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TSA Searches, Security or Power Grab

Updated on November 16, 2010

Why A Physical Search

 Due to my background in Law Enforcement, and my years of work in the California prison system. I have participated in thousands of pat-down searches and strip searches. Most people would understand extreme pat-down, or strip searches in a prison, but do not understand why at the airport.

First consider that inmates and terrorists have somethings in common. They both want to be invisible when involved in their planning, preparation, and implementation of their crimes. They both conceal illegal items on their person to avoid detection.

In todays world not all weapons are made of metal, there for metal detectors do not always work. Weapons can be made from plastic wrap to ceramic materials. As mechanical detection systems are designed and improved, criminals and terrorists seek out their weakness and exploit them.

I have seen weapons and contraband hidden in slits cut inside the mouth in the area of the cheeks, concealed in pockets sown into outer clothing and under garments. Concealed in and around the genitalia, and any other place you can think of.

So which form of searching is the best? The best would be a full strip search and x-rays. This would detect any items on the body, and inside the body. After all, if our security procedures only check the outside of the body, criminals and terrorists will conceal items inside the body either in a cavity, or inserted under the skin that would be able to be removed, or activated by the individual. Between the two, a strip search is less likely to have lasting harmful effects.

Our Prudish Ways

Americans as a whole are some what prudish. We like our comfort zone, or put a better way our space. We have a personal zone that extends about three feet, or arms length. We are comfortable keeping most people an arms length from us. A person that we know or know well can enter with-in our personal space without undo concern. We will allow an unknown person to shake our hand, but even then the person is about three feet from us as both have extended their arms and hands. Hugs or body contact are generally unwelcomed, unless we know and trust the individual involved.

Due to my background my comfort zone is actually, three feet plus one step. Unless I know and trust a person, I do not want them touching me. In theaters I have to sit in the back and keep an empty seat between me and the person next to me ( if I don't know them). During my Military service I was stationed in Japan. The Japanese personal space zone extends from their skin inwards, at least on trains. During non rush hours there was enough space that I was comfortable on the trains. However, I avoided trains during the rush hours due to the crowded conditions, having six people I did not know touching me was just too much.

In certain circumstances we allow people to not only touch us but probe us. I remember my first rectal exam, I did not like it a bit, but it was required as part of my medical exam for entry into the army. We submit to these kind of probes for our health, but will we submit to searches for our Safety?

Are Constitutional Rights Violated?

First, I am not a Constitutional lawyer, or practice law in any form of fashion. These are just my understanding based on my working background and my personal studies. What have we already given up that would fall into the same category or close too the search issue.

Health-care that requires everyone to buy insurance if they want it or not. This is a violation as we have no choice, and it is required by the Government.

Drivers License, Auto insurance, smog checks. These I feel are legal as we have an option not to own or drive a vehicle. The individual can make a choice if their desire for a license, insurance, and a smog check, is worth the cost or limit of freedom.

Social Security Number, again we are not required by law to have one. Unless we want to work or receive any government assistance or programs such as medicare, social security benifits. Again you as an individual have the right to choose.

Now the TSA searches. Again we have a choice, to fly or go by train, auto, bike, or walk. Again we must weigh our decission based on our desire to fly and our right to unreasonable searches.

People in American have given up rights to search many times. We as individuals can choose to let the Police officer search our home, car and belongings, at anytime by giving permission. We can also refuse and make them either violate our rights, or get a court order, to do the searches. We can give up our right to remain silent and talk with police about a criminal matter, or we can refuse, again we have a choice. The TSA searches fall into this same group, we can submit and fly, or refuse and find another way to travel.

How to change the TSA policy? I have heard numerous ways people have been talking about. Including everyone requesting a strip search or everyone refusing it. If people start this, the TSA will set up another line for people to show their airline ticket, no ticket no entry into the screening area. You have a ticket and refuse, your ticket is marked refused screening, sent out and barred from re-entry with the ticket marked refused. Out come, increased cost to Government, further delay for people willing to be searched.

Personally, I believe you should write/call the TSA, Homeland Security, and your local and federal representatives and make your concerns known and what you want done. Secondly, refuse to fly, jobs will be lost by both Government and the airlines. They will be required to re-evaluate their decision based on the economics.

Lastly, by attempting to block airports and screening areas are you violating the rights of those people who have chosen to fly, and submit to the security procedures?

