A few months ago, Memphis-based pilot Michael Roberts was an average guy with a wife and kids. But on October 15th, he started something of a revolution when he refused to go through the new full-body scanners and pat-downs at Memphis International Airport.
Citing privacy concerns, the ExpressJet pilot opted out of a full-body scan, which takes an X-ray photo that exposes the body as if unclothed. Roberts also refused the alternative pat-down by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, in which officers have been instructed to conduct a manual search of the traveler's entire body. Roberts was not allowed past security and was unable to report to work in Houston.
Roberts hasn't flown since the incident, and in mid-November, Roberts and Florida-based pilot Ann Poe filed a lawsuit against the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security alleging the searches are a violation of their Fourth Amendment right against search and seizure. — by Bianca Phillips
Flyer: Last week, the TSA announced that it would exempt pilots from the full-body scans and pat-downs.
Roberts: It will not affect the lawsuit. This is not progress. It's a political concession. By backing off of [the pilots], the TSA can continue to abuse the rest of the public. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution was not written only for airline pilots.
What are your concerns with scanners and pat-downs? It's the right of the people against unreasonable search and seizure. It's a question of our fundamental relationship as sovereign citizens of a free society. You've got these airport security guards barking orders at people, airline pilots, moms and dads. Take off your shoes and put your belt in the tub. It's Orwellian. It's draconian. This is tyranny. I don't believe it will stop at the airports if we don't stop it now.
What's the alternative?
Put [security] in the hands of the airlines themselves or private security firms. If they fail and wipe a 100-million-dollar jet off their books, that's no good. And you kill a bunch of people, that's no good. From a purely business standpoint, they have a lot of reasons to do it right.
Is this lawsuit an attempt to force a change AT the tsa?
We are taking this to the courts, but quite frankly, the problem when you sue the federal government is the defendant is the judge. How's that going to go for us? I don't have any illusions about the outcome here.
I believe we are going to have to protect the Constitution. I'm trying to reach the hearts and minds of [the American public]. Right now, we need to be defending our rights and liberties. Freedom does incur cost. Sometimes you actually have to shed blood to preserve or secure your freedom. In this case, that means not going home for Thanksgiving or driving instead. I know that sucks, and it's not convenient. But it's so important.
The latest Data show that the majority of Americans still support the scanners. Why do you think that is?
People don't understand what's happening. A lot of people are fearful, holed up in their homes afraid of big, bad terrorists, because the government's been telling them for so long that there are all these bogeymen out there in the dark.