The following comment was too long for the TSA Blog, so I decided to post here instead since it needs to be said. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that Ms. Alkon is right or wrong. I think there are less destructive ways of dealing with the TSA’s extra-constitutional policies than yelling and making a scene. I’m also not saying she’s completely wrong. To be honest, I didn’t know who she was until I read about her on the TSA blog. This is the same agency that thinks a candle shaped like a grenade is somehow a problem (which gets into my 5th amendment explanation below).
I have all sorts of issues with your “response” to Ms. Alkon’s post. I assume Alkon is an American citizen so I’m going to tailor my response based on that assumption. So, let me tackle these point by point.
“In her latest screening incident, she’s angry because a supervisor wouldn’t give her the name of an officer who had just screened her. An officer who – by the way – by all accounts other than Ms. Alkon’s, did her job by the book.” Whether she did her job “by the book” or not is irrelevant here. The fact is that the TSA agent is a public employee and we have a right to know the names of those chartered with protecting (re: violating our 4th and 5th amendment rights) us. How hard is it just to say, “My name is Sue” if nothing was done wrong. If I demand the full name of a police officer pulling over on the highway, I’m entitled to that information as well, even if it’s beyond a shadow of a doubt I was doing 25 mph over the speed limit.
“she began making statements such as ‘TSA gets paid to molest passengers and touch their private areas.’ Does that sound like somebody who wants to get through the checkpoint smoothly?” Out of this entire blog post, this is the one I have the most trouble with. Does the TSA or doesn’t it support the United States Constitution? It’s a very simple question with only one of two answers: yes or no. If no, it explains this blog post in its entirety. If yes, then this statement makes no sense. So, Americans that express their personal opinions about government officials can only go through the TSA “smoothly” if they they just go along with everything they’re told to do without question? That sounds quite authoritarian to me. “If you resist, we will treat you differently. If you make fun of us, we will treat you differently. If you don’t get in lockstep with our every order we will not act professionally, but like little children who didn’t get our way. I find this response to unprofessional and, frankly, childish.
“It’s acceptable to opt out [of advanced imaging technology], but the standard protocol when a passenger opts out is that they receive a pat-down not a free pass through security.” This is probably the crux of Ms. Alkon’s (and, I assume many other Americans’) frustrations with the TSA. I know that it may be against TSA policy to quote the constitution here, but if I may have that liberty:
4th Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
So, what is the probably cause of forcing every single person through a body scanner? Where is the warrant? The only reason this is still even possible is because the Supreme Court has refused to take on the issue so far. However, if more Americans challenged these practices to completion, I’m willing to bet the Court would rule such actions unconstitutional based on the “probable cause” clause alone.5th Amendment: “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use.” The TSA is a major violator of the 5th Amendment. How many times have they taken one’s shampoo, toothpaste, or soft drinks without compensation? How many times have they detained someone for standing up for their 4th Amendment rights only to have their 5th Amendment rights violated? People with grenade-looking belt buckles – that are OBVIOUSLY not real grenades, parts of real grenades, or even able to do anything but hold up your pants – have their property taken away, even though there is ZERO danger in this piece of metal. It’s just shaped like an object the TSA doesn’t like. But back to this statement: “Part of what makes this country great is that we can openly complain on blogs such as this one.” Sure you can openly complain, but as TSA Bob has stated here, if you do you’re going to face harsh pat-down and “special” treatment. You definitely won’t get through the line “smoothly” because you’re really not allowed to “openly complain.”
“After all, these individuals are doing the job the way they’ve been trained to do it. They show up to work daily with the intent of protecting our Nation’s transportation network.” This apparently involves stealing passengers’ iPads, money, and other personal effects. It involves patting down frightened little children and forcing the elderly to sit in their own urine. It involves irradiating mothers’ milk. In other words, the job of the TSA isn’t to protect Americans from dangerous people, but to make Americans into dangerous people through their actions.
“I can also assure you that reoccurring allegations like hers seem to be more self perpetuated rather than based upon reality and do nothing but detract from the mission at hand.” This is a silly statement in its entirety. If an “infinitesimal” number of employees are aware of her, you can bet more just found out. For such a small issue from a virtually unknown blogger (especially to me), the TSA has just gleefully given her plenty of free advertising and awareness.