ANNOUNCER: This is the Lew Rockwell Show.
ROCKWELL: Well, Becky Akers is a freelance writer in New York City. She’s a classics graduate of Columbia University. She writes a lot about the American Revolution. In fact, has a scholar’s knowledge of the American Revolution. But we’re so lucky at LewRockwell.com to have her writing about the TSA.
And, Becky, you were the first one, to my knowledge, to really see what was coming with the Transportation Security Administration and what was ahead for us. And maybe even you didn’t realize quite how bad it was going to get and how quickly.
Tell us about the beginnings of the TSA, some of their crimes, what they’re doing these days, and maybe even worse stuff that we face.
AKERS: Well, you’re very kind. But I have to say that what the TSA has become, and what it started off as really gave us a clue to what would be happening. Also, anybody who understands the way that government works could have predicted where this is all going.
TSA is government exemplified. And I loathe what it’s doing with the scanners and the groping because this is really government. The gloves are off, so to speak, blue or otherwise. TSA is showing us what government is. It is the lust to control, intimidate and humiliate anybody who is not one of you. So I’m hoping that the TSA’s naked, so to speak, abuse of the American population will inspire it not only to rise up against the scanners, the groping, and the TSA as a whole to demand it’s abolition, but also to realize this is what government is. And we need to abolish the entire kit-n-caboodle as well. We need to get rid of these tyrants on the Potomac. We need to realize that society, left to its own, is peaceable and productive. And we don’t need masters over us, telling us to strip our clothing off, telling us that we must allow them to fondle our children, telling us that we must submit our wives to their leers. No, we don’t need this.
ROCKWELL: Becky, you’re so right. And, of course, one of the things the people don’t seem to understand is that government is above the law — the “law,” quote, unquote. We’re not talking about the natural law. But the edicts and the various legislative laws that they impose on us don’t apply to the government. That’s, in fact, one of the great things people love about working for the government, a certain sort of person, whether they work as police or as TSA agents or FBI agents or CIA agents or whatever it is. Rules that apply to the rest of us, either legitimately or illegitimately, don’t apply to them. They’re doing things to us that really are no different, in a different sense, from the fact that the government openly admits that if it decides that you ought to be kidnapped, tortured, and even assassinated, you really have no cause to complain, nor does anybody else have cause to complain. So this is the state.
You’re so much in touch with this. Are people actually starting to withhold their consent from the TSA?
I must say, the minute the porno scanners were announced, I thought, this is a very big deal and it’s going to hurt them. On the other hand, it didn’t seem to hurt them for quite a long time. Now maybe with the fondling and the whole — what happens to you if you, so-called, opt out? And maybe you’ll discuss that for us. What actually happens to you, and what are the two alternatives that any air traveler faces today? But are people withdrawing their consent, at least initially, by stopping flying?
AKERS: Yes. I have to say, I’ve been following the TSA and writing against it for about five years. For the very first time, I have a glimmer of hope that we may be able to not just revolt against this agency but abolish it. And I want to stress to everyone who thinks we need to protest the scanning and the groping. No, we need to protest the very existence of this anti-constitutional, totalitarian agency. It is totally opposed to all freedom, not just the freedom to travel but all freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to be left alone, privacy, modesty, decency. We need to get rid of the whole thing.
As far as how the TSA started all this, it’s a myth that the corporate media and the TSA both are perpetrating, the TSA simply by its silence and not correcting anyone, that these scanners debuted in response to the Underwear Bomber. This is not true. The TSA has been trying to bring these scanners into American airports since 2002. So that, too, should tell us what this agency is, utterly totalitarian. It has wanted to see you naked since its inception in 2002. And it has been trying since then to do that. It didn’t succeed because, as you mentioned, people were just outraged at this. Even after 9/11. Remember, 2002, we’re talking just months after the World Trade Center fell. Even with those images fresh in their minds, the sheeple didn’t want to strip for government agents, and they made that very clear. TSA kept trying to push these machines, kept trying to push these machines. Finally, it has succeeded, in large part, thanks to people like Michael Chertoff. And a lot of folks who have been following LRC will be very familiar with his connection, that he is making oodles off these machines. He left his position as secretary of the Orwellian Department of Homeland Security to found a consulting group, in which he obviously was pushing the machines, whereas, before, as the head of DHS, he was pushing them in office but not disclosing his agreements with the manufacturers. He also, I have to say, very interestingly, as the head of this consulting group that he founded, he wasn’t disclosing his relationship even then. Somebody else outted him and revealed that he was, in fact, making tons of money off his salesmanship of these machines.
