The TSA and the Illusion of Safety

Of all of the federal government’s violations of the Civil Rights of Americans, the TSA’s full body scans and full body pat downs seem the most obvious and indefensible. Now, this post is not going to be about whether Transportation Security Administration pat downs are worse than using a drone to kill an American citizen, continuing the practice of rendition, or any other supposed civil rights violation, because those tend to fall into murky, grey areas of Constitutional Law.

The TSA invading the privacy of American citizens without a warrant, probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion does not, in my view, fall into any ambiguous or murky legal realms. The Fourth Amendment guarantees that all US citizens are secure in their persons unless a judge sees probable cause to issue a warrant. The idea that you somehow forfeit your right to privacy simply by entering an airport is a lunacy, made up by an overreaching judiciary, which for decades favored a more active role for government than was ever intended.
Recently, the TSA has been in the news for holding Senator Rand Paul after he set off the metal detector and refused to be pat down. What is more interesting, however, are two headlines that got significantly less coverage. First, in July 2011, it was reported that a woman got through two TSA checkpoints with a knife. Second, it was very recently reported that a discovery of two pipes by the TSA prompted a pipe-bomb scare in New York City, six hours after the discovery. So, whether it is their ineptitude in stopping weapons from getting on planes, or their ineptitude in recognizing a threat in real time, it is clear that the TSA provides only the illusion of safety. Therefore, the excuse that the government can violate your liberty in the name of keeping you safe is, at least in the case of the TSA, a complete falsehood.

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