Friday, November 12, 2010

Police State territory--What would Patrick Henry say?

So: Because we will not stop Muslim immigration, because we will not profile passengers, everybody now, including children, must be willing either to have a photo taken of his naked body (through the clothes, by an X-ray machine), which photo will be viewed by a government agent, or must be willing to be touched all over, including in the genital area, by a government agent.

Are we insane? The government must have a warrant to search your house. Vile criminals, drug lords, et. al., can have evidence withheld from use against them in court if it was collected without a warrant, and the apparent motivation for this is to discourage police from doing "dreadful" things like looking through a window without a warrant or searching a car trunk without a warrant. But the TSA can take (with a potentially cancer-causing machine) and view a picture of your naked body without a warrant, and if you refuse, can touch your entire body, including your private parts, full palm on, without a warrant. This, as the price one pays simply for engaging in normal travel in an ostensibly free country.

This is police state territory. What would those who wrote the Fourth Amendment (that's the unreasonable search and seizure one, by the way) say about this? What would Patrick Henry say? "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!"

I am not in the least amused by the fact that on an ostensibly "conservative" blog site we are being told to get over our problems with having our children touched in this manner because we would presumably prefer this over their being blown up by terrorists. The stupidity of this response--again, from an ostensibly conservative source--is beyond belief. It involves the assumption that everybody, including children, must be subjected to these invasive and inappropriate measures if anybody, including children, is to be safe. This is just wrong. I am appalled by the Allahpundit article.

(For the record: If, which heaven forbid, I ever were in a situation where I had to fly with a child and the child were selected for the screening, I would have the child accept the machine screening, despite knowing the type of image it would produce. To the child it would not seem like anything untoward was happening, and hence it would be far less traumatic for the child than the "enhanced pat-down." But it is a terrible choice to make, and at this time I am determined--even more than I already was--to avoid traveling by air with children in response to these new, outrageous procedures, for as long as they are in place.)


William Luse said...

Adults shouldn't have to put up with it either. It's disgusting and humiliating. What's a man to do if he sees someone trying to do this to his wife or daughter? I wonder how much more we're willing to put up with. You might seriously consider blogging about this at you-know-where.

Lydia McGrew said...

I completely agree. And I know I should. I just get tired thinking about it.

Lydia McGrew said...

By the way, at Facebook someone posted the Allahpundit link, and I put in a comment objecting to it and saying we need to be profiling and focusing on people more likely to constitute a risk, as well as stopping Muslim immigration, etc. I pointed out that the Christmas bomber, who presumably started all of this (though almost a year later), was clearly a terrorism risk (from his associations, etc.), and that rather than stopping him from flying, we're doing this to all these innocent people.

A commentator said, "Well, at least you wear your racism on your sleeve, unlike most people to the right." (These comments were on the page of a conservative talk-show, so it wasn't exactly a "friend of a friend.")

But that's what we're up against. Suggest that if we did other things, even before people get to the airport, this wouldn't be necessary, and that all-purpose word "racist" comes out of the bag, and the discussion is over. Better to have ourselves "intimately" touched by government agents than to do anything that could be called "racism."

I cannot _believe_ this sort of thing is not subject to a 4th amendment challenge. If this is not subjecting innocent people to warrantless, unreasonable search, what is?

Anonymous said...

Not satisfied with confining its Abu Ghraib tactics to Iraq, the US government has institutionalized them at every major airport in the US.

Our ruling class and their TSA henchmen argue that backscatter imaging is absolutely necessary and not intended to humiliate the unwashed masses who must fly commercial aircraft. If this is the case, let them make a show of good faith by submitting their own selved to backscatter imaging and posting their images on the Internet. After all if the 435 worthies in the House, the 100 august statesmen in the Senate, the President and his sidekick, and their agents are able to see us naked, it is only fitting that we should be able to see them naked.

I know: FFC. But this is a most modest proposal. Patrick Henry would call for their heads.

Lydia McGrew said...

Hmm, well, no, I don't endorse that proposal.

But it's all just got to stop. And frankly, I don't think anyone should be subjected to this unless he gives probable cause--by threatening behavior, joking about bombs, etc. I'm not proposing that random Muslim travelers have pictures taken of themselves naked, either. I think we should have discrimination in immigration and should take Muslim identity into account in profiling, but this particular incredibly invasive procedure is not something I'm recommending for _anyone_ who doesn't give probable cause.

