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Tuesday’s TSA Terror

Cato’s Gene Healy takes to the Washington Examiner to write about the TSA forcing a 95-year-leukemia patient to remove her adult diaper to get through the airport screening process.  In pertinent part:

As always when the TSA commits some new atrocity — like last April’s “freedom fondle” of a 6-year-old girl — a designated bureaucratic spokes-unit affirmed that the officers acted “according to proper procedure.”

As my colleague Julian Sanchez observes, it’s bizarre to think we’re supposed to find it comforting “that everything is being done by the book — even if the ‘book’ is horrifying.” Wouldn’t you rather hear that such actions were the work of overzealous line officers, instead of policies vetted and approved at the highest levels of the federal government?

Do I find this personally unsettling, disgusting, and highly unnecessary?  Depends.

Apropos of nothing in particular, Reason’s Jacob Sullum reports that the Texas House has passed a bill limiting the TSA.  The bill would affect “public servants” who:

“while acting under color of the person’s office or employment, without probable cause to believe the other person committed an offense, performs a search without effective consent for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation” and “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through the clothing.”

I happen to think this is a step in the right direction, quixotic or not.  It brings up questions that we need to be asking, namely about probable cause and unwarranted searches in the first place, and about the limits of federal government overreach in the second place.

I believe that a great many Texans and Americans in general would agree with me that the TSA, which to date has captured zero terrorists, is entirely unnecessary.  When the cost benefit ratio divides by zero, you know that something is askew.  However, the bill passed over the objections of the House Speaker:

The bill passed despite resistance from House Speaker Joe Straus, who dismissed it as “an ill-advised publicity stunt,” saying he wanted to “send a message without actually harming commercial aviation in Texas” (a reference to U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy’s warning that the TSA might be forced to shut down Texas airports)…

Of course the TSA has threatened to completely shut down Texas airports if they see any resistance to their efforts to fondle six-year-old girls and humiliate your grandmother.  Because bureaucracies will do everything in their power, warranted or not, to self-perpetuate.  Just remember that every day we do nothing to stop this is another day the TSA will use to entrench itself more and more until transportation is indistinguishable from the Nazi police state.

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