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'TSA Arrests Me for Using the Fourth Amendment as a Weapon' (dailykos.com)
164 points by nextparadigms on Dec 27, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments

During the Cold War, there was this mentality held by leaders on both sides that said you could not show weakness to the enemy. It was this mentality that caused the Cuban Missile crisis, and that allowed it to be resolved by secret communication along privileged back-channels (all the while keeping public posturing such that neither side had to reveal any weakness). As idiotic as this mentality has always seemed to me, as I get older (and hopefully a bit wiser) I've come to understand there is some merit to it.

I travel overseas frequently. One of my favorite airports is Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport. I like it because I can sit in a cafe waiting for my plane to New York, and I can listen to the PA make announcements for flights to Nairobi, Dubai, Singapore, Moscow, Pairs, and Sao Paulo. Istanbul literally connects to the entire world. And yet, there is only one gate in the entire terminal that has "secondary screening", the one for the New York flight. The thought that somehow the threat of terrorism is greater in the United States than anywhere else in the world is laughable to anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention to world events. Yet, it is only the United States that feels the need to have extra security precautions.

I wonder how many Americans see the TSA, the Patriot Act, etc. as evidence of the greatness of America. "Our country must be the greatest in the world if it requires so much effort to protect," I imagine them thinking. "Why would so many people be against us if it were not the case?" In reality, the rest of the world sees a frightened bully, and they're not falling for it any more. They go to places like Istanbul's airport, or any of the hundreds of other airports around the world that have extra screening set up exclusively for US bound flights, and they see weakness.

What's really almost funny about all of this, is that the 4th amendment is uniquely American. It is not at all uncommon in other countries for police (or the Gendarme) to be authorized to stop pedestrians and perform a search without cause. The mere existence of the 4th amendment has, traditionally, been a sign of strength. As if to say: "We're so confident of our security and the resolve of our justice system that we will give our citizens this extra right."

By reducing 4th amendment rights, the US is not gaining security, it is showing weakness...and that can be dangerous to the long term health of a country.

Note that the American disapproval rating of congress sits at 86% and an approval of 11% and dropping (Gallup polls).

I call bullshit on that poll. People are not morons. If disapproval rating at congress was so high according to a representative poll group, then why aren't people voting in people that they do approve of? House terms are short. Senate terms are long but I don't think this 86% number would have happened overnight.

These days you're virtually guaranteed a disapproval of nearly 50% on the day you step into office.

(warning: oversimplification ahead, but I think it's a reasonable model to start with)

With the subtlety of the political chess match, the parties first choose polarized candidates in primaries. That's because it's generally the party hardcore who vote in primaries, not the moderates. Then in the general election, they play capture the centrist vote. When they're both at top form, the election margins are going to be razor thin.

Because the candidates were chosen in such a polarizing manner, they will largely be toxic to those on the other side of our imaginary single left-right dimension of political discourse.

(of course, this breaks down in gerrymandered districts where the political machine has ensured a safe seat)

EDIT: Now, factor in the typical model for marketing most high-profile candidates (at least this is how it seems to me). It seems that most people don't have the opportunity to vote for candidates they like anymore. Instead they're frightened by the bogeyman on the other side. "If you don't vote for the guy from our party, look at who's going to get the post instead -- and that will tilt the majority in Congress toward that other party of anti-Americans". The result, I submit, is that most people despise the guy from the other major party, but they don't like the one they did vote for, either. So it's not hard to push that disapproval rating even farther.

It's not your Congresscritter who's doing a bad job, it's everyone else's.

Remember that a good bit of disapproval is of "the other guy". It's very easy to disapprove of congress as a whole, but continue to vote in your own incumbent because the bacon they bring back is for /you/. The bacon everyone else brings back is "wasteful".

Check the other poll numbers: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/congressional_...

They do not differ much, but i used Gallup as they are known to conduct good polls.

Here is info in the specific poll: http://www.gallup.com/poll/151628/Congress-Ends-2011-Record-...

Because unfortunately answering a poll is quick and painless, whereas researching and voting properly require time and intelligence.

Lots of people commenting here seem to think that just because something appears to have no effect that it was a failure of an exercise and should have never happened. God forbid it cause a minor inconvenience to other humans.

PEOPLE HAVE TO STAND UP FOR WHAT THEY THINK IS RIGHT. Even if the effect it has seems insignificant. It doesn't matter if your an ass for doing it. It doesn't matter if some people think you were trying to cause trouble. If you don't stand up for what you personally think is right what do you stand up for?

Was she right? Were the officers wrong? That's for you to decide but it doesn't really matter. She had a conviction to do what she thought was right, and hopefully inspired others to do the same. And I can't imagine not respecting her for doing so.

