Surely the TSA is in the running for the grand prize, recognition as the largest organized criminal activity in the country. What other organization commits federal crimes in hundreds or thousands of locations, thousands of times per day, under police supervision and with full consent of the local law enforcement agencies?
The crime? Have you not heard?
Here’s what the law says: 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.
The federal government is specifically forbidden to search you, your papers, your house or belongings, without a warrant issued by a court supported by oaths and specific accusations of wrongdoing. Forbidden. To do so would be a federal crime.
Been on an airplane lately? Were you put through a scanner that showed a TSA agent every detail of your skin, bones, underwear, and whatever else you might have had under your clothing? Worse, did you or some member of your family have to endure a “thorough patdown,” allowing a complete stranger, and not even a law enforcement officer at that, to put his or her hands in places only one other person in your life is allowed to touch?
The Houston police officer overseeing the area where last I enjoyed this illegal assault waved his hand at the screening area and said, “Well, that whole thing is a federal area, and they pretty much do whatever they want.”
Couldn’t have said it better. The ironic part is that preventing what they are doing, that “whatever they want” thing, is so important that the very document that created the federal government contains the prohibition against them doing exactly that thing.
They are not allowed to do that. Period.
Why do we allow it? I’ve been asking that question. The answers are amazing. You should try it.
The best answer has to be the one already mentioned, that the feds “do pretty much whatever they want.” Even things that they are prohibited to do. And that’s acceptable?
The managing TSA officer at the screening area explained that “flying is a privilege, not a right, so you agree to whatever screening is needed when you buy your ticket.” Funny, I don’t remember that … buying a bus ticket requires giving up Constitutional protections? Missed that somewhere. And what is an airplane, but a flying bus? I should read the “contract for carriage” that is actually created when you buy an airline ticket, but I’ll be surprised if there’s a waiver of 4th amendment rights in the fine print.
He further explained that when you enter the screening line, you are giving permission to be searched.
Hmm. Is there any other way to get to the airplane I have a ticket for? Well, no, not at the moment. So I have no other way to get to the plane, so … I waive my Constitutional rights because an illegal federal action is being carried out between me and the plane? Did you ask me for permission? Did I give it? Was I drinking, and just don’t remember? In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, “I’ve never been that drunk!”
Another Houston police officer explained that the Harris County district attorney, supported by “a recent Supreme Court ruling,” had told them that it was not an “unreasonable search,” because when you enter the screening line you are giving implicit permission, which makes it “reasonable.”
It’s “reasonable” to commit a federal crime against me because I bought a bus ticket and got in line to board the bus? Excuse me?
An airline service agent offered a series of incomprehensible rationales, including that individuals must give up some things for the benefit of the whole society. I’m sure the millions murdered by Lenin’s social improvement efforts would have agreed, and gladly contributed their part. Likewise those blessed by Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung, and others aggressively improving their societies over the last century.
He further explained that the federal government is supreme, and admitted he actually has no idea what’s in the Constitution.
So we have a choice. The TSA is going to commit a crime against you, as part of your getting on the airplane for which you bought a ticket. Either they will strip you of your ability to use that ticket — isn’t that robbery? theft? — or they will simply strip you. Which is a federal crime defined over 200 years ago. The wonderful part is that you get to choose the crime, and it happens with the blessing of the local law authorities watching over the airport. And although many you talk to, including the police, will express a gut reaction that it is somehow wrong, they can’t begin to explain why, or what we should do about it.
It’s not that hard.