“It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.” — David Hume
The TSA is rapidly becoming the #2 most hated government agency in the world, behind the IRS.
Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul was detained for 2 ½ hours by the TSA because he refused to submit to a pat-down, missing his flight and his speech at pro-life conference.
Senator Paul, like his father Ron Paul an outspoken critic of the TSA, was stopped because an alarm went off when he went through the metal detector. The TSA, following standard procedures, required him to go through the full-body X-ray machine or be subject to a pat-down. Senator Paul refused and the stand-off lasted 2 ½ hours until the TSA finally backed down.
I wasn’t so privileged. Two weeks ago, I was going through the metal detector in Chicago when suddenly the TSA agent insisted I go through the full-body X-ray machine. I refused, and she immediately said “opt out” and insisted I had to go through a pat down. Going through the metal detector was not an option, even though I’d gone through hundreds of times in the past.
It also happened to me in Salt Lake City airport last month. They randomly call travelers out of line and insist they go through the full-body scanners. It is clear that TSA is pushing the X-ray machines to test the American willingness to comply.
The TSA is gradually shifting to the full-body scanners (X-ray machines), where travelers symbolically raise his hands in compliance, as if they are saying, “I surrender to the TSA.” I’m always amazed how the vast majority of Americans simply comply. Have we all become “whipped dogs,” as Doug Casey calls us?
I’ve watched almost all of the dozen or so Republican debates. Why has the media never asked once what the candidates think of the TSA? Is it really necessary to lose our rights to privacy and decency in the name of Homeland Security?
I’d like to hear Ron Paul tell the American people on nationwide TV what he thinks. His response to his son’s detention was fiery: “The police state in this country is growing out of control,” he said. “One of the ultimate embodiments of this is the TSA that gropes and grabs our children, our seniors, and our loved ones and neighbors with disabilities. The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us safe.”
In June, Paul criticized TSA administrator John Pistole (what a name!) for the agency’s procedures being overbearing and unproductive.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and millions of other travelers now refuses to travel commercial airlines because of the invasive TSA. I know I’ve cut down my airplane travel. The use of the full-body scanners and pat downs is a clear violation of the 4th amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable” searches and seizure. People are fed up and are not flying if they can help it. (Go to www.wewontfly.com to read the horror stories and what you can do to fight the TSA.)
According to a recent survey by the US Travel Association, two-out-of-five travelers are boycotting airports and invasive checkpoints in favor of the train or the automobile.
But increasing use of the highways has its cost. According to K. Jack Riley, VP of the National Security Research Division of the well-respected RAND Corp., TSA regulations has the unintended consequence of increasing highway deaths. According to the study, an additional 1,200 fatalities happen a year on US highways “from a relative increase in driving and reduction in flying resulting from fear of terrorist attacks and the inconvenience of flying.”
The TSA is costing the American economy billions in lost business, both here and abroad. Many foreigner tourists find American airports unfriendly due to a variety of reasons (immigration rules as well as the overzealous TSA), resulting in an estimated loss of 467,000 jobs and $606 billion in revenues in the past decade ( “America’s Lost Decade of Tourism,” Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2011).
The TSA costs taxpayers at least $1.2 billion annually. Worse, Congress just awarded the TSA more money that they asked for. Their covert operation is expanding rapidly on to highways and trains. Congress is likely to increase the TSA’s dole by $153,000,000. In 2012, the TSA will consume $7,800,000,000 in tax dollars.
But all this is unnecessary, according to many experts. The US Travel Association’s CEO, Roger Dow, told US News & World Report “Our research shows that reducing hassle without compromising security will encourage more Americans to fly — as many as two to three additional trips a year — leading to an additional $85 billion in spending.”
According to the Rand Corporation report mentioned above, security improvements — passenger vigilance, cockpit security, and visa screening — has prevented radical jihadists from entering the country, and therefore the US could return to pre-911 domestic security procedures and save $1.2 billion a year, reduce highway deaths, and restore the privacy rights of Americans.
To read a summary of this report, go here.