Jim Terry
November 21, 2010
Assault by any other name
By Jim Terry

A couple of years ago my son-in-law recommended a procedure for airline security. As a passenger enters the secure area before boarding a flight, he or she must undress in the privacy of a dressing booth. The clothes and effects would then be searched and sealed in a bag. The passenger would then be given a hospital gown and slippers to wear on the flight.

To enhance safety, airline seats would be equipped with those bars used in roller coasters, which, when locked shut, would deny a passenger mobility. Stuck in a seat with no freedom to move about dressed in a hospital gown would probably stop a terrorist or hijacking event on an airplane.

Of course, there are other considerations. Potty chairs, perhaps.

That was all in jest as he pondered how to avert shoe bombers and such.

Now, we have a government justifying its actions, in the name of security, performing assault on its citizens. Black's Law Dictionary defines assault: "In criminal law and tort law, the threat or use of force on another that causes that person to have a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact."

Under any other circumstance, actions reported to be taking place at American airports by agents of the United States government would be criminal assault and in some jurisdictions, sexual assault.

There is no doubt what TSA agents are currently doing meets the legal definition of assault because the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called the pat-downs offensive — to Islamic Law — and tell their women they should only be touched around the head and neck.

Apparently no Christian, Jewish, Hindu or other religious groups have protested that new groping procedures are offensive and violative of their moral codes. Not that it would matter to the current administration.

I have been patted down at an airport as a randomly selected passenger. That was several years ago and the agent used a very passive frisk. The offensive part of that was I am a senior, white American. I haven't read of any terrorist activities, other than voting for Republicans, my demographic population has entered into.

In the clamor created by Transportation Security Administration's new assault policy, supported by Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, I have yet to read or hear how this change in procedures came about. The TSA issued a statement on October 28:

    TSA is in the process of implementing new pat-down procedures at checkpoints nationwide as one of our many layers of security to keep the traveling public safe. Pat-downs are one important tool to help TSA detect hidden and dangerous items such as explosives.

But that statement didn't warn new pat down procedures would be criminal assault nor did it state the sudden need for increased security.

No public statements by TSA, reported on its web site, discuss its new pat-down procedure. Only the benign statement of October 28, and an equally benign DHS statement on October 29, mention pat-downs. Neither of those statements mention a change in the pat-down procedure. All other recent announcements regard heightened security for cargo because of the issue with items sent from Yemen.

So, what prompted the Obama administration to go to war with its citizens through assault by government employees?

A 2005 report on TSA procedures by the Office of Inspector General discusses pat-down complaints and states:

    Overall, TSA screeners are applying pat-down procedures properly. Screeners advised passengers of their rights prior to conducting pat-down inspections, explained why the additional screening was necessary, and conducted pat-down inspections according to the training received on the revised additional screening procedures. Specifically, screeners used the back of their hand when patting down sensitive areas; screeners conducting pat-down inspections were of the same gender as passengers; screeners offered private screening locations to passengers subject to pat-down inspections; and female passengers undergoing pat-down inspections were not unnecessarily delayed.

As I recall, my pat-down was immediately after passing through the metal detector. I was not advised of any rights nor offered a private location. The procedure was difficult for me because, having already surrendered my belt to the x-ray machine, I needed one hand to hold up my pants while the agent continued to remind me to "assume the position" and lightly touched areas, not private areas, of my body. And as I have already stated, it was a very passive inspection.

Because of the new use of Obama's security agents, perhaps the time has come for the TSA blue uniform shirts to be replaced with brown shirts.

© Jim Terry

 

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Jim Terry

Jim Terry has worked in Republican grassroots politics for 40 years. Terry was an administrative assistant to a Republican elected official in Dallas for twenty years. In 1996, he ran for and was elected to Justice Court 2 in Dallas County where he served eight years. Contact Jim at tr4guy@flash.net

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