The TSA is wrong and I will not fly

Normally here I post on my interest in cooking and art and the things I care deeply about. This is still one of those things.

I have a round trip ticket I purchased to Atlanta for Christmas, to spend it there with my family, including my two nephews who I do not see much because they live very far from me. I have decided to call my airline, AirTran, and cancel my ticket because of the illegal policies of the TSA and I will not fly again until these policies are rescinded.

I was asked yesterday “well you have your ticket and you probably will not be made to go in the scanning machine or searched so what will it prove by cancelling your ticket.”

If this policy is not stopped now everyone will be made to go through these scans and searches. I am doing this for my nephews, for my family, for a promise I made to someone I loved, and watched die, to protect her daughter, and for me as a citizen of this country.

What this means to me now:

Missing out on Christmas with my family and seeing my nephews and interacting with them as their uncle. I will not ever have children of my own so I look upon those two boys as very special. I will not be participating in our family rituals, ties that bind us as a family.

What this means to me later:

I will not be visiting friends in Chicago or San Francisco as I had planned. I will not be going to Paris again, something I really had wanted to do more of.

Why the TSA policies are wrong and illegal:

The policy of the TSA to make people go through backscatter scanning machines and/or receive excessive bodily searches (seen as punishment for not going through the scanner) if an alarm is set off in a metal detector, or merely on the whim of a TSA agent is against the 4th Amendment protecting us against unlawful search and seizure. Security in an airport is important. This is not security. It does nothing to stop a potential terrorist.

That aside:

The scanners:

These machines were brought about through the lobbying efforts of Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security, appointed by then President Bush. His consulting firm represents one of the companies that manufacture these scanners.

TSA employees receive very little training in operating these machines, less than two weeks. An X-ray technician receives up to two years of training.

The TSA has no budget for maintenance of these machines, nor any yearly calibration scheduled, as machines in hospitals are required to have.

Whether the radiation dosage is as low as the FDA says, it is one dose fits all. Small children are not the same size as adults.

There is growing information these scanners have much higher yields of radiation than admitted to.

Doctors and scientists warn the people over 65, women, cancer survivors, people prone to cataracts, pregnant women, children should not go through these machines. My family meets many of those characteristics. This is due to how the radiation is delivered to the human body.

Yes you do receive radiation when flying from cosmic rays, this is a different type of radiation than backscatter radiation from these machines. Cosmic radiation is shielded to some extent by the plane itself, as well as the Earth, when flying at night. It is a voluntary choice to receive the radiation we do in our lives. Except for these scanners, and I believe shortly they will be mandatory in airports as well as eventually in train stations, bus stations, stadiums and other places where people congregate.

You are given shielding of some sort in a dentist, doctor’s office or hospital. Neither the people being scanned nor the TSA agents themselves are given any sort of shielding nor dosimeters to monitor exposure levels. In fact it looks like TSA agents are prohibited from these safety measures.

Michael Chertikoff and the scanner companies are now immune to prosecution from lawsuits arising over any health problems that may develop from these untested scanners. These suits can potentially come from HIPAA, OSHA as well as types of civil cases that make take years to be brought forth.

These scanners show the naked bodies of adults and children. This is against child pornography laws, right to privacy laws, health laws and common decency. While the machines are supposedly altered not to save scans of adults and children this is most likely an easy software change. And would the TSA not want evidence of someone carrying an illegal weapon or device when prosecuting them?

The body searches:

TSA agents are not required to change gloves between searches where they may touch your genitals and stick their hands down your pants. This can transfer illness from one person to another.

The kinds of people being searched it seems are, more often than not, well-endowed women, children, the elderly, people requiring wheelchairs, people wearing prosthetic limbs. Not to mention TS/TG people who should not have their privacy invaded either. These people are not terrorists, they are not going to be terrorists. They are customers of an airline service wanting to fly to see loved ones or go on business or vacation trips. Some say flying is not a right. The 4th Amendement is.

Children under 12 will now be subject to a modified bodily search though the TSA has not published what that entails. However last time I checked, children over 12 and under 18 are still considered minors and will still be subject to these searches.

These policies of the TSA are illegal, immoral and wrong and need to be stopped. Today, the 24th, the TSA has eased restrictions in order to make it look like those of us willing to fight this are silly or naïve or foolish and cause uninformed people to think everything has been blown out of proportion. If this policy is not stopped now it will spread to other forms of transportation and other parts of our lives. At that point I will work to give up my citizenship and move to another country.

This is my stand. Do what you wish, believe what you will. If this is less important a cause to you and you wish to spend time fighting Monsanto’s attempt to make it illegal for people to grow food in their backyards currently being legislated, or the cholera epidemic in Haiti or many of the other injustices of the world, that is ok – as long as you fight for what you know to be right about what you believe. I’ll fight for this. I’ll fight any time a child is put in danger or molested by our government. Especially if those children are three very very special people to me.

