My God What Happened? I’ve become a Civil Rights Advocate and I know Why

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.” James Madison

I don’t know what it is, maybe the Mad Cow or something but somehow and I don’t know how I have become a raging civil libertarian championing or supporting all sorts of causes that as a law and order conservative that I would never espoused. I have been so riled up lately about what is going on with the Transportation Security Agency because I have been accosted by them and practically strip searched while traveling in my Navy uniform on valid travel orders with proper military identification while foreigners wearing clothes that could hide a truck bomb passed through the checkpoint.  That was back in 2003 before the current Grope on Site order was in place. This happened again in 2008 when coming home from Iraq. I think that it was those two instances that were the watershed for me.

When I was forced to remove my ribbons, rank, belt buckle and made to unzip back in 2003, or remove boots and belt buckle and uniform shirt less than an hour after returning from Iraq I knew that if the TSA was out of control, and that my dear readers was back in the days of the Bush administration.  When I realized that the TSA was subjecting military personnel in uniform with proper ID and on orders to such ludicrous and humiliating searches that the police state was already here even if most people didn’t see the danger.

Evidently I am still in a minority as according to a CNN/Gallup poll 80% of Americans supported the TSA so long as “it made them safe.” Of course probably 60% of the poll respondents have not had the pleasure of being assaulted by the TSA since they don’t fly.  It’s easy to support such practices if they don’t affect you.

I guess it is the repugnant Gestapo, STASI or KGB like invasive search methods that are nothing less than physical and sexual assault and battery that have turned me into a civil libertarian. It is the indictment of innocent citizens that only desire to travel by air and are forced to prove that they are not terrorists that bothers me. To see people with medical conditions and even children humiliated and even strip searched is abhorrent.  It is even more so because despite the billions of dollars allotted to the TSA not a single terrorist has been apprehended by them and the new tactics are already being rendered obsolete by the terrorists that attacked us on 9-11-2001.  With each year the TSA’s methods have grown more invasive and humiliating to average citizens whose only crime is travelling without any corresponding increase in air safety and security.

Unfortunately the tactics of the TSA will not change because no politician wants to get blamed if something does go wrong and we will find that our liberties will be stripped away one by one under the benevolent and watchful eye of government bureaucrats and officials empowered by ill conceived laws; laws that the vast majority of the legislators that voted for them never even read.

George Washington said it so eloquently “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” James Monroe was even more prophetic when he addressed the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788:  “How prone all human institutions have been to decay; how subject the best-formed and most wisely organized governments have been to lose their check and totally dissolve; how difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism.”

Now I see that many people are okay with this and that I expect because I believe that the vast majority of people will always opt for security over freedom if pushed hard enough. However, when I see people that raised no alarm when the Patriot Act and other security legislation was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bush now castigate President Obama for not going against the will of 80% of the population who think this is perfectly fine.  After all what politician goes against the will of voters when they are in great political difficulty?

When people like Rush Limbaugh state on the air “Mr. President don’t touch my teabags” when the fly on private jets I want to scream.  The differences now are that the TSA has bought technology that was not available in 2001 to do the job that Bush’s second director of Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff advocated buying. Chertoff has been retained by the manufacturers of the devices and their lobbyists. Of course the company Rapiscan Systems also has Linda Daschle a former FAA official and wife of former Democrat Speaker of the House Tom Daschle on their payroll. I love bi-partisanship don’t you?

The second reason is all politics. There is a Democrat in the White House. A Democrat that Limbaugh and others will shred if he appears soft on terrorism and if terrorists somehow succeed in conducting an attack.  Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, just as Bush was after 9-11 when people were in a panic and every politician, pundit and media personality was demanding action.

Sometimes I think in our current drift toward a police state civil libertarians are not appreciated because they raise issues that make people uncomfortable. You see for many if not most people it is better to trade safety and security for liberty when politicians, pundits and the media tell us that it is necessary and that they have our best interests at heart.  It is just as Daniel Webster said: “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

You see what is happening with the TSA is the tip of the iceberg. Once we get hit again no politician of any party with the possible exception of Ron Paul will willingly divest him themselves of the powers granted under emergency provision which are deemed “necessary” in a crisis and most people will support them.  Unfortunately it is hard for me to see how the provisions of the Patriot Act and the actions of the TSA in their current methods of passenger screening do not violate the 4th Amendment which states: 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.

Unfortunately such actions even with the approval of the citizenry trample the Constitution. It is the Constitution that is the best guarantee for us remaining a free society.  The Constitution as Justice David Davis wrote “is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false; for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it, which are necessary to preserve its existence; as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority.”

We need to learn as a nation and people before it is too late the dangerous course that we have embarked upon. Other great nations have surrendered liberties in times of crisis and because it was necessary.  How many have recovered them without being totally destroyed and having to be rebuilt?