If the only time you could complain about SOPA was in airport security only the brave and scared would complain about SOPA. And you can bet others would find them annoying.

  > Even if the effect it has seems insignificant.
If a common civilian wishes to help, she can probably find a better way than standing up to some scripted peons.

I wonder what her court costs are going to be. I wish she had donated that money to the EFF. The EFF is in a better position to fight this stuff intelligently, and at the right levels.

> If a common civilian wishes to help, she can probably find a better way than standing up to some scripted peons.

Rosa Parks?

Different situation, different level of public sympathy, different level of justifiability based on the shared ethical views of the people. Basically, the situations are not analogous.

Analogies aren't copies.

But sometimes they are useful, and sometimes they are so far off the mark they add very little to the conversation.

Oh, the irony in your post is wonderful. Thanks! Needed a good laugh this morning.

I wish I could upvote this again and again.

Ex-air force. She was extremely well-spoken and knew exactly what she was doing. I applaud her - everytime someone stands up to the farce it keeps us from forgetting that this is still an issue to fight for.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation doesn't really handle TSA-related issues (they might be interested in customs officers demanding access to your laptop without needing cause, but that's a different issue).

A better choice would be the ACLU.

When you decide to yell out the words to the 4th amendment at the same exact moment you are being processed through the security checkpoint at an airport, you are intentionally trying to cause a scene. This can and would be construed by any reasonable person as an attempt to disrupt the screening process. The author knew exactly what she was doing. While I'm not sure it was grounds for an arrest, she was maliciously attempting to provoke some sort of response from the TSA.

I hate the TSA as much as anyone, but when you do stupid things on purpose, stupid things happen to you.

These stupid things are also incredibly brave and necessary. If you have no other way of fighting what you know is wrong, you have to provoke a response.

She didn't accomplish anything besides making herself look like a lunatic. As I stated, I really hate the TSA and all of the abuses that have occurred, but this isn't going to help.

The TSA has been guilty on numerous occasions of violating a person's constitutional rights. They have endangered the lives of some passengers and outright assaulted others. I really do hope that they are taken to task for the things that they have done, but I don't believe they were wrong to call the police. When you aren't sure what to do in a situation, it is best to defer things to a higher authority. If the police decided she should be arrested, they are the ones responsible for the decision, not the TSA. Whether or not what she did constituted a crime, I don't know, but she was disrupting the process.

When I was pulling guard duty in the desert, anyone who acted in an unusual manner would have been detained. I am aware that this event took place in the United States, but the bottom line is you don't mess around with safety. Until the day that the TSA is no longer in charge of airport security, they are responsible for making sure their job gets done. How easy would it be for you to remain focused on your work while someone is standing in front of you yelling out the words to the 4th amendment?

If we don't like the TSA, we need to go through the proper channels every time they do something that violates the law. Don't let them get away with anything. I know that it is extremely difficult to get the government to change anything, but the only way to get rid of the TSA is to put people in office that will side with the American people on this issue.

You know, I can understand not being brave enough to do this yourself. I'm not.

But pooh-poohing those who do do it? "Proper channels"? Yeah, I'm sure they're getting right on it.

How bad would it have to be before you stopped saying "Oh quit causing a disturbance"? I mean, this is already violating our most sacrosanct freedoms. Would I have to violate godwin's law to get you to agree with civil disobedience?

You seem to think that she is fighting the good fight on behalf of humanity. She is a professional writer who did this as a publicity stunt so she could write about the experience afterwards.

Her biggest accomplishment is that she managed to make one of the scummiest organizations in the United States appear to be in the right. Way to go freedom fighter.

Ah, so we've catapulted the whole defending the erosion of our rights thing and now we're into personally insulting the person who told the story.

Good move, considering the grounds of your argument and all.

I'll repeat my question.. how bad would it have to be for you to agree with civil disobedience?

I never said that I disagree with civil disobedience. I just don't agree with this woman's perspective on exactly what transpired in this situation.

I've worked for the federal government my entire adult life. If you want to convince them to get rid of the TSA, the side asking for the change has to appear blameless.

The way bureaucrats make decisions is not logical. If you give them 999 examples of the TSA breaking the law or violating basic human rights, they will simply shrug and say "remember that one time that woman went to that airport and purposely tried to get arrested? Yea, well these other complaints are probably from people just like her."

To make it clear, I don't like the corrupt, incompetent, abusive illusion of a democracy that we have built for ourselves in the United States. Unfortunately, the scumbags at the TSA has been put in charge of our Nation's airports. Unfortunately, if you want to board an aircraft in the United States, you have to submit to being processed through the security checkpoint. Unfortunately, if we want this to change it will be a long and painful process.

