Thursday, November 18, 2010

ACLU Announces TSA Complaint Website

Here's a link to the ACLU online TSA complaint form:

From the ACLU's emailed announcement:
Dear ACLU Supporter,

Tell Secretary Napolitano to implement security measures that ensure passenger privacy.

Planning to fly this holiday season? You've probably already braced yourself for long lines, delays and extra fees just to check your luggage.

Unfortunately, you can also expect another hassle at the airport this year. 70 airports around the country are now using controversial body scanners—also known as "naked scanners." These machines use low-dose radiation to produce strikingly graphic images of passengers' bodies, essentially taking a naked picture as passengers pass through security checkpoints.

Yes, authorities at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) say you can opt out of the naked scan. But doing so will subject you to new and highly invasive manual searches of your body, including your breasts, buttocks and inner thighs.

All of us have a right to travel without such crude invasions of our privacy. Tell DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to put in place security measures that respect passengers' privacy rights.

The government is also violating travelers' privacy in another way: by searching and seizing the laptops and other electronic devices of international travelers. Never before in history have customs officers been able to routinely pour through a lifetime's worth of letters, photographs, purchase records and other data. This enormous invasion of privacy peers into people's lives in a way that has never been done before.

There's already an outcry building over all of these new searches. In fact, travelers and the ACLU have pushed back before against invasive screening, and the TSA quietly retreated back to a lighter touch. But if we want to stop these invasive practices, we've got to put our voices together.

Tell DHS to rein in these invasive, out-of-control searches and to implement security measures that ensure passenger privacy.

The ACLU has prepared a useful guide to help you navigate your options at the airport. It details ways to protect your privacy during air travel. It also describes how to file official complaints about any TSA trouble you encounter. View it here.

If you think your rights have been violated while you're traveling, please let us know about it. Just fill out this form online to share your story.

You shouldn't have to check your rights when you check your luggage. With the holiday travel season fast approaching, we need to make sure that security measures are in place that actually make us more secure without compromising passenger privacy.

Please write Secretary Napolitano today.

Thanks for speaking out,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
© ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004
I was surprised Romero didn't make explicit reference to the Fourth Amendment from the Bill of Rights in his email. Sounds like the relevant text in this regard, so here it is:
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.
The issues of reasonableness and of probable cause have been ignored, IMHO, because of political paranoia about charges of Islamophobia--with the result that worse injustice has been done to a larger population, the violation of the Fourth Amendment by treatment of ordinary citizens as potential criminals. Unreasonable searches and seizures, without probable cause, have become routine, as a result.

I hope the ACLU litigates this matter on behalf of ordinary airline passengers, in order to end unwarranted police-state tactics by the federal government...

Bottom Line for the TSA, and I hope ACLU: Reasonable search and seizure with probable cause: OK. Unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause: NOT.

UPDATE: More reaction from Tools of Renewal:
I am writing this because I just read about John Tyner’s TSA experience. He refused to have his genitals grabbed by TSA screeners, and they forced him to miss a flight. They even manufactured a bogus lawsuit threat, ordering him to leave the airport and then telling him he would be fined and sued if he obeyed. They acted the way threatened bureaucrats always act. The way the Founding Fathers had seen colonial bureaucrats act, prior to the Constitutional Congress.

One commenter on Tyner’s blog said he was making a big fuss over a brief grope. Here is what another commenter said: “Anonymous 3:22: it probably seemed excessive for Rosa Parks to risk arrest over a bus seat.”

Exactly. I guarantee you, there were people who said Rosa Parks was crazy. All she had to do was sit in the back of the bus. She would have arrived at her destination at the same time as the white people up front. She wasn’t even required to let a stranger feel her breasts. But she was right. Dignity matters. A good deal of the Bill of Rights exists purely to protect our dignity. And dignity is exactly what we gave up when we agreed to be photographed naked and allow TSA agents to handle our children’s crotches.

Ask yourself if George Washington would have let the TSA feel up Martha.

Liberals like to tell us “slippery slope” arguments are nonsense, but of course, that’s wrong. The Jews in Germany and Austria lost their rights incrementally. We went from a modest Social Security system to a bankrupt socialist ponzi scheme incrementally. The “slippery slope” concept exists because it has been proven right, time and again. We are seeing it now, in our airports. If you will let a stranger palm your wife’s crotch, what exactly would it take to offend you?

Just blow me up. Really. Kill me. Today. How bad can death be? I am not that scared of it. I ride motorcycles. I’ve flown in private planes. The other day I ate tomato sauce from a dubious can, just because I didn’t want to drive to the store. I’m not that scared of death. A low risk of death is preferable to certain repeated humiliation.

