Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Jesse Ventura Sues TSA and DHS Over Airport Screening Violations

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Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura is set to wrestle with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through a lawsuit he filed on Monday, according to The Hals Report for January 25. After enduring enhanced screening last November at a Minnesota airport, Ventura claims the TSA full-body scan and pat-down violated his privacy rights.

The Star Tribune added that Ventura is asking a Minnesota federal judge to issue an injunction ordering officials to stop subjecting him to “warrantless and suspicionless” scans and body searches. His suit also names Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole as defendants.

The argument set forth by the lawsuit is that the required searches are “unwarranted and unreasonable intrusions on Governor Ventura’s personal privacy and dignity," and are a justifiable cause for him to be concerned, specifically that he was subjected to “warrantless rubbing of the genitals” when a TSA agent conducted the pat-down. As a consequence of a 2008 hip replacement surgery, Ventura lives with a titanium plate that sets off the alarm in an airport screening magnetometer, requiring him to submit to a secondary search. He notes that prior to November, officials had always used a non-invasive hand-held wand, but during the November incident he wasn’t given that option.

The governor’s attorney, David Olsen, commented, "The security procedures are going too far. There’s a line somewhere and he believes that line has been crossed." A TSA spokesman stated that the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation. 

Ventura’s suit is one of a growing number against the TSA and DHS for humiliating and unconscionable incidents resulting from the new search procedures. PrisonPlant.com reported several recent high-profile cases describing outrageous behavior on the part of TSA agents.

Frequent traveler and businessman Jon Corbett has filed his own lawsuit and started a blog, TSA Out of Our Pants!. His efforts have gained momentum, and his simple reasoning is that the best defense against TSA overreach is the travelers themselves. Having grown in up New York City and witnessed the events of 9/11, Corbett nevertheless noted that he knows of not one instance in which the TSA has stopped a terrorist.

Ventura and others agree. Not to mention the authors of the Fourth Amendment, who wrote:

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.