I am not a terrorist now, I do not plan on ever being one. I am now, however, considered by my government to be a ‘domestic extremist’ and due to my activities these last two weeks am probably on one or more watch lists. I do not need to prove my innocence to the government or some TSA agent with fewer than two weeks of training. People in this country were once innocent until proven guilty. And no this is not an anti-republican stand nor an anti-democratic one. I do not belong to either of those artificial modes of thought. The former regime put these policies in place, the current administration is letting them continue (especially one particular member of the government who was a constitutional and civil rights lawyer who could end this with one phone call but has chosen not to). Both parties, all the politicians who support it, and all Americans who do as well disappoint me.

I will be alone this Christmas and that will be ok by me because I am fighting for those I will not be with.

What I will do next:

Call each congressman and senator I have already spoken to who are trying to stop this injustice and thank them again and remind them they need to fight this.

Talk to at least one person a day about this, looking them in the eye and expressing what I feel to be the truth.

Speak to the airlines, travel group, hotels, on-line travel industry sites about the TSA policies and why I have made my choice.

I will leave comments open for this post but if you post anything hateful, infantile or illiterate I will delete it. If you cannot be civil or do not know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ or ‘lose’ and ‘loose’ I do not care to listen to you.


k's mumbo jumbo said...

That was wonderfully well written. Thank you for sharing.

Paul said...

Well said, and I agree with you completely. I will be driving, rather than flying, to my two destinations coming up in December.

Megan said...

The thought of anyone touching my nephews in that way makes me sick. I'm right behind you.

1amwendy said...

Beautifully and eloquently stated. I also canceled my Christmas flight (I will drive instead - from Michigan to Phoenix). Body scan machines are operational in two Federal courthouses already, and if we do nothing now we will not even be able to file suit without being violated.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you entirely. Eloquently written, and proud to be an American knowing there are other patriots like you willing to make a sacrifice for what they believe.

I too am canceling a flight planned for January. I was flying from CA to FL to attend my brother's wedding. Now, I am looking into alternatives, whether it be a four day train ride or a four day drive. Were it not for a wedding, I would have cancelled the trip entirely. I've told my family (who live in NJ and FL), that we will have to visit less frequently because I will not fly under these conditions. The government is denying my freedom of movement. It is egregious, and wholly unfair, but I will not be intimidated.

I have already written to my congressman, called my local airport and spoken to both the airport and TSA representative expressing my concerns, and emailed all the airlines I fly. I was polite but firm. I will not fly unless changes are made... and I was one of just 7% of Americans who fly more than once a year.

I just wanted you to know that there are others out there who feel just as strongly and we WILL get this policy changed.

And if you find an alternative country to live in, publish it. My homeland has become a scared group of nitwits willing to accept all kinds of government intrusion under a false veil of security. Our founding fathers would be appalled.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. Thank you. I also refuse to subject myself, and especially my children to this abuse, which clearly has great potential to spread to all areas of our lives. Now is the time to stop it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This is wonderfully and eloquently stated.

I have two small children and my nearest relatives aside from them live three days' drive from here. But we will not be flying.

The government via CPS would remove my children from me if I let strangers grope them or photograph them naked in any other context (Hell, parents have gotten in trouble for trying to have innocent pictures of their kids in the bath developed at Wal-Mart.) Yet, I'm supposed to stand back and tell them it's OK if it's done to them with full government approval and authority at a public airport.

I'm protesting this for my children because I don't want to have to answer to them someday about the 4th Amendemnt right we used to have and let slip away because we were too cowed by our own fear of something statistically less likely to happen to us than a lightening strike or dog bite.

Bevan said...

Very well written Todd and thank you. Wonderful food for thought.

Sunn Thunders said...

Thank you for your inspiring words...

Oonagh Taeger said...

Todd,thank you for taking up this fight. I agree about how essential it is. There are so many components here: the 4th Amendment; decency and privacy; treatment of both adults and children which will both cause new and restimulate old, sexual hurts; and systematically poisoning the traveling public with radiation. The health issues alone are boggling. The sexual violations alone are also boggling. Once again we are left scratching our heads at the notion that a few obscenely wealthy men are willing to cause unmeasurable suffering to fellow humans on a massive scale, just to become more obscenely wealthy. We cannot agree to be treated this way as Americans, or to have visitors to our country treated this way.

Anonymous said...

So glad to have found such an honest to goodness patriotic article! I told hubby would not be flying after this planned trip in December. Alternatives are few and far between Texas & California. Makes me so mad I want to scream with this unjustice!

Henry Cate said...

Do you have any suggestions on how to oppose the TSA's intrusive and abusive policies?

I plan to
1) Write my favorite airlines
2) Write my representatives
3) Write my local airports

Does anyone have any additional ideas on how to get the TSA to change?

todd said...

we are trying to figure that out henry. for now do not fly, convince others not to fly. talk to people about how this policy is illegal and an abuse of power. the TSA eased up today in order to stop protests and people from thinking about how terrible this policy is. mainstream media casts us as fools or just naive. this is not the case.

thank you to everyone who read this post and for your comments and encouragement. there will be more. i will post more as i learn myself what to do to resist this.

Anonymous said...

Very important information. Thank you, Todd. I hope things do change.

martha said...

Thank you Todd for pasing on this important information. I won't be flying until they recind these policies. It has been well stated here by yourself and others the health risks as well as the traumatic risks to our children and others. It is a true shame that out nation has come to this.