Oppose TSA procedures? You’re an extremist

Are you frustrated with how the Transportation Security Administration is treating passengers? Did you encourage travelers to participate on National Opt Out Day? If so, you are a “domestic extremist,” according to the Department of Homeland Security:

Following the publication of my article titled “Gate Rape of America,” I was contacted by a source within the DHS who is troubled by the terminology and content of an internal memo reportedly issued yesterday at the hand of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Indeed, both the terminology and content contained in the document are troubling. The dissemination of the document itself is restricted by virtue of its classification, which prohibits any manner of public release. While the document cannot be posted or published, the more salient points are revealed here. emists.”

The memo, which actually takes the form of an administrative directive, appears to be the product of undated but recent high level meetings between Napolitano, John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA),and one or more of Obama’s national security advisors. This document officially addresses those who are opposed to, or engaged in the disruption of the implementation of the enhanced airport screening procedures as “domestic extremists.”

The introductory paragraph of the multi-page document states that it is issued “in response to the growing public backlash against enhanced TSA security screening procedures and the agents conducting the screening process.” Implicit within the same section is that the recently enhanced security screening procedures implemented at U.S. airports, and the measures to be taken in response to the negative public backlash as detailed [in this directive], have the full support of the President. In other words, Obama not only endorses the enhanced security screening, but the measures outlined in this directive to be taken in response to public objections.

If true, this wouldn’t be the first time that DHS, led by Janet Napolitano, has labeled Americans concerned about their liberties as “extremists.” You may remember in April of last year, a DHS report targeting conservatives and libertarians entitled, Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Environment Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, found its way on the web.

Unfortunately, many liberals are not trying to hide their contempt for those of us that participated in National Opt Out Day (as wrong as they may be). Strange for a group that was so concerned about civil liberties abuses under the Bush Administration (and there was plenty of reason to be concerned).

Last week, Whoopi Goldberg, one of the four morons on The View, equated those concerned about their privacy and civil liberties to terrorists:

Over at the Washington Post, Jeffrey Rosen explains why the invasive techinques being employed by the TSA are unconstitutional:

Broadly, U.S. courts have held that “routine” searches of all travelers can be conducted at airports as long as they don’t threaten serious invasions of privacy. By contrast, “non-routine” searches, such as strip-searches or body-cavity searches, require some individualized suspicion - that is, some cause to suspect a particular traveler of wrongdoing. Neither virtual strip-searches nor intrusive pat-downs should be considered “routine,” and therefore courts should rule that neither can be used for primary screening.

Will the Supreme Court recognize the unconstitutionality of body-scanning machines? It might have ruled against them five years ago, when the balance of power was controlled by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

O’Connor was an eloquent opponent of intrusive group searches that threatened privacy without increasing security. In a 1983 opinion upholding searches by drug-sniffing dogs, she recognized that a search is most likely to be considered constitutionally reasonable if it is very effective at discovering contraband without revealing innocent but embarrassing information. The backscatter machines seem, in O’Connor’s view, to be the antithesis of a reasonable search: They reveal a great deal of innocent but embarrassing information and are remarkably ineffective at revealing low-density contraband.

The Supreme Court might not view the matter differently today, now that O’Connor has been replaced by Alito, who wrote the lower-court opinion insisting that screening technologies had to be both effective and “minimally intrusive.” Last year, the court struck down strip-searches in schools by a vote of 8 to 1.

In many cases, furthermore, Supreme Court justices are influenced by public opinion, consciously or unconsciously, and some polls suggest that opposition to these screening measures has grown in recent months. That reflects a basic truth of the politics of privacy: People are most likely to be outraged over a particular privacy invasion when their own privacy has actually been violated.

Polls indicate more tolerance for the full-body scanners than the onerous pat downs being performed by the TSA. Either way, there hasn’t been much evidence that they will change the policy.


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