A lawsuit was filed today against Janet Napolitano and the Transportation Security Administration alleging that the invasive airport “security” procedures instituted at President Obama’s instructions are “profane, degrading, intrusive and indecent” and are both “unreasonable and violative of the Fourth Amendment.”
The case was filed in federal court for the District of Columbia by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute and others on behalf of two veteran pilots, Michael S. Roberts and Ann Poe.
The issue of the invasion of privacy demanded by the TSA at airport security checkpoints – passengers are given the option of an X-ray that reveals a virtually nude image for government agents to see or a hands-on-all-body-parts pat-down – has exploded in recent days.
Join more than 15,000 others in a petition demanding action against the intrusive airport screening procedures implemented by Janet Napolitano and send a letter to Congress, President Obama and others telling them exactly what you think about the issue.
There are groups suggesting that people simply stop flying or, in a coordinated effort, demand the more time-consuming pat-downs on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the busiest day of the year in many airports.
Napolitano has been busy defending the procedures, and a source in the U.S. Senate has told WND that the issue is likely to come up during a Transportation Committee hearing tomorrow regarding oversight of the TSA.
The review was scheduled in September as a routine hearing but was delayed. Now it is scheduled for tomorrow in Washington with the expectation that the thousands of constituent complaints that already have been delivered to members of Congress will get attention.
In the case on behalf of Roberts and Poe, the Rutherford Institute is asking the court to prohibit the Department of Homeland Security and TSA from continuing to use the invasive technology unlawfully.
Both Roberts and Poe opted out of the revealing scans then declined to undergo what critics have described as a molestation. They ended up missing their flights because of the procedures, the lawsuit explains.
“Forcing Americans to undergo a virtual strip search as a matter of course in reporting to work or boarding an airplane when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing is a grotesque violation of our civil liberties, undermining our right to privacy and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents,” said Whitehead.
“Indeed, TSA is forcing travelers to consent to a virtual strip search or allow an unknown officer to literally place his or her hands in your pants,” he said.
An unscientific poll this week by Reuters revealed that 96 percent of the tens of thousands of people who participated simply would refuse to fly rather than go through the inspection procedures.
Whitehead explained that Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines Inc., and Poe, who pilots a Boeing 777 for Continental, objected to the “virtual strip-search,”
as have many others passing through airport security.
“The only alternative to a WBI scan, which has been likened to a ‘virtual strip-search,’ is an enhanced pat-down in which TSA screeners press their ‘open hands and fingers over most parts of an individual’s body including the breasts, and uses the back of the hands when touching the buttocks. Additionally, officers slide their hands all the way from the inner thigh up to the groin until the hand cannot venture any higher because it is literally stopped by the person’s groin,’” Whitehead’s report said.
At the website Mediaite, even one of the nation’s heroes, Capt. Sully Sullenberger of Hudson-splashing Flight 1549 fame, said, “I can tell you from my perspective as an airline pilot for three decades, this just isn’t an effective use of our resources.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., one of the original TSA bill authors, said airports should opt out of the federal government screening.
“When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees,” he said in the report. “As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision provided by law.”
‘Big Kabuki dance’
The report said Mica believes TSA now is creating “security theater,” which was explained as “a show of what appear to be stringent security measures designed to make passengers feel more secure without providing real security.”
“It’s a big Kabuki dance,” Mica said.
And he said the TSA’s goal appears to be “passenger humiliation” more than proven security.
At Forbes, columnist Art Carden said the TAS should be put on the budgetary chopping block.
“Bipartisan support should be immediate. For fiscal conservatives, it’s hard to come up with a more wasteful agency than the TSA. For privacy advocates, eliminating an organization that requires you to choose between a nude body scan or genital groping in order to board a plane should be a no-brainer,” he suggested.
Would that compromise safety? “I doubt it,” he wrote. “The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility.”
Whitehead, while preparing his legal case, told WND earlier that the Transportation Security Administration’s enhanced screening procedures were instituted through the work of Obama.
“Legislation has been proposed to mandate full-body scanners and make them the primary screening method in all U.S. airports by 2013, but Congress has yet to act on it,” Whitehead said in a commentary.
‘Thank President Obama’
“So we can thank President Obama for this frontal assault on our Fourth Amendment rights. Mind you, this is the same man who insisted that ‘we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans,’” Whitehead said.
He said the Fourth Amendment’s provisions make clear 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.”
“It’s a huge civil liberties issue,” he told WND. “In the United States, we’ve never before strip-searched – full-body strip searches – unless there’s reasonable suspicion of some kind of criminal activity.”
The case explains since the constitutional violations are preventing Roberts and Poe from earning a living, they need to be compensated and given “all other measures of damages legally allowed.”
At Examiner.com, there was a report that the Electronic Privacy Information Center has pursued in court efforts to obtain information about the TSA’s use of scanners.
As WND previously has reported, a website called OptOutDay.com is suggesting all passengers send a message to Washington on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving by demanding the individual searches rather than the X-ray scans.
