stop the TSA madness
Here’s the letter I just sent to my senators and district representative:
I am writing to express my extreme displeasure with the new policies and procedures of the Transportation Security Administration.
As you know, TSA has recently begun implementing “backscatter” X-ray technology at airports around the country, and for those who choose to opt out of being scanned by these new devices, they are conducting wildly inappropriate physical searches on US citizens.
For one thing, the backscatter scanners have an unproven safety record. There are other, more effective means of screening passengers that do not require subjecting citizens to any quantity of radiation. Scientists from major American universities are very concerned about the effects of these machines, as evidenced from recent letters to Cabinet from the University of California at San Francisco, and at least two pilot unions oppose the use of these scanners.
Regardless of the health risks, the nature of the technology is simply not appropriate, and despite statements to the contrary by TSA officials, the machines do amount to a “virtual strip search.” This is not an acceptable way for the United States to handle security with everyday citizens, even in a climate of concern about global terrorism. Again, a program based on behavior profiling, with full-body scans only being conducted with probable cause, is the only appropriate approach.
Regarding the pat-downs conducted for those who opt out of full-body scans: reports are now frighteningly common across the internet and news media that these searches are invasive enough to be considered sexual harassment or even sexual assault.
I travel by air at least twice a year with my wife and children (ages 5 and 3). I should not be forced to choose whether my children will be subject to irradiation or a potentially traumatic physical search.
The most important matter, and the real heart of the issue, is that the TSA’s new policies are a clear and blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution: “Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions.” There is absolutely nothing reasonable about either the use of backscatter X-ray machines on ordinary citizens or the invasive physical searches that TSA is conducting.
This simply cannot be allowed to continue in the United States. I am asking you as my elected representative to make these TSA practices a top priority for you until they are ended and the TSA understands the clear Constitutional limits on its authority.
I thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
andre | March 29th, 2011 at 5:50 am
Same experience at DFW airport at AA gate. The TSA agent wanted me to use backscatter, and I said opt out, I had to repeatedly refer to the opt out sign that was displayed at the line. Even then 2 TSA agents spend time trying to talk me out of it – outrageous disregard for opt out procedure. The patdown takes at least 2 minutes, instead of the usual half a minute that I have been subjected to upon numerous travels before. Did the TSA receceived instructions from device manufacturer to apply show off searches on those customers who dare to question the missing health certfication of L3 Communications equipment, to discourage others from opt out procedure. The good thing was that only AA gates has the L3 backscatter device – why not fly Delta and you wonth have to deal with these blatant disrespects for health concers. If two independent, and reliable underwriters (ie UL) certifies the device, and real persons, heads of their corresponding departments put their good name on line, then I would go, but I definetly would NOT take just Lehmans brothers “word” as the only evidence of non-harmful operation. TSA workers are not allowed to wear radiation dosimeter badges, even though they working entire day next to imaging devices. Checking of correct radiation intensity is only performed upon installation of scanner device, and alternatively if device has been moved around> There are no radiotion measurements on regular intervals during normal usage, which is blatant disregard of of the people subjected to the scanning, especially small children with the most risk of cancer during their remainder lifetime, if subjected to incorrect level of radiation by equipment defect or by operator mistake.