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'Unconstitutional' Scream du Jour

By Will Corsair
Opinion | November 23, 2010

OLATHE, Kan. - Well, they're at it again. The "unconstitutional" crowd. Mike Huckabee is the latest demagogue to find something unconstitutional. (Do you ever get the feeling that these "unconstitutionalists" are former communist hunters who've lost their enemy and are creating a new one out of whole cloth? Don't they have lives? Don't they have anything better to do?)

Now Huckabee is ranting about the TSA's mandatory full-body scan or alternative enhanced pat down. Challenging President Obama to have his immediate family go through the procedure, Huckabee says,

"If it's OK for your wife, your daughters, and your mother-in-law, then maybe the rest of us won't feel so bad when our wives, our daughters and our mothers are being put through this humiliating and degrading, totally unconstitutional, intrusion of their privacy."

I fly a lot. I don't like the scanners and I don't like the pat downs. But this isn't a constitutional issue.

It's a contractual issue -- something Republicans and Libertarians should understand. Like it or not, intense screening is now part of the contract. If you don't like it then you can drive, take a bus or train, or don't go. The Israelis have zero problems with terrorists on their aircraft but you don't hear anyone complaining. That's because fliers on El Al know that they're going to be subjected to intense scrutiny. It comes with the territory.

Why aren't the right wingers screaming about the unconstitutionality of their Wall Street buddies fleecing of billions of dollars from ordinary citizens? Sorry...I digress. I have to remind myself that Republicans and Libertarians don't let pesky constitutional issues get in the way when it comes to money.


I haven't been on a commercial flight in 10 years, but I'd rather go through a rigorous screening and feel safe than to trust this great nation of Christians. No, I'm not making fun of Christians, I happen to profess Christianity and try to live by the example Jesus set for us. But for all those folks who claim we are a theocracy with a constitution that is a backup of Biblical doctrine and laws, I'd say start your own airline and advertize no securiity because we believe you are all Christians. Do away with signed and notarized contractual agreements and property titles that are enforced by our judicial system.

Those same people who are screaming about Democrats and big government, blame the Democrats for making the terrorists of the 9-11 event, the shoe bomber, etc. Now they think security has gone too far! ???? What am I not seeing? Why do I think they are off base? There is a disconnect here in their reasoning.

My issue is with what I consider unreasonable search. That may not be what the constitution meant by unreasonable search and seizure but it sounds like it.

And as far as I know, the Israelis don't have the same sort of silly scans and pat downs we have nor do they have interminable waits.

Lastly, I'd like to not that if you own your own airplane you can go anywhere without any of the security checks that have been (wrongly, in my opinion) instigated since 9/11. Is that right? No. I think the terrorists achieved their aim by making us more paranoid (what is condition green anyway and when was the last time we were on it) and making our transportation much more inefficient.

With all the neocons yelling that we need tighter security so that we can be safer (Benjamin Franklin knew this was a fallacy) and the neoliberals going along with it because it means more money for many large corporations, someone seemed to forget about the common man.

We really do need a third party in this country but it needs to be based on a real populist point of view with logic as it's main ingredient. Many people would vote for that IF such a person could get honest media coverage (who owns the major media outlets?) and if that person would survive the character assassination that would be targeted their way.

Ken, you're right about the "disconnect" but I can't exactly call it "reasoning." These are the same people who gave a pass to Bush's warrantless wiretapping--an activity that covers every electronic conversation and piece of data flowing anywhere at any time. Where were the "unconstitutional" screamers then? Talk about unreasonable searches. There was no "opt out" provision. You were just stuck.

To GMKNOBL's point, I go back to the contractual issue. If you want to fly then part of the contract for carriage now specifies that you must be certified safe to fly with the rest of us. It's not an unreasonable search because, in order to fly, you agree to the terms of carriage. I hate it, but that's the deal. And, frankly, I don't want the TSA and the FAA out of the picture because that's exactly what the corporatists want--no government. No government so that they can get their hands on public resources such as the transportation infrastructure, the airwaves, food and water supplies, and anything else that serves the common good. "Let's privatize it!" they scream. "Business can always do a better job than government." Yah, right. Wall Street torpedoed the economy because there was lax government oversight and these folks want less government?

The "unconstitutional" screamers are also among those who are adamant that the terrorists will not disrupt our way of life. Well, guess what? They already have, as evidenced by the screaming, and we'll have to live with it. People elsewhere in the world have been dealing with terrorism since at least the late 1970s.

It's disturbing to me that Mike Huckabee is saying things like that. Huckabee is the one Republican I wouldn't be deathly afraid of in the White House. If you want to talk about Israel, we could learn from them. Bill Maher, in his book Victory Begins at Home, actually suggested it. Safety aboard Israeli flights begins with a well-paid, highly trained security force in their airports. They are not guarded by what we have in TSA agents. You would compare them more to Secret Service agents. That would make a huge difference. The Secret Service is well-versed in behavior and they use it to protect people. The TSA lacks any real training like that. If we want security we should spend less money on body scanners and more on training. Until then, I agree, if you don't like it take the bus, or drive yourself. That's what I do.

If we want good security screening we need only look at Vegas and the security systems and people employed by the casino industry. They combine the good intelligence of looking for known thieves and other suspicious persons, combined with a well trained staff of pit bosses who are experts at spotting suspicious behavior indicating cheating. Plus undercover investigators who penetrate rings of cheats.

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