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Why the TSA Outcry Is Healthy for America

4 years ago
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The big story of the past week has involved citizen outrage over the Transportation Security Administration's invasive body scanners, pat-downs, and heavy-handed tactics.

To be sure, this is a tricky subject. We Americans, of course, do not surrender our constitutional rights simply because we enter an airport (though you wouldn't know that if you were to visit one), but simultaneously, the government is charged with keeping us safe, especially as terrorists develop more and more devious ways to commit murder.

Ultimately, some compromise will be reached. But in the meantime, the fact that this story has become so huge is reassuring to those of us who care about preserving liberty.

Frankly, I had assumed Americans were resigned to the fact that the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on intrusive searches had become just as irrelevant to the federal government as the 10th Amendment (on states' rights) -- at least, as it applied to airports. Happily, I was mistaken.

This skepticism of governmental authority is healthy. What is more, it is patently American. I may be wrong, but I'm unaware of others around the world sparking similar uprisings over airport security. Americans are, in fact, exceptional. We're seeing it more and more these days.

As American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks has noted, in Greece, citizens protested to "demand that others pay for the early retirements, lifetime benefits and state pensions to which they feel entitled." But here in America, he said, "the tea partiers demonstrate not to get more from others, but rather are against government growth, public debt, bailouts and a budget-busting government overhaul of the health-care industry."

The TSA passenger rebellion is merely the latest example of American exceptionalism and is perfectly in keeping with the nation's ethos. As Ben Franklin declared, those "who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

I wonder how many people will be wearing "Don't Tread on Me" T-shirts as they pass through security scanners on their way to Grandma's house this week.

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the TSA is a pathetic, bureaucratic, civil service union debacle. they couldn't protect me from my wife's toy poodle. we should ask the Israelis what to do, and follow every single word of their advice. period, end.

November 22 2010 at 11:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

OK, Not sure what the point is here. Do you support the searches or are you against them or are you saying the US citizens will not care? Whichever way you are going, the bottomline you are missing is that yes indeed you give up your right under the 4th amendment to the extent that in order to have the privledge of flying, you must be searched. While not an unreasonable search, the intrusive nature causes some to protest about their rights. Their only right is to not fly. Now I personally believe that the searches as I have seen demonstrated on TV are incredibly stupid. The real problem is that the TSA, Homeland Security failed to do a proper public campaign BEFORE instituting the new searches. They are not any more safe than most others.

November 22 2010 at 10:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The outcry is not loud enough, in my view. It makes you feel like your being indoctrinated in acceptance of a police state. It's all a matter of appearance. It makes our administration look like they are doing something for the people. Right!

November 22 2010 at 3:45 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

What is the risk to a fetus being scanned? No one can tell you.

November 22 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

A Parable: During the London Blitz, there was a Civil Defense official who felt that, given the confusion in the skies, the Army should fire on ALL VISIBLE aircraft. Eventually, he was replaced by one who advocated shooting at the GERMAN aircraft only. It amazed Londoners, however, that it took so long to relieve the first man. Lesson: Passenger Screening can safely be reduced by 99%. All it takes is the People INSISTING upon it!

November 22 2010 at 1:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Israel has kept their airports and air travelers safe for decades, but we didn't even cinsider their methods. Government officials say it wouldn't work here due to crowds and higher volume - it was easier to spend $millions on equipment that still doesn't keep us safe!! I'm not against screenings and searches, but they've failed every test so far and have a terrible record for effectiveness! THAT'S what we should really be discussing.

November 22 2010 at 1:03 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

What is sad here is that I bet many Americans who used to say "Oh come on, I'm glad to be doing this(the security clearances at airports)if it prevents a potential terrorist from entering the plane" now say "Oh come on, this is getting crazy!!!".

November 22 2010 at 12:13 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply

All this hoopla is amazing. The American people want security but don't want to make sacrifices. They are all for wars as long as only 1% of the population have to fight them.

November 22 2010 at 11:50 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply

The full body scans are considered safe (by their standards, of course). I believe this is good justification for government healthcare. I'd like to know that if they've erred, with regards to safety information we've been given, we'd be covered. All human bodies are not created the same. Minimal radiation to some is too much. We won't know for years the price we've all been paying until we start having babies with extra appendages.

November 22 2010 at 11:48 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vobox3343's comment

Not to mention the damage to our babies that are already being scanned at their tender ages. What might be happening to those tiny little beings?

November 22 2010 at 1:08 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

If you don't like the airport security, take the bus or a car. I would rather go through a scanner at the airport than get blown out of an plane at 30,000 feet. When the people who are complaining about the scanners get blown up their families will be suing the TSA, airline and the Feds for not providing enough security.

November 22 2010 at 11:05 AM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply

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