Here’s a great story by Randall Holcombe at the Independent Institute about Michael Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, who refused to submit to the TSA’s new “virtual strip search” (Advanced Imaging Technology) machine, and the alternative secondary screening of being frisked. Mr. Roberts maintains that these procedures amount to “unreasonable searches” as defined by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment reads: “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.”
What is the probable cause being invoked when TSA agents confiscate toothpaste and shampoo from passengers? The whole screening process is something of a joke – instead of looking for dangerous people or substances, they are patting down old ladies in wheelchairs, and having us take off our shoes and belts. As Holcombe notes, the major reason for these silly policies is so the TSA can justify their existence by routinely “finding things.”
The only reason I can see for the TSA policy on liquids, gels, and aerosols, is that it allows them to catch violators with some regularity. If they were only looking for guns, knives, box cutters, and bombs, they would almost never find anything, and surely their senses would be dulled going day after day after day looking for something that’s never there. But with their current policies, they can find all sorts of things that aren’t threats at all, but do violate their policies.
Holcombe is right in congratulating Roberts for taking a stand on his Constitutional rights – at the risk of losing his job.Read the whole thing here