The choice that you are presented with at the airports is the same type of choice that the TSA has given us all along, and that is it’s no choice at all. It is a false dichotomy because we actually have many other options beyond the two that the TSA gives us, one of which is abolishing the agency.
But basically, when you go to the airport now, you’re going to want to watch because the security line you get into is very important as far as maintaining your dignity and sanity. Look for big boxes and avoid those lines. Go to a line without big boxes sitting there, two of them in a row. You’re going to be pushed into those boxes, made to stand between them like a convict with your hands over your head while the TSA takes naked photographs of you. So try your hardest to get in a different security line because these boxes are only at selected points, not all airports, not all concourses. And even in the concourses that do have them now, not every security line has them.
If you are in another line, you may still be singled out and forced to go into the scanner. If that happens, you theoretically and “legally,” quote, have the option to say, “I don’t want to do this. You cannot photograph me naked.” And in that case, the TSA is going to make an example of you so that nobody else defies them, even though the TSA itself is saying this is perfectly all right: If you don’t want to be irradiated and run the risk of getting cancer, we will grope you. And that is precisely what they’re doing now.
Corporate media is making a big deal out of the fact that the TSA used to, quote, “pat people down” — we will just say “grope” — with the backs of their hands. Now they have reversed that as though this is some big deal. I really don’t understand the differentiation. But they are now using the fronts of their hands. And this is a new violation. They’re not just running their hands over your legs and your arms. They are now going into extremely personal places and basically sexually assaulting you. This is a sexual assault. We should be very clear about that. If a man were to do this to a woman or a woman to a man on the street, at a party, in an office, the guy would be thrown in jail, the woman would face charges of assault. This is illegal. It is criminal. And it is a gross violation of everything moral and decent.
There was a very disturbing picture in the Los Angeles Times of a TSA goon with his hand on a little boy’s crotch. I mean, I just retched. What have we come to that we are permitting this? And I would say to every parent out there, there is no place in the world so important for you to see, there is no meeting so important, there is no family reunion so important that you should sacrifice your child to this utter molestation. This can traumatize a little kid. How many people have we read about, adults, who are still battling sexual abuse from their childhood? Don’t do this to your child. Don’t drag a poor little kid along to the airport and make him submit to this.
And I’d also say to everybody who doesn’t need to travel, then don’t. Don’t go to airports. Don’t participate in this. We have the example of Michael Roberts [pilot] who is risking his job to stand up against this. Is a trip to Disneyland really so important that you can’t give it up for the cause of freedom?
ROCKWELL: Well, Becky — (laughing) — very eloquent, of course. And I think this is actually happening. In my own experience, a lot of people are telling me they’re not flying any more. They certainly are not taking their families flying. There have been some great things in LRC, Arthur Krolman and Katherine Muratore and other people who are writing agencies, airlines, hotels, Disneyworld, and saying, “Why aren’t you protesting this? Why aren’t you maybe finding some way to charter planes”? Since people who go on charter plans apparently don’t have to go through this, just like people on private jets don’t have to go through it. It’s only the poor people on the scheduled airlines. Why doesn’t Disneyworld — of course, Disneyworld is part and parcel of the regime is, I guess, why they don’t do it.
ROCKWELL: All these big corporations are joined to the hip with the federal government and its various agencies.
But somehow the whole TSA business is so clarifying. We ought to be upset about what the CIA is doing to murder people. We ought to be upset about the predator drones and the bombing of innocent people in — I don’t know how many different countries, certainly Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen. And they, of course, want to murder people en masse in Iran because they can’t stand the Iranians either; you know, the latest people they’re demonizing.
ROCKWELL: But maybe it’s a human fault that we — most people actually tend not to care about that. However, this is so visible, so personal, so outrageous, and, as you say, such a great microcosm of the nature of the state.
But tell me, do you think they have more in mind for us? And you’re exactly right; these things didn’t come about as a result of the 9/11/01. They came about because the federal government has all these plans on its shelves ready to put them into practice. I mean, for example, the Patriot Act was written during the Clinton administration. It was on the shelf, ready to go when they had a chance to put it into effect under the evil George W. Bush.
