Americans, including cancer patients and survivors who are being treated or have been treated with radiation therapy are told by their doctors to avoid unnecessary exposure to additional radiation. As a cancer survivor myself, the new imaging equipment used for full body scans concerns me greatly. The U.S. government has not provided adequate information on the potential health impacts of these machines- to say nothing of the invasive nature of the alternative presented to passengers. David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University has in fact said it is likely that at least some people who are exposed to the new scanners will develop cancer as a result, with frequent fliers and children among the most susceptible.”

Wow. How refreshing. Government representatives of the people responding in clear and unequivocal terms to the growing backlash against both the full body scans and the Enhanced Pat-Down technique.

And that backlash is coming from all corners. Larry Johnson highlights a couple of egregious incidents – one involving a terrified three-year old child, the other an adult male who refused both the scanner and the enhanced pat-down and is now being investigated by TSA and faces the threat of a lawsuit.

US Airline Pilots Association letter to its members describes one pilot’s recent experience:

One US Airways pilot, after being selected for an enhanced pat-down, experienced a frisking that has left him unable to function as a crew member. The words this pilot used to describe the incident included “sexual molestation,” and in the aftermath of trying to recover, this pilot reported that he had literally vomited in his own driveway while contemplating going back to work and facing the possibility of a similar encounter with the TSA.

The letter goes on to recommend that:

Pilots should NOT submit to AIT screening. The TSA has offered no credible specifications for the radiation emitted by these machines. As pilots, we are exposed to more radiation as a function of our normal duties than nearly every other category of worker in the United States. Based on currently available medical information, USAPA has determined that frequent exposure to TSA-operated scanner devices may subject pilots to significant health risks.

On Tuesday, airline pilots Michael Roberts and Ann Poe filed a suit against the TSA seeking to block the use of body scanners and enhanced pat-downs.  The TSA responded by exempting children under 12.

“After a thorough risk assessment and after hearing concerns from parents, we made the decision that a modified pat-down would be used for children 12 years old and under who require extra screening,” TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said in a statement.

So what about the poor 13, 14 , 15 or 16 year old child getting enhanced pat-down?

During a one-minute speech on the House floor, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas):

“[T]he populace is giving up more rights in the name of alleged security. These body scanners are a violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures … There must be a better way to have security at airports than taking pornographic photographs of our citizens, including children, and then giving apparent kickbacks to political hacks.”

CNN employee Rosemary Fitzpatrick was subjected to a pat-down at the Orlando, Florida, airport on Wednesday night after her underwire bra set off a magnetometer. Let this be a warning to all women who wear underwire bras.  Apparently, if you set off the magnetometer, you automatically get the enhanced pat-down.

“I felt helpless, I felt violated, and I felt humiliated,” Fitzpatrick said, adding that she was reduced to tears at the checkpoint. She particularly objected to the fact that travelers were not warned about the new procedures…

The TSA employees “conducted themselves in a professional manner, so my complaint is not about them professionally,” Fitzpatrick wrote.

She told the TSA the agency needs to get the word out so the travelers know their rights.

“I am appalled and disgusted at the new search procedures and the fact that passengers have not been made aware of the new invasive steps prior to entering the security area,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “It appears once you enter the security area, passengers forfeit their rights. There were no signs, video information, etc. at the entrance of the security area the airport. Why?”

She added: “As an experienced traveler for work who was in tears for most of the search process, I have never experienced a more traumatic and invasive travel event!”

In what I’m sure was an effort to stem the bleeding of support, John Pistole head of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) offered to have airport screeners come to Capitol Hill to provide senators with first hand experience at the Enhanced Pat-Down technique. According to Pistole:

the [enhanced] pat-down technique is so thorough that, had it been used, it would have thwarted the suspected Christmas Day bomber, who allegedly hid an explosive device in his underwear.

He declined to go into specific details on Wednesday about what the pat-down technique entails, saying that he didn’t want to give “a road map to anybody” on how to defeat the technique.

While I’m sure that comment was intended to instill confidence in its effectiveness, so far I haven’t heard of any Senate takers on the complimentary pat-downs. I wonder why?  Do you think any on Capital Hill are suddenly developing an aversion to flying home for the holidays?

The real icing on this cake is that while the full body scans will reveal intimate, personal, and private conditions like the necessity of an adult diaper, a colostomy bag, artificial limb or other personal medical equipment, it won’t necessarily do the job of preventing a terrorist device from getting on the plane or even into the airport where they could do equal or greater damage.  The Christian Science Monitor points out:

It remains unclear whether the AIT [scanners] would have been able to detect the weapon Mr. Abdulmutallab used in his attempted attack,” says a March report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Italian security officials stopped using the scanners in September. “We didn’t get good results from body scanners during testing,” said Vito Riggio, the president of Italy’s aviation authority, describing the scans as slow and ineffective.

British scientists found that the scanners picked up shrapnel and heavy wax and metal, but missed plastic, chemicals and liquids, reported UK newspaper The Independent in January.

Larry Johnson discussed the limitations of these procedures and how we should move forward with Aviation Security that Is Sane and Sensible.  Jane Hamsher gives an interesting timeline to how we wound up with “porno scanners” through the help of Michael Chertoff, the christmas bomber, and stimulus money. (Bet that warms your heart no end to know the stimulus was used for this.)

I’m also betting the airline industry will be joining the push back next as they feel the repercussions of customers opting out of flying all together.  I, for one, will be voting against these procedures with my travel dollars and enjoying the freedoms and comforts of the open road this holiday season.


Ron Paul says “Enough is enough!” and introduces HR 6416 The American Traveler Dignity Act (h/t Noogan)

Go Ron Paul!!

You can find more on this topic here.




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