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End random searches, Paul tells TSA

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) lambasted the Transportation Safety Administration for its random passenger searches. Two recent incidents involved constituents of Paul’s. 

Here’s a portion of the transcript:

SENATOR PAUL: Currently the invasive pat-down searches are random and not based on risk assessment? 

JOHN S. PISTOLE, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: No, actually they are based on intelligence that we know specifically from Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the way he concealed that device. There are some random pat-downs if that’s what you’re referring to, but it is based on intelligence.  

PAUL: I guess this little girl would be part of the random pat-downs, this little girl from Bowling Green Kentucky, one of my constituents. They’re still quite unhappy with you guys as well myself and a lot of other Americans who think you’ve gone overboard, you’re missing the boat on terrorism because you’re doing these invasive searches on six-year old girls.

Same week that this happened I got a call from another neighbor of mine in Bowling Green, a little boy had a broken foot and crutches. They didn’t want to go through all the screenings, so they took the crutches off and the cast and he wanted to hobble through on his broken foot. His dad was helping him.

TSA said “back away, back away.” Then he had to go through the special search because he previously had a cast on, even though the cast went through the belt. When the dad comes close they say “back away, back away.” “If you don’t back away you won’t fly.”  

This kind of gets back to this whole idea of what are willing to do, what are we willing to give up as a country?

 In your interview with ABC News, you said “I see flying as a privilege.”

There are those of us who see otherwise.

The Supreme Court concluded in Saenz vs. Roe in 1999 says that although the word travel is not found in the text in the constitution, yet the constitutional right to travel from one state to another is firmly embedded in our jurisprudence.

Justice Stewart went on to say in Shapiro vs. Thompson that the right to travel is so important that it is assertable against private interference as well as governmental action. A virtually unconditional constitutional right guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.

This isn’t to say we don’t believe in safety procedures. But I think I feel less safe when you’re doing these invasive exams on a six-year old.

It makes me think you’re clueless, if you think she’s going to attack our country and you’re not doing your research on the people who want to attack our country. It absolutely must involve a risk assessment of those who are traveling. And the fact that she’s being patted down and I don’t feel comfortable really with your response that we are no longer doing random pat-downs.

I think you ought to get rid of the random pat-downs. The American public is unhappy with them, they’re unhappy with the invasiveness of them. The Internet is full of jokes about the invasiveness of the pat-down searches and we ought to just consider, is this what we’re willing to do…”

In addition to advocating an end to random searches, Paul went on to suggest that a frequent flyer program was long overdue. Initially, the TSA had held out a hope that the program would be up and running. That was ten years ago.

Update – another embarrassing report on random searches showed up today in the news when an elderly woman had to strip out of her adult diaper because the screener thought it felt “funny”.


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