TSA security pat downs going too far

Freedom New Mexico

Americans have been upset at the extreme security measures imposed at airports by the Transportation Security Administration. YouTube videos show passenger pat-downs — with touching that appears far too intrusive — have been done on children and a former Miss USA. The latest controversy involves 95-year-old Lena Reppert, suffering from leukemia. June 18, TSA officers in Florida made her remove her Depends adult diaper to clear security.

TSA officials said the removal was not necessary. But MSNBC reported a different story from daughter Jean Weber, who was moving her mother to a medical facility. “My choices were to remove the Depends or not have her clear security,” Weber said.

When the Christian Science Monitor asked TSA Administrator John Pistole about searching grandmothers, he replied, “I hope no grandmother would ever be … a suicide bomber, (but) there have been two 64-year-olds who have committed suicide attacks… Where do you draw the line?” He was referring to attacks in Israel, not on airplanes at U.S. airports, where no such incidents by 95-year-old grandmothers have occurred; and where detection equipment would locate such explosives. This is a typical bureaucratic response — to increase government power.

Last month in several Texas lawmakers tried to do something about abusive security measures. Prodded by Tea Party activists, they pushed a bill through the state Senate that would have banned these pat-downs of passengers, except when there is probable cause. The bill “was included by the governor in the special session of the Legislature,” Mark Lisheron told us; he’s Austin Bureau Chief of Texas Watchdog, a state journalism center. “The Senate passed the bill and said, ‘Take it or leave it.’ The Assembly didn’t like it. They decided to do nothing about it. The bill is dead.”

Well, yes, the state Senate’s stand was largely a symbolic act given the TSA is a federal agency. Should the bill have become law, the TSA threatened to impose a “no-fly zone” over Texas.

Still, Lisheron said, it was a victory for the Tea Party, which “did a terrific job” in putting the issue before the press — which magnified the issue across the state and country.

The point is that people are fighting back against what the Fourth Amendment bans as “unreasonable searches and seizures” and saying that in the question of security versus freedom, the intrusive pat-downs are a step too far.

We hope this issue takes an important place in the presidential race next year. Which Republican candidates will call for banning the pat-downs?