Tuesday, February 12, 2013

TSA is the First Front of Battle

Alot of what I am going to put on here is also posted on the West Seattle Blog.  I love that part of the city and have an apartment on Genesee Hill, near West Seattle Stadium.

It's time for the little people to rise up and disrupt TSA to the point that public opinion is so odiously heavy that even Congress must capitulate to the will of its employers. 

According to a Zogby poll, 61% of air travelers oppose the new procedures that have been invoked by the TSA, most notably the enhanced pat-downs.  50% believe that the pat-downs go to far.  What would make things easier for both the TSA and the travelers would be if the government would publish what a legal pat-down procedure is and what isn't legal.  However, so many sketchy searches are already under the bridge that if the actual procedures came out it would open TSA to an onslaught of litigation by disgruntled, overly fondled flyers or parents of children that received inappropriate touching during the process. 

I remember flying into Heathrow during the hieght of Irish terrorism threat during the mid 70s.  I received a full body search, that was infinitely more respectful, private, and appropriate than even some of the most modest of TSA searches.  As I have sought to discover what the actual SOP for TSA agents in regard to enhanced body "pat downs", the TSA website blogger, BOB, has been reticent to share that most important of information.

The fact that the public doesn't have the privilege of knowing what their rights are in regard to how far the TSA can go during a pat down is painful and makes Rand Paul's effort to scrap the TSA and produce a traveler's Bill of Rights so necessary.  I think understanding your individual rights would be the very first thing.  Maybe scrapping the Patriot Act would come next. 

The fact is, though, I don't believe that Congressman Rand's noble effort will come of anything because the Congress is not properly motivated to change the policies that are so fascist.  It is going to take some very bold and provocative civil disobedience to get the Congress to obey their constituents, even though the 61% (a landslide in any election) seem to be complaining on deaf ears and have their online demonstrations relegated to the purvue of conspiracy theory. 

My biggest issue is with the invasive pat downs.



Here we see a normal pat down that is being received amicably by the traveler.  There is no doubt that in any other circumstance, this kind of undue, intimate touching would be considered sexual assault.  61% of the people consider this sexual assault and dissapprove of the practice.  That number is insufficient to sway the TSA. 

There are a couple of precedents that could be taken in the form of civil disobedience.  It would require a little bit of personal sacrifice financially, emotionally, and possibly, legally.  However, such demonstrations would shake the nation.  

First, civil disobedience of the TSA must stop being isolated and individual.  These anecdotal incidents are opportunities for TSA Bob to debunk any wrongdoing by the agency and marginalize the individual.  Therefore, the demonstration must be massive and localized each time for optimum results.  The desired result should be the disruption of normal TSA procedures that draws attention to them and the odious things that they are doing.

Second, those acts must be secret and guerrilla in nature.  If the TSA has opportunity to prepare, they can bring law enforcement in, even if you haven't committed a crime.  Preparations must be off the grid...i.e. not on the internet or phones.  Snail mail is good, local word of mouth is best.  Much like public flash performances they must be grandious and impactful.

Third, those committed to the demonstration whether disobedient or not, must completely understand their rights in regard to TSA searches.  Because the demonstration must be recorded, it should be arranged that as many people as possible film the incident.  You will be told not to record.  Ignore this, TSA regulation 2.7 clearly says that as long as you are not interfering with normal procedure, you can film or photograph the process.  They do stipulate that Airports may have different rules.  My research has indicated that airports only have rules about commercial photography and not personal.  As long as whatever you film is not going to create commerce for you, according to the Supreme Court's definition, it is NOT commercial.  If your demonstration is effective enough though, there will be lots of filming and photography.

Another very important note, especially for large demonstrations, is that TSA is forbidden to physically restrain or detain someone.  It is written into their regs.  They will call the police to detain you.  However, if the onslaught of the demonstration is so huge, it would be impossible for the few police on duty to stop the number of demonstrating passengers.  I recommend at least 50 people participating...over a hundred is much better.  The more you have and the more coordinated you are, the better your result will be. 

I have two ideas.  One is demonstration...one is disobedience.

The first is 100 people arriving for security check all at once.  Each one opts out and instead of allowing the pat down, stripping completely naked for the TSA agents.  A precedent has already been set and a man who did this was exonerated from wrong doing, as being cooperative with TSA to a flaw.  This would require some bravery but it would be a great thing to do and if it happened across the country at ten or 15 airports, it would not only disrupt the TSA, it would be seared on the American media's concious.  It wouldn't be one person opting out.  It would be the harbinger of TSA's  real popularity.

The second is somewhat more risky and is truly civil disobedience. 

The same hundred people dress in disguise and identically, (see V for Vendetta) and arrive together at a security check point.  Everyone has their phone cameras out to record TSA reaction.  Instead of submitting to identification...the entire group walks right through the checkpoint into the terminal.  There will be a response by the police but they won't be able to restrain everyone.  Disguised people run into the restrooms and doff their disguises and come back into the terminal looking like everyone else who just got off the planes.  It is important to note that the camera part is important.  You want to see if TSA will abide by their rules on physical detention.  There should be an expectation of some arrests, but getting everyone will be nearly impossible.  The more people who participate in this, the more impacting it will be.  Unlike the nude protest, this should be isolated at one airport at a time.  Each time, a different airport, slowly, organically, bringing the pressure to Congress and the TSA to obey their employers, the American people.

I suggest these because I have seen the fiber of the American traveler starting to unravel.  They are prepared to take back their liberty.  This would be a great TeaParty project.  Once the TSA is leveled then we have precedent and a foothold on recovering our evaporating rights.

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