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Don’t Let Strip-and-Grope Become the New Normal

The TSA wants you to assume the position and fly the little too friendly skies. (Watch a PJTV interview with pilot Michael Roberts, and a Trifecta episode on this topic.)

by
Scott Ott

Bio

November 10, 2010 - 10:55 am

The middle-aged man in the blue shirt spoke gently, but directly, to Tabitha, as if he had done this a thousand times before with 12-year-old girls like her. In words tailored to her understanding, and designed to make what he was about to do seem normal, not creepy, the man in the blue shirt made it clear that if she didn’t do as he instructed she would not get to go to Disneyland. He merely wanted to show another man what was under Tabitha’s blouse and panties. Her refusal was so firm, and her face so alarmed, that he backed off and tried another tactic. If Tabitha would merely stand still while one of the man’s friends touched her body all over (caressing her in ways that no one ever had) then that would be the end of it, and she could go to Disneyland.

If this were a “real” story, it would likely end in prison terms for the man in the blue shirt and his friends, and a lifetime of psychological problems for Tabitha.

It’s not real … but it is true. It’s an intentionally provocative fictional dramatization of the new airline security protocol used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Without regard for threat potential, airline passengers of all ages can now be forced to make the choice between baring their nakedness before a federal agent, or getting a full-body fingertip groping by another federal agent. The advanced imaging technology (AIT) scanners — AKA strip-search machines — now stand watch in more than 65 airports nationwide, with their numbers set to grow by more than 40 percent at year’s end, thanks to your federal stimulus dollars.

The procedure is so humiliating and so invasive that even flight crews are rebelling. The 11,000-member American Pilots’ Association just received a letter from its leader decrying the humiliation, radiation danger, and ineffectiveness at deterring terrorism of this strip-and-grope regimen.

On October 15, Michael Roberts, a Houston-based pilot for ExpressJet, was on his way to work when the TSA agent asked him to remove his shoes. Roberts has been passing through that airport for four and half years, and typically when he’s in uniform, he can keep his shoes on. So he asked about the change. The TSA lady said he needed to get the AIT scan — electronic strip search. He declined. She called to her colleagues, and through the radio, “We have an opt-out,” and he was the told they would frisk him. He declined. Then began the inquisition: Name? Phone  number? Employer? Boss’ phone number? When he asked to go, he was told they had more questions for him.

Long story short, with the help of the Rutherford Institute, Michael Roberts is now on administrative leave and is suing the federal government to recover his, and our, 4th Amendment right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches …”.

When I spoke with Roberts this week, he said he hopes more people will refuse the “enhanced” screening and, as often as possible, decline to travel by air, writing to the airlines to let them know why.

Although he has a libertarian streak, Roberts’ objection to the procedure goes beyond personal privacy and political philosophy. He says the screening just doesn’t work. It doesn’t improve passenger safety or deter terrorism. It’s just another example of the federal government closing the barn door after the horse gets out, and violating the rights of the innocent to make it look like the government is doing something about security.

Roberts notes the progression of this liberty-leeching invasion:

After the shoe-bomber attempt, we had to remove our shoes. After the underpants bomber, we had to be electronically strip searched and groped.

What will happen, he asks, after the first time a terrorist smuggles a bomb on a plane inside his rectum or in a breast implant?

There was a time, not too long ago, when that would have been a comedian’s witty one-liner. Now, it sounds more like the future rushing upon us.

If you’re one of those who has basically decided that any indignity is merely the price of safety, consider that so far, it has been airline passengers and on board crews who have prevented tragedy … not the federal government.

It’s time to return the responsibility for flight safety to the airlines and the passengers — who have thus far deployed the only effective countermeasures anyway. It’s time to end the TSA’s strip-and-grope protocol before it becomes so commonplace and accepted that we forget it was ever objectionable. In the memorable words of President Obama (on another topic), it will become “the new normal.”

Having thus submitted to such unconscionable invasion of our bodies and souls, how could we ever rationally draw the line to prevent any sort of federal government encroachment?

Scott Ott co-hosts a news, commentary and humor show called Trifecta on PJTV. He created and hosted the 20-part series on the Constitution titled Freedom's Charter. His satire site, ScrappleFace, spawned three books and praise from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and many others.
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