full body scanners

Rand Paul To Take on TSA Once Again

Rand Paul

We’ve complained long and hard about the TSA and it’s terrible “security” practices for years. It’s a horrible agency that should have never been instituted. Fortunately, Rand Paul is on the case:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he will very likely re-introduce legislation to drastically scale back the Transportation Securities Administration’s reach by privatizing TSA security screening operations at airports and creating a series of passenger protections, Politico reports.

“I think we are going to,” Paul said when asked if he would take another crack at the agency. “We have two different bills, one to privatize the TSA and then we have another one which is a passenger bill of rights.”

Paul’s introduced TSA privatization and flier bill of rights legislation last summer after resisting a pat-down, which postponed his flight and caused him to miss a speech at a March for Life rally.

One bill would have ended the TSA screening operation and require airports to choose companies from the private sector to do screening. The other bill would have allowed certain people to opt out of pat-downs, required distribution of a list of fliers’ rights, and greatly expanded an expedited screening program for frequent fliers.

The One Petition You’ll Ever Need

TSA

If you know me personally, outside of the blogosphere, you know that I generally hold a dim view of online petitions. I generally don’t think they mean much, they mostly get ignored by whomever is being petitioned. However, the First Amendment provides for the people “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” And, with the rise of sites such as Change.org and even the White House’s own petition center, petitions are slowly gaining some traction. People do pay attention, if only because they’re afraid of the PR fallout.

With that in mind, I’m here to show you the one online petition you should be caring about. It was started by the Cato Institute’s Director of Information Policy Studies Jim Haper, and it literally says: Require the Transportation Security Administration to Follow the Law!

Harper explains on Cato-At-Liberty:

A year ago this coming Sunday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered the Transportation Security Administration to do a notice-and-comment rulemaking on its use of Advanced Imaging Technology (aka “body-scanners” or “strip-search machines”) for primary screening at airports. (The alternative for those who refuse such treatment: a prison-style pat-down.) It was a very important ruling, for reasons I discussed in a post back then. The TSA was supposed to publish its policy in the Federal Register, take comments from the public, and issue a final rule that responds to public input.

So far, it hasn’t done any of those things.

The Real Tragedies of 9/11

As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches this Sunday, I cannot help but feel it will be a commemoration of not one, not two, but at least three different tragedies that have befallen the American people. The first is the obvious tragedy of the attacks themselves, which took thousands of lives in an act of barbarism and insanity. The second tragedy is what happened to the American consciousness afterwards. And the third is what our children understand about it.

I read earlier this week about a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The results were disquieting, to say the least. Some of the highlights:

  • 71% of Americans favor surveillance cameras in public
  • 47% support the government reading emails outside the US without a warrant
  • 30% support the government monitoring emails within the country
  • 58% support random searches involving full-body scans or patdowns at airports
  • 35% support racial or ethnic profiling at airports
  • 55% support the government snooping into financial transactions without a warrant
  • 47% support a national ID card to show to authorities on demand (a “Show-Me” Card, if you ever watched Fringe)
  • 64% believe it is “Sometimes necessary to sacrifice some rights and freedoms” in order to fight the war on terror
  • 53% think you can’t be too careful dealing with people (which is a slight improvement from 2002, I suppose, which was 58%, but…)
  • 54% would, between counterterrorism and civil liberties, come down on the side of civil liberties

Like I said, disquieting. All but the last should be far lower; the last should be far higher. Only 54% would go for civil liberties? That means 46% would put counterterrorism operations above what it actually means to be an American?

Bodyscanners: The unstoppable force of fear of terror meets the immovable object of child porn.

bodyscanBodyscanners, devices gaining widespread use in airports allowing TSA agents to see what amounts to a virtual strip search, have drawn some serious questions about our privacy over the past few years.

Proponents say they are an important tool to fight terrorism, allowing the detection of potential weapons not caught metal detectors. However, things just got complicated.

We all can agree that child porn is a truly despicable evil — so what happens when TSA agents are looking at naked scans of our children’s bodies? We found out recently as a 12-year old girl was selected for a body scan while she as on vacation with a friends family:

A Baltimore family is raising the issue after their 12-year-old daughter was pulled out of line in Tampa and subjected to what they say was an embarrassing and unhealthy scan. The girl was traveling with an adult friend of the family, not her parents.

