The TSA has been all over the news. The line “If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested,” has become a battle cry. CAIR says Muslims can pat down themselves; is any of this really making us safer?
On November 11, the TSA announced new “pat-down” procedures. That very weekend 31 year old John Tyner was scheduled to fly out of San Diego International Airport.
Tyner was pulled from the security line at the metal detectors and told he had a choice, either be subjected to the TSA's full-body scanners which creates a virtually naked image of passengers or be subjected to a full-body “pat-down”.
Not happy with someone other than his “wife or doctor” touching his groin, Tyner made a comment that made him an instant Internet folk hero,
“If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested”
Tyner had turned on the video camera on his cell phone when he placed it in the bin with his belongings and although all that can be seen in the video is the ceiling of the airport, his words and those of the TSA officers were captured and have become an internet sensation with hundreds of thousands of views.
Tyner told the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“People generally are angry about what is going on," said Tyner, "but they don't know how to assert their rights. ... There is a general feeling that TSA is ineffective, out of control, over-reaching.”
Now we have a grass roots movement asking everyone traveling by air on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, to join in on “National Opt-Out Day”. According to their website,
It's the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an "enhanced pat down" that touches people's breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner. You should never have to explain to your children, "Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK."
The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent. This day is needed because many people do not understand what they consent to when choosing to fly.
Well that's all fine and dandy. I could care less since I won't be flying that day or any other for that matter.
Maybe we should start looking at why these procedures are being put in place. According to an Editorial in the Washington Times of November 15:
The Transportation Security Administration's demeaning new "enhanced pat-down" procedures are a direct result of the Obama administration's willful blindness to the threat from Islamic radicals. While better tools are available to keep air travelers safe, they would involve recognizing the threat for what it is, which is something the White House will never do.
Ten months ago, I wrote an article on our national security and quoted author Dave Gaubatz,
As Dave Gaubatz noted in his recent article entitled “A Retired Airline Pilot Speaks Out on Airline Security,” “In reality, our airlines are not safer for our families. They are more vulnerable to attack and infiltration than prior to 9/11.”
The previous week I had written an article about Muslims claiming religious reasons in order to opt of security scanners,
In a statement on February 9th, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) asked that scanner software be altered to produce only an outline of the body and urged Muslim travelers to avail themselves of alternative pat-down searches. (The term "fiqh" refers to Islamic jurisprudence.)
Now, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has stated in a press release that Muslim women are allowed to “pat-down” themselves. In their November 10 press release (one day before the new TSA procedures were to take effect) they stated,
Special recommendations for Muslim women who wear hijab (head covering):
Before you are patted down, you should remind the TSA officer that they are only supposed to pat down the area in question, in this scenario, your head and neck. They SHOULD NOT subject you to a full-body or partial-body pat-down.
Instead of the pat-down, you can always request to pat down your own scarf, including head and neck area, and have the officers perform a chemical swipe of your hands.
So CAIR is advising people that wear head scarves that they should “remind” the security that they may only pat-down the head and neck area and that they may pat themselves down?
A few nights back I saw a female representative of CAIR interviewed and asked about this very issue. She explained twice that this was the TSA policies and that they are only abiding by those polices. She also explained that it was against Islamic law for Muslim women to remove her hijab in front of anyone.
I find this very interesting since I searched the TSA website for over an hour and could find no such policy. According to the TSA website under the section “Head Coverings” it says,
All members of the traveling public are permitted to wear head coverings (whether religious or not) through the security checkpoints. The new standard procedures subject all persons wearing head coverings to the possibility of additional security screening, which may include a pat-down search of the head covering. Individuals may be referred for additional screening if the security officer cannot reasonably determine that the head area is free of a detectable threat item. If the issue cannot be resolved through a pat-down search, the individual will be offered the opportunity to remove the head covering in a private screening area.
How does “subject all persons wearing head coverings to the possibility of additional security screening, which may include a pat-down search of the head covering” translate to a self pat-down?
Also, if a Muslim woman may not remove her hijab, then the section of “If the issue cannot be resolved through a pat-down search, the individual will be offered the opportunity to remove the head covering in a private screening area” seems to be a moot point.
It is stated very clearly at the very top of the same TSA page,
Our general security considerations for religious or cultural needs allow you multiple options. If you do not want to go through the metal detector you may request a personal search (pat-down inspection) as an alternative. You may also ask the Security Officer for a private area for this personal search and will be provided a Security Officer of the same gender. If you refuse appropriate screening you will not be allowed to pass the security checkpoint and you will be unable to board your plane.
Hmmm. Seems pretty clear to me, either get checked like everyone else... Or, walk!
My whole argument for not getting on the plane has been and still is that taking our shoes off, and putting us through scanners (which now some argue may be harmful) does not make us safer.
I wrote about this months ago,
According to a January 30th report from MI5, the United Kingdom's counter-intelligence and security agency, Britain and the United States are facing a new al Qaeda terror threat from suicide “body bombers,” with explosives surgically planted inside them.
Now here is my favorite part. Pilots had to go through the same scanning procedures as everyone else. I say “had” because this past Friday the TSA did a shift on those rules after pilots complained and sued.
