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    For Your Safety, Of Course

    For Your Safety, Of Course

    As a disclaimer, I promise this is my last post on the TSA.

    Senator Jay Rockefeller, a champion of the freedom of expression, has joined the ranks of bureaucratic geniuses who believe the TSA is the bee’s knees.* TSA chief John Pistole received assurance from the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller at the Senate hearing last week. The chairman of the committee overseeing air travel, Rockefeller assured Mr. Pistole that he was doing a “great job” – nay, “a terrific job.”

    Other fans of the TSA include Senators Amy Klobuchar and Claire McCaskill, who assured Mr. Pistole that, if Americans only learned more about the TSA’s procedures, they would settle down and accept the measures taken for our “safety.” If the measures taken by the TSA are supposed to be in the interest of our safety, they might be missing the mark.

    A study by three professors at Cornell University showed that, when the TSA started to require extra checked baggage screening in 2002, passenger traffic dropped by six percent. As Nate Silver of the NYT pointed out, in the wake of security measures people were even allegedly in favor of, the Cornell study shows that “there was a material reduction in air travel: inconvenience outweighed security for quite a few passengers when push came to shove.” Even more startling is the danger people subject themselves towards as a result of the alternative to air travel: driving. Cars are much more dangerous than air travel. According to the same Cornell study “roughly 130 inconvenienced travelers died every three months as a result of additional traffic fatalities brought on by substituting ground transit for air transit. That’s the equivalent of four fully-loaded Boeing 737s crashing each year.”

    For those of you who have a penchant for privacy, I recommend tungsten underwear. For those of you who would like to pay $11,000, I recommend refusing to be searched. For those of you who will be on the ground indefinitely, and just want to make a statement, I recommend this t-shirt. All of these options are permissible, and even encouraged, as long as you remember that the government always makes sage choices that benefit your own good (whether you realize it or not).

    * – I know about the ‘Stupid Grandson Theory,‘ but is there a precedent on a Stupid Great-Grandson Theory?


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    @Thomas D,

    those are really great questions and great arguments. You are correct in what you say.

    I am an Australian. We do not have these intrusive restrictions. We do not have to take off our shoes to go through security. I will let you know in 2 weeks time if I have to go through a scanner at Sydney airport 🙂 but I do not think that Australia owns any of these invasive scanners.

    I have noticed though that the ACLU is getting involved in this one. That makes the situation very interesting, especially if they do decide to go for the class action lawsuit.

    In fact I believe that what is needed to stop the nonsense is a class action lawsuit against the TSA, the Øbama regime and Pistole, as well as Napolitano in particular.

    Also, people should stay on the subject and if it is proved there is a health risk involved with the pat-downs then they should definitely protest until the pat-down procedures are reversed. It is more than sexual molestation because these TSA workers do not change gloves…. candida albicans, genital warts, plus other bacteria and viruses that can be passed on from person to person because of lack of hygeine by TSA workers….

    To Lisa G:

    read Treasury Employees v. Von Raab (U.S. S.C. 1989) footnote 3 or just ask the Professor:

    The point is well illustrated also by the Federal Government's practice of requiring the search of all passengers seeking to board commercial airliners, as well as the search of their carry-on luggage, without any basis for suspecting any particular passenger of an untoward motive. Applying our precedents dealing with administrative searches, see, e. g., Camara v. Municipal Court of San Francisco, 387 U.S. 523 (1967), the lower courts that have considered the question have consistently concluded that such searches are reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. As Judge Friendly explained in a leading case upholding such searches:

    "When the risk is the jeopardy to hundreds of human lives and millions of dollars of property inherent in the pirating or blowing up of a large airplane, that danger alone meets the test of reasonableness, so long as the search is conducted in good faith for the purpose of preventing hijacking or like damage and with reasonable scope and the passenger has been given advance notice of his liability to such a search so that he can avoid it by choosing not to travel by air." United States v. Edwards, 498 F.2d 496, 500 (CA2 1974) (emphasis in original).

    See also United States v. Skipwith, 482 F.2d 1272, 1275-1276 (CA5 1973); United States v. Davis, 482 F.2d 893, 907-912 (CA9 1973). It is true, as counsel for petitioners pointed out at oral argument, that these air piracy precautions were adopted in response to an observable national and international hijacking crisis. Tr. of Oral Arg. 13. Yet we would not suppose that, if the validity of these searches be conceded, the Government would be precluded from conducting them absent a demonstration of danger as to any particular airport or airline. It is sufficient that the Government have a compelling interest in preventing an otherwise pervasive societal problem from spreading to the particular context.
    Nor would we think, in view of the obvious deterrent purpose of these searches, that the validity of the Government's airport screening program necessarily turns on whether significant numbers of putative air pirates are actually discovered by the searches conducted under the program. In the 15 years the program has been in effect, more than 9.5 billion persons have been screened, and over 10 billion pieces of luggage have been inspected. See Federal Aviation Administration, Semiannual Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of The Civil Aviation Program (Nov. 1988) (Exhibit 6). By far the overwhelming majority of those persons who have been searched, like Customs employees who have been tested under the Service's drug-screening scheme, have proved entirely innocent – only [489 U.S. 656, 676] 42,000 firearms have been detected during the same period. Ibid. When the Government's interest lies in deterring highly hazardous conduct, a low incidence of such conduct, far from impugning the validity of the scheme for implementing this interest, is more logically viewed as a hallmark of success. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559 (1979).

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