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aviation liberty national security politics quote

Congressman Burgess responds on TSA’s new policies

Michael C. Burgess, the Congressional representative for our little sliver of Texas, has responded to the letter I sent him a week and a half ago expressing my displeasure with the TSA’s new imaging and groping “enhanced” pat-down policies. His response is below, in its entirety. I have added emphasis in the fourth paragraph not present in the original.

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Dear Mr. Turner:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concern regarding the security policies of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
As you are aware, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently purchased full body scanners that show the outline of the naked human body and allow TSA to detect high-density bomb-making materials. In response to a large number of complaints from both travelers and employees in the airline industry, DHS instituted a new policy that allows travelers to “opt out” of the digital image scanning. This “opt out” procedure allows for the traveler to step aside and receive a full-body pat-down to check for hidden substances or items on the persons. As a result, TSA and DHS implemented a new “pat-down” procedure that serves as an alternative procedure for those travelers who wish to refuse the full-body scan.
Over the past few weeks, I have received hundreds of phone calls from concerned constituents, and seen news reports of people who are outraged by TSA’s invasive full-body scans and “pat-down” procedures that are now used in the name of national security. After recently flying myself and witnessing how invasive these procedures are, as well as the potential for abuse, I am outraged that TSA chose to implement the new rules without consulting with Congress. TSA is charged with protecting our airplanes from the kind of terrorism we saw in the terror attacks on 9/11, but this should not result in an abuse of power and the exploitation of Americans.
Further disconcerting is the fact that Congress voted overwhelmingly to prohibit the TSA’s use of full-body scanners as a primary screening method. H.R. 2200, the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act, contained an amendment to prohibit the TSA’s use of full-body scanners as a primary screening method. House Amendment 172 passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 310 to 118, but TSA has ignored this, and plans to deploy over 1,000 machines in use at airports across the country by the end of next year. Although this legislation is awaiting further action in the Senate, the sense of Congress is clear – these invasive methods are not the best use of TSA resources.
In light of our serious concerns regarding the agency’s use of invasive tactics, I joined several of my colleagues in Congress to request that the House Homeland Security Committee conduct a hearing on the new TSA procedures.
It is unfortunate terrorism from abroad has brought us to this point. Rest assured, I am committed to securing our nations’ airlines and preventing another terrorist attack, as well as to protecting your Constitutional rights. Representing an area with several major airports, I have tried to help protect, control, and monitor changes made for better security, without infringing on the very freedoms for which we are fighting. I will continue to support legislation that will strengthen our borders, protect our ports, and help prepare the nation in case of a terror attack.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website (www.house.gov/burgess) or contact me with any future concerns.
Sincerely,
Michael C. Burgess, M.D.
Member of Congress

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liberty quote

Too bad we don’t pay attention to history

“History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.” –Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781

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liberty politics travel

A boarding pass is not probable cause

Below is the letter I sent to our Congressional representative, Michael C. Burgess. I totally ripped it off from my friend Tom, tweaking it slightly. You are welcome to copy either of ours if you feel similarly about the TSA’s new search policies.

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To The Honorable Michael C. Burgess
As Congress comes back into session, I encourage you to use your position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to change the policy enacted concerning the Transportation Safety Administration’s use of millimeter wave technology in the screening of passengers. These devices represent an unnecessary invasion of privacy as part of security procedures, and aren’t making anyone safer.
While I appreciate the need to try to make airports more secure, these scanners show images of a patron’s naked body to the TSA in order to do it. Worse, if you decide to opt out of the scanners for personal privacy reasons, or for concern over radiation exposure, you’re subject to a very intimate patdown that allows the TSA to touch the genital regions of a patron, out of nothing short of retaliation.
This is patently unacceptable. The choices you have to make if you take your family traveling is that you can have their genitals leered at by TSA officers (one such example of bad behavior includes a pilot’s 18 year old daughter: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147497-tso-saying-heads-up-got-cutie-you.html ) or you can have them fondled. Or you can refuse both, and, even if volunteering to go through the normal metal detector, be escorted from the airport: http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html.
Which would you choose?
The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution, which you have sworn to uphold and defend against powers foreign and domestic, says 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.”
A boarding pass is not probable cause to have my person searched in such a fashion.
This is a bridge too far. A functioning travel network is crucial to a free society, and to have to show one’s genitals to the TSA, or allow them to be groped, in order to travel is the sort of unnecessary restriction on one’s liberty, and in exchange for no increase in security (these devices, and these patdowns, do not show hidden packages that could be contained in body cavities, which is the next logical step in the progression of the terrorists) and only serve to inconvenience the travelers.
Please enact legislation to stop the retaliatory patdowns and remove these intrusions into our personal privacy.
Thank you,
Christopher Turner

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liberty politics quote

No worse tyranny

“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” –American writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)

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liberty politics quote

An evil evil

Andrew Klavan:

It was JFK who signed an executive order giving public sector unions the right to collective bargaining. We need a president with the guts to revoke that order. Unions – a necessary evil in private life – are just an evil evil in the public sector. Nothing necessary about them at all.

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liberty quote

True then, true now

“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Ludlow, 1824
Amen!

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history liberty quote

American youth, never forget

“Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence.” — Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

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history liberty quote

Failing to learn from history

“But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm… But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 46
I wonder what our fourth president, a strict constitutional constructionist, would think of us now.

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history liberty quote

Federal, not national

“Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 39
Oh, what of our history we have forgotten.

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liberty politics quote

Siena votes FDR #1

Burt Folsom:

The Siena College presidential poll–a ranking of 44 presidents by 200 historians–put Franklin Roosevelt in first place. In other words, the man who, during his first two terms, gave us nonstop double digit unemployment–and 20 percent unemployment toward the end of his second term, is ranked ahead of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and all other American presidents.

And that may not be the worst indiscretion. These historians also ranked Barack Obama ahead of Ronald Reagan. In other words, if you start your presidency with 8 percent unemployment and run it to 10 percent (all the while going further in debt by more than $1,000,000,000,000) you are greater than the president who sharply reduced unemployment and inflation during his first term and then ended the Cold War in his second term.

Some people are dismayed by our historians’ peculiar judging standards. And it’s true that such wildly indefensible rankings are outrageous. But they help inform us that most historians can’t be trusted to make sound judgments about the past. That is useful to know, as parents prepare their 18 year olds to go off to college and be tutored by FDR loyalists.