The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is using portable full-body scanners to screen the nearly six million passengers riding on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s buses and trains.
The LA Metro Transportation Authority invited the TSA to come to the City of Angels, subjecting millions to that agency’s unquestionably uncouth and unconstitutional searching and screening practices.
On August 14, the Los Angeles Times reported on this pernicious partnership: “Later this year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will deploy several portable scanners that can be moved to any of the system’s 93 subway and light-rail stations. The devices will be used in response to terrorism threats, or to scan large crowds at a station near a protest or a sporting event, officials said.”
The portable scanners, manufactured by Thruvision, are capable of subjecting “more than 2,000 people an hour” to the invasive process, according to a quote from Metro spokesman Dave Sotero included in the LA Times report.
Each of the devices cost the citizens of Los Angeles County about $100,000. That’s right. The working men and women of one of the country’s most populous counties will soon be footing the bill for the federal government’s professional feelers to humiliate those among them that ride on the public transportation system, a system they already pay over $5 million to maintain!
One is reminded of the incredulous musings of James Madison, in The Federalist, No. 46, that he believed that the American people would never “silently and patiently behold the gathering storm, and continue to supply the materials, until it should be prepared to burst on their own heads.”
That dystopian vision of Mr. Madison has unfortunately come to pass in its fullness from sea to shining sea, at the invitation of the so-called representatives of the people on the municipal, county, state, and federal spheres of government.
If those intent on jumping on board a train or bus to get to work should not want to subject themselves to the prying eyes and roaming hands of the LA Metro Transit Police — who will be de facto deputies of the TSA — they will be turned away, according to the statement of law enforcement in the Times story.
“Riders who ‘want to opt out, can opt out,’ [Metro security chief] Wiggins said, but could be barred from entering the station if they refuse to be screened. He added: ‘That means not taking transit that day.’”
No screening, no riding. Consider what that means to real people: There are millions, literally millions, of Los Angelenos who depend on the metro transit system to get them to work and they depend on that work to afford food, housing, and other necessities of life. Now, thanks to the unholy alliance between LA Metro Transit and the TSA, if those people refuse to submit to having their entire body and possessions scanned by law enforcement, then those people will not make it to work.
While many Americans would not lose their jobs for missing work one day or showing up late one day, there are so many of us, particularly those who depend on public transportation, who would indeed find themselves unemployed in such a scenario.
Apparently, the LA Metro Transportation Authority and the TSA have no problem soaking the taxpayers and sacrificing the employment of taxpayers on the altar of unwarranted searching, screening, scanning, and touching.
Anyone who has passed through TSA security checkpoints is an eyewitness to the excesses exercised by this agency. The threat of terrorism after September 11, 2001 was used as a pretext to give them an inch of intrusive authority and the never-ending prosecution of the “War on Terror” has been used by them as an excuse to take a mile of liberty from the people of the United States.
It’s not, however, just that such TSA abuses are unconscionable — they are — but they are unconstitutional, as well.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that 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.”
Next, a letter written by John Adams in 1817 to his former student, William Tudor: “Every Man of an immense crouded [sic] Audience appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take Arms against Writs of Assistance. Then and there was the first scene of the first Act of opposition to the Arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the Child Independence was born. In fifteen years ... he grew up to Manhood, & declared himself free.”
Predictably, Wiggins was quoted in the LA Times promising that all the TSA’s invasive procedures will be carried out in such a way “where we can screen large numbers of passengers with minimal inconvenience.”
The only process that would be truly designed to be the least inconvenience to the traveler would be to allow the market to secure the skies.
If transportation company A wants to give pat downs to every traveler and transportation company B uses an expertly engineered process of patrolling who is allowed on their planes, a way that prevents most passengers from suffering the inhumanity of TSA-style searches and seizures, is there any question which airline will be more profitable?
Given the ever-accelerating expansion of the federal government’s shameless screening of everyone, including the elderly, children, and the disabled, it seems that perhaps our country is gripped by what Madison described as a “great madness” and we are all lost in the “incoherent dreams of a delirious jealousy, or the misjudged exaggerations of a counterfeit zeal, than like the sober apprehensions of genuine patriotism.”
It’s time to wake up!
Photo of LA Metro Gold Line: METRO96 / Wikimedia Commons