JIM BAGWELL: TSA treads on Constitutional protection against unreasonable searches
For the Nevada Appeal
I wondered how long it would be until someone challenged the Transportation Security Administration on the use of full-body scanners and invasive pat-downs at our airports. This is a classic case of how to take away individuals’ personal freedoms and civil rights with one giant step.
Did you know that when you enter the line where the TSA checks your ID and ticket until you go through the metal detectors – and soon-to-be-everywhere “full body scanners” – you belong to them and you do not have any rights? This is amazingly the result of allowing an agency to regulate your life by simply writing regulations without oversight.
If you do not believe me, question their authority to pat you down or even disagree with their attitude. Try leaving during the process. You will find yourself incarcerated and in Federal District Court without a leg to stand on no matter how violated you feel.
In just a few short weeks, we are hearing horror stories of women cancer survivors having to remove prosthetic breasts in order to pass. A child having to remove leg braces before being allowed to proceed. Other reports show a urine bag being ruptured by the intensity of the pat down. Many people are enduring a pat down that, if done in any other environment, would constitute a sexual assault.
I know this is ancient history but you have rights that cannot be taken or violated without your consent. One is your right to be secure from unreasonable searches or seizures under the Constitution of the United States.
Think about it: You are under suspicion if it is mandatory that you must be searched. This new approach may have gone too far. The question we must ask ourselves is how much of our rights are we willing to give up for a perception of security? Are we willing as a people to give up the very freedoms that our forefathers felt were sacred enough to make it the “law of the land” by including them as amendments to the Constitution?
There are many enforcement tools the TSA can use that are minimally intrusive like metal detectors or bomb sniffing devices and, yes, even profiling. It is too bad that profiling now has a negative connotation. Profiling is probably one of the best tools that could be used and more effective than full body scanners and intrusive pat downs.
I am sure if I were in Janet Napalitano’s position I would want to provide the best security possible while being the least intrusive as possible. This is basically a conundrum. If we are attacked again by way of commercial aircraft all security measures in use will not have been enough. If we aren’t, then they have gone too far.
• Jim Bagwell of Carson City is a Vietnam veteran and graduate of the FBI National Academy who worked 31 years in law enforcement. He and his wife Lori own Charley’s Grilled Subs.