If you think things are bad now, wait until the first rectum bomb goes off on a plane. I guarantee you, most Americans will gladly submit to random rectal exams. When we reach that point, consider me grounded. Eventually, you have to put a firm price on your dignity. I don’t like the idea of being molested just so I can have a short vacation, and when they reach the stage where they’re looking inside anuses and vaginas, there will be no destination I consider sufficiently tempting. Seriously, if I offered you a ticket to California in exchange for letting me sodomize you, would you go for it?

I’ve always been like this. When I was in college, I thought fraternities were disgusting because they made young men strip naked and perform in gay rites.

I can’t wait to see what the next “necessary” violation will be. I don’t think Americans have the guts to stand up to the TSA, so I think the abusive searches will continue, and that will encourage the government, and they’ll go ahead and make things worse.

John Tyner is an inspiration. I don’t have a tenth of the character he has. People like John Tyner are our only hope of an acceptable quality of life in the future. Let the commenters criticize him. Capos criticized people who resisted the Nazis, and history passed judgment. History will be very kind to our John Tyners. It always has.
And from
The proponents of the Security State — and the people who make their living from it — think just shut up and obey. Take the blogger Mom vs. the World, a former TSA agent. Even though she questions the value of the scanners, and even though she thinks the enhanced pat-downs are bullshit, she remains captured by the TSA mindset. Her view of the proper relationship between the state and the citizen is typified by her post Shut Up And Get In The Scanner. Aside from asserting, basically, that what should really embarrass us is not being scanned or groped, but the fact that we’re a pack of quarreling, vibrator-carrying, trash-dressing, child-abusing trailer trash, she offers this:

Flying is a privilege not a right. As such, it can be and is regulated. Requirements can and are set up to ensure that everyone who flies is safe. If you don’t like it, then don’t fly. You may not be as concerned as the next guy about the safety or you may be more concerned. Point is the job of TSA is to ensure the entire traveling public is safe not just you. TSA officers don’t care what you as an individual want, they can’t, it just isn’t possible. You may be ok with lax security but what about the next passenger who wants thorough security?

Your right to privacy isn’t being violated at all. You always have the option to drive a car, take a train, grab the bus or start rowing a boat. You do not have to fly, you just want to fly. The minute you decide you want to fly then you have to accept that security is involved and you are going to have consent and submit to it period the end.

Now if you want to fly, suck it up and accept that you have to submit to the security procedures. Yes you think they are stupid or unnecessary but TSA officers and TSA don’t care what you think. They try to make it all warm and fuzzy but they can’t because it is security not a trip to Disney World. Shut up and get in the scanner or don’t fly.

Well, “Mom”, if flying is a “privilege, not a right,” it’s because over the last century we have gradually accepted the proposition that anything the government tells us it can regulate, it can regulate. Unlike “Mom”, Justice Stewart knows a right when he sees it: “The constitutional right to travel from one State to another . . . occupies a position fundamental to the concept of our Federal Union. It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized.” Of course, rights are subject to limitations. Should the right to travel be limited by forced subservience to groping for purposes of Security Theater?

Now, I’m not saying that Mom is herself a perverted thug, like the people she’s saying we should just obey. I’m saying that she’s a sneering, entitled apologist for perverted thugs — and for the canine, un-American value of slobbery submission to the state. Even though she concedes that the groping is retaliatory bullshit, and even though she has no basis to assert that Security Theater actually increases real security, she’s deeply resentful that people are not putting up with it. Her righteous anger — like the anger of of the TSA thugs groping just a little bit harder to punish you for saying no to the body scanner — is the result we should expect from the small-time thugs whose identity is tied up in their petty authority.

Throughout my career — both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney — I’ve observed a consistent inverse relationship: the more petty a government officer’s authority, the more that officer will feel a need to swagger and demand that you RESPECT HIS AUTHORITAH. Your average FBI agent might search your house based on a crappy perjured warrant, invade your attorney-client emails, and flush your life down the toilet by lying on the stand at your mail fraud trial. But he doesn’t feel a need to vogue and posture to prove anything in the process. He’s the FBI. But God above help you when you run into the guy with a badge from some obscure and puny government agency with a narrow fiefdom. He and his Napoleon syndrome have got something to prove. And he’s terrified that you’ll not take him very, very seriously. When I call FBI agents on behalf of my clients, they’re cool but professional and nonchalant. When I call a small agency — say, state Fish & Game, or one of the minor agency Inspector Generals — they’re hostile, belligerent, and so comically suspicious that you’d think I was asking for their permission to let my client smuggle heroin into the country in the anuses of handicapped Christian missionary orphans. They are infuriated, OUTRAGED, when a client asserts rights, when a client fails to genuflect and display unquestioning obedience. They are, in short, the TSA.

The media is trying out the story-of-the-week that the populace is revolting against the TSA, and against Security Theater. It might even be a little bit true.

It’s about godammed time.