To Pre or Not to Pre

Fact #1 – I travel a lot for work. In the next five weeks it is unlikely that I will spend ten nights at home with my beautiful wife and kids. This is not meant as a plea, but only to emphasize the first sentence of this post.

Fact #2 – I am also a staunch Libertarian. I am running for Texas State Senate. This is not plea for money, but only to emphasize this second point.

It is these two facts which have caused me some personal conflict. Because most of my travel requires air transport, I am intimately familiar with the TSA. I am guessing that by now you see the challenge.

In any case, about three months ago I received an email from American Airlines asking me if I would like to sign up for the TSA’s Pre program. This program allows travelers to register with the TSA and undergo a background check. In exchange, travelers get to go through a lower security regimen at airport security.

If an airport has the Pre line (and my home airport of DFW does), you can cut right to the security gate where you do not have top take off your shoes or remove your computer or liquids from your travel cases. Instead, your bags are x-rayed and you walk through a metal detector only, no micro scanning (and therefore no naked pictures). Basically, this is the same security procedure as existed on September 10, 2001.

Now the dilemma:

To Pre, or not to Pre: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The pokes and prods of outrageous agents,
Or to take arms against a sea of lawyers,
And by opposing end them? To Pre: to bypass;
No more; and by a bypass to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand unnatural scans
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d.  

My TSA Protest

As many of you know, I am an American Airlines Platinum level frequent flyer. As such, I am very familiar with TSA policies and procedures from a gropee passenger perspective. Honestly, it saddens me every time I have to go through security.

As a former New Yorker that lived just outside of Manhattan in September of 2001, seeing the TSA pat downs and electronic screenings is a constant reminder that the terrorists did more than damage buildings and murder almost 3,000 people. They, in a sense, have won. Our Liberties have been eroding ever since especially with the passage and continued renewal of the Orwellian-named USA PATRIOT Act.

I wanted to share with you a small act of peaceful protest that I carry out each time I am asked to go through the microscanners.

I do not opt out. Doing so would subject me to the groping and in many cases make me late for my flight. Instead I hold a bound copy of the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution that I purchased from the CATO Institute over my head. (Please note that you are allowed to hold papers in your hands. Most people hold their boarding pass or government issued ID.)

After passing through I hand it to the TSA agent at the exit where they are required to flip though it. For their convenience, I have highlighted the Fourth Amendment. Most officers hand it back with saying a word. I fear, however, the sad irony is lost them.

The good news is I am hopeful that all this might be coming to an end in the near future. Texas State Senator Dan Patrick introduced a bill which would outlaw the groping. It unanimously passed through committee, but when the TSA weighed in by saying they would create a “No-Fly Zone” in Texas, it died before the end of the legislative session. All is not lost as this week, the bill seemed to make a comeback. What is needed is for Governor Rick Perry to have the courage to request it be considered during the special session of the Texas Legislature.

Here’s hoping! Until then, I have my pocket copy ready to roll.

I think I found the problem with TSA

SFO SignOn a recent return trip from the Bay Area, I snapped this photo as I was exiting the pornographic photo booth, aka the “security checkpoint.”

Aside from the general warning that your Fourth Amendment rights can be violated again at any time without your consent, the last line reads, “Your safety is our priority”.

There’s the problem! It should read, “Your rights are our priority.”