This woman's efforts will have no positive impact on the effort to get the TSA disbanded or reformed. Being able to recognize this doesn't make me a freedom-hating fascist. I would appreciate it if you didn't try to imply that I am.

Look at it this way.

A woman was terrified of the relatively minor consequences of speaking loudly in an airport. She did it anyway because she knew she should be allowed to. And we all learned a valuable lesson: our government and the airline industry allow innocent civilians to be subjected to abuse and detainment if they don't silently obey all commands regardless of how stupid they are.

This woman's efforts show everyone just how inhuman and wrong the system is. She can't change the system by herself. But if more people like her show up, maybe, just maybe, it can make a difference.

I respectfully disagree with your opinion that her efforts will have no positive impact. What you may be trying to say is that her actions alone will not change the law, and that is true. It may also be true that she is a lunatic, but that does not change her status as a citizen and is, therefore, irrelevant. Since civil disobedience may involve breaking the law in order to demonstrate injustice, whether she broke the law or not is also irrelevant.

Rosa Parks has been mentioned before. Her civil disobedience was not the first of its kind in the fight for civil rights. It was not even the first of its kind involving the bus laws. She is famous for having been the last such incident before the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

I believe this woman's actions in demonstration against the TSA will be one of many that plant a seed. I also mention her because part of her story sounds eerily familiar.

"Two policemen came on the bus and one asked me if the driver had told me to stand and I said, 'Yes.' And he wanted to know why I didn't stand, and I told him I didn't think I should have to stand up. And then I asked him, why did they push us around? And he said, and I quote him, 'I don't know, but the law is the law and you are under arrest.'" - http://achievement.org/autodoc/page/par0int-1

the side asking for the change has to appear blameless.

Right there, you have your finger on the rot. First, why should there be sides? Second, why is it important to appear blameless instead of appearing right?

You are correct; the federal government is rotten.

In any conflict, there are multiple sides, otherwise the conflict wouldn't exist. If the TSA had been designed with the intent of finding ways of protecting us while at the same time ensuring that the protective measures don't violate our constitutional rights, we wouldn't be having this conversation. If the TSA had been staffed with competent, compassionate human beings, there would be no conflict.

You and I may view things in terms or right or wrong, but bureaucrats don't. The government is rotten because we keep electing rotten people to rule over us. Isolated efforts to fight the TSA will do far less than an organized political movement.

People need to organize and take action as a collective. Just look at what happened to godaddy and you can begin to understand.

I wasn't accusing you of hating freedom, but I was accusing you of being a hater.

If 1,000 people did what this women did, it would still have no impact. 10,000, now you're talking. But you need the brave souls to get it started.

Like I said originally, I'm not saying you need to go out and do this. I haven't, shamefully. But hating on those who do it, really?

>If you want to convince them to get rid of the TSA, the side asking for the change has to appear blameless.

Is this workable? People, and specially governments, can find blame in so many ways that you can't convince them of anything unless they are forced or they realise it themselves. (In my country, protestors against massive corruption are framed for minor things they did in past and both media and government repeatedly use those points to distract masses from main issues.)

It appears to me that the lady was trying to convince others of the unreasonableness of the process. That is one of ways of democracy. Do you think "jared" will have something to think about? Do you think "the old goat" will be somewhat careful next time? Will somebody in public or those reading her blog see her point? I do think so and that is a positive impact, however small it is.

You have suggested other channels. The most obvious is voting, other is organised protest. The lady is trying to tell people that it may not be good idea to subject oneself to such procedures, and in a way creating a mass for the organised protests or cohesive votings to happen.

And for her personal courage I am inspired: she knows that she is going to appear a fool to others, she sweats, she knows that it can lead her to physical, financial problems, but she is risking because it is a step ahead.

ps: personally I don't think politicians take note unless there is a mass protest against some existing law, so to ask an individual to use other channels is unreasonable.

In my eyes, a well organized mass-protest is a legitimate channel.

She is a professional writer who did this as a publicity stunt

I thought she identified herself as a doctor.

But in any case, you're simply building a strawman argument. You don't, and cannot, have any idea what her actual motivations were. Deluding yourself into believing you know what other people are thinking is not a good way to get to the bottom of any conflict.

(sorry, but you've hit one of my hot buttons)

PHaus was saying that professional writers have ulterior motives (what ever those are) and that we should discount the communication of people who are professionals. Only amateurs can be impartial.

No wait, I just put words in his mouth AND made a straw man. Now I am confused.

Under her profile on that website it stated that she was a writer. Maybe she's a doctor too.

