Members of the Travis, Texas, County Republican Party have joined a campaign against the federal Transportation Security Administration’s new invasive airport pat-down procedures and nude-imaging scanners at airports.
“These scanners are a very personal invasion of privacy, exposing anatomically detailed images of airline passengers to strangers,” said chairman Rosemary Edwards. “These graphic scans and the intimate physical searches which are offered as the only alternative, are completely inappropriate and a violation of our Constitutionally protected right to privacy.”
WND reported earlier when a government advisory board in Austin, joined by a team of citizen groups, asked the city council there to tell the TSA to keep its scanners and pat-downs out of the city’s airport.
It was the Austin Airport Advisory Commission that resolved, in a petition to the city council, that it is recommending the city “oppose the installation of [advanced image scanners] at [the Austin airport] and further oppose the practice of invasive body searching and encourages the city council to inform the TSA, the state and federal delegations of such opposition.”
The dispute over the invasive procedures has been heating up since before Thanksgiving, after the federal government announced the installation of the scanners that reveal essentially nude images of passengers. The alternative is an intimate pat-down that critics have compared to sexual assault.
The county GOP in a statement this week said its members passed a resolution to demand that the city council join the airport advisory commission in fighting the procedures.
The GOP said, “The TSA has not published any of the necessary data to assess the health risks of these scanners and experts in the field, including the Los Alamos Center for Nonlinear Studies, have raised numerous concerns about the threat of millimeter-wave (also known as TeraHertz) radiation to human health. The Allied Pilots Association and even TSA employees have expressed concerns that their health may be damaged by repeated exposure to these scanners.”
The party noted Israel has the best airline security record in the world and they have rejected these x-ray scanners as ineffective and the wrong approach to preventing terrorism.
“We question the need for these expensive and ineffective machines and are concerned about the management of the Transportation Security Administration, a huge new government agency which has made airport security more expensive and more inconvenient, but not significantly more effective,” the party said.
A report at Radio & Television Business said the opponents of TSA procedures also have taken to advertising their position.
“Tired of what they have to go through to take a flight, an Austin [Texas] activist group has bought a flight of radio advertising time on Austin stations to make their case. The group, Keep Austin Free, is said to have thousands of dollars to spend,” the report said.
“Belo’s ABC KVUE-TV says that the members of Keep Austin Free are tired of being treated like terrorists, and that they go so far as to question the true motives of security officers that check out passengers as they attempt to board a flight. As a portion of the ad states, ‘The TSA has made plans to install full body scanners at Austin airport to gawk at our naked bodies.’”
Listen to the radio ad:
Several lawsuits have been filed over the “security” procedures, and some states have announced plans to prosecute TSA agents who violate state pornography or sexual assault laws. Also, doctors have warned of a long list of contagious diseases agents could pass from one passenger to another in the process. And there have been warnings the scanning machines could cause cancer.
The Austin resolution, signed by Dale Murphy, chairman of the Austin Airport Advisory Commission, included a list of statements that:
- WHEREAS, the [Advanced Image Technology] AIT health risks for passenger and screener, for short term and long term exposure, lack of health safety standards, and medical issues are not conclusively determined by a non-partisan evaluation; and
- WHEREAS, privacy rights, especially for children, sexual assault victims, medical prosthetic users, children, senior citizens, women susceptible to breast cancer, pregnant women and other physical and/or emotional challenged travelers have not been satisfactorily addressed; and
- WHEREAS, the TSA’s actions at other airports currently operating them have been the source of derision, ridicule, embarrassment, and other negative connotations reflecting poorly on the airport in question. These actions include the management and are therefore construed to be within their operating policy; and
- WHEREAS, impact on passenger screening operations at the security checkpoints have been demonstrated by the TSA’s own video capture to routinely require at least three and up to ten times longer processing times compared to current standards, exacerbating the delay factor for a flight; and
- WHEREAS, the AITs themselves most importantly can be rendered ineffective or marginally by their own admission (A March report from the GAO found that such scanners might not have detected the hidden explosive used by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab); and
- WHEREAS, the U.S. constitutional 4th amendment issues precluding unreasonable search and seizure, suspension of criminal process, and other basic freedoms of encroachment by the federal government cases being challenged in court are yet to be resolved.
The resolution also explained that the city itself is responsible for actions on its airport property.
The city board is being joined by a citizens’ campaign that is operating under the name KeepAustinFree.org.
Testimonials include those of Austin-area resident Wesley Strackbein, a seventh-generation Texan, who recently told the city council that Washington “has declared war on the Constitution, and it’s time for Austin to fight back.”
“As you well know, the TSA has mandated the use of naked body scanners and intrusive pat-downs at our airports where no probable cause for wrongdoing has been shown – a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment,” he said. “This abuse is outrageous, and it must be opposed. Your own Airport Advisory Commission has rightly urged you to forbid the scanners and invasive pat-downs at Austin’s airport. Travelers at ABIA must be protected.”
He explained the federal government “cannot use one constitutional power as a club to bludgeon another constitutionally protected right. In the name of protecting us, Washington cannot suspend citizens’ right to free speech, right to due process, right to keep and bear arms – or ‘right to be secure in their persons.’ To do so would break our charter covenants and subvert the very foundation of this Republic.”
Strackbein said the city’s options are clear.
“Now is the time for this council to interpose against the unlawful demands of Washington – to check the TSA’s tyranny at the Constitution’s gate. This means that the naked body scanners and groping pat-downs must be banned at ABIA,” he said.
He told WND, “Momentum is building to see Austin become a safe-haven for liberty.”
The government has maintained an unchanged defense of the procedures, with TSA chief John Pistole writing in USA Today recently, “These machines are safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy. … Rigorous privacy safeguards are in place to protect the traveling public. All images generated by imaging technology are viewed in a walled-off location not visible to the public. The officer assisting the passenger never sees the image, and the officer viewing the image never interacts with the passenger.”
Pistole also claimed that the technology “cannot store, export, print, or transmit images,” although federal document indicates otherwise.
Politico over the holidays reported, “On the day after Christmas, readers of The Washington Post were given a real treat: pictures of naked men. The men in the pictures were fully clothed, but they were naked nonetheless, because the pictures came from airport full-body scanners. The machines provided graphic pictures of the male anatomy. True, they were no more graphic than Michelangelo’s David or Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (that’s the naked guy with his arms and leg stuck out), but both of those were depictions, not actual people trying to heft their wheelie bags on the conveyor belt.”