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The TSA's Extortion Racket

Written by Edward Cline - FamilySecurityMatters.org

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only seems to lack perspicuity, foresight, basic analytical skills, and senses of humor and irony. Its head, its staff, and its administrator are as distant from reality as Pluto is from the Sun. It has just launched a propaganda campaign called, “If You See Something, Say Something.” They have roused the wrong “enemy” – the American people.

20101121_TSAstrip"As Americans head into the busy holiday travel season, it is important to remember that every individual has a role to play in keeping our country safe and secure," said Secretary Napolitano. "The ‘If You See Something, Say Something' campaign encourages travelers and those who work in the hotel industry to identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to the proper law enforcement authorities."

Imagine that in Nazi Germany, every German was urged to perform the same “patriotic” duty to keep the country safe and secure. To wit: “If you see a Jew, say something. If you see a gypsy, say something. If you see a Negro, say something. If you see a German curse Hitler, say something.” You get the picture.

In the official announcement site, the term “terrorism” occurs only once. Nowhere are the terms, Islam, Muslim, and jihad to be found, even though it is Islamic terrorists who are the purported enemy. The enemy, however, is left unidentified. Common criminals can wage terror, too, while “other threats” also float in the sump of official DHS terminology. You, the concerned citizen, have a role to play in spotting and ratting on shapeless, nameless bogeymen. Forgive the TSA if it treats you like a suspect, guilty before proven innocent. It is your duty to act guilty until proven innocent by a semi-literate making just above the minimum wage.

But, think twice, though, if you see a Muslim behaving oddly or suspiciously. Do not point fingers at men performing prayers in an airport lounge, or at women wearing various kinds of strange headgear. That would be discriminatory, evidence of prejudice, bigotry, and groundless fear.

Do not for one minute, however, think that the introduction of these “enhanced” security procedures is a consequence of poor planning or shortsightedness. The procedures are obnoxious, repellent, and invasive by design. They are intended to inure Americans to being treated as chattel and the property of the state. Americans are supposed to treat the right and luxury of flying as a state-granted privilege.

A memo to DHS secretary Janet Napolitano: I have seen something, and I am saying something. Aside from violating the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against the federal government conducting “unreasonable searches and seizures” at airports, loosing on American and foreign travelers the costly, invasive, and futile sham of security checks at airports, sexually assaulting individuals of both genders and of all ages, subjecting said travelers to degradation and humiliation, physically assaulting travelers who may have included an eye-drop dispenser or a tube of toothpaste in a carry-on bag – there is this observable but too-often overlooked defining characteristic of especially the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) airport security checks: the practice of criminal extortion.

The legal definition of the act and crime of extortion includes:

Perform[ing] any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.

Excuse me, but doesn’t this definition apply to a TSA agent (I refuse to call these creatures “officers”) telling you that if you don’t submit your luggage and your person to his optionless search and likely seizure, you won’t be flying anywhere? You won’t be going to Cleveland on business, you won’t be having turkey with all the trimmings with family in Reno, you won’t be seeing your sweetheart in Des Moines?

Of course, once one submits to the extortion, it triggers and sanctions the unreasonable search and seizure, also chargeable offenses.

Extortion is the threat of withholding a value by compelling a victim’s consent to surrender another, perhaps lesser value. Think Sophie’s Choice. The consensual character of extortion does not hide or disguise the element of the threat of initiated physical force by compelling an individual to take an action he otherwise would not choose to take.

But this is not the exclusive realm of TSA policy. It is the federal government’s modus operandi in virtually all areas of American life. For example, Americans are already “conditioned” to filing tax returns under the threat of audits, fines, expropriation, and prison. Employers act as unpaid tax collectors under penalty of audits, expropriation, fines, and prison. Other examples would fill several pages of redundancies. The TSA is merely a late-comer to the game, an in-your-face and in-your-pants late-comer that reveals the true nature of statism.

The growing resistance to the TSA’s policies is evidence that Americans still don’t like to be pushed around. They don’t like being treated like pieces of meat, or print cartridges, to be inspected and certified by the lackeys of federal authority.


The Fourth Amendment reads:

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.

So, when an infant, or a person in a wheelchair, or schoolchildren, or adults, are subjected to virtual strip searches, legalized molestation, and exposed to radiation in the back-scattering machines, where is the “probable cause,” unless one is already a suspect? Where are the “warrants”? And where is the “particular place” that must be searched, other than one’s whole person and property? Where is the description of the “person or things to be seized”?

Nowhere to be found in the TSA playbook. The TSA’s policies, past and present, are in complete and demonstrable violation of the Constitution. What a banquet of litigation and lawsuits Napolitano’s and John Pistole’s policies present to the legal profession!

The TSA and its operatives across the nation, as actors in the extortion, do not “materially benefit” from the act (unless they are the receivers of the all the confiscated – that is, stolen – goods taken from travelers). They are just “doing their job,” like the good totalitarian functionaries they were hired to be. There are, however, personal and psychological benefits they must derive from holding power over their victims. They hold one’s values hostage until the ransom is paid, and that ransom is submitting to their salacious scrutiny. The only alternative they offer is the destruction of a value. They are gratified, either way, because they offer you no choice. You, the violated individual, are the loser.

Americans exhibited signs of rebellion during the Tea Party movement and in the recent midterm elections. A brewing revolution against the depredations and incompetency of the TSA and DHS is part and parcel of those uniquely American phenomena.

After all, “opting out” is nearly as good as good as “Going Galt.”

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FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Edward Cline is the author of a number of novels, and his essays, books, reviews, and other nonfiction have appeared in a number of high-profile periodicals.

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