You are correct that I cannot tell what another person is thinking. I formed my opinion based on the impression I got from reading her article. Due to the nature of the topic it should be a given that anything stated is an opinion unless someone specifically claims to be quoting a law or statistic.

"the bottom line is you don't mess around with safety. "

The TSA fails at Safety, this is just bullshit security theater. If I could, I'd fly with absolutely no security screening before the flight. I'll take my chances instead of slowly losing my life waiting in their "security" lines.

The sad thing is not that she didn't "go through the proper channels," the sad thing about this story is that the passengers in line behind her were more worried about missing their flights and started to yell at her to quit holding up the line.

I would love to see something like this happen, then every passenger after her refuse the scanner and recite the 4th amendment while being pat-down. Sadly, this will never happen, as 90% of those in line probably don't even know what the 4th amendment is, much less have the words memorized.

I think that you might be on to something.

After having been accused of being opposed to civil disobedience, your post gave me a way to express how I feel civil disobedience is supposed to work.

If a large number of people started opting for the alternate method of screening passengers, it would bring the process of screening to a screeching halt, yet all would remain well within their rights. If these people complied with the alternate method, without attempting to provoke or harass the TSA, no one would have been arrested.

If you can piss the government off, without putting yourself at risk, then you have mastered the fine art of civil disobedience.

Some people dismiss the power and value of symbolism (particularly symbolism that doesn't resonate with THEM, even if it resonates with other people).

Perhaps this particular bit of symbolism, or the way it was deployed, won't end up being effective, but experimentation and iteration is key.

I think you may have just invented 'Agile Protests'!

> These stupid things are also incredibly brave and necessary.

Suppose she had started reciting[1] the 10 commandments or jabberwocky? Would you have had the same reaction?

If you go with "the US constitution is relevant" then she's got a problem. She claims that she didn't resist a search. That can only be true if she thinks that reciting US constitution clauses on search aren't relevant to the situation, namely a search.

So, which is it? Was reciting the US constitution her way of refusing a search or was it just words?

[1] She wasn't "reading" anything - she was reciting various parts of the US constitution from memory.

I'm trying to wrap my head around this comment.

The 4th amendment guards against unreasonable search and seizure.

And you're saying "shame on her for refusing a search"?

> And you're saying "shame on her for refusing a search"?

No, I'm not. I'm saying that if you think that reciting the 4th amendment when going through TSA is relevant, that relevance would lead a reasonable person to believe that she was resisting the search.

I mention relevance because commenters are suggesting that reciting the 4th amendment is meaningful in a way that reciting jabberwocky would not have been.

OF COURSE it's meaningful in a way that reciting jabberwocky would not have been. Reading the part of the constitution which protects people from unreasonable searches without probable cause, while being forced to undergo a search without probable cause.

If it's still unclear how the amendment is meaningful in this situation, I'm going to ask that you go re-read the original article, then "letters from birmingham jail" and the whole bill of rights.

That being the case, her treatment was for resisting the search, not reciting the constitution. Reciting the constitution was merely how she resisted the search.

I'm not claiming that the amendment is not meaningful. I'm pointing out how the amendment's meaning is relevant to what happened. The original article makes it clear that the reciter didn't understand that relevance.

BTW I haven't written anything about the legitimacy of TSA searches so your presumptions along those lines are unfounded and insulting. And, before you presume to teach me something, learn the difference between recite and read. (Hint - she did the former, not the latter.)

So really, your whole point here is 2 grammatical quibbles that everyone else could get past just fine?

You seemed to think that those "quibbles" were important when you thought that they supported your position, so surely they're just as important when they don't.

She misrepresented what she did.

BTW - Comparing what she did with King cheapens King.

> Suppose she had started reciting[1] the 10 commandments or jabberwocky? Would you have had the same reaction?

I suspect she would have gotten the same reaction, or something very near to it. When being herded through a TSA checkpoint, the last thing they want you doing is yelling.

Cops lean on people they've decided are "undesirable" with the intent of provoking them to do something they can be arrested for. The FBI cultivates antisocial young american muslims until they entrap them into doing something so they can trot them out as boogeymen on CNN.

We can disagree with the ethics of such things, but is there disagreement that provoking a response can be a useful tactic?

> When you decide to yell out the words to the 4th amendment at the same exact moment you are being processed through the security checkpoint at an airport, you are intentionally trying to cause a scene.

I can also easily see this kind of behavior causing a panic in the screening line. Maybe this isn't fair, but this is how I would imagine a right-wing domestic terrorist to act right before they blew themselves up.

I'm all for civil disobedience, but this is just oblivious and antisocial to the extreme.

