Monday, October 3, 2011

America’s disgust with the TSA could be an issue in the 2012 presidential race

The United States has always prided itself on its principles of personal freedom. But reactionary politics after 9/11 have created a police state at our nation’s airports. And that mindset is spreading into other sectors of American life.
Under the guise of greater security, American citizens have seen their constitutional rights eroded. If you want to fly a commercial airline today, you lose your Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. That amendment states that people have a right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” unless there is probable cause of criminal activity.
But today blue-gloved agents of the U.S. government, working for the Transportation Security Administration, can grope you in full-body pat-downs, take X-ray images to see what you look like under your clothes, and dig through your personal belongings at will at the nation’s airports.
A famous quote from Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is appropriate here: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty, to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
The TSA is an example of the expanding scope of the government into the lives of its citizens. The mandate under President Obama’s sweeping health-care law that citizens must buy health insurance or face penalties is another.
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has been gaining supporters in his Republican presidential bid with calls for smaller government. Paul says he would abolish the TSA and privatize airline security. He believes the agency has infringed on the privacy rights of passengers while doing little to keep the country safe, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Associated Press reported Monday that Paul is “proving to be a force in the 2012 contest.” While few believe he will capture the GOP nomination, he could play spoiler to early front-runners Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the AP says.
Republican candidates should pay more attention to libertarian voters and less courting of the religious right, if they want to win next year.
A citizens’ petition on the White House website to abolish the TSA has garnered nearly 25,000 digital signatures. It only needed to get 5,000 signatures to be submitted for review and get an official response, according to Forbes. The White House says it will respond to the petition to abolish the TSA in a “few weeks,” Forbes says.
Meanwhile the TSA’s Gestapo tactics have caught on with metropolitan police departments who harass and arrest journalists and citizens who try to videotape their officers in public. (See articles on Gizmodo and Techdirt.)
And the National Football League this year is instituting TSA-style pat-downs at stadiums before games.
This has got to stop.

Art: Terrific political cartoon by Ben Garrison of Grrrgraphics.com.

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