Thursday, March 10, 2011

TSA: Is This The Backlash We Need?

Behold history in the making: in anno Domini 2011, a mere 796 years after England's Magna Carta established that even kings must follow the law, American state legislators are starting to think mandates like "sexual assault is verboten" should apply to agents of the government, too.

Of course, that was always the case until the TSA (actual motivational motto: "Dominate. Intimidate. Control.") decided "ritualised humiliation of travelers" made an acceptable substitute for "transportation security."
That's the opening of my latest column in today's Guardian. But I confess to a bit of dishonesty in writing it: the column's tone sounds far more optimistic than my mood actually is.

Serious question, my fellow Americans: what the hell happened to our country? I have online news alerts set up to inform me whenever the media reports on the TSA anywhere in the land, and literally every single day my inbox fills with new atrocity stories, each of which would've been national front-page news before the US lost its collective mind. Now it's merely background noise, ignored and unnoticed by most. Maybe TSA is relying on an updated version of Josef Stalin's callous calculation: "One traveler sexually assaulted by a TSA agent is a tragedy. One million travelers sexually assaulted by TSA agents is a statistic."

Right now, in America, we have "actual elected lawmakers" -- Republican and Democrat both -- going up against "unelected political appointees" a la Janet Napolitano and John Pistole. The lawmakers have the Constitution and public opinion on their side; the appointed bureaucrats have neither.

Time was when I'd've confidently predicted, "A bipartisan coalition enjoying broad popular support and strong constitutional backing will surely triumph against a handful of bureaucrats gone wild." But where the abusiveness of a runaway TSA is concerned ... I don't know. I just don't know anymore.

14 Comments:

Blogger J sub D said...

But, but, but ...

9/11.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Lisa Simeone said...

Jennifer, fyi, from Forbes:

TSA Never Tested Full-Body Scans For Mass Transit, Except When It Did

http://blogs.forbes.com/andygreenberg/2011/03/09/tsa-never-tested-full-body-scans-for-mass-transit-except-when-it-did/

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Russ 2000 said...

Paraphrasing Lily Tomlin...

I'm a bureaucrat; I don't care, I don't have to.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Sommer Gentry said...

I am trying to console myself today by taking the long view. I believe that Americans will not stand for sexual abuse at checkpoints, but that most have somehow not realized what is happening in a visceral enough way to become activists. I just spoke with a woman, a frequent traveler, with a Ph.D. and a strong knowledge of her civil liberties, who was sexually assaulted by the TSA last month. My friend had no idea, no hint or inkling that the patdowns had changed until suddenly she had a stranger's hands all over her vagina. She just hadn't been paying attention. Of course, now she and I are plotting how to have our professional society respond officially to this worthless campaign of degradation, but until a few weeks ago she was silent. Give us time to organize, and we will stop these enemies and traitors to the American republic.

4:45 PM  
Blogger seavu7 said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for both your UK Guardian story and your blog. I feel like a third world citizen who hopes that reporters like you will get the word out to those in civilization, that we Americans are in dire straights and need help in regaining our rights. Thank you for your efforts on our behalf.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, don't give up...I'm trying so hard not to.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Marsha Browne said...

Please go to Facebook and see what's being posted on both the Boycott Flying and We Won't Fly pages. There are thousands of people now sufficiently roused to go public with their discontent (I am one of the vocal ones).

I've been writing frequently to every elected representative I can find, and one woman is writing daily to her congressional representatives to voice her displeasure. She's part of the group being most unfairly infringed by the actions of the government thugs who wear uniforms and hide behind the aegis of federal immunity as they do their dirty work.

Please encourage everyone to not give up their Constitutionally granted rights -- when they do, they give up mine, too.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Allen said...

I actually think this is just a symptom of something larger. I agree that the TSA is abomnable, and run amuck. They seem to be a law to themselves as we've seen over the last few years. And it only seems to be growing.
What I want to know is How the DHS came to be. "W" presented it as a Fait Accompli along with the Patriot Act. I think to treat the cough without treating the runny nose will get us where?
Who benefits from the creation of the DHS, and then, the TSA? Why did Pistole stop the private screener program? and who will benefit on the Hill from the status quo? Likewise what will they have to stand to gain before they will take serious action??

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these issues. I liked your Guardian article, and thought it was a place to start.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Allen said...

I actually think this is just a symptom of something larger. I agree that the TSA is abomnable, and run amuck. They seem to be a law to themselves as we've seen over the last few years. And it only seems to be growing.
What I want to know is How the DHS came to be. "W" presented it as a Fait Accompli along with the Patriot Act. I think to treat the cough without treating the runny nose will get us where?
Who benefits from the creation of the DHS, and then, the TSA? Why did Pistole stop the private screener program? and who will benefit on the Hill from the status quo? Likewise what will they have to stand to gain before they will take serious action??

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these issues. I liked your Guardian article, and thought it was a place to start.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Allen said...

I actually think this is just a symptom of something larger. I agree that the TSA is abomnable, and run amuck. They seem to be a law to themselves as we've seen over the last few years. And it only seems to be growing.
What I want to know is How the DHS came to be. "W" presented it as a Fait Accompli along with the Patriot Act. I think to treat the cough without treating the runny nose will get us where?
Who benefits from the creation of the DHS, and then, the TSA? Why did Pistole stop the private screener program? and who will benefit on the Hill from the status quo? Likewise what will they have to stand to gain before they will take serious action??

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these issues. I liked your Guardian article, and thought it was a place to start.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The TSA checkpoints are merely a physical manifestation of that other checkpoint: April 15. Americans have learned to accept that so completely, that they would feel unsafe without it.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had anyone dared to uncover the nakedness of their wives and daughters, George Washington would have put a mini-ball in their elitist skulls, and George Patton would have rolled over the fascists with an armored division. This is what happens when a nation gets fat, dumb and neutered .

1:26 PM  
Anonymous the innominate one said...

I'm flying to Puerto Rico next week. Really looking forward to a fondling at no extra charge. I'd rather have a lap dance, but that wasn't an option.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Simeone said...

So many don't seem to care about the thousands of women who've been assaulted at airports, so maybe this story of a man will get through to the thick skulls. Note the sadist's exhortation to "have fun":

"I cried through the whole experience"

http://www.elliott.org/blog/i-cried-through-the-whole-experience/

Wake the hell up, America. When are you going to wake up?

2:12 PM  

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