On the other hand, it would be really amazingly bad--dhimmitude to the max--if what CAIR is recommending were to happen: Women in the hijab get a pass, while women not in the hijab can have this done to them. That is just enforcing directly the Muslim idea that a woman not in a hijab can have anything done to her (in Cairo, women who don't wear hijab are harassed big-time on the streets) but a woman in a hijab is to be treated as a special person. That would be the very essence of groveling before the very religion that started this whole thing in the first place. It must not happen. The entire invasive program must be rolled back across the board.

Jehu said...

Patrick Henry would suggest a solution involving tar, feathers, a railroad track, a rope, a lamp post, political figures, and a lot of handbills.
Of course we're not at that phase yet, largely because the critical mass of the population hasn't decided we're at that phase yet.

Mr Veale said...

There have been a few horror stories in the British Press about children being full-body searched, without parental consent and without parents present.
I'll check into their veracity, and get back to you. But if this is true, it constitutes child abuse.

Lydia McGrew said...

Graham, I saw your comment and here was what I was _going_ to reply:

"In a sense they don't need parental consent if you want to fly, but I guess if you told them your child wouldn't go through that you just wouldn't take the flight."

Well, maybe not. Before I got a chance to write that reply, I saw this:

In this story, a man is told not simply that he cannot fly for refusing the "grope" and the backscatter but also that he "might have an incendiary device," and that if he leaves the airport without subjecting himself to the "grope" or the backscatter, he will be subject to a civil suit. I have no idea under what law they would civilly sue him, but they told him they definitely would when he insisted on leaving after refusing the procedures.

Presumably the same thing could be done to parents refusing them for their children.

Kevin J Jones said...

The assault on modesty turns bureaucratic.

To riff off of Neuhaus' law:

Where lewdness is not proscribed, sooner or later it becomes mandatory.

Lydia McGrew said...

Good comment, Kevin. It ties up with this:

Evidently our soldiers in Afghanistan aren't allowed to search women (or anyone in a burkha pretending to be a woman) or children _at all_, not even non-invasively, because it would be "against the culture."

Not only is this sickly ironic given what you have reported at your blog about Afghani "culture" and young boys, but it also raises the following question: Is it not against our culture for women and children (or men, for that matter) to be treated in this way by the TSA agents?

Mr Veale said...

The problem will be in verifying these stories. Airports will have very good reasons to hide the facts. I would imagine that some blank cheques are being drawn up by lawyers as we speak.

I agree with Kevin's comments about compulsory lewdness. I'm also bewildered, Lydia, by the notion that we can have a "nice, politically correct" military occupation.

It strikes me that there is a technocratic ideology at work here. The underlying idea is that better technology will defeat terrorism. In fact, in Ireland, it was human intelligence that blunted the IRA's offensive, not the impressive technology that MI5 had at its disposal.

Mr Veale said...

I think a lot of parents would be afraid that they, or their child, might be forcibly detained for not letting their child be searched.

Lydia McGrew said...

I'm sure parents would be afraid of that. Plus there's the fact that when you've planned a trip, it's difficult to decide just to ditch it. But I'm afraid it's much worse than that.

I don't know who calls the shots on this in Europe and the UK, but in America, it's the executive power, the TSA. And they are refusing to back down. There _must_ be a successful lawsuit on this.

I think that Americans have not--perhaps not since FDR--faced so arrogant an administration, an administration so determined to do outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional things to them without their consent, an administration asking them, "What are you going to do about it?" And at least FDR often had the consent of Congress for his crazy ideas. This TSA thing is sheer jack-bootery. The Obama administration, in the person of Napolitano, is defying the American people, telling them that they will be humiliated with unprecedented and bizarre measures, undertaken against wholly innocent people in the course of their normal activities, and that nothing can be done to stop them. I wish I knew more about the legal context. Why has the ACLU not brought suit? What precedent is there in place that allows this sort of thing while warrants are required for far less outrageous government actions?

I have a chilling feeling that nothing will be done to stop it.

Mr Veale said...

Unfortunately, the technology is a solution in search of a problem. If a bomb gets through it will be due to a failure in human intelligence. If it is prevented, it will be down to human intelligence.

But it's easier to blame poor technology, and profitable to lobby for funding to develop technology.


Lydia McGrew said...

