MAD AS HELL: Scanning, Groping, or Common Sense (Pick One)

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When the Tea Party can agree with the ACLU, maybe there is hope for salvaging the last remaining vestiges of private liberty.

“Don’t Touch My Junk!” has replaced “Don’t Taze Me, Bro!” as our new rallying cry. In the airline industry’s never ending duck walk to a national police state, the US has crossed The Rubicon. When airplane passengers are forced to choose between going through full body x-ray scanners or being groped by a federal agent, we have crashed all the barriers of reason and common sense.

Which is why the comment by Homeland Security Department Secretary, Janet Napolitano, after hearing the public’s outrage, should be the quote of the year, “I really want to say, look, let’s be realistic and use our common sense.” The Secretary does not realize the obvious—- continuing and accelerating Bush security policies prohibit the use of common sense because for the eight years George W. Bush was president, common sense was like WMD in Iraq——it was not to be found.

Cheri DelBrocco
  • Cheri DelBrocco
Since the establishment of the Homeland Security Department in 2002, airline travelers have suffered a full frontal assault on their personal freedoms. The mantra, “It’s for your protection” has been repeated ad nauseam to anyone who dared even to whisper a complaint about the utter absurdity of going through airport security.

Ninety pound grannies being hoisted out of wheel chairs to be scanned by metal detector wands——for our protection. Mothers being made to drink their own breast milk——for our protection. Eighty year old veterans, with steel plates in their hips being patted down for setting off metal detectors ——for our protection. Traumatized two-year olds being placed in glass puffer machines while their sobbing parents watched——-for our protection. Shoe removal. Clothing removal. Liquid bans. Jewelry removal. Scanning, puffing, searching, touching— our bodies and our possessions——- all for our protection. Or so we were told.

But this week, the ridiculous evolved into the reprehensible—a breast cancer survivor was forced to show a TSA agent her prosthetic breast—- flyers had to publicly display their colostomy bags, men to watch their daughters and wives being groped by TSA agents, children watched their parents being felt up. The most personal of intrusions, from total strangers, we were told once again, was for our protection.

For the federal government to assume that every person boarding a plane is equally likely to blow it up is patently knee jerk and reactive. The security measures we currently use were in place when one man was able to board a plane with explosives in his shoe. Our reaction? Everyone must take off their shoes!

Flyers removed their shoes at airports when a ring of terrorists were busted in a London flat for attempting to make liquid explosives. Our reaction? Everyone must be limited to three ounce liquid containers in a quart-size plastic bag! (Interestingly, passengers can now buy all the liquid they want after they go through the checkpoint and can bring it on board.) Travelers here were complying with security measures when a man boarded a Detroit bound plane in Amsterdam with explosives in his underwear. Our reaction? Everyone must be body scanned! It’s a good thing the guy wasn’t naked with explosives in his anus! Taken to its logical conclusion, the next reaction will be for TSA agents to glove up with KY jelly for without doubt, a terrorist somewhere in the world has already figured out how to make a suppository filled with explosive chemicals.

How do we stop racing down this inherently absurd road where every security measure involves a retreat from not only our civil liberties, but all boundaries of decency? Where does the insanity end?

It is time to listen to people like Isaac Yeffet, a New Jersey security business owner and former anti-terrorism specialist for the Israeli secret service who ran El Al Airlines for years. In a television interview this week, Mr. Yeffet pointed out the travesty of the US system and stated that technological measures used here are not only useless, but actually work as a detriment to our security. He called for a complete screening transformation by implementing the use of better employee training, eye-to-eye communications with customers, and questioning of passengers. These sensible measures have worked in Israel for years.

It is time for city officials across the country to listen to New York City councilman David Greenfield, who has proposed legislation that bans the use of all body scanners in New York City airports because they have been proven by outside security firms to not only be ineffectual, but downright dangerous.

It is time for us to wake up and realize that Americans are having their fourth amendment rights violated by unreasonable searches and the lawsuits that will ensue could further threaten our economy by forcing more airlines to go broke.

It is time to redeem that precious commodity called Common Sense. As Benjamin Franklin once stated, “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” The use of body scanners give us neither.

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