Your Government in Action, the TSA and the 4th Amendment – UPDATE: Video added UPDATE 2: Media person opts out, gets the “once over”

Now, I’ve avoided this one for a while, the TSA being such a case of fish in a barrel that I figured sanity would have to rein them in shortly.  Instead, they have turned into the story that keeps on giving.

As a part of my job, I was flying every couple of weeks almost immediately after 9/11.  I’ve watched the security measures ramp up and ease down, noticed the differences between different airports and, generally, bitten my tongue and let the security folks do their thing.  I have joked with the TSA folks and tried to smile through the mindless annoyances that accompany air travel.

But, frankly, I think we’ve gone a little too far with this:

“The head of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, today defended his agency’s new, controversial pat-down procedure, one that has been described by some critics as sexual assault. The new procedure involves screeners running their hands up the inside of passengers’ thighs and touching around women’s breasts.

“There is an ever-evolving nature of the terrorist threat,” Pistole told a Senate committee holding a hearing on the safety of cargo.”

For starters, could someone please tell me the what “ever-evolving” terrorist threat requires the screener to cop a feel?  Has there been terrorist chatter about explosive breast implants?  If so, can someone tell me how the screener can tell the difference between the silicone implants, the saline implants and the C-4 implants?

Mr. Pistole continued:

“Pistole said the government is not always ahead of the terroists and that his agency seeks “the proper mix” between passengers’ rights and protecting airplanes.”

Note to Director Pistole… if your personnel are grabbing at my “joystick” before I can fly, I’m thinking that my “passengers’ rights” aren’t in mix.

I mean, it isn’t as if the TSA is known for its maturity.  One could say that they “lack gravitas” when it comes to their jobs.  However, there are suggestions that security is a secondary concern.  But that’s okay… I mean, they promise that they won’t save the images and swear their sexual harassment security patdowns are not meant to encourage folks to accept the scanner.  I am sure that they’re just doing their duty when they do these things.  There is, however, some suspicions that these regulations are not going to be enforced equally.

Now, personally, I would suggest that the TSA is riding rough-shod over the Fourth Amendment… but, hey, I also take the Second Amendment seriously.

UPDATE (Jim): Speaking of the fourth amendment, here’s an interview with former TSA Chief Mo McGowan has to say about the 4th Amendment and the TSA searches. From Hot Air. As  AP at Hot Air says, the money line comes around 2:30. Gotta do what ya gotta do.


UPDATE 2 (Jim); Wondering what happens if you decline the big bad scanner machines at the airport. The opt out means you get searched. Here’s a tale by a woman in Boston.

My pal happens to be a Boston media personality and crime reporter, Michele McPhee. She is not a shy lady. When this tough blond makes up her mind she makes up her mind. There was no way she was going to be convinced to do a body scan if she didn’t want to.

So instead, she opted for a pat down and was whisked away, barefoot, by two women – a TSA officer and her supervisor – to a private room, where McPhee says a very intrusive body search was conducted.

“They run their hands inside your leg and under your bra strap and patted the front of my breasts,” she says. “If someone had done that to me at a nightclub I’d call the cops.”

McPhee says the officers were “nice and apologetic” and seemed to feel bad they couldn’t give her her shoes back until after the search, especially when she pointed out how dirty the floor of the terminal was. The whole process took about 15 minutes.

So why did she reject the full body scan? McPhee says her big issue is privacy when it comes to the images that are taken.

“I have questions about privacy. I don’t really trust the TSA to keep these things private,” she says.

A media personality? This is something I talked about yesterday. What TV news person, in particular a woman, wants a “see all” pic going around the internet. It happens.

Posted in

Dave in EH


  1. Chas on November 17, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Great point dave. As a parent of 4 mobsters. I cannot stand there and watch as they molest my 4 daughters on our way to Disney World. I would be arrested for assault as they sexually assault my daughters. Where is the probable cause Mr. Pistole? This is outrageous. Pack the SUV dear were drivin. No one is touching our kids. What next Mr. Pistole…pat down at toll booths!

  2. Karen on November 17, 2010 at 6:58 am

    What doesn't make sense is that the recent attempts at blowing up a plane have all originated overseas.  Why do we need to increase the invasion of privacy here?  Also, the Nigerian was on a no-fly list of sorts, but he got on a plane anyway.  We INSIST on a cookie-cutter approach to everything – no thinking required.

  3. pauldow on November 17, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I'm waiting to see what this does for turnover within the TSA. The front line people at the airports can't like this any more than the victims passengers.

  4. [email protected] on November 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    When we talk about air safty and the likes, and Obama, What about when air farce one did its flyover mission on N.Y.C. by accident.I have a dear frien who lived by the twin towers, and when Obamas pilot pulled this stunt they were in shock. There have been so many mental lapses from this administration.We`ve forgotten about the "beer summit", when he budded into Bostons issue, and politisized it creating more of a problem.We need to investigate his birth place,and his communist/socialist ideaolygy. It`s like the cold war only the spy is in the oval office……………………

  5. Dimsdale on November 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    "If so, can someone tell me how the screener can tell the difference between the silicone implants, the saline implants and the C-4 implants?"


    If I recall correctly, Howard Stern had a method that he used on his old television show…   😉

  6. Mark on November 17, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. I don't want to be exposed to the body scanner. Too little is known about how the body handles "skin deep" radiation.


    So the next time I fly I'll opt out. I'll then ask the TSA agent for the "special… with, you know, the happy ending".

  7. tom on November 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    The Pointer Sisters, 'Slow Hand' ?

  8. Anne-EH on November 18, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Dave, your RVO blog entry got responses.

  9. David R on November 19, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Everybody agrees this is mess. Why? Remember Michael Chertoff? He's the former head of Homeland Security who was a big backer of full body scanning devices when in that job. (He bought the first bunch.)So much of a fan that his company, Chertoff Group, has the manufacturers as a client. Too bad when he was boosting the scanners in the media, he failed to mention that Rapscan was one of his clients. If only we'd listened to the air travelers rights organization when they criticized both Chertoff and the scanners back in January. Once again the corporate/government connection is making some people wealthy and the rest of us miserable. 

TSA Screening

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