Home > Uncategorized > I get email: TSA holiday travel edition

I get email: TSA holiday travel edition

November 25, 2010

This is from Kent Ashcraft, sending out another one of his email missives:


When I was an active duty Marine, I was forced to submit to random drug testing. Several times a year I had to urinate into a bottle under direct observation of another person – fairly intrusive, if you ask me. If I’d felt it were a violation of my Fourth Amendment rights, I would have protested loudly, but it wasn’t. It was merely a condition of my employment. Today I am self-employed and no one can force me to do such a thing.

Likewise, the full body scans (or pat-downs) at our airports are intrusive, but not a violation of our rights. They are merely a condition of being allowed to fly on a commercial airliner. Whether they are necessary or effective in preventing terrorist attacks is debatable, but that is their purpose in any case.

Here’s what I find ironic here: Many of the people who are most indignant about the TSA’s screening procedures didn’t bat an eye when the Bush administration authorized warrantless electronic surveillance a few years ago, for exactly the same ostensible purpose. And that program actually was Constitutionally dubious, since the people being searched weren’t even aware of it. But many of those who approved of that are now going all ACLU on us. I’m not going to suggest this has anything to do with whose administration ordered the body search program, but I have a sneaking suspicion these protesters wouldn’t have had a problem with it four years ago.

At any rate, although air travel is becoming more and more of a major hassle, at least we know that up front. It’s like when I go to my doctor for a prostate exam – I’m well aware I have a fairly intrusive search in my immediate future, but there’s no way around it so I accept it. And that’s my advice for my holiday-traveling friends.

Happy Thanksgiving,   Kent

Right, Kent, and warrantless wiretaps are just a condition of being allowed to talk on a commercial telephone network.   Actually you have a really good point about people not taking violations personally until it actually touched their person.  It’s just one of the many things we do to innocent people in the name of safety.  And Janet Napolitano wants to do it on trains and busses too, because who knows?  Terrorists could attack there too.

You say that because you are self-employed, no one can force you to do such a thing.  How far from mainstream employment, commerce, education and travel will we eventually have to be, to have any boundaries at all?

Where does it stop?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 25, 2010 at 14:20 | #1

    I actually don’t agree with Kent, at least in the sense that the argument of those who are “indignant” really isn’t about the 4th amendment. Clearly the undercurrent is the unprofessional odor of the whole process. “Everyone knows” that a substantial portion of the rent-a-cop personnel are, shall we say, less than top notch. I do not intend to disparage any of them, as they are human beings just trying to get by. And we “know” that the way businesses are run, the way training is created and delivered, the way oversight and control is implemented, just does not inspire confidence, much less ease.

    IMO, the underlying, and mostly unspoken concern is that we “know” that much of this is blunt instrument, and that we’re buying it on the cheap. It’s the Wal-Mart philosophy applied to security.

    All this said, the few times I have flown in the past year or so, the security clearance process has been OK. In all cases, my pat-down has been respectful, if a delayed. But also in all cases, the inspection has been conducted by an older person, often retired from their primary occupation. In other words, better educated, more mature, more respectful. It’s about the people.

  2. November 26, 2010 at 00:41 | #2

    Anybody coming from outside the USA (about 50%) of all passengers have not had their balls shaken.
    The TSA knows better of course.
    I will charter a hop to-or from Mex or Can when I leave or enter, It will not cost more.
    I fly mostly Kenyan, South African and BA, and I have a clearance from them, I walk thru a metal detector and my luggage get searched and or scanned. To get the clearance I was investigated and interviewed by a “security company”, 4 years ago, no shit since then.

    I will not submit to a “junk” touchdown, I would rather turn around and go back.

  3. dof
    November 26, 2010 at 01:12 | #3

    @WeeDram – Of course you have the choice of just being scanned by machine, which the TSA assures you is safe, though they couldn’t be bothered to consult any real experts on the matter. There are very good reasons why they should, however.

    @keeskennis – you mean in SA they actually do real security work instead of security theater? Huh. That would be nice, but in this country it’s more about looking like you’re doing something than actually doing something.

  4. November 26, 2010 at 18:09 | #4

    Many of the people who are most indignant about the TSA’s screening procedures didn’t bat an eye when the Bush administration authorized warrantless electronic surveillance a few years ago, for exactly the same ostensible purpose.

    Piffle. If anything, I was more critical of the former. This is a class of rhetoric that inevitably sets off alarms with me. How does this guy know these people weren’t critical of electronic surveillance? How many did he actually research to see if they had or had not written anything on the subject back then?

  5. November 26, 2010 at 19:12 | #5

    DOF: Yup, the scanner is a blunt instrument as well, with a potential for after effects. Either way, you get knocked up. :)

  6. Joe
    November 30, 2010 at 09:52 | #6

    Actually, the SCOTUS said in its decision on drug testing in the workplace that it was a violation of the 4th Amendment, but it was an acceptable violation of the 4th Amendment. (I have drug testing on demand and for cause in my job as a Teamster) And I’m just as upset at warrantless searches (again a violation of the 4th Amendment)as most everyone I talk politics with. One reason I’m resistant to ever flying again is the entire TSA experience. What’s next, trains and buses, then checkpoints on the Interstates for us to be searched to prevent “terrorism.” We should all hang our heads in shame at the shambles we’ve allowed our 4th Amendment to become.

  7. George
    December 19, 2010 at 23:37 | #7

    Totally agree with Joe Nov. 30, 2010. Gov. actions have nothing to do with
    security. If it did they would close our borders to terrorists. Its like an
    open door. It is really all about making Americans compliant, servants (slaves) to their government owners.

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