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TSA TURNS 10

 Everyone’s “favorite” bureaucracy is growing up. On Nov 19, 2011 it has been 10 years since the TSA’s creation.

And if I could make a birthday wish on their behalf... it would be that this is the last holiday season we have to put up with their poking, groping, and scanning.

In what should be “the most wonderful time of the year,” the path home for many Americans begins with a long wait at the airport – and dealing with people who think a government ID gives them the right to put their hands where they don’t belong.

Remember the joyous, exciting holiday travel of yesteryear? “Over the river and through the woods…” Well, no one will be writing Christmas carols about modern holiday travel – though we may hear some blues about how miserable the experience can be.

Since its inception, perhaps no other agency has been more flagrant in its violations of our civil liberties and as flippant toward Americans’ constitutionally protected rights as the TSA. As you may remember, in March of 2009, a C4L staffer found himself temporarily detained and interrogated by the TSA after attempting to fly back after their first Regional Conference with the event’s proceeds in his carry-on. It’s not illegal to fly with cash and checks on domestic flights, but these agents made it their business – something the TSA does far too often to too many people. Since that time, the situation has only gotten worse.

For the past year, the TSA has been installing potentially dangerous backscatter imaging machines across the country to perform virtual strip searches on airline passengers. This leaves passengers the “option” of either being scanned and possibly exposed to dangerous radiation or enduring the very public humiliation of receiving one of their infamous “pat-downs.”

When the policy was first implemented, Senator Claire McCaskill downplayed the invasive groping that makes up one of the TSA’s “enhanced pat-downs,” referring to them as “love pats.” The senator apparently no longer feels that way (after selling her private jet), and she recently complained about their invasiveness to TSA Administrator John Pistole. "I try to avoid a pat-down at all costs," McCaskill told Pistole.  "There are many times women put their hands on me in a way that if it was your daughter or your sister or your wife, you would be upset."

And as people continue to make their mistreatment and abuse at the TSA’s hands public by sharing their stories online, more members of Congress are beginning to take notice. Others, unfortunately, still don’t see the bigger picture.

Without immediately reining in the unaccountable TSA and eliminating their procedures of scanning and groping passengers at the airports, I’m afraid the situation will only continue to get worse. In the past, we’ve been warned about the TSA’s plans to expand its scanning beyond our nation’s airports – to our highways, train stations, and bus stops. Unfortunately, this is already happening. Last month in Tennessee, the TSA’s VIPR teams were deployed to conduct random searches of vehicles on the highways.

This has to stop.  And you and I are the ones who can fight back. Members of Congress may think this issue has blown over, but it’s up to WE THE PEOPLE to remind them that we’re more outraged than ever at what’s taking place every day in our airports.

Please, as soon as you can, call Congress at 202-224-3121 and demand they rein in their Frankenstein creation. Don’t let them sell you a bill of goods, either. They can force the TSA to abandon their policies of scanning passengers (in what amounts to a virtual strip search) or groping them (in a manner that would constitute sexual assault were it coming from a regular individual). Ultimately, Congress should abolish the TSA altogether and return the responsibility for security to the private sector!!

Just like other federal government overreaches, the TSA believes telling us this is necessary for “our safety” allows it to do whatever it wants, including shredding our Fourth Amendment rights. We must expose this lie. The responsibility for airline security lies with the airline industry in the first place.

Since 9/11, only alert passengers and flight crews have thwarted additional terrorist attacks on airplanes, not the TSA!

Tell Congress to pass appropriate, common-sense legislation like H.R. 2438, the “American Traveler Dignity Act,” and to cut off funding for the maintenance of existing scanners and implementation of new ones. Even the European Union has banned the use of these scanners because of the possible health risks!

 The TSA turned 10 years old on November 19, 2011, and we can only hope this is the last travel season we’ll have to put up with their unconstitutional power grabs. So as soon as you can, call Congress at 202-224-3121 and demand they rein in their Frankenstein creation.