TSA ‘enhanced pat-down’
The Department of Justice under Barack Obama’s direction has threatened to make the state of Texas a “no-fly” zone if state lawmakers pursue legislation that would protect airline passengers from having their sex organs groped by Transportation Security Administration officials without probable cause.
The threat came yesterday from U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy, who warned state lawmakers, “Texas has no authority to regulate federal agents and employees in the performance of their federal duties or to pass a statute that conflicts with federal law.”
He said if state lawmakers would move forward with their plans to protect airline passengers from what critics have termed sexual assault in airport security lines, “TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights.”
The letter’s impact was immediate, as one state senator told the Tenth Amendment Center he would not pursue his bill. But just as immediate was the outcry over the “tyranny” being imposed by the federal government and warnings that if this year’s bill isn’t successful, there certainly will be more to follow.
State Rep. David Simpson, who sponsored the state plan in the House and notes that it protects federal agents doing constitutional searches, suggested the federal government review the U.S. Constitution, under which its agents are supposed to be acting.
“Instead of threatening to shut down flights in Texas, why doesn’t the TSA just show us their statutory authority to grope or ogle our private parts?” he asked. “All that HB 1937 does is require that the TSA abide by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We aren’t even prohibiting the pat-downs, per se. We’re just saying you can’t go straight to third base. You have to have a reason – you have to have probable cause – before groping someone’s sexual organs.”
Simpson called on the spirit of President Reagan for people to continue the fight over what he called the “brazen show of disregard for the dignity and the constitutional rights of American citizens,” saying, “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”
Simpson previously has accused the Obama administration of turning the nation into a police state with its invasive pat-down procedures at airports.
The Republican lawmaker criticized airport procedures that require travelers to either pass through a scanner that images the entire body or submit to an intrusive pat-down.
He said metal detectors are far more effective, noting instances in which the detectors caught banned objects while the body screeners missed them.
The Texas plan would classify any airport inspection that “touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks or breast of another person including through the clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person” as an offense of sexual harassment under official oppression.
Transportation Security Administration agents could be charged with a misdemeanor crime, face a $4,000 fine and one year in jail under the measure.
Murphy said that’s unacceptable, and federal agents have to be able to touch sex organs as they please.
“The proposed legislation would make it unlawful for a federal agent such as a TSO to perform certain specified searches for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation,” he demanded. “That provision would thus criminalize searches that are required under federal regulations in order to ensure the safety of the American public.”
“If the Administrator [of the TSA] determines that ‘a particular threat cannot be addressed in a away adequate to ensure … the safety of passengers and crew of a particular flight,’ he ‘shall cancel the flight or series of flights,’” he threatened.
Citizens who organized the TsaTyranny.com website in reaction to the invasive federal procedures immediately alerted their constituents.
“What I am telling you is not a fable, a bad dream, or Hollywood fiction. It didn’t happen in Communist China or the former Soviet Union. It wasn’t declared by the former President of Egypt or Tunisia or Generalissimo Antonio de Santa Anna. And it didn’t happen in 1770 or 1835,” said spokesman Wesley Strackbein. “It happened yesterday; it happened in America; and it was declared by officials representing the United States government.
“On Tuesday, agents of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) bullied Texas senators in person, and a DOJ letter was sent to Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus and President of the Texas Senate David Dewhurst which told Texas to bow in submission to despotism or pay the consequences. Members of the Texas legislature were informed that if they criminalize the touching of travelers’ genitals by TSA officers, Washington will likely declare a no-fly zone and disallow commercial air traffic in the Lone Star State.”
He said the DOJ letter from Murphy was rife with inaccuracies, too.
“There is no federal law that exists or that is consistent with the Constitution that sanctions the touching of private parts without probable cause. To the contrary – the Fourth Amendment forbids them. Further, the Supremacy Clause only protects federal action that is otherwise constitutional. A search without probable cause is an unconstitutional violation of the 4th Amendment. The Supremacy Clause is thus on our side, not theirs, as Texas is seeking to uphold the Constitution while the TSA is insisting on violating it,” he said.
In a commentary at the Tenth Amendment Center, by Connor Boyack with Brian Roberts and Michael Boldin, the organization said, “It was less than a month ago at the Dallas, Texas, airport where former Miss USA Susie Castillo tearfully produced a viral video describing the molestation she had just then endured at the hands of a TSA agent.
“I mean, she actually… touched my vagina,” Castillo said through her tears. “They’re making me… choose to either get molested… or go through this machine that’s completely unhealthy and dangerous. I don’t want to go through it, and here I am crying.”
Continued the commentary, “Castillo isn’t the only person who would be protected under this Texas legislation. All other innocent travelers would likewise be shielded. That includes the six year old girl who made the headlines last month for being groped by a TSA agent (an action which the TSA defended as being alright since it ‘followed the current standard operating procedures’), as well as the eight-month-old infant subjected to a pat down while cradled in the arms of her mother.
“These are but a few of the myriad confrontations that occur daily where TSA agents detain, invasively search, and seize items from innocent individuals who are not suspected of any crime whatsoever. Texas’ bill would correct this horrific perversion of the law within its state, but the federal government is clearly interested in justifying and maintaining its statist status quo,” the organization said.
It also suggested that the Texas proposal might be just the tip of the iceberg that TSA is steaming toward.
“Already, four other states are considering similar ‘travel freedom’ legislation. And, sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center tell us to expect at least 10 others in 2012. Taken together, it becomes evident that many other states will soon be picking up the baton, together having the courage needed to put the federal government back in its rightful place – which isn’t inside the waistline of innocent passengers.