This is a personal issue and everyone must make a decission if they will or will not allow their person to be searched.




Submit a Comment
  • Ms Dee profile image

    Deidre Shelden 

    8 years ago from Texas, USA

    It's really nice to get your thoughts on the 14th A. Yes, that is what I'm realizing, too, that we don't HAVE to fly, even though I got caught holding a non-refundable ticket when the new TSA screening then started to be used. This is helpful, Terry, to realize once I trip a metal detector alarm, I obligate myself to a search. Thanks! Realizing that when "entering these areas you waive certain rights" is important to understand. Yes, it was good to see that common sense reigned in the majority submitting to the searches yesterday. Well put! Thank you for your excellent hub!

  • Terry B. Davis profile imageAUTHOR

    Terry B. Davis 

    8 years ago

    Ms Dee, It is difficult to see if the 14th amendment even would apply. As I see it your rights have not been restricted. You have a choice to fly or not to fly. In order to fly you must first purchase a ticket. You report to the gate with your ticket and are informed by signes of the security measures and that by entering the area you are consenting to them, again a choice. Upon going through a metal detector if an alarm sounds indicating metal or possible illegal items are present you are given a choice of an x-ray inspection or a clothed pat-down search, and again you have a choice. Now at this point you can not leave, due to the alarm activation there is probable cause that you may have violated airport security. TSA conducts an investigation to learn the cause of the metal detectors alarm.

    Just as in criminal law, you can waive your right to search and even your right to remain silent or to have an attorney present. When notified by signs posted at entry area's to prisons, airports and security areas, that by entering these areas you waive certain rights gives the government and their represenatives the right to search.

    As you can see it can really be a tangled mess. What about the airports were the airlines hire their own security and as a right to fly in their planes you must submit to a search? Have your rights been violated, what about the rights of other passengers to be safe, and the rights of people on the ground to be safe from falling airplaines.

    However, at the end of the day I believe that it is a personal decision. As evidenced by todays lack of shutting down airports with pat searches, as many claimed they wanted to do. Those flying decided by an overwhelming majority to submit to the searches. Just as those of us who didn't fly did not submit.

  • Ms Dee profile image

    Deidre Shelden 

    8 years ago from Texas, USA

    I like that you point out it is a personal decision for each of us, and your added information of what you've seen criminals do is very helpful. I'm pondering what the 14th Amendment means and how it is to be applied.

  • Notorious30 profile image


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    In this day and age I feel it is necessary to do whatever is needed to insure safety to the workers and people. If it means making people feel uncomfortable then so be it, but we also need to be reasonable about how we go about it. Let’s try to be more accommodating to privacy, dignity, and less judgmental.

  • Terry B. Davis profile imageAUTHOR

    Terry B. Davis 

    8 years ago


    Since you did not spell out exactly what you were referring too. I have heard of several cases where people got upset. The first was an elderly lady with a hip or knee replacement and they wanted to wand her, she complained she had a doctors note and should not have been wanded. I have seen cases where wheelchair bound people, and people with metal in their bodies were used to smuggle out metal to be used to make weapons. Criminals and Terrorists will use any person that recieves special treatment or not wanded after setting off a metal detector, or are excussed from searches. I have also seen criminals use infant bottles, babies, and poop filled diapers in order to smuggle in contraband. If I was a Terrorist and wanted to smuggle in explosives concealing it in a poop filled diaper or in linning of a babies diaper would be a way to do it. Oh, incidently, several older males that I know have had seed implants for treatment of postrate cancer. At airports they are stopped due to the radiation. Usually they present their doctors note which stated they have the seeds and other info. TSA agents make a call to their Doctors and with in several mins. they were on their way. The seeds give out less radiation then a weapon would.

    Thank you for your comment, and if possible I would appriciate your information on exactly what going to extremes and sometimes abusing people means.

    One last note, these measures would more than likely not be needed if we were not so PC, and used profiling to assist in locating and stopping terrorists. After all not all muslims are terrorists, but so far all terrorists that have attacked us have been muslim. We should look at a security system that has a proven track record, maybe we could learn something from Isreal.

  • someonewhoknows profile image


    8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

    It,seems they are going to extremes sometimes though while they are doing their job,and sometimes abuse people for no good reason while they are at it.


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