by Ron Paul
The press reports are horrifying: 95 year-old women humiliated;
children molested; disabled people abused; men and women subjected to
unwarranted groping and touching of their most private areas;
involuntary radiation exposure. If the perpetrators were a gang of
criminals, their headquarters would be raided by SWAT teams and armed
federal agents. Unfortunately, in this case the perpetrators are armed
federal agents. This is the sorry situation ten years after the
creation of the Transportation Security Administration.
The requirement that Americans be forced to undergo this appalling
treatment simply for the "privilege" of traveling in their own country
reveals much about how the federal government feels about our
liberties. The unfortunate fact that we put up with this does not speak
well for our willingness to stand up to an abusive government.
Many Americans continue to fool themselves into accepting TSA abuse by
saying "I don't mind giving up my freedoms for security." In fact, they
are giving up their liberties and not receiving security in return.
Last week, for example, just days after an elderly cancer victim was
forced to submit to a cruel and pointless TSA search, including removal
of an adult diaper, a Nigerian immigrant somehow managed stroll through
TSA security checks and board a flight from New York to LA -- with a
stolen, expired boarding pass and an out-of-date student ID as his sole
identification! He was detained and questioned, only to be released to
do it again 5 days later! We should not be surprised to find
government ineptitude and indifference at the TSA.
At the time the TSA was being created I strongly opposed federalization
of airline security. As I wrote in an article back in 2001:
"Congress should be privatizing rather than nationalizing airport
security. The free market can and does produce excellent security in
many industries. Many security-intensive industries do an outstanding
job of maintaining safety without depending on federal agencies.
Nuclear power plants, chemical plants, oil refineries, and armored
money transport companies all employ private security forces that
operate very effectively. No government agency will ever care about the
bottom-line security and profitability of the airlines more than the
airlines themselves. Airlines cannot make money if travelers and flight
crews are afraid to fly, and in a free market they would drastically
change security measures to prevent future tragedies. In the current
regulatory environment, however, the airlines prefer to relinquish all
responsibility for security to the government, so that they cannot be
held accountable for lapses in the future."
What we need is real privatization of security, but not phony
privatization with the same TSA screeners in private security firm
uniforms still operating under the "guidance" of the federal
government. Real security will be achieved when the airlines are once
again in charge of protecting their property and their passengers.
In the meantime, this week I am introducing the American Traveler
Dignity Act, which establishes that airport security screeners are not
immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person,
making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the
use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they
are not above laws the rest of us must obey. As we continue to see
more and more outrageous stories of TSA abuses and failures, I hope
that my colleagues in the House will listen to their constituents and
join with me to support this legislation.