So do you have any idea about — (laughing) — what else they might be planning for us? What are they going to do if actually there is a significant public protest about this? My guess is even the TSA doesn’t want to put the airlines out of business.
So what’s your speculation as to what these creeps would like to do to us, what’s ahead? Or will they actually be forced back? Of course, the ideal thing would be to let the airlines handle their own security. They know best, not the —
ROCKWELL: Not Socialist security from the federal government.
AKERS: Yes. And that right there is the fundamental flaw in everything the TSA and any other regulatory agency does.
I was just reading an article in the Washington Post about the new air cargo security rules that the TSA is imposing because it wants to save us all! And I was struck by the writer’s ignorance as well as the ignorance of anyone reading this to think that the federal government has a vested interest in making sure that UPS planes don’t explode, a more vested interest than UPS has in making sure that its planes don’t explode. Why would UPS risk a billion-dollar jet fleet to exploding packages? It isn’t going to. And if it weren’t hamstrung by all sorts of government regulations, it would make absolutely, 100% positive that no dangerous package got on its plane. It doesn’t need a bunch of bureaucrats, who don’t know squat about security, running its business for it. And, in fact, those bureaucrats work against security because they give shippers and UPS a false sense of security.
Also, when you require security, as the TSA is doing with airlines — and before the TSA, the FAA required the check points. Airlines had to pay for the check points, but everything done at the check points was determined by the FAA. And, of course, those check points allowed 9/11 to happen. But when you decree, as government — when the government decrees that something, so and so must be done, that something goes from being a value, a valued service that you’re willing to pay for, that you’re doing to ensure your own wellbeing, to something that is a requirement, and you will skimp as much as you can. So every time the TSA, the FAA or any other government regulatory agency puts through a requirement about some aspect of a business, it goes from being something the business wants to do to enhance its profits or to protect its customers or please its shareholders to something they will skimp on because now it’s a requirement. And we all do this in our personal lives. You know? If going to church were required by law, how many of us would get there early? How many of us would — it becomes something they slough off and don’t do very well. So UPS can be excused for saying, you know what, the government’s going to require this, they can handle it; I’m not going to worry about it any more. And we are going to see far more dangerous packages exploding onboard.
ROCKWELL: Well, also, we have the — what government does in all areas. I remember an instance a couple of years ago where a small beef producer wanted to enact far more rigorous rules than the Department of Agriculture has in terms of preventing, they hope, Mad Cow Disease from infecting any of their products. They were not allowed to.
ROCKWELL: The Department of Agriculture said you can’t go beyond what we require.
ROCKWELL: And, of course, you can’t do less than we require. You can’t do more than we require. So I don’t know that UPS, for example, is prevented from doing more rigorous inspections but they may be. I mean, the government considers that disobedience. They’re opting out.
ROCKWELL: And they hate it when anybody opts out.
AKERS: TSA does the same thing. TSA brags all over of their multi-layered approach to security. What they mean by that is that every single airport in the country has to follow exactly the same rules and regulations. So it’s extremely easy to game the system. And the corporate media even has been reporting about how they think this mail bomb packaging business was just a ruse, that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was simply trying to test the system. Well, they can do that because if you can mail a bomb to Chicago, you’re going to be able to mail it to L.A. or Washington and any place else because everything is under one set of regulations. So here’s a further reason that TSA endangers us.
Airlines that fly, say, to Saudi Arabia face very different security problems than do airlines flying only domestically. Airlines flying into Detroit face different problems than airlines flying into Tucson. Why can’t airlines determine for themselves what they need to do to protect their billion-dollar inventory, their very highly trained personnel, and the customers from whom their profits come? Has any bureaucrat anywhere got more of an interest in making sure all of that gets to its destination safely than the president of American Airlines? No. So why aren’t the people at American Airlines in charge of this instead of a bunch of worthless bureaucrats who don’t know anything about the industry?
ROCKWELL: Well, of course, we know that — and it doesn’t mean that they’re planning things necessarily — but we know the government loves it when something goes wrong.
ROCKWELL: Because they use it as an excuse to tighten the screws on us. Is it possible that at some point they’re not going to allow opt-outs? And already, of course, as you say, they want to humiliate you further by shouting about it. If somebody opts out, they immediately are all shouting — although you’re not allowed to shout — “Opt out! Opt out”!
