I grew up loving the idea of airplanes and travel. I built and flew models as a kid. I pursued aviation as a teenager. I became a pilot in the Air Force. For personal and professional reasons, I’ve flown over much of the world, and not once did I hesitate because I had to fly to get there.
Now I hesitate.
It’s my government.
If an American travels today in his own country that person will have to, by law (Federal Register, Vol 71, No 135, 14 July 2006, page 40037), undergo a screening process run by the FBI and be given or denied the permission to travel on any public conveyance based on the results of this screening (without any charges or review by a judge). If that person is traveling by air, they will either be seen naked by an x-ray scanner or go through the humiliation of having their private parts involuntarily groped and prodded by a stranger in latex gloves. They must also run the risk of health effects from increased x-ray exposure. All the while, the American will actually be paying for this abuse from his or her own wallet. What is a crime anywhere else, has become policy in our airports.
I wish this were hyperbole.
In the name of making us all safe, security procedures have reached the logical extreme that had to come to pass once government was allowed to inspect us without the protections of the fourth amendment. We are now in a Kafkaesque world of bureaucratic compliance and individual submission.
I consider myself a reasonable person. I don’t go looking for trouble because I know trouble is always looking for me. The TSA has now forced me to either maintain my self-respect, at my personal or economic detriment, or give in to depraved authority. If I travel with my family, I must contend with the possibility that a stranger will touch my wife and children in the most intimate way. And all I’ve done is mind my own business.
And to think the new procedures will not eliminate, or even reduce, criminal acts. If a person is willing to board a plane to blow himself up, he will be willing to do other acts just as effective that do not require a screening process. In the meantime 300 million people will have to live with their most intimate privacy invaded, another legal double standard established, and a new source of abuse created as assorted perverts vie with each other to become TSA agents. Being secure in your person and papers, according to the constitution, will go extinct.
Of course, you could always not travel. Or you could take an uncomfortable bus, if the FBI will let you (FBI screenings and permission apply to bus manifests as well). Besides, taking a bus is difficult if you want to go to Paris, let’s say. Make up your mind early, though. If you decide once in the inspection zone that you can’t submit yourself to being seen naked or to sexual assault, the TSA claims it can fine you $10,000 for leaving uninspected. Get threatened with legalized sexual assault and get fined in the bargain.
Resistance is starting. Pilot and flight attendant associations are threatening to walk out. Holiday air ticket sales are in jeopardy. What will the American populace in general do is the question.
Okaloosa County must make a statement. The County Commissioners should instruct Mr. Greg Donovan, Airport Director for the County, to resist by whatever means possible the installation of full body scanners and prohibit the implementation of full body pat downs.
As a people we must have the courage to realize there is no ironclad solution to the problem of a criminal wanting to destroy himself and you with him. To give up your liberties for government protection and still be secure in your own person is an illusion.
You are not the property of the government. They do not have a right to inspect you simply because you travel. You do not need their permission for you to travel.
But look where we are.
As Eisenhower said, the safest place on earth is a prison.