Protect Yourself and Your Family Against TSA Tyranny

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by Michael Roberts: Pilot
to TSA: ‘No Groping Me and NoNakedPhotos’



Letter submitted
to USA Today on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 1:46 PM; rejected for
publication at 2:35 PM:

For those who
may still be unfamiliar, please allow me to briefly explain what’s
happening in the U.S.A. today. When a law-abiding citizen wishes
to travel out of any major airport in the country where the latest
air transportation security procedures have been implemented, he
or she will now be subjected to what can only be truthfully described
as a virtual strip search. The federal government is using funds
raised through the Recovery Act to stimulate the economy by installing
expensive new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) systems at airport
security checkpoints throughout the nation. These devices enable
screeners to see beneath travelers’ clothing to an extremely
invasive level of detail. For example, the images are graphic enough
to enable agents to determine whether a man has been circumcised,
or whether a woman is menstruating.

The Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) is quick to point out that this program
is optional. Individuals who decline this indignity, or “opt
out,” will instead be physically frisked, which entails a federal
security agent’s hands passing over the entire body, including
the buttocks, breasts, hair, and genitals. The agent will explain
the procedure beforehand, and the traveler is expected to consent
and comply or else opt back into the AIT scanner. Otherwise, he
or she will not be admitted to the secured side of the facility
or allowed to board an aircraft.

On October
15, I was turned away from the security screening checkpoint at
Memphis International Airport when I declined both AIT screening
and the secondary “enhanced pat-down” procedure. I was
attempting to enter the facility for my commute to Houston, where
I’m based as a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, doing business
as Continental Express. I did, however, pass through a standard
impulse induction metal detector without triggering an alarm, just
as I have done approximately once per week at that same checkpoint
(which happens to be in Terminal C – hence, “Checkpoint
Charlie”) for the past four and a half years.

TSA announced
the new screening policies last July. When we learned about the
changes, many of my coworkers and I were deeply disturbed, especially
as we discovered that this mistreatment was being mandated for crew
members as well as passengers – even children! We discussed
the various ways in which we might express our rejection of the
new rules. Unfortunately, there had been no proposal published,
and no opportunity for the public to comment. TSA had simply issued
its decree, and it was already on the books. Because we didn’t
want an incident like mine to be the first indication of our dissent,
our initial concern at the time was to notify the company that we
do not consent to having images of our nude bodies produced as a
matter of course in performing the routine duties of our profession.

we wrote last August in a letter to our managers, “can we abide
being stopped daily by government agents and physically molested,”
as a reasonable alternative.

We also wrote:
“While we take airline security very seriously, we do not believe
the dubious benefits of these invasive measures justify the trade
off in employee and passenger privacy and other rights and liberties.
It is our view that reasonable levels of security within the air
transportation system can and must be achieved without producing
images of travelers’ naked bodies or subjecting them without
cause to… unwelcome touching at the hands of federally employed
airport security guards.”

The Fourth
Amendment to the United States Constitution states:

“The right
of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the
place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

I specifically
draw the reader’s attention to the first eight words. Our nation’s
founders clearly affirmed “the right of the people to be secure.”
It’s equally clear that they saw the kind of wholesale, unprovoked
assault against persons and privacy that is being committed within
our borders today as a serious threat to that security – serious
enough, in fact, to write it down in the Bill of Rights.

What is happening
in the U.S.A. today is not safe. The things our government is doing
do not make us secure or protect us. On the contrary, it is now
necessary for us to protect ourselves from our supposed protectors.
My wife and I teach our children to defend their bodies, and not
to allow anyone to touch them in certain ways – not even friends
or relatives. But if we wish to travel by air as a family, we must
now deliver our children over to such abuse at the hands of strangers
and tell them it’s okay because these are security guards who
work for the government and wear uniforms with shiny badges. We
will not. It is not okay. And we urgently implore our neighbors
everywhere to protect themselves and their families as well.

here to read our letter to ExpressJet Airlines Management.

here to read my same-day account of the incident at Memphis International

8, 2010

S. Roberts [send him
] is a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines. His website is

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