Unreasonable Searches

Last week, I was busy writing about the potential Republican presidential candidates, and I felt like I should stay on topic throughout the week, even though a storm was brewing in another policy area—airport security.

I’ve deliberately withheld comment until now, reading as much as I could on the subject, both pro and con. My conclusion is that we are so far off-base in our attempt to be secure against terrorism that we have begun to look ridiculous. More than that, we have become blatantly unconstitutional.

The airport full-body scanners are half of the controversy; the other half centers on the more rigorous “pat-down” procedures now implemented. Let’s start with the scanners.

Two issues stand out, although only one has received sufficient press: the fact that someone is seeing you totally naked and the health question with regard to the radiation. The first destroys all modesty; the second could kill you in the end. Most of the furor has focused on the fact that you are completely exposed, and that is bad enough.

The greater long-term concern, though, in my view, is the health issue. The government has assured us there is no danger. Forgive me if that doesn’t satisfy my intellectual curiosity. I’m supposed to believe the Obama administration that this doesn’t endanger my health? Like I’m supposed to believe that Obamacare is good for the country? I don’t have that much faith.

Well, we can all opt out of the scanners if we wish. All we have to do is submit to a search-and-seizure operation, as if we are suspected criminals. The stories making the rounds this past week are horrifying: a three-year-old girl crying while being “inspected”; a cancer-surviving flight attendant who has worked with an airline for over 30 years being frisked to the point that she had to remove a prosthetic breast. Those are just two of numerous accounts of what should be considered outrages.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—which has been linked to the terrorist group Hamas—protested at one point and said that Muslim women should receive a waiver from these searches. That demand was ultimately rejected, but it did lead to some humorous possibilities:

We seem to have forgotten that the Constitution does still exist, at least in theory. Here’s the precise wording of the Fourth Amendment:

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.

The italics are mine. This amendment is not just a guarantee that the government cannot enter your house; it also speaks of your person. You are not to undergo any unreasonable search. What we are witnessing currently is not only unreasonable, it is absurd. We have left common sense behind.

Our approach has made no distinction between those who are likely to be terrorists and those who are ordinary citizens. That is ridiculous. Voices have been raised over the past week that we need to profile. There is, whether our political correctness will allow us to admit it or not, a higher probability that one specific group of people are more likely to set off bombs—and your grandmother is unlikely to be part of that group.

Perhaps we should be thankful that it has come to this; maybe it takes outrageous actions to shake us out of our lethargy and demand a change. In the same way that electing Barack Obama to the presidency has awakened an increased desire for constitutional government due to his overreaching, the same could be true in this case.

It’s time to rethink the whole anti-terrorist strategy when it comes to the airlines. Are there any elected officials capable and willing to take on this task? If they take their oath seriously to defend the Constitution, they will step forward and shoulder this responsibility. In the meantime, it’s up to the people at large to make it known that this policy should not be tolerated.