TSA groping your children is "antisocial". So pray tell us where you plan to take "legal" political action on this matter? Or is your "right-wing domestic terrorist" remark indicative of your actually buying into this theatre?

Actually, her behavior (and narrative) is similar to that of "sovereign citizen" types who imbue all sorts of psuedo-legal meaning to the U.S. Constitution and what they think it allows them to do. Not all sovereign citizen groups are violent but there were two police officers murdered in TX in 2010 and several militias operating under this philosophy.

State craft is complex and messy business, agreed. The government of Assad is currently facing "militias" in Homs and has the same precise pov as you. (It's reasonable; I'm not, repeat, blind to the burden of just rule.)

But I myself, as an American citizen, strongly object to the continued attacks on my natural rights and these "solutions" that consistently erode the limits placed on the State powers.

We had a revolution in this country precisely to determine the balance between natural "rights" and collective "laws". The United States of America has precisely ZERO input on what is "allowed" as far as Natural Rights are concerned. USA may provide privileges.

I myself, for example, was "sold" the following story before I elected to become a naturalized citizen of USA: "Inalienable Rights". That sounded (and still does) just right for me -- I happen to agree very strongly with the idea. But now, n years into this contract, and the USA (and some citizens such as yourself) are now telling me that I have no rights unless that it is "allowed" by the USA.

So, was I scammed (in your eminent "legal" opinion)?

To quote George Carlin (RIP):

Now, if you think you do have rights, I have one last assignment for ya. Next time you’re at the computer get on the Internet, go to Wikipedia. When you get to Wikipedia, in the search field for Wikipedia, i want to type in, “Japanese-Americans 1942″ and you’ll find out all about your precious fucking rights. Alright. You know about it.

In 1942 there were 110,000 Japanese-American citizens, in good standing, law abiding people, who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That’s all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had was…right this way! Into the internment camps.

Just when these American citizens needed their rights the most…their government took them away. and rights aren’t rights if someone can take em away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country is a bill of TEMPORARY privileges; and if you read the news, even badly, you know the list gets shorter, and shorter, and shorter.

Yep, sooner or later the people in this country are going to realize the government doesn’t give a fuck about them. the government doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety. it simply doesn’t give a fuck about you. It’s interested in it’s own power. That’s the only thing…keeping it, and expanding wherever possible.

The whole piece is just great: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWiBt-pqp0E

this is how I would imagine a right-wing domestic terrorist to act right before they blew themselves up.

Have there actually been any right-wing suicide bombers? A quick google turned up only the fellow who flew his plane into an IRS office building as the closest thing to a "right-wing" suicide bomber, but I"m not sure that qualifies.

Oklahoma City? Although I suppose that wasn't a suicide.

There was an incident in Austin in 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/us/19crash.html

I'm having the same reaction. I hate the TSA so much I avoid flying if at all possible, and indeed haven't been on a plane in three years. But making a scene like this accomplishes nothing. Or, possibly less than nothing -- if the onlookers thought she was a kook.

If, instead of doing this at the security checkpoint, she wanted to stand at the entrance to the airport speaking and handing out leaflets, she would be exercising her First Amendment rights, and I would hope they would accommodate her. (If they didn't, I wouldn't be surprised, but I would be angry.)

But what she chose to do was just pointless.

You make it sound like "disrupting the screening process" is a bad thing.

> "you are intentionally trying to cause a scene"

Yes, because we're British and GodForbidWeShouldCreateAScene(tm).


Kinda interesting how being 'arrested' is now a form of punishment or reprimand in itself. It goes on record and it may be used as an excuse to hurt you physically.

Also it seems that people can be arrested (held or detained) without being 'arrested'.

In the UK, with some professions it can hurt your career to be arrested, too, such as medical or teaching.

This isn't just a DailyKos story about the TSA on the front page of HN. It's a stupid DailyKos story on the front page of HN. It actually demeans well-reasoned, carefully-considered strong objections to the TSA by presenting a categorically bogus objection.

Here's a person who's memorized the 4th Amendment without actually learning what it means, yelling it at the airport in a one-person demonstration, and then doing a victory lap on a blog.

And here's us on HN competing with each other to see who can more stridently agree with her.

Flagged, of course. You should too.

Granted, the way she went about it was borderline retarded. Are you saying you agree with the way she was treated by TSA and police? Or will you concede that perhaps this act of defiance (however misguided) was much more productive than the silent consent all of us give every time we shuffle through the cattle stocks?

No, this act of defiance was counterproductive, since it paints reasonable people with the same lunatic brush and is based on an illogical and ignorant argument.

But I don't so much care about ineffective vanity protests as I do about the fact that a DailyKos article about one was on the front page of HN. Which is why I flagged the story, and think you should too.