WND reported just a day earlier about resolutions introduced in New Jersey demanding Washington review the TSA procedures and make the needed changes.
Just as state Sen. Michael Doherty and others in Trenton were announcing resolutions calling on Congress to review the TSA procedures and complaints from travelers, a former top TSA official admitted on a Fox News Channel appearance what many passengers already knew: The procedures are legally questionable.
‘Nobody likes having their 4th Amendment violated’
Mo McGowan was asked if the government could find a reasonable compromise that could detect terrorists without molesting adults and children.
“That’s a great question,” said the former director of TSA security operations. “I don’t think that there is. We’re not dictating these events that are occurring. Events are happening across the world … driving us as a society to have to go to these measures.
“I mean, nobody likes having their 4th Amendment violated going through a security line,” he said. “But the truth of the matter is we’re going to have to do it.”
But Doherty told WND, “They appear to violate the constitutional right to privacy (4th Amendment). Taking naked pictures of men, woman and children? We think there are a lot of constitutional violations. Americans should not be treated like criminals.”
His state, he explained, has specific laws against unauthorized touching of people’s private parts, “particularly when it comes to children.”
“This needs to stop. The government is way over the top on this,” he said. “It’s time for elected officials to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong. This needs to stop.’”
The resolutions, pending in the state senate and assembly, call on Congress to tell the TSA that the people must not be forced to give up their constitutional rights when they want to travel.
“What’s next,” Doherty asked. “Train checkpoints? Bus checkpoints. Checkpoints when you buy gas?
“Unless we stop this right now, we won’t be able to walk across the street without going through checkpoints,” he said.
In addition to a highly publicized petition in which thousands of people are joining to demand action against the intrusive airport screening as well as a campaign allowing Americans to efficiently send a letter to Congress, President Obama and others complaining of the privacy concerns, there was a poll by Reuters.
96% would change travel plans
Asked, “Are you less likely to fly because of stepped-up security procedures such as full-body scans and patdowns?” a stunning 96 percent (65,990 about of 68,809 respondents) said, “Yes, I will make alternate travel plans to avoid intrusive security scans and pat-downs.”
Three percent said no, and 1 percent remained uncertain.
The evidence suggesting actual sexual assault also is on the rise. On a website run by a blogger, a woman identified as Erin explained what she experienced in Dayton, Ohio:
She (the TSA screener) felt along my waistline, moved behind me, then proceeded to feel both of my buttocks. She reached from behind in the middle of my buttocks towards my vagina area.
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my buttocks, or reach forward to my vagina area.
She then moved in front of my and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts.
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts.
She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs.
She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area…
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area…
“I asked to speak to a supervisor immediately. I had a very unpleasant conversation with him that lasted 20 minutes. I moved to the back of the security area, made a few phone calls, including to my lawyer. He did some quick research, and learned that I had indeed been sexually assaulted because she did not follow the SOP (standard operating procedure) for the new search,” she reported. “I also spoke with the Dayton police, the Dayton airport police, and left a message for the TSA manager for the Dayton airport. I intend to request the TSA to arrange for counseling services to be provided to me, so I can deal with the aftermath of the sexual assault that took place, caused by the specific touching actions and failure to inform me of the policies by the TSA agent.”
She continued, “I am speaking out against the TSA and share my sexual assault case to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else, anywhere. I will not be a silent victim of sexual assault by a TSA agent. Total Sexual Assault.”
The admission by McGowan and justification from Napolitano followed by just a day a case that appeared on YouTube.
In that case, 31-year-old John Tyner refused a “groin check” by the TSA. In a comment that already probably is on bumper stickers, he said, “If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested.”
Over recent days WND reported as dozens of other airline passengers shared their real-life horror stories of close encounters of the TSA kind, including a 70-year-old whose fudge “contraband” was discovered, a Los Angeles passenger who was “groped” four times and a man who was the target of a TSA screaming fit when he chose to opt-out of the “porno scan.”
WND also reported on the growing movement by activists and citizens to push back against Napolitano’s plans for “enhanced” screening at airport checkpoints.
A petition has been launched to tell President Obama, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and members of Congress all about the problem.
The petition targets the decision-makers in Washington who could bring the invasive procedures to a screeching halt.
“We, the undersigned, call for the immediate suspension of the enhanced security screening procedures and an apology to the American public by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for directing the implementation of this ill-advised program,” says the petition.
Concerns over the invasion of privacy by TSA scanners, described as voyeurism by critics, along with the “molestation” of the associated “enhanced” pat-downs and the health concerns from the blasts of radiation have now reached a critical mass.
The procedures have been the focus of warnings even by the networks:
George Donnelly, who with James Babb has launched the “We Won’t Fly” website delivering a message directly to airlines, told WND the customer revolt is taking off faster than he could imagine.
His website says, “We do not consent to strip searches, virtual or otherwise. We do not wish to be guinea pigs for new, and possibly dangerous, technology. We are not criminals. We are your customers. We will not beg the government anymore. We will simply stop flying until the porno-scanners are history.”