Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
TSA ‘enhanced pat-down’
The issue of invasive pat-downs by federal Transportation Security Administration agents at airports across the nation isn’t going away anytime soon, with word that the Libertarian Party of Florida formally is demanding that sheriffs in the state’s 67 counties arrest TSA agents for sexual battery.
The enhanced pat-down procedures – or the optional full body scans that essentially create a nude image of passengers – were imposed on U.S. travelers in recent months, prompting a wide range of reactions.
Just last week, a state law proposed in Texas that would have imposed charges against federal agents who inappropriately touch passengers failed at the end of a special legislation session when representatives couldn’t assemble an enhanced quorum required during the special meetings.
But the Texas lawmakers were expressing the sentiment of many travelers – some of whom simply have refused to fly because of the invasive search procedures.
Today, a statement from the Libertarian Party of Florida took the dispute to a new level.
“As sheriff, you have the absolute duty to enforce the law uniformly and without prejudice. You are, at best, engaged in selective enforcement by choosing to further ignore these flagrant violations of federal and state law. At worst, you are complicit,” said a message to the 67 sheriffs from the party, signed by chairman Adrian Wyllie.
“If you have TSA agents within your county that are violating the law, then you must act. Warn the TSA agents that they are subject to arrest if they continue to violate the law. Should they continue, then you must begin making arrests,” the letter said. “We urge you to remember the oath you took to support, protect and defend the Constitution of both the state of Florida and the United States of America. On behalf of all Floridians, the Libertarian Party of Florida calls on you to do exactly that.
“We turn to you, our constitutional sheriffs, to enforce the law in accordance with your sworn duty,” the letter said.
Videos of invasive searches, including physical contact with sex organs, have been all over the Internet since the “enhanced” procedures were imposed by the Obama administration.
But perhaps among the most dramatic expressions of concern came from Miss USA, Susie Castillo, who was reduced to tears by federal agents trying to assure themselves that she was not a terrorist.
A commentary at the Tenth Amendment Center by Connor Boyack, with Brian Roberts and Michael Boldin, wrote, “It was … at the Dallas, Texas, airport where former Miss USA Susie Castillo tearfully produced a viral video describing the molestation she had just 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, which was in support of Texas’ plans to address the traveling public’s concerns, “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.”
The email to sheriffs said, “The Libertarian Party of Florida is reaching out to you, and to all of Florida’s 67 constitutional sheriffs. We, The People of the State of Florida must turn to you as our last line of defense against a federal government that is usurping authority and ignoring the rule of law.
“I am referring specifically to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and their egregious violations of the United States Constitution, as well as the Florida Constitution and state law,” the message continued.
“Every single day, TSA employees conduct electronic and bodily searches upon tens of thousands of Florida citizens and visitors at airports, and more recently at bus terminals, rail stations, and highways. They are searching the persons and seizing the effects of travelers without warrant or probable cause. Specifically, they are in blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the email said.
The text of the Fourth Amendment then was provided:
“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 also cited violations of Article 1, Section 12 of the state constitution: “Searches and seizures. – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and against the unreasonable interception of private communications by any means, shall not be violated. No warrant shall be issued except upon probable cause, supported by affidavit, particularly describing the place or places to be searched, the person or persons, thing or things to be seized, the communication to be intercepted, and the nature of evidence to be obtained.”
The federal agents’ search, the email said, “is clearly within the definition of felony sexual battery, as codified in Florida Statute 794.011.”
Wyllie said, “I would like to point out that this statute clearly defines that it is a first-degree felony when sexual battery is committed by a law enforcement agent.”
The organization, the third largest political party in the state, contends it “is the only true alternative to the Republican/Democrat stranglehold on our economic freedom and individual liberty.”
The Texas law is expected to be replicated by lawmakers in other states who are hearing concerns from their constituents. It was withdrawn in the regular session of the legislature by one sponsor when federal authorities threatened to make Texas a “no-fly” zone by canceling flights to and from the state.
The threat to Texas air travel came 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 at that time that 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.”