• 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.

    “Neither,”
    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.

    Click
    here to read our letter to ExpressJet Airlines Management.

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

    November
    8, 2010

    Michael
    S. Roberts [send him
    mail
    ] is a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines. His website is FedUpFlyers.org.

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