AKERS: Yes. Yes. And, in fact, that is where all this is going. There was a fascinating article in the Atlantic Monthly in which the writer mentioned that TSA guys told him flat-out, yeah, we’re trying to get everybody to go through the machines. Now eventually, there will not be a choice. If you’re going to get on an airline, you will be irradiated and stripped-searched because these machines ultimately will be at every single concourse for every single security lane. That has been the TSA’s objective since the beginning. So the TSA has a vested interest in getting people to accept these machines. Again, there are very powerful forces at work here. Chertoff is not the only American capitalizing on them. A lot of the other corporate CEOs are incestuous with the government. These people go back and forth between board rooms and government positions. And they are all making pots of money off these. So there’s a huge, concerted push to get these in every single concourse. They will be there and you will be going through them, unless we can rise up now and overthrow all this.
So I really encourage folks, you know, get out there, start doing what people have been doing on LRC. They’re giving you form letters to send to corporations. I don’t know that it makes much sense to petition Congress on this. Congress has a demonstrated record now for the last several years of not listening to the will of the people. We besieged them against the bailouts, we besieged them against health care; both passed. I wouldn’t waste my time on Congress. I would hit the people that are going to hurt through this, and that’s the corporations.
You may remember the importation agreements in the colonies right before the American Revolution. That was essentially what was going on. The colonist had lost hope they could get the king to listen to their petitions. So instead, they just agreed not to import anything from the merchants of England because the merchants of England were in bed with the king, just like modern corporations are in bed with our federal government. And they figured, if we can get these guys’ attention, they will petition the king to be more constitutional, to go by the laws of the land. We should be doing the same thing.
Let me emphasize, TSA is totally, completely anti-constitutional. Government has absolutely no authority to control our movements. It may not survey travelers. It may not strip-search travelers. The Fourth Amendment specifically says you cannot do mass warrantless searches.
ROCKWELL: Well, Becky, here we have what the TSA is doing, and I think there’s even a further reason to be concerned, because if people are not going to object to being strip-searched by the government at random, en masse — not at random but en masse — if they’re going to not object to having their children felt up by strangers in order to get on a flight, they’re not going to object to having their mail read, their homes spied upon, their travels recorded, and the total — I mean, these people want a totalitarian state.
ROCKWELL: That is their objective. They want a high-tech version of the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.
ROCKWELL: That’s what they want to impose on us. So that’s why this fight, which is so comprehensible, so personal, is so important.
And I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve been doing to ring the bell in the church —
— the church that the feds are coming.
AKERS: Well, I have to thank you. You know, I was thinking about this this morning. I was wondering, how many times has one of the corporate media called you for a quote on the TSA? And how much have you written about the TSA? You are pretty much an authority on this agency. And yet, how often are you pictured on ABC News giving us the latest reasons why the government is installing these machines? No, you never are, right? Because the corporate media has a couple of experts they go to, such as Bruce Schneier and Rafi Ron, who is an Israeli consultant. They go to these people because what they say is, yeah, you know, the TSA is a little bit off, and here’s what it could do to make the security better. They will never go to somebody like you because you’ll say, “It’s unconstitutional and it must be abolished. It can never be tweaked and made right. It can’t be reformed.”
So all of us in the freedom movement owe a great deal of gratitude to you for maintaining a website that does bring this kind of truth out to people. I have tried and tried to get this out to the corporate media. I have sent out op-eds now against the TSA for five years. I have warned about the carcinogenic aspects of these machines. They do cause cancer. I have warned people, here’s what’s going to be happening; there’s going to be strip-searching; you need to be aware of this. I have had a handful of pickups in the five years that I’ve been doing this. So if it weren’t for your website and others like you, we would have no voice whatsoever.
ROCKWELL: Well, Becky Akers, thanks for your voice.
I want to urge everybody to take a look at Becky’s archive on LRC.
Keep doing what you’re doing. Start the revolution again.
AKERS: Oh, absolutely. Bring it on!
ROCKWELL: Thank you.
AKERS: Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: You’ve been listening to the Lew Rockwell Show, produced by LewRockwell.com, the best-read Libertarian website in the world. Thanks for listening.
ROCKWELL: Well, thanks so much for listening to the Lew Rockwell Show today. Take a look at all the podcasts. There have been hundreds of them. There’s a link on the upper right-hand corner of the LRC front page. Thank you.
Podcast date, November 24, 2010