The Fightback Against TSA Tyranny Begins (Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The GuardianAt last, lawmakers are heeding the call of ordinary Americans to defend them from the TSA’s invasive infringements of liberty
Behold history in the making: in AD 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.” Last year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) started pushing nude scanners on the American flying public. These require travellers to adopt surrender-criminal body positions – feet apart, hands in the air, don’t move – while potentially carcenogenic radiation generates nude images graphic enough to permit TSA agents to see travellers’ genitalia (though not, apparently, clear enough to show guns smuggled in travellers’ undies).
If you refuse to be scanned – or if the scan shows a medical prosthetic, sanitary napkin or anything else that catches a TSA agent’s eye – you must endure a groping that would land you on the sex offenders’ register if you did it to anyone else. Last month, when Alaska state representative Sharon Cissna submitted to the scan, a TSA agent noticed her mastectomy scars and singled her out for a patdown. Cissna chose to miss her flight and take a ferry home rather than allow the “invasive, probing hands of a stranger” to invade her privacy.
Last week, however, state legislators in Texas and New Hampshire introduced legislation identifying TSA behaviour as the criminal activity it is. (Similar bills have already been proposed in New Jersey, but are currently stalled in committee.) The Texas bill, co-written by a Republican and a Democrat with support from 20 other legislators spanning the political spectrum, would ban the scanners in state airports, and add TSA-style grope-downs to the list of “sexual assault” offences in the penal code. The New Hampshire bill would make “the touching or viewing with a technological device of a person’s breasts or genitals by a government security agent without probable cause a sexual assault.” The TSA has completely ignored those two words – probable cause – since its inception.
One of the New Hampshire bill’s co-sponsors, Representative Andrew Manuse, wrote an op-ed explaining why he supports it: