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article imageOp-Ed: Is that a gun in your pocket? Americans fight back against TSA

By Alexander Baron     Jul 17, 2011 in Travel
Americans have become increasingly angered over some of the Draconian measures employed by the TSA against innocent airline passengers. Now, some of them are fighting back in albeit unusual ways.
There are those idiots, the so-called 911 Truth Movement, who blame the September 11 atrocities on the Order of the Illuminati, the Mossad, or even the American Government itself. While no one need take these sort of ludicrous claims seriously, what is not beyond dispute is that there are some for whom these acts of unprecedented mass murder have been a boon rather than a curse, including those who really would like to see America and the entire world turned into a police state; those who would like to see the entire population wired up to a central computer with micro-chips in the backs of our necks so that anytime any of us uses the word fag or says something unpleasant about the current administration we can be punished with an electric shock, or even have our heads blown off. He’s joking, right?
Then answer this, what is worse: an SS man demanding “Vere are your papers, Jew?” or a TSA agent “patting down” a three year old girl against her will?
Ask your local Orthodox Rabbi, or your Imam.
Let’s be realistic about this. We need airline security; there have been serious attempts to take planes out of the sky since September 11, including a plot its would-be perpetrators hoped would eclipse the Twin Towers attacks. The threat would be nowhere near as serious if these madmen were not prepared to lay down their own lives, but they are, so this must be factored into the equation.
Nor can enhanced security be limited to persons of a certain pigmentation or religion, not because profiling is racist, whatever that is supposed to mean, but because not all Moslems are white, not all terrorists are Moslems, and not every “bomber” is a terrorist. In April 1986, a pregnant Irishwoman boarded a plane at Heathrow Airport with a bomb in her luggage; it had been planted by her Jordanian lover Nezar Hindawi, and but for an alert El Al security official, the 375 people aboard would all have been killed.
Finally, not all bombers or other mass murderers are terrorists in the recognised sense. While the Unabomber was technically a terrorist, a case can be made out for him being insane. Dr Harold Shipman was definitely not a terrorist, in spite of murdering over two hundred people.
Yes, we need airline security; we need security per se. Sadly, we need to be ever vigilant, but this vigilance must also extend to the government. And we have to strike a balance; a young woman walking home alone at night is right to regard every able-bodied man she passes as a potential rapist or worse, but we should not become so paranoid as to see Islamist plots, Nazi conspiracies and government “false flag” operations everywhere, nor to sacrifice our civil liberties in the war against terror, the war against drugs or the war against anything.
If we allow arrest without probable cause (reasonable suspicion in the UK), searches without warrant, wire taps without warrant, unregulated intrusive surveillance, indefinite detention without trial (as with Guantánamo Bay), we will still have terrorists and other dangerous criminals, what we won’t have are our civil liberties.
In the United States, probably no measure instigated since 9/11 has been as controversial as the TSA, which was set up shortly after the atrocities, and moved to the Department of Homeland Security in March 2003. In particular, the use of full body scanners and pat downs has led to protests not simply from civil liberties groups but occasionally to actions from individuals, sometimes with humorous consequences.
Last year, John Tyner objected to a full body scan at San Diego International Airport and was told that instead he would have to submit to a pat down. When he was advised this would include a groin search, he said that if the searcher touched his “junk” he would have him arrested. All this time, Mr Tyner was keeping his videophone running, and posted the footage to YouTube.
In the end he didn't fly and was escorted from the area then went to the American Airlines counter to obtain a refund for his ticket, after which he was buttonholed by another TSA operative who told him he had to return to the area and finish the screening process. He refused, and they tried to make him pay a fine of $11,000.
The phrase “Don’t touch my junk” has now passed into folklore; there have been at least two songs with that title, and others inspired by it, which will no doubt in due course find their way into the SongFacts database.
If this one incident generated as much humour as controversy, others haven’t. There have been complaints of what amounts to sexual assault, young children being distressed, and indeed on occasion of young boys and even young girls being subjected to what amounts to intimate body searches.
The main complaint levelled by John Tyner is that he did not expect to be subjected to a sexual assault as a condition of flying.
The reader should check out this video and ask himself/herself, as a parent, what action would you take or expect the police to take if a shopkeeper or even a teacher meted out this sort of treatment to your child?
Could you ever imagine doing this to a child yourself, even one of your own? At least one female traveller has reported having her breasts twisted by one of these people. She said it was worse than some random guy coming up to her in the street and indecently assaulting her.
In Britain, this sort of treatment is not permitted. Sometimes people are detained by HM Customs on suspicion of having illegal drugs in their bodies. They actually wrap these substances in condoms and swallow them – or shove them up their body cavities. Customs officers are not permitted to search these people intimately, even if they have good reason to believe they are carrying contraband in this manner; what they do is lock them in a cell until nature takes its course, a process that can take days. Even if they believe these people may be in actual danger from doing this, they are not allowed to intervene. On occasion, people have died when such packages have burst inside them, but Customs officers and police officers are not permitted to search suspects that intimately.
More recently, another traveller initiated a somewhat unusual protest; he walked through TSA security wearing sweatpants (tracksuit bottoms), and no underpants after taking two Viagara tablets. For some unspecified reason he was allowed to proceed through security with no pat down, but he was having none of it, and went back for more. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened, and it is unlikely to be the last.
The belligerent, even quasi-fascistic attitude of many of these TSA staff is also apparent; some of them also appear to be of low intelligence and poorly trained. Surrounding a lone woman with a dozen operatives, police officers and a dog might be regarded as something of an over-reaction. It didn't take that many SEALs to kill Osama Bin Laden. Happily, there is now bundles of footage on YouTube and similar websites so that people, including powerful politicians, can see for themselves the at times extreme over-reactions of these dare one call them public servants?
Whatever happens at American airports, there are those who want to see this sort of tyranny extended to the rail network. One US Senator has actually proposed the initiation of “no ride” lists similar to “no fly” lists.
In South Africa under the old Apartheid régime there was a system of internal passports. Americans protested this. In Israel/Palestine, native-born Palestinians are treated in the same manner. Americans have been in the forefront of protesting these kind of “security” measures as discriminatory, yet if they are directed against everyone regardless of race, colour or creed on home soil, that makes them okay?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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