Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Touch My Junk!

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stated a few days ago that it was annoyed with the traveling public for making such a fuss about its new security regulations that include a full body scan or "enhanced pat-down" for those travelers who "opt out" of the X-ray scan.

Last week, John Tyner surreptitiously recorded his run-in with the TSA and posted it online. Mr. Tyner chose not to subject himself to the radiation from the X-ray machine and was then taken aside for the enhanced pat-down.The TSA agent explained to him how the "groin check" would be executed.  It was then, according to the TSA, that Mr. Tyner "accosted" the poor TSA agent by saying the immortal words, "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." People looking on, cheered Mr. Tyner as he was led away by the TSA agent.

Later, the TSA supervisor told Mr. Tyner that if he was uncomfortable with the security requirements, he didn't "have to fly today."  Mr. Tyner asked how "sexual assault" can be made a condition of flying.  After a bit of back and forth, the TSA agent stated: "By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights." The TSA then announced that it would pursue charges against Mr. Tyner and seek a $11,000 fine for his leaving the airport without allowing his "junk" to be inspected.  Such a blatant attempt by the TSA to intimidate the public hardly inspires confidence in an agency responsible for safeguarding our safety and freedoms

Do we really want to give up "a lot of rights" when we travel? Especially when the TSA makes it clear it will use its authority to punish those who inconvenience or embarrass it. It appears that the TSA wants to make the pat-down procedure so unpleasant that fliers will choose the the X-ray scanners instead. (The government insists the level of radiation is harmless; however, the pilot and flight attendant unions are seeking an exemption from the scanning process because of the cumulative affects of the X-rays and unnecessary groping.)  

If you are concerned about this issue, contact your elected representatives and voice your concerns like I did.

Dear Senators Snow and Collins: 
This is my first letter to one of my elected representative.  As a frequent airline traveler, I have become increasingly concerned by the security measures imposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I have submitted to random pat-downs by TSA agents, learned to remove my shoes before entering an airport security zone (a requirement imposed after one airline passenger unsuccessfully attempted to ignite his shoes), and coped with the liquids ban (another requirement imposed after one passenger unsuccessfully tried to construct a bomb).
Now, I’m being asked to submit to an intrusive and possibly harmful X-ray machine or have an enhanced (groping) pat-down. Moreover, it appears that the TSA wants to limit my choices even further by making it unpleasant for people who “opt out” of the scanning machine process and request the enhanced pat-down.
I have read a number of articles concerning the new TSA procedures, and I am completely convinced they are ineffective and unwarranted. I am not looking forward to my next airline trip this Sunday. I am also concerned with the price tag associated with the new scanning devices. This seems to be another case of “security theater,” countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actual security.
I am appalled by the TSA and our elected representatives who have limited our right to privacy and the protections afforded us against unreasonable search and seizure, all in the name of security.
I recognize the need to combat terrorism; but, when is enough, a enough?  Other countries, most notably Israel, have excellent security procedures in place without the need to compromise privacy or dignity. There must be another way to safeguard our safety without compromising our freedoms. I think it’s time to reexamine the new TSA procedures. 

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