Stories like this are a trap. Most of us, being reasonable, logical people, have a litany of valid arguments against the TSA. A story like this confirms those beliefs and is conflated with them, so that pointing out that the story (a) sucks and (b) isn't germane to HN is taken as an argument against the beliefs, and not just the story.

I wasn't aware I was supposed to flag every DailyKos story (I honestly have no idea wtf that site is). So, i'm sorry for not doing that.

I resent your smug sense of superiority. I am a reasonable, logical person but I don't have a carefully structured and researched legal paper to present as to why the TSA's policies should be reformed. I just know they're assholes and they fuck with me for no good reason. Clearly this woman realized that too and she decided not to stand for it. The fact that she didn't do it well enough does not discount the action in itself, nor does it prove or disprove any other argument against the TSA.

Furthermore, by flagging this story with the reasons you listed you're basically saying the HN readership is so stupid that by reading this article it will debunk any other arguments they have heard or will hear. That basically you're protecting the brainless HN readers from the ideas presented therein, or are protecting people from reading this and forming a negative view of "valid" TSA arguments from "reasonable, logical people."

There is a deeper lesson to take away than just whether her argument was legally valid. For example, take the reasons that you feel are right and take a stand the way she did.

You should read the site guidelines before deciding that I'm commenting out of a sense of smug superiority and not out of general concern for the quality of the site.

I think you should also analyze the fact that this story got you so emotionally invested that the site guidelines didn't occur to you, and that you managed to feel threatened simply because someone questioned the story --- which, again, is pretty obvious vapid. What you're saying in this comment is, "The TSA is bad, so why bother thinking?"

That stories like this tend to have that effect on message board communities is the reason they're proscribed in the site guidelines. There are other communities where a story like this would find a more receptive audience, like Reddit Politics.

Thanks I just flagged it too. I'm not sure what that means, I hope it means this is a BS article and let's get back to the stuff that puts food on our tables.

Your comment was very articulate thanks.

This is a very interesting experiment she decided to conduct on what seems to be little to no research. I'm glad that she didn't get seriously injured or harassed or locked up for several days. From what I can tell, once they got her isolated she was treated very well. But it was dangerous. As far as I'm concerned, once you step into an airport (especially an american airport) you are no longer a citizen of any particular country and have no rights.

Unfortunately, she did not simply read the constitution. She yelled it out loud so that others could hear, thereby causing quite a disturbance. Several times she mentioned that people were staring and I imagine all security processing had come to a halt at that point. I think they had no choice but to remove her from the area because of the disturbance. Also, if somebody nearby was planning on doing something, she would have created the perfect time to do it. She could have become an accomplice in a serious crime.

I agree with all of the statements she was yelling out, and it is unfortunate that things have come to this. But please be careful when considering this kind of action. Especially if you have loved ones at home who are going to worry about you.

"As far as I'm concerned, once you step into an airport (especially an american airport) you are no longer a citizen of any particular country and have no rights."

This. As a tourist, I've found the US to be quite nice and I would like to visit more often.

However, all this theater makes me want to avoid flying as much as possible. I have been treated well so far, but I wonder how much of it boils down to sheer luck.

> This is a very interesting experiment she decided to conduct on what seems to be little to no research.

How do you come to such conclusion?

> But it was dangerous.

In what way? Dangerous as in her constitutional rights might be violated?

> As far as I'm concerned, once you step into an airport (especially an american airport) you are no longer a citizen of any particular country and have no rights.

That is just sad. What's the next step? You don't have any rights in a railway station? Subways?

> ...I imagine all security processing had come to a halt at that point.

On a single line perhaps, not all.

> Also, if somebody nearby was planning on doing something, she would have created the perfect time to do it.

How so? If a simple delay on a check point creates a "perfect time" and it is an actual big risk, then there are bigger problems on that airport.

I came to that conclusion because she seemed uncertain about what they could or could not do, and it seemed as though she expected a less severe outcome. Perhaps I was reading into it incorrectly.

It was dangerous as she could have been injured, detained at length, and possibly put on some kind of "harass this troublemaker anytime she steps into a security line" type of list. That her constitutional rights might be violated is almost a guarantee, although that wording is perhaps incorrect since you don't have those rights in an airport.

I agree the situation is sad.

It wasn't just a simple delay. It was a public disturbance. She was yelling out, causing a scene, being dragged around, etc. Seems to me that people planning mischief often set up a decoy disturbance. This seemed like exactly the type of disturbance one would plan deliberately as a decoy for another operation.

Some basic Constitutional law would have saved this guy the trouble. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled that travelers do not have the right to refuse searches at an airport [1]. You might disagree with the decision, but if you're going to pull a stunt like this, you should at least be informed on the current state of jurisprudence regarding airport searches.