Al Qaeda and its allies have done what no previous enemy has ever succeeded in doing.  More than the human and material costs of 9-11-2001 and other terrorist acts Osama Bin Laden and his allies have succeeded in giving up essential liberties in the name of security. James Madison was correct when he wrote: The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home. I pray that we will come to our collective senses before we lose everything.  When Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death” he understood that liberty and its defense were more important than life itself.  If we continue down this path we will lose even more liberty and it will be all be for our good and perfectly legal. Bin Laden and his evil consorts must be laughing as we walk down this path and are certainly going to keep making threats and attacks to cause us to curtail our freedom even more than we have. As Bin Laden said: “And he moved the tyranny and suppression of freedom to his own country, and they called it the Patriot Act under the disguise of fighting terrorism.”

God help us.


Padre Steve+



Filed under History, laws and legislation, national security, Political Commentary

5 responses to “My God What Happened? I’ve become a Civil Rights Advocate and I know Why

  1. John Erickson

    Sir- First, allow me to express my outrage and indignation at the manner in which you were treated by the goons at the TSA. You should never have been exposed to such disgraceful behaviour.
    Second, I will restate here what I’ve said elsewhere. I am unaware of any potential bomber stopped by security checks before he (or she) boarded an airplane. The TSA continues to heap discomfort, and in one recent event, public humiliation on the people travelling on the aircraft. Meanwhile, the checked baggage receives cursory examinations at best. And of even greater threat, less than 5% of cargo containers transported by air or ship receives any kind of check, despite the availability of technology which permits rapid scans, through steel, of the containers’ contents. To top things off, the Europeans use ultrasound machines to scan their passengers, giving as good (if not better) a view of any hidden dangers, without the doses of radiation required by our devices. The government needs to look at ALL areas of passenger and cargo travel, and apply solutions which give the best results with the least intrusion, rather than instituting slap-dash procedures without a long-term concept for better screening procedures.
    And thank you, Sir, for all you’ve done for this country and its’ people. Once again, the TSA’s shabby treatment of you does not represent the pride and gratitude I feel for your service rendered. Take care, and Bravo Zulu!

  2. BD

    It is unconscionable what TSA is doing in this country, with the blessings of the neurotic lemmings out there, much less to our honored service members, men and women like yourself! Those who perished at the towers, the Pentagon, and over Pennsylvania were martyrs on the alter of liberty. Now our own government is making their deaths meaningless.

    This Thanksgiving I will remember to thank the Almighty for bravery, and those who exhibit it. Would that we had many more such men and women in these trying days, when monsters like Fear and Apathy threaten the very vitality of our freedom. God bless!

    • John Erickson

      Unfortunately, BD, there seems to be a growing trend in this country towards a mentality of “I’ve got mine, the heck with you”. For the millions who don’t fly, “who cares what happens in airports?”. For the many who fly only once or twice a year. “It’s just another inconvenience”. And it doesn’t end there – it’s seen in the few (our military personnel) defending the many who have no concept of sacrifice (of which I am only a member in not having served – I have been spreading the message of sacrifice for over 35 of my 47 years on this planet); it’s seen in the out-of-touch politicians who can’t understand the problems they are trying to fix (and will end up costing me personally, due to my health); it’s seen in the inability of Koreans to share a peninsula without shooting at each other, or in Palestinians and Israelis in an endless cycle of revenge. People need to step up, if not in the military to defend this country, then in civil matters to protect our personal freedoms and to improve our relations with our neighbors, be they down the street or across oceans.
      And forgive me for ranting so long. I now put my soapbox away for the night! 😀

  3. Pingback: Invasion of the body scanners | Hey, it's Pat Ryan's blog!

  4. carpevis

    In case your research needs this, there IS a judicial yardstick imposed on searches by the TSA and other such security providers for mass transit. The yardstick is “effective and impartial”. When everyone goes through the metal detectors and has their luggage x-rayed and searched, they are looking for weapons without regard to who is who. This is both effective and impartial.

    But with the full body scanners, they don’t do this to everyone. It is selective – which is NOT impartial. The other aspect to to those scanners is that they do NOT detect the kind of thing they are supposed to detect: To wit, a “nut bomb”. The scan doesn’t show that part of the body clearly enough to distinguish bomb-making materials from genitalia. It is widely acknowledged in the industry that the body scanners aren’t effective.

    Since the body scanners are neither effective or impartial, they fail the judicial yardstick of constitutionality. The only reason we may have to be stuck with them (IMHO) is that we no longer have a judiciary who is impartial. It has been overly polarized by politics and while this isn’t an absolute indicator that the Unites States has no chence of ridding itself of this police state mentality, it proves the odds are against us.

    I’m a militant moderate, myself – despising both the left and the right. The polarity that is the legacy of Karl Rove’s insidious influence on American political partisanship has created a religion out of politics – where people unquestioningly believe things without being offered any proof. Where the us versus them (with them being anyone who isn’t “us”) mentality has taken a pathological turn toward violence against each other. Americans no longer run the government, left or right. It’s run by special interests who will continue to look out for themselves with no regard for the consequences.

    Moderates are the only “party” left which can actually work together with everyone to govern with something approaching reason. Look at what’s being proposed in Montana, Idaho and other places where rampant partisanship has taken rood. Hell, look at Washington where it’s not a matter of passing legislation, it’s a matter of making sure the “other side” doesn’t win. Until most Americans look outside of the two party system (adding rather than subtracting parties to require coalitions for anything to get done) for our answers, I’m of the opinion that none will be forthcoming from the political parties we have now.

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