I haven't spent much time talking about the TSA. Unlike my good American Mark Bennett, I still fly. I have plenty of other things that invoke my anger, but the recent allegations of a strip search of some old lady at JFK Airport have caused me to write.
I write not to express outrage at the notion that airport security would ask some old lady to take her pants off, I write to ask what the point is in even talking about it?
What's the point of pounding the keyboard to rant about the unbelievable power of TSA and the cowards in Congress who allow it to continue?
Very little will ever change.
TSA can do whatever they want because our air transportation system has had no terrorist attacks since 9/11/01. As long as that stat remains, they can do whatever they want. If they want to make changes to their search tactics, they can do that, but no elected member or members of Congress are going to say something like "enough with the old ladies and kids."
The fear is that one day a terrorist group will use an old lady or 5 year old kid to bring down a 747, and then of course the member of Congress who advocated reasonableness in airport security will be defeated at the voting booth. And no one wants to be defeated at the voting booth. No one.
The philosophy of TSA is simple - everyone is a potential terrorist. Everyone.
Last week I was at Tampa International Airport where in front of me was some middle aged mom with her husband. She clearly looked like she was headed to see her kids for the weekend or some other non-terrorist activity. But, yes, Al-Queda could have recruited her and deep inside those mom jeans could have been a device ready to kill everyone on their way on a Friday morning from Tampa to Toledo.
TSA spent a lot of time with her - gloves, questions, pat downs. No discretion, no reasonable thought. It was just, "let's check out this mom so no one thinks they get a pass just because they are wearing a knit sweater and their luggage tag has a picture of 2 dogs."
TSA has now apologized, kind of to Ms. Zimmerman. "Sorry." It was a finely crafted (bullshit) apology):
TSA contacted the passenger to apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening; however, TSA does not include strip searches in its protocols and a strip search did not occur in this case" said a spokesman for TSA.
"Sorry you feel being asked to take off your pants was a strip search you old bag, perhaps you should look up the legal and technical definition of a strip search before you accuse us of strip searching you just because your pants were off you stupid old lady."
There was no video, so TSA initially did their perfect "no video" response by denying everything. Perhaps they thought everyone would believe this woman took her pants off voluntarily. They are the TSA and they are keeping us safe and when you keep us safe, we believe everything you say. Everything. Just keep keeping us safe by making us take our cash out of our pockets.
I know there are people who think that it's important that we continue to write about these disgusting tactics of TSA, and I'm not saying it's' not. But I do hope we all know that the TSA doesn't care. They can do whatever they want, and they do.
Non-anonymous comments welcome.Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Post to Twitter
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