[1] http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2007/08/court-says-trav/

She didn't refuse a search, she just wanted to read out the fourth amendment to the rest of the queue while it was happening.

Likewise, imagine if Rosa Park had thought of her day's jurisprudence when she refused to give up her seat back in 1955. "Man, I am tired from all the work today, but the courts say I should give up my seat."

And, surely you meant "this woman," as she does say she has a husband in the article.

It is a woman, but simply having a husband doesn't imply that.

She wasn't refusing screening. She wanted to read the Constitution while doing it.

This text is from 2001. Also, the guy is a gal.

I don't believe that's true. It's dated October 17, 2011.

(I agree about the gender of the author, though.)

You're right. I swear it read 2001 the first time I looked!

'I yell, “Thomas Jefferson said, 'those who would give up their liberty for their security deserve neither.'”'

Actually that was Ben Franklin. But otherwise, bravo.

For all the talk of moving your domains on the 29th to boycott godaddy's support of SOPA, I wish an 'assert your 4th Amendment right while flying' day would work, but I don't think it would because the vast majority of people (even those who are supposedly activist-minded) are only willing to protest when the cost to do so is very low.

That's why godaddy is a whipping boy and the TSA is more powerful than ever.

Should the TSA have done this? No.

Should the author have expected to have the glamor of martyrdom without the inconveniences attached? This question is left as an exercise for the reader.

The inconvenience IS the glamour of martyrdom. If the TSA had calmly and politely carried out the hands-on search as she recited the constitution, there would have been no effect. No inconvenience, no martyr.

Quite. But now rewrite the article to take out reduce it to the facts not including her psychological/physiological state (effects of handcuffs on wrists OK, relevant; perspiration rate not really.) Does it read differently?

"But now rewrite the article to take out reduce it to the facts not including her psychological/physiological state (effects of handcuffs on wrists OK, relevant; perspiration rate not really.) "

If you rewrite this to make sense, I'll give it a go :)

Very important read for all of us. I now sit hear wondering what I can do - what we can do - to help our country. We are in a scary place.

Without citizens like this to assert and reassert our rights in the face of violent psychological bullying at areas of great injustice, nobody reading this would have any rights at all. I don't get to call this country mine as much as she does. The fact that psychological blitzkrieg is the response to holding up a screening line means something is terribly wrong here.


The odds of a terrorist attack aboard a plane are so low because of heightened security. Get rid of it, and those odds are likely to increase.

You can't possibly believe that. First, she read the freaking Constitution and was treated like a terrorist, and there's a name for that - and it's not security. Or American. Second, that "heightened security" is - with the exception of keeping cockpit doors closed - 100% pure, unadulterated bullshit. Liquids in a plastic baggie? Give me a break. I get so tired of people not willing to think for a minute.

There are hidden costs to increased airport security. Money spent on increased airport security could be spent elsewhere.

The expected cost of a unwanted event should be less than or equal to the expected cost of preventing that event. The choice to implement a security policy should be a rational one.

True. However politicians are the ones who make the rules. And no politician wants to be left holding the bag if a terrorist attack does happen. They want to be seen as having done everything possible even if what they are doing isn't effective.

Sadly, I'm not sure how we can change this dynamic. Will we ever punish politicians for being too hostile to civil liberties? Most people/voters simply don't care.

I found this all pretty pointless... The TSA people were just doing their job. I will gladly be quiet or even assist them in any reasonable screening duties if it means keeping us safe. That is all they are trying to do, it's not like they have some malicious intent. In my opinion we are not giving up many rights by letting people see if we have any weapons us. If you do not want to go through the new body scanners than thats fine, ask for a pat down but dont make a big commotion about it and start preaching to people that are only trying to do their job.

I think you're missing the point. She doesn't fault them for "doing their job," she finds fault with the fact that there is a government job in which she sees violations to the Constitution.

Also, if you would like to let someone look at your possessions, that's your right. But, a government official cannot, without reasonable cause, demand to look at your property.

I'm not saying I would have tried to pull this off, but there is something to be said for her continuously asking "do you have a warrant."

>> which she sees violations to the Constitution

If she disgrees then she should organize and conduct a legal protest.

Legally, this was a legal protest.

How was it legal?

It has been made very clear in many circumstances and cases that "just doing my job" is NOT an acceptable excuse.

For people like me who are afraid of flying, this lady is just disturbing the peace. People should be searched before being let on planes. If people are not searched, there will be more plane attacks and global transport will decline. Planes will always be targets for terrorists because of what they represent.

