Texas TSA overreach (and underreach)

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Tabitha Hale, FreedomWorks frequent-flying new media director, was confronted on Tuesday with an extremely unpleasant screening experience at at Houston's Bush Airport, the site of last November's "Don't Touch My Junk" rebellion.


Then she got to my waist band. I had on black tights under my dress, which I'm certain is not uncommon. She asked me to lift my dress so she could check the waistband of my tights.

I felt my stomach drop. I said "I'm not lifting my dress for you. No way." She was obviously irritated with me now and said that she would take me to the private screening area if I would like.

I said "No, absolutely not. If you can't do this in front of everyone, you should not be doing this to me."

She then called a manager over. The manager approached me and explained what they were going to do and that if I failed to comply, they would escort me from the airport. I told her I saw no reason that they should have to lift my dress to clear me to get on a plane. I would have, however, allowed them to escort me out of the airport before they got me to lift my skirt and stick their hands down my tights. I was bracing myself to spend another night in Texas.

They figured a way to check her waistband without lifting her skirt, but the resulting pat down "was so vigorous I had to readjust my clothes when she was finished."

Here's the thing. If anyone else had done this to me, I would have decked them and likely filed charges. The fact that the person has on a TSA uniform is supposed to make it okay? It isn't. Why should any person be subjected to this to get on an airplane? We're supposed to subject ourselves to inappropriate touch for teh sake of "safety"?

I fly for my job. I travel frequently. I take trains when I can, but most of the time it's just not practical. The fact that I have to endure this type of force just to do my job is horrifying. I don't really have another option. Most of us who travel for work don't have a choice.

I have to get on a plane to Denver tomorrow, and am honestly dreading the idea of going through the airport. TSA needs to go. This has gone so far beyond a security precaution, and is a clear violation of the rights of travelers. Showing my business to an airport full of people is not in the interests of safety. It is wrong.

Too bad for Tabitha that Republican legislative leaders in Texas blocked freshman State Rep. David Simpson's bill forbidding government employees from touching a person's private areas without probable cause. The bill passed both houses by wide margins, but fell short of passage on a procedural issue. In a personal privilege speech on the final day of the special session, Simpson explained the importance of the bill and what happened to it:

On Friday, after calling the Texas House of Representatives to order, declaring a quorum, and making a few brief announcements, the House was adjourned--without opportunity to lay before the House its scheduled business, specifically the legislation (HB 41) recently added by the Governor to the call for the special session that prohibits the intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation. This is the same legislation requested by the Lt. Governor, the State Republican Executive Committee, and a deluge of grassroots activists to be added to the call. A nearly identical bill (HB 1937) was passed unanimously through the House during the regular session. The bill has had over 100 coauthors in the House; it was passed out of committee, and was placed again on the House Calendar by the leadership team the Speaker has chosen.

What is the objection of some? They object to the words used in the legislation to describe the private parts of the body. Specifically, the legislation prohibits the touching of the anus, the sexual organ, the breasts or the buttocks of an individual as part of a screening search without probable cause.

There is a specific reason those words are in the legislation. They happen to be those sensitive and private body parts of a traveler that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents are routinely groping, and sometimes in retaliation for simply opting out of a virtual naked body scan. The bill could prohibit the touching of your nose, or ear or kneecap, and those would be easier body parts to discuss in public, but it wouldn't solve the problem.

I fear the emperors in our state government, at least at times, are people who would rather allow despicable behavior to continue than speak out loud the necessary words to describe it.

In the name of security, travelers are being required to submit to a virtual naked strip by use of a scanner. Should one oppose the scanner based on modesty or for health reasons, then the result is a humiliating groping hand search which includes touching (and sometimes hitting or hard pressing) of the most private parts of an individual's body.

But will it stop here? The TSA claims in public records to have the authority to require a strip search as a condition of travel. In fulfillment of that belief, this last week the TSA forced a 95-year-old cancer stricken woman to remove her diaper in an extensive and extremely intrusive search.

Fifteen years ago, would you have believed that allowing a government agent to put their hand inside your underwear would ever be a condition of travel? If we do not stop now, what will our children be required to endure?

A delicate matter? Yes, certainly. But is it better to define what is indecent government behavior and to prohibit it by legislation, or to be "discreet" and allow the official oppression of travelers to continue?

Rarely in the history of this legislature has the State's leadership so masterfully worked against the will of its members and the people they represent. Leadership managed to arrange it so that every member could cast a vote in support of a bill which they ensured would not pass. No doubt, this deception will confound many Texans.

But, the people of Texas should not be confused. The explanation is simple and clear. The defeat of this bill can only be laid at the feet of the leadership of this state.

If you appreciate Rep. Simpson's stand for liberty and would like him to try again to pass this bill in the next legislature, he could use your help getting re-elected.

Gadsden Flag adaptation courtesy gulagbound.com, which notes that, like the original, this version omits the apostrophe.

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Bob said:

A fairly sizeable number of people refuse to fly anymore, simply because of the Rape-Scanners and intrusive body pat-downs.

Unfortunately, like Tabitha Hale, many people are forced to fly because of the requirements of their employment.

I have been standing behind flight crews at our local TSA controlled airport, and observed that flight crew members often "Opt-Out" of the Rape-Scanners, electing for the more physically intrusive body pat-down.

Are the flight crews members suspicious of the long-term health effects from repeated exposure to these radiation devices?

The Rape-Scan machines use a radioactive element to scan the body. Yet, TSA executive management forbids its TSA agents from wearing a radiation dosimeter. MRI and X-ray technicians the world over are required to wear such detective devices to prevent an over-exposure to radiation.

TSA executive management does not want to know how much radiation is leaking from the Rape-Scan machines.

Curiously, the manufacturers of the Rape-Scan machines are also contracted to periodically inspect, test and calibrate the machines. If the machines were malfunctioning and emitting 100 times more radiation than designed, would the TSA employees ever be told, or the public informed?

Just guess...

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 9, 2011 11:33 PM.

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