To use intelligence will inevitably result in what will be called "profiling." Asking questions and stopping fliers, for example, because their answers seem suspicious, may have a disproportionate impact upon particular groups. This might well be a perfectly legitimate thing, especially if those groups really are disproportionately planning to do harm to others. But it is not supposed to be allowed. Our insane liberal society prefers that all innocent people go in fear of incredibly invasive procedures rather than that agents be trained in intelligent profiling, screening, and questioning which is non-invasive but may have disparate impact. To that have we sunk. The motto is, "Better that all our women and children be violated than that any mascot groups be singled out, even in effect."

William Luse said...

Here's the TSA's page on imaging tech. Under FAQ tab you can find a list of the airports using it. Under "privacy" we are informed of our right to refuse the scan, which will be replaced with a pat down. Couldn't find anything on what a pat down involves, although they do mention that the scan is less "invasive." Couldn't find any info on the consequences of refusing both, but then I didn't spend much time there.

Lydia McGrew said...

Those lists, though, are evidently out-dated. One link I posted in this thread is to a post by a guy that checked that and found that supposedly his airport didn't have it, then got there and found that it did.

The TSA is telling us what's involved in the pat-downs by doing them. We've got lost of data now, and it's only just beginning.

The consequences of refusing both are at least that you don't fly, and you're lucky if that's all. Meg McLain was handcuffed to a chair for a while first, and this other guy I just linked was threatened with a civil suit for leaving the airport without having either invasive procedure done.

William Luse said...

"...was threatened with a civil suit for leaving the airport without having either invasive procedure done."

I'd like to see a suit like that go to trial. What the TSA's saying is that you can be harrassed even if you don't want to fly, just because you entered their territory.

Lydia McGrew said...

Bill, that's what they're saying *in so many words*. The post says they told him that he "consented" to the procedures just by entering the airport. I wish he'd gotten chapter and verse from them on that civil suit. "Really, a civil suit for what? Can you please cite me the precedents or laws under which such a suit would be brought? What would the complaint of the suit be?"

William Luse said...

The guy who wrote the article is now on TV. Video on this page. TSA head explains how wonderful it all is.

Lydia McGrew said...

Hmm, yeah, TSA guys says we have to find the right "blend" between security and privacy. Evidently the right "blend" is that they get to touch you anywhere--in other words, zero privacy.

Great blend.

Peter Brown said...

The other thing that bothers me here is the tacit assumption that Americans will not accept any casualties at all in this war on terror, and that we're willing to put up with nearly any restriction on our liberty to avoid them. Let's be honest with ourselves—the terrorists will keep trying, because we're not going away and neither are they. And, sooner or later, they're going to get lucky and kill some folks, just as a matter of statistics.

But they won't kill enough of us to actually shut down our economy; realistically, they won't kill enough of us even to affect our death rate. Kind of like the DC sniper a few years ago; the sensible response, as far as I could see, was to do the math, realize you were in a lot more danger from crazy Beltway drivers than from a sociopathic sniper, and go about your business as usual. The terrorists just don't have the kind of organization and resources it would take to change that calculation (assuming reasonable countermeasures, by which I mean countermeasures that have some practical hope of stopping the next attack rather than the last one).

Unless, of course, we decide to run scared and terrorize ourselves.

So could somebody please tell me why this administration and (to an only slightly lesser extent) the one before it are cooperating with the enemy by pursuing the only strategy that offers him any hope of success?


Mr Veale said...


From chatting to former members of the security forces in Northern Ireland, I get the impression that the only effective way of preventing a bomb from reaching its target is to know who wants to do what, when they want to do it, and where they are likely to try.
If you cannot apprehend the subject en route then you can use searches as a deterrent.

These searches could be based on profiling, I suppose, but this would hardly be racial profiling. The various Jihadist groups have different ethnic make-ups.

Some of the apologists for the new technological solutions have financial stakes in the companies that produce the scanners, or in the security industry. For example, former Home Secretary John Reid. But a determined bomber will find a way around these measures sooner or later.

By the way, the Northern Irish experience is that you need to recruit informers and agents from within terrorist groups and the communities sympathetic to them. And that requires a measure of good community relations. Military and technological superiority won't do the trick.

Neither will sheer, unrestrained brute force - implied in "let's Bomb Mecca" rhetoric that I've spotted floating around the web. But maybe that's a different discussion for a different time.


Mike T said...

I told my wife that if I am ever forced to fly for work, and they pull this crap on me, I'll act like the biggest flaming homosexual they've ever had coming through the line and make comments like

"ohhhhh Officer Hotpants...."

I mean really, what can they charge you with? Lewdness? They're sexually assaulting you!