The law is not about technicalities. It's about reason and sense, and sensible is that when someone is behaving like a crazy person, then take the person and find out why. Technical law is when a fixed sentence is applied for a particular crime (like marijuana possession), that is then applied without sense.

Smile and go through the scanner. There is nothing strange about being seen naked by strangers, most of evolution we've been naked.

Yeah, disturbers of the peace, like that damn black woman who wouldn't move to the back of the bus. My peace > your rights.

> If people are not searched, there will be more plane attacks and global transport will decline.

Damn right, brother! I say we take this a step further, and start searching people when they enter the mall. I mean, a terrorist in the mall is just as dangerous. Especially during the holidays.

Or hell, let's search everyone going to the new years bash in Times Square. Just make 'em strip. As you say, nothing strange about being seen naked by strangers.

And we should also start using these scanners at schools. Clearly, with all the school shootings going on, gotta protect the innocent kids, right?

We can also take the same approach online. Have everyone register their computer's OS with their ISP, and only those registered computers can use the internet. I mean, if you are innocent, you have nothing to worry about, right? This can help stop child pornography, you know. And people distributing files they don't have the right to distribute.

Personally, I'm afraid of dying in cars. Did you know, more people die in an automobile accident then a terrorist attack? Clearly, we need to rid ourselves of these terrorists of the road. Make every car require a breathalyzer. If you've had a drink, you can't drive. Keep it simple. Keep it safe. Save lives! It's reasonable. I mean, I'm afraid of other drivers, and they are just disturbing my peace. I mean, the only people that would disagree are terrorists, child pornographers, drunk drivers, and pirating thieves!

Actually lots of schools have metal detectors now at all the entrances.

Actually lots of American schools have metal detectors now at all the entrances.

Was referring to the scanners like they have at the airports, not mere metal detectors.

This dichotomy you present holds two points: a) the TSA has full rights to our person, or b) The terrorists win. Please consider there is actually a c-z.

Let me put it this way. There are thousands of mechanical and electronic pieces on a plane, most of which were assembled by private enterprise. You trust them with your life to fly your ass miles through the air, and to land on a strip of tar -- safely, timely, and efficiently. Yet, they're not capable of keeping you safe from "terrorists"?

If this manufactured image of terrorists were actually a real threat to airliners, they would be addressing it themselves, just like they would any other life-threatening safety flaw on their plane.

I'm not sure your A and B represent a dichotomy. They seem equivalent to me.

Take a look at airport security in Israel sometime. They don't have this silly invasive rigamarole that we do. They have highly trained agents that observe peoples' behavior to look for suspicious events. If they search someone, then it's because they have reasonable cause.

We don't want to do that because it's expensive to do it right. So we have the TSA, which is just a jobs program for the most unskilled folks in the population, and creates an illusion of security without having to provide real security.

Everyone mentions Israel, but have you actually been there? I am curious about what would happen, should you get singled out for "enhanced screening" there by their staff.

Prior to 9/11, I went to Japan on vacation. The security made it look like it was a domestic flight, not a 24-hour one. Me and my sister got pulled from the line and led to a small room, with dozens of people.

We were only let go 4 hours later (after 27 hours flying, that wasn't exactly pleasant). And that's only because they were checking our story with out uncle, who was a native Japanese and went looking for us when we didn't show up at the airport.

And don't even get started on their multiple-page form, in Spanish. I asked for an English version because I couldn't figure it out (I am Brazilian, so they probably figured it was ok).

Also, my posessions got searched and I even got inquired about my religious beliefs - there was a postcard from my grandmother to my aunt which had a christian image. I guess that sort of thing would not happen in the US - at least not to a citizen, anyway.

Needless to say, while I loved the country, I hate the screening to this day.

In the US, a couple of years ago, something similar happened. I got pulled to the "yellow room", because my fingerprint didn't match the Visa (my brother's went on the record insted, probably due to confusion, as our names are similar). In any case, I was let go in a couple of minutes, after the officer inquired who the guy showing on the monitor was, and I pointed to my brother waiting a few meters from us. No idea what would have happened if I wasn't travelling with him tho.

He also mentioned I will always have that problem (until the Visa expires, that is). But, even with all these "enhanced measures", I'll still rather take my chances with the US if I have a choice.

Disclaimer: that was before the full-body scanners and the enhanced patdowns were in place at the particular airport I went to.

She agreed to a search.

There are still doubts about the safety of the scanners. They have not been tested.

> There is nothing strange about being seen naked by strangers, most of evolution we've been naked.

What about being bombarded by ionizing radiation? The millimeter wave machines don't bother me so much, but there's a reason they cover you with a lead vest when you're at the dentist. Full-body x-ray scanners are banned across Europe due to cancer concerns.

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