Power to strip search passengers claimed by Feds
In a breathtaking statement delivered in an official court proceeding, the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims authority to strip search every airline passenger; and to begin such a practice without even soliciting comment from the public.
This outrageous statement recently was delivered to the American people by a DHS lawyer in arguments before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is considering a challenge to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) nude body scanner devices. The suit was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
Currently TSA, which is a component of DHS, claims authority to subject passengers to either an intrusive hand searches or to x-ray scans that reveal a nude image of the passengers’ bodies. Many, including this author and EPIC, consider such searches unconstitutional as violative of the the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution, which prohibits “unreasonable” searches, because they are being conducted without any suspicion at all that such passengers are attempting to bring weapons or explosives on board commercial aircraft.
The U.S. House is scheduled to open hearings today on TSA searches and authorities.
Most observers expect the D.C. Appeals Court to uphold TSA’s current practices. This would leave only the Congress to put a stop to these outrageous, privacy-invasive and unconstitutional searches by the federal government. If TSA and DHS are permitted to continue unchecked, then truly the Fourth Amerndment will have been gutted; and with it, the single most important and effective check on government power enjoyed by the American People for over two centuries.