The article does not specify who saw the scan, but:

Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said anyone can be selected from the line and given a body scan, even children, as long as they can hold their arms over their heads for five or more seconds.

Koshetz of the Transportation Security Administration said the faces and body parts on the images are blurry and never saved.

“There’s no way to associate that fuzzy black and white image to a particular person,” she said.

Podcast: MA Senate Race, Airport Security, Council of Governors, Guest: Pete Eyre

Jason and Brett broke from the traditional news discussion this week, as they talked with Pete Eyre, former Crasher-In-Chief at Bureaucrash, and currently working with the Future of Freedom Foundation, discussing political philosophy while also touching on a few news stories from the week:

Podcast: Senate Retirement, Air Marshals, Full Body Scanners, Michael Yon, ObamaCare, Pottawattamie vs. McGhee, & More

Jason and Brett traveled to Birmingham, Alabama this weekend, gathering quite a panel to discuss the political news of the week.  They were joined by Charles Kennedy, Austin Wilkes, Shana Kluck, Stephen Gordon, and Brooklyn Roberts.

The discussion covered:

TSA coming to a transportation system near you

TSA

The security theater we’ve all come to know and loathe at airports around the country is about to be expanded. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has expanded its operation through “VIPR” teams to transportation hubs, including Amtrak and public transit, in various cities across the country.

Welcome to mission creep, America:

As hundreds of commuters emerged from Amtrak and commuter trains at Union Station on a recent morning, an armed squad of men and women dressed in bulletproof vests made their way through the crowds.

The squad was not with the Washington police department or Amtrak’s police force, but was one of the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response squads — VIPR teams for short — assigned to perform random security sweeps to prevent terrorist attacks at transportation hubs across the United States.
[…]
With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals. Not everyone is happy.

T.S.A. and local law enforcement officials say the teams are a critical component of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts, but some members of Congress, auditors at the Department of Homeland Security and civil liberties groups are sounding alarms. The teams are also raising hackles among passengers who call them unnecessary and intrusive.

Body scanners will be removed from airports

full-body scanners

Over the last few years, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has taken well deserved heat for its use of naked full-body scanners in airports across the country. Despite concerns expressed by privacy advocates, the TSA fear-mongered by insisting that the screening procedure was necessary due to the threat of terrorism.

But after being unable to produce a software to settle privacy concerns, the TSA announced today that they will pull the naked body scanners out of airports:

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will remove airport body scanners that privacy advocates likened to strip searches after OSI Systems Inc. (OSIS) couldn’t write software to make passenger images less revealing.

TSA will end a $5 million contract with OSI’s Rapiscan unit for the software after Administrator John Pistole concluded the company couldn’t meet a congressional deadline to produce generic passenger images, agency officials said in interviews.
[…]
“It became clear to TSA they would be unable to meet our timeline,” Waters said. “As a result of that, we terminated the contract for the convenience of the government.”

3 Reasons to Kill The Dept. of Homeland Security: It’s Unnecessary, Inefficient, & Expensive

See Video

Slow and Steady Progress on TSA Strip-Search Policy

Written by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Having pled before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that doing a notice-and-comment rulemaking on its strip-search machine policy is difficult and expensive, the Transportation Security Administration is dropping a cool quarter-billion dollars on new strip-search machines. That’s quite a fixation the TSA has, putting spending on new gadgets ahead of following the law.

But the writing is on the wall for the practice of putting travelers through strip-search machines and prison-style pat-downs at the government checkpoints in American airports.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit ruled against a petition to have the court force TSA to move forward with taking public comments as required by law. The language of the order signals the court’s expectation, though, that the TSA will get this done, quoting the TSA’s language and, well, saying as much.

ORDERED that the petition for writ of mandamus be denied in light of the Government’s representation that “the process of finalizing the AIT Rulemaking documents so that the NPRM may be published is expected to be complete by or before the end of February 2013.” Accordingly, we expect that the NPRM will be published before the end of March 2013.


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