A state lawmaker who just a week ago called on Congress to rein in the Transportation Security Administration’s use of invasive and offensive imaging and pat-down procedures for airline passengers has taken the battle to the next level.
State Sen. Michael Doherty, a member of the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, today announced plans to introduce legislation that would curb the TSA’s procedures in his state.
“I am of the belief that our society is founded upon our ability to exercise our individual civil liberties freely, and I stand ready and willing to defend those liberties when they are threatened. It is with great sadness that I have come to recognize that one of our greatest threats have been presented by officials of the TSA that have begun to implement intrusive searches of law abiding Americans who are traveling within our borders,” he said.
Join thousands of 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.
His plan would lift any protections – or immunities – TSA agents would have to any actions they take under the color of “following orders,” he told WND.
“In response to the attitudes and actions of the TSA and top Obama administration officials, I am drafting new legislation that will make it perfectly clear that in New Jersey, our constitutionally granted civil liberties are treasured and will be protected,” he said.
“If an individual is touched in a private area during a search, when there is no arrest or probable cause that is affirmed by oath or affirmation, the person who violated that individual’s privacy will be guilty of the crime of ‘sexual assault,’ and will not be immune from prosecution in the state of New Jersey,” Doherty said.
“If an image is generated that provides detail of an individual’s private parts that violates New Jersey’s privacy or child pornography statutes, the person who generated that image will not be immune from prosecution in the state of New Jersey,” he said.
“Finally, if imaging technology that uses technologies that are believed by the legislature to be dangerous to individuals due to their broad or random use in security applications such as airports, the state of New Jersey will prohibit such use and will provide no immunity to individuals who violate any New Jersey state law in New Jersey,” he said.
That the imaging procedures, which essentially reveal a nude image of an airline passenger for TSA agents to see, or the pat-down procedures, in which TSA agents have been reported even groping inside passengers’ underwear and routinely include physical contact with the passenger’s private parts, are constitutionally questionable seems not to be much of an argument.
It was Mo McGowan, a former top TSA official, who admitted on a Fox News Channel appearance that the procedures apparently conflict with the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable searches.
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.”
Further, Doherty specifically issued a call to other lawmakers in his state to help address the problem, and fellow lawmakers across the nation to do the same.
“I am calling upon my colleagues in the legislature to step up and co-sponsor legislation that will protect the rights of citizens in New Jersey,” Doherty continued.
“When the federal government is actively limiting the liberties and rights of law-abiding American citizens, the several states have both a right and obligation to respond to misguided leadership at the federal level,” he said. “I believe that one of the founders of the nation addressed this issue most eloquently: ‘They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety,’ Ben Franklin.”
“The more legislators from across the country who start stepping up and saying enough is enough we will keep the pressure on the TSA and back them off,” he told WND.
“If the federal government is not going to protect America citizens it’s imperative that state elected officials stand up,” he said.
It was little more than a week earlier when Doherty and other New Jersey state lawmakers demanded that Congress review the TSA “enhanced” security screening of airline passengers that involves either an X-ray scan revealing a virtually nude image or a full-body pat-down that touches private parts.
Doherty, from the state’s 23rd District, was joined by Sen. Diane Allen of the 7th District, Assemblywoman Alison McHose of the 24th District, Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle of the 37th District, Assemblyman John DiMaio of the 23rd District, Assemblyman Erik Peterson of the 23rd District and Deborah Jacobs of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.
At the time, Doherty said the invasive procedures create “a lot of constitutional violations.”
“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.
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.
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.
As WND reported, groups have formed to organize passenger boycotts and prepare protests at airports, calling for a “National Opt-Out Day” tomorrow.
The options now are to have a full-body scan that essentially produces a nude image of the passenger or opt out of that procedure and endure a full-hands-on body pat-down that includes private parts.
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.
“We will not be abused simply for the privilege of purchasing your services. We demand the airlines make their maximum lobbying effort in support of our, your customers’, rights and liberties. We are eager to fly again, but only when this invasive threat has been contained.”
In additional to a federal plan being prepared by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul to address the issue, WND also has reported on the possible impact of TSA agents patting down dozens or hundreds of people without changing their gloves as well as confirmation from a Columbia University scientist who said it is “likely” the screenings will cause cancer.