The World According to Nick
Politics, News, Photography, and Triathlons... What don't I talk about?
Thursday, 02 December 2010
<< The True Test for Wisconsin Republicans Is Health Insurance Like Car Insurance? >>
Do We Have a Right to Free Movement?

For those who have been following me on Twitter, you know that I think the Transportation Security Administration is a complete waste. They are ineffective agency, who is abusing their power, and not only violating our dignity, but our Constitutional Rights. In fact, I am so upset by what they do, and how they do it, that I can't say I even respect anyone who works for the agency. If you choose to work there knowing what they do to people, then you deserve all the derision that travelers dump on you daily. There are actually people who suggest that we "thank" members of the TSA for groping us and taking pictures of our naked bodies. I suppose they also "thank" employees of the IRS for auditing them too.

There has been a lot of commentary regarding the TSA and their ineffective and unwarranted searches of people in a lot of places. Certainly Bruce Schneier and his roundup is well worth a read, not only for commentary, but also great explanations of why everything the TSA is completely worthless. More importantly is this great analysis of why the current search regime is unconstitutional. Many of those who argue for the TSA claim that "flying is a privilege", and therefore, if you don't like the searches, you just shouldn't fly. The problem with this theory is that the government is ensuring that no matter how you choose to travel, you must either be licensed, or you must submit to a search.

One could argue that if you don't want to be searched, then you can take a bus or a train. But as this video demonstrates, the TSA is now beginning to do searches at intermodal stations that serve intra-city buses and trains (video via The Agitator):

One important thing to note about this report is that they are doing more than simply searching for explosives, or other devices that could cause harm to people on the bus or the train. They said they were searching for people carrying unusual amounts of cash, or other contraband as well as checking identification to ensure you are legally in this country (papers please). In other words, they are using the fear of terrorism to get around the basic 4th Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure. They don't want to bother with probable cause, and instead just want to search everyone and see who is breaking the law. This is precisely what the 4th Amendment was designed to prevent.

I'm sure there are then people who would argue that traveling on a bus or train is a privilege, and not a right, and that you should simply drive. The problem with this is that in order to drive, you must be licensed by the government to do so. Even if you are licensed by the government to travel, you might still be searched by the TSA according to this news report:

Local law enforcement and federal agents conducted a checkpoint operation Tuesday afternoon in Douglas County, the Federal Air Marshal Service told the AJC.

"This is a live operation intent on deterring would-be terrorists or criminal activity," Nelson Minerly, spokesman for the federal agency, told the AJC.

The operation created a big distraction to motorists heading eastbound on I-20 in rush hour, and many motorists let the AJC and the WSB traffic center hear about it.

But the operation, which also involves the Transportation Security Administration, is top-secret before it happens, Minerly said.

"We don’t advertise when they're going to happen or when they're going to be," Minerly said.

Mostly trucks were being checked, Minerly said. Shortly before 6 p.m., nothing had been recovered in the operation, he said.

"There's no specific threat," Jon Allen, regional spokesman for the TSA, told the AJC.

It's a little unclear whether any passenger vehicles were also checked, but note that they were looking for terrorists or criminal activity. This is certainly a violation of the 4th Amendment, and as The Agitator points out, has already been ruled unconstitutional under Indianapolis v. Edmond, not that this stops the federal government. This is no longer about protecting us from terrorism. This is about a naked power grab, and how the government wants to simply search everyone, at any time, for any reason.

The question that I pose in the title of this post, "Do we have a right to free movement?", is an important one. If we believe that free movement is a constitutionally protected right, then the government cannot demand that we give up other constitutional rights in order to exercise it. For instance, you cannot be forced to give up your right to free speech in order to exercise your right to vote. All rights sit on equal footing, and you don't have to be forced to choose among them. Moreover, the government cannot place an undue burden on citizens who try to exercise that right. By forcing citizens to submit to searches no matter what mode of travel they choose, the government is essentially forcing those who wish to be free of unreasonable search and seizure to hike long distances by foot.

# Posted at 09:08 by Nick  |  Comment Feed Link 1 Comment  |  No Trackbacks

 Add to |  Digg this Post | Filed Under: Overkill | Politics | Stupid Laws

Thursday, 09 December 2010 16:40:51 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Did you see this piece by Paul Craig Roberts?
Comments are closed.

© Copyright 2017 Nick Schweitzer
Powered By newtelligence dasBlog 1.9.7067.0
Theme Based on Design By maystar