Give the TSA more power so it can grope and then arrest you?

Just what the USA does NOT need, more security theater by giving the TSA more power. Due to the 'dangerous' nature of TSA work, and the 'brutal' working conditions, some foolish folks want the TSA to go beyond groping to actually having the authority to arrest people.

The TSA Blog has posted the TSA Top 10 Good Catches of 2011 which includes stopping almost ninjas and almost snakes on a plane, but excuse me for not throwing the TSA a parade. After all, in case you missed it, Slashdot announced that TSA got everything it wanted to Christmas, including a $7.85 billion budget increase for 2012, 12 new VIPR teams, 140 new behavior detection officers and 250 shiny new body scanners. While some people are pushing The STRIP Act that would stop TSA officers "from wearing law enforcement uniforms and police-like badges and calling themselves officers unless they receive law enforcement training," other folks want to further empower TSA agents. Instead of just looking like a cops, some believe TSA agents should have the power to arrest citizens.

Some of you may know that I'm so not a TSA fan, but The Agitator drew my attention by posting "If You Love What Unions Have Done for Police Brutality . . . just wait until you read what labor activist/journalist Mike Elk has in mind for TSA. Elk thinks TSA agents should have arrest powers [due] to the 'dangerous' nature of their work. He also describes the TSA's working conditions as 'brutal'." So I read the aggravating post at In These Times — a site tagged 'with liberty and justice for all' — that claims the media's negative portrayal has hurt the TSA's bargaining power. Elk wrote:

While there has been a very high degree of concern among progressives about the search policies of TSA, the often brutal working conditions of 44,000 people charged with protecting our airports have largely gone unnoticed. If those conditions had received as much media attention as the search procedures they are charged with implementing, it's possible America's newly unionized airport screeners might have had a first contract by now. Instead, negotiations with the federal government continue.

It's a stunningly stupid idea to reward security theater by giving the TSA even more power to go beyond groping to arresting. Scary thought if TSA officials define what is disorderly conduct and what is assault before busting people who paid for an airline ticket — even though flying is allegedly a 'privilege.' Like we need our civil liberties to be further molested? And how dare us for wanting to kick the TSA program to the curb and instead privatize airport security? Conversely, I can much appreciate the stinging ridicule by Ken at Popehat. At one point, Ken wrote:

What else does Mike Elk want? Well, he wants Americans to adjust their priorities. Just as the TSA wants Americans to return to the days of unquestioning compliance, Mike Elk wants Americans to focus not so much on the fact that TSA agents are making money by subjecting them to demeaning and largely pointless searches, but on the fact that it's an unpleasant job, and agents need a better contract.

Meanwhile, the media that has allegedly so hurt the TSA is the same mainstream media that refused to tell a woman's story about how the TSA is eroding our civil liberties. In fact, Elk claimed, "TSA bars employees from responding directly to allegation of sexual harassment levied against individual employees." But as Techdirt reported, months ago Amy Alkon was subjected to an intrusive pat down by a TSA agent. After Alkon wrote about the humiliating experience, saying she felt like she's been raped by the TSA agent, that agent threatened Alkon with defamation. Mainstream media snubbed Alkon's op-ed piece, but do you know who did publish it? "Pravda. Yes, the rather infamous Russian publication."

While I fully encourage you to take a cyber trip to Russia in order to read Amy Alkon's story, here are two paragraphs that speak loudly to me about America's eroding civil liberties.

This country's Founding Fathers were a bunch of obnoxious jerks -- and I mean that in the most reverent way. These were men who were fiercely opposed to blind obedience to authority, and who laid their lives on the line to flip it the bird. Oh, how disappointingly -- and dangerously -- far we've fallen. Our Constitutional rights are increasingly being eroded -- at TSA checkpoints, at police stops where citizens are arrested for videotaping, and elsewhere -- and so many Americans are just sitting there blinking like livestock.

...

The TSA's main accomplishment seems to be obedience training for the American public -- priming us to be docile (and even polite) when ordered to give up our civil liberties. Not only does the TSA violate our Fourth Amendment rights, they've posted signs that effectively eradicate our First Amendment right to speak out about it. One such sign, in Denver International Airport, offers the vague warning that "verbal abuse" of agents will "not be tolerated." Travelers are left to wonder whether it's "verbal abuse" to inform the TSA agent with his latex-gloved hands on their testicles that this isn't making us safer, or are they only in trouble if they pepper their statement with obscenities? Not surprisingly, few seem willing to speak out and risk arrest.

For shame, big media, for failing this woman, although it is easy to understand why if you follow the money trail. However I did like and agree with what The Inquisitr's Wolff Bachner wrote:

Despite the fact that the TSA continues to fail at its mission and the Airline Industry is in the toilet, partly because passengers are sick and tired of being treated like criminals, there are no indications the TSA plans to change its methods and stop making travelers feel like actors in a bad porn movie. Many Americans have simply had enough and are quite happy to discover the charm and beauty in their own communities during vacation time, rather than go through another round of choosing between back scatter radiation or a "touch your junk" pat down. Meanwhile, we move another step closer towards a Police State and the economy suffers. We would hope the political elite who run the country might wake up to the fact that Americans are fed up, but then again, there hasn't been a really good miracle since Moses parted the Red Sea and Jesus fed the 5000 with five loaves and two fish.

Amen.

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