This is how stupid the policy was, the pilot could not board the plane without going through the same procedures as the passengers, but of course once on the plane, if he or she chooses and is trained, they have a loaded weapon, is behind a locked door and, hello, has total control of the airplane and the lives of every passenger inside! If the pilot wanted to crash the plane, who would stop them?
Our airline security is a joke, I know this first hand and you'll have to take my word for it since explaining it would get me arrested on multiple Federal offenses. I have lectured to the TSA officials at airports, I have spoken with and interviewed them and yes, I will not fly.
The safest airport in the world is Ben Gurion International in Tel-Aviv, Israel, the most secure airlines against terror attack is El-Al, Israeli airlines.
In January of this year, Israel added another layer of security to what was arguably already the best in the world. According to an article in the Arutz Sheva news,
The Unipass Airport Management System scans passports through a machine at the registration desk, where fingerprints and facial imaging samples are also recorded in order to create a biometric signature. A personal “smart card” created from the one-time process is then issued to the passenger.
IAA officials added that Unipass holders will soon be able to bypass the luggage X-ray security step and take their luggage directly to check-in. “From there, the suitcases will be passed through comprehensive security before being loaded on to the plane,” said an IAA official.
A recent report by the Associated Press explains Israels security even further,
“Airport security around the world isn't good enough", an Israeli airport official, Nahum Liss, said Tuesday while showing international experts Israel's near-legendary methods as a possible solution.
Before approaching the ticket counter, passengers are thoroughly questioned by "selectors" who look for travelers who match a suspicious profile.
“In the U.S., profiling is a bad word,” Liss said, but he defended the practice, saying it is done by "intelligent, motivated" university students who served in Israel's military and can identify passengers who could pose a potential risk.
Before even entering the airport, all cars are stopped for a security check by armed guards. Cameras scan license plates to match them with a database of suspicious vehicles. Security officials said it's one of the many security filters passengers pass before boarding flights, some of them unknown to the passengers and many others still kept secret.
Liss said that heightened screening of passengers and carry-on luggage in international airports has pushed terror organizations to look for other vulnerable areas to attack at airports. He said many of the world's airports do not properly secure their perimeters.
"We need to protect our back door as well," said Liss.
Whenever any security or counter-terror expert suggests we here in the U.S. need to be more like Israel, I hear the same thing. “They have far less flights than the U.S., it would be far to expensive”.
Really? Our safety has a price on it? Tell me again how much that stimulus package was and far we are in debt.
While I'm on the price tag question, why has so little been mentioned on the Michael Chertoff connection?
As Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff worked closely with America’s most experienced intelligence experts and security professionals. Now a select group of them have joined him to form the Chertoff Group.
Well that's fine, anyone can understand him going into the private sector after being the head of the DHS, but what about those “connections”?
According to The Hill website,
During a one-minute speech on the House floor, Rep. Ted Poe (Texas) also blasted former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as a "political hack" and accused him of profiting from the proliferation of the devices.
"There is no evidence these new body scanners make us more secure. But there is evidence that former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff made money hawking these full body scanners," Poe said.
He went on to explain that Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, had given interviews promoting the scanners while he was "getting paid" to sell them.
Chertoff has advocated for the use of full-body scanners since he took his post at DHS in 2005.
As of January, his consulting agency, the Chertoff Group, counted among its clients one of the machines' manufacturers.
The Boston Globe reported on January 2, 2010,
In the summer, TSA purchased 150 more machines from Rapiscan with $25 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Rapiscan was the only company that qualified for the contract because it had developed technology that performs the screening using a less-graphic body imaging system, which is also less controversial. (Since then, another company, L-3 Communications, has qualified for future contracts, but no new contracts have been awarded.)
The Boston Globe article also explains that Chertoff admitted his companies connection to Rapiscan in an interview with CNN on December 30, 2009,
his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. Chertoff disclosed the relationship on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.
Just days after the failed 'underwear' bombing attempt Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes the use of the scanners stated,
“Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive.’’
Interestingly Chertoff himself wrote an article that was published in the Washington Post on January 1. In this article, Chertoff argued for the introduction of such scanners, claiming that they would have detected Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s “underwear bomb,” even though this was – and is – patently untrue.
The questionable connection is even mentioned by Wikipedia on the Michael Chertoff page with a section titled “Body Scanners and Conflict of Interest,”
Chertoff has been an advocate of full body scanners at airports. In 2010 he admitted that a client of his security firm, the Chertoff Group, is Rapiscan Systems, one of the two manufacturers of this technology.
Certainly, if Chertoff has made any money from his company having Rapiscan as a client, this should be examined further. What bothers me more is that the scanner technology doesn't work for the purpose it was intended, to detect explosives.
Other technology that is out there such as sniffer machines can detect explosives, these scanners cannot and they go beyond violating our personal privacy in what I can only refer to as “intimate detail”.
I would think since my children and possibly my grandchildren will be paying for all this debt, they could at least fly safely.
Or, if it's just more convenient, you can convert to Islam, wear a head scarf and pat yourself down.