March 12, 2011

TSA: Evidence of Violation of the Constitution — Nicholas Burmeister (2/2)

Filed under: TSA — publicandprivatespace @ 4:54 pm

I did my research paper on the constitutionality of the Transportation Security Administration’s airport security methods, specifically the pat down method. This is the second of two posts. This post is about specific cases of violation of the constitution. Post 1 is here.

A document on the TSA’s website called TSA Myth or Fact? Leaked Images refers to several points of discussion as false and tries to present information proving that. Instead, some of the ‘myths’ are practically ignored while others have evidence proving that they are in fact true. Here are just some of them:

  • Everyone who travels will receive a pat-down.
    • The TSA calls this a myth and they are correct, less than 4% of people will be patted-down and only for one of a few specific reasons.
  • All children will receive pat-downs.
    • Again the TSA is correct in calling this a myth because, as before, only a small percentage of people are patted down and that percentage does apply to children. Where they are wrong, however, is that the page says the pat-down will be a modified form of the adult pat-down and more respectful due to their age. Here’s two cases of them being ‘respectful’.

Video of an 8 year old having his shirt taken off and patted down like an adult.

Video of a 3 year old screaming and fighting a TSA agent while being patted-down

  • The TSA pat-down is invasive
    • The TSA calls this a myth but never says that the procedure is not invasive, just that it was meant to provide extra safety. John Tyner felt that it was invasive and became the ‘poster child’ for the anti-pat-down movement as the ‘Don’t Touch My Junk’ guy after he was picked for a pat-down and told he would be fined up to $11,000 for refusing. The videos are here, and here. Others mentioned later in the blog agree.
  • Complaints about the pat-downs are extremely high.
    • The TSA twists the facts in their favor on this one. The website says “Only a small percentage of the traveling public receives a pat down as they travel through the security checkpoint.  Approximately 2 million people fly in the United States every day.  The number of complaints is extremely low.” What it doesn’t tell is that complaints about the pat-downs from those who receive them are more than 80%. Just because the people that don’t have to go through them aren’t complaining doesn’t mean they aren’t bad.
  • The pat-down is a punishment for opting out of the AIT.
    • While the TSA claims this is a myth, a sexual assault victim named Celeste felt that it is not. She reported that she refused to go through an AIT machine over health concerns and “the agent started yelling ‘Opt out- we have an opt here.’  Another agent took [her] aside and said they would have to pat [her] down.  He told [her] he was going to touch [her] genitals and asked if [she] wouldn’t rather just go through the scanner, that it would be less humiliating for[her]” This seems like punishment to me.

Celeste’s issues didn’t stop at the pat-down being punitive. Her case and others show that the TSA is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment in that when she was searched she was put through undue mental duress. Being a sexual assault victim, she has a fear of being touched, especially by men, and she said that when she was being patted down, it was like a whole new sexual assault. She’s not the only victim having this feeling.

Additionally, victims of sexual crimes are not the only group being harmed by the pat-downs. Cancer survivors are as well. A bladder cancer survivor named Thomas Sawyer (yes that is his real name) and Cathy Bossi, a breast cancer survivor, were both embarrassed and humiliated by their pat-downs. Being a bladder cancer survivor, Mr. Sawyer is unable to control his urine flow and wears a collection bag around his leg. He told the officers about this but was still given a rough pat-down that resulted in his bag spilling all over his clothes. This and the delay caused by the line itself forced him to fly home covered in urine. Ms. bossi was forced to remove her prosthetic breast in full view of the public in order to pass her pat-down. Both called their experiences nightmares that came true.

Bringing people’s nightmare’s to life in the process of conducting a search is clearly not constitutional. Its borderline sadistic and certain TSA officers are being described as exactly that: sadistic and uncaring about the people they are in charge of checking. Many if not most don’t even change their gloves, or use incorrect procedure of storing their gloves, and the dangers of this are obvious.

Nobody deserves this treatment. I certainly won’t allow myself to be molested as a condition of flying. I have no problem with the TSA protecting us from terrorism but the way they are doing it is not right at all.

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