29 November 2010

A quiet counterpoint to the TSA

I found these while I was taking a Thanksgiving break and I thought they were clever.

The text of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution is printed in metallic ink and will show up on the TSA's body scan images. You can find them here.

Thinking about the TSA's latest power grab and that Palin woman's assertions that those of us with a D in our political affiliations somehow hate the Constitution reminded me just how much I admire the Constitution of the United States. Here's the text of the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Sarah, if you're reading this you probably ought to read the whole thing some time. Here's the Constitution and here's The Bill of Rights.

As irritating as the TSA's security theater can be, the idea of someone seeing my bits in a scanner doesn't bother me very much. I'm far more concerned about the general climate of paranoia that allows all manner of Constitutional abuse to go unchallenged. That same climate of paranoia is what allows failed politicians who libel their fellow citizens to write best selling books and it allows a minority political party to use metaphors of war to describe their disagreements with The President.

The United States is in serious trouble and that trouble can't be chased away by bureaucratic muscle-flexing or by pitting citizens against one another in the search for a scapegoat.

Now, who'll be the first one to volunteer to wear these undies through an airport?


  1. The IRS has the ability to accuse you of tax evasion and it is up to you to prove that you did NOT evade taxes, not them to prove you did. Now, the TSA has the ability to accuse you of being a terrorist and have you prove that you are not, instead of them proving you are. What government agency is next?

    This is the larger question. Instead, all these media idiots prattle on about taking photos of people's naughty bits.

    The Fourth Amendment is the cornerstone of our internal security. We don't need citizens to start arming themselves against each other and government authorities.

  2. Who, besides the ACLU, is voicing these concerns and actually challenging this stuff?

  3. But I still don't want to be on a plane with the next underwear bomber. Seems to me there's a whole world of interpretation hidden in that word "unreasonable".
    Interesting we no longer have to de-shoe at Heathrow - the UK authorities decided that measure was unreasonable as it has not caught a single would-be terrorist. So I can fly across the Atlantic and the Continent with un-Xrayed shoes, then I have to take them off for the short hop from LAX to San Francisco.
    If it was individual airlines demanding these searches, not the government, would you choose to fly on the plane with the unsearched passengers or the searched ones?

  4. Airport security is the proper responsibility of the federal government and the TSA is right to play an obvious, visible role in airports. I don't want to sit next to an underwear bomber, a shoe bomber or a hair gel bomber either. But they're not the ones I'm concerned about. Security in US airports is defensive, not offensive. The next terrorist attacks aren't going to come using methods that have already failed and it seems all the TSA cares to look for are already-failed methods. DogWalkBlog wrote a great post about it recently: http://www.dogwalkblog.com/why-we-are-engineered-for-another-911-the-tsa-is-working-backwards.html

  5. Paul, thanks for the plug. :-) The recent Wikileaks re-affirms the inherent insecurity of a "system." ALL of this data was accessible simply because it was coordinated and indexed across multiple systems. It did not take a rocket surgeon to access/hack/crack the files,just a low-level private with enough smarts to ask "what if....?" Once one door was open, ALL the doors were open. That is the inherent insecurity with Google, TSA, consolidated medical records, FICO, etc. Dayton cops, it turns out, are pretty street-smart when it comes to the Feds peeking around in their underwear.

  6. This flies (sorry) in the face of my right to go commando. Then again, the mention of that word might provoke its own security breach (oops, sorry again) in the eyes of the friskers (making me the "friskee").

  7. Rufus: My pleasure for the plug. You make a lot of sense.

    Rich: For the sake of the Fourth Amendment, maybe it's time to let go of the whole commando thing.

  8. Me Me Me!!! I always get scanned and it's time for payback!!

  9. You're just the woman to do it too.

  10. I have to say, the scanners don't bother me at all - modesty-wise. I can't remember where it was now, but there was a great article written by a reporter who "tested out" the scanners herself. Your tidbits aren't really exposed in the assumed vivid detail on the screen, plus your face is indecipherable. The operators of the machine are separate from those actually viewing the screen (these people are located in an enclosed room and never actually see the scanees). The screen-viewers are also of the same gender as the scanee.

    So while being scanned wouldn't bother me personally, I have to agree with your concerns for our Constitutional rights. This is most definitely an overextension of the government on the search/warrant question. I wish that the people who are opposed to being scanned would jump on that band wagon rather than complain about the indecency/modesty concerns. Their argument would be much stronger - and now they can combine both apprehensions into one fashion statement! Leave it to the Americans to put it on an article of clothing...

  11. Actually, it's unfortunately typical that US-ians will flip out over the anonymous display of their faint bits and pieces but will ignore the broader power grab and Constitutional abuse. It reminds me of the crickets that greeted the news that the Bush administration had been torturing people.

  12. thank you, paul! i keep telling my friends that this is not about "touching my junk", but about *power*. if the TSA can search you at the airport without probable cause, then what's the big deal if a police officer on the street does the same? or taps your phone and monitors the websites you visit? ALL of which are now being done with regularity in the name of stopping terrorism, but really amounts to nothing more then harassment.

    i hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but our constitution was shredded with the passage of the patriot act, and what little protections that remain are being chipped away at, one right at a time.

    don't get me started on the department of homeland security's recent shut down of websites for copyright violations. um, sorry, that particular *disgustingly* named agency was supposedly set up to prevent violent terrorism, not shut down websites for copyright violations, a matter long protected by established civil law.

  13. Yet oddly enough, the shrew from Wasilla and the rabble she speaks for are oddly silent when it comes to the constitutional abuses enshrined in the Patriot Act. I guess it's easier to get people to blame gays and Mexicans than it is to get them to pay attention.

  14. There's a good chance Palin would read this because you including a picture.

    The former chief security officer of the Israel Airport Authority has said that full-body scanners were a waste of money and were not deployed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. "I don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines," Rafi Sela said. "I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747."

    Also, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff was paid a lobbyist of Rapiscan, maker of the body scanners. Chertoff never disclosed this arrangement during interviews or in several op-ed pieces.

  15. I know all about the Chertoff connection. I love how the "smaller government lower taxes" crowd always seems to have their hand in the till.


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