Wil Wheaton on the TSA

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Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby netcrusher88 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:48 pm UTC

Wil Wheaton wrote:I don't feel safe. I feel violated, humiliated, and angry.

Yesterday, I was touched -- in my opinion, inappropriately -- by a TSA agent at LAX.

I'm not going to talk about it in detail until I can speak with an attorney, but I've spent much of the last 24 hours replaying it over and over in my mind, and though some of the initial outrage has faded, I still feel sick and angry when I think about it.

What I want to say today is this: I believe that the choice we are currently given by the American government when we need to fly is morally wrong, unconstitutional, and does nothing to enhance passenger safety.

I further believe that when I choose to fly, I should not be forced to choose between submitting myself to a virtually-nude scan (and exposing myself to uncertain health risks due to radiation exposure)1, or enduring an aggressive, invasive patdown where a stranger puts his hands in my pants, and makes any contact at all with my genitals.

When I left the security screening yesterday, I didn't feel safe. I felt violated, humiliated, assaulted, and angry. I felt like I never wanted to fly again. I was so furious and upset, my hands shook for quite some time after the ordeal was over. I felt sick to my stomach for hours.

This is wrong. Nobody should have to feel this way, just so we can get on an airplane. We have fundamental human and constitutional rights in America, and among those rights is a reasonable expectation of personal privacy, and freedom from unreasonable searches. I can not believe that the TSA and its supporters believe that what they are doing is reasonable and appropriate. Nobody should have to choose between a virtually-nude body scan or an aggressive, invasive patdown where a stranger puts his or her hands inside your pants and makes any contact at all with your genitals or breasts as a condition of flying.

I do not have the luxury of simply refusing to fly unless and until this policy changes. I have to travel dozens of times a year for work, and it simply isn't practical to travel any other way. Airlines know that I am not unique in this regard, so they have no incentive to take a stand on their customers' behalf. Our government also knows this, so our Congressmen and Congresswomen have no incentive to stand up for the rights and freedoms of their constituencies against powerful and politically-connected lobbyists like the former head of the TSA. This is also wrong.

I have to travel back into the USA next week, and I'll be back and forth between Los Angeles and Vancouver for much of the next several months. When I think about all this travel, I feel helpless, disempowered, and victimized by the airlines and the TSA ... and I'm one of the lucky passengers who has never been sexually assaulted. I can't imagine what it must feel like for someone who has been the victim of sexual violence to know that they are faced with the same two equally-unacceptable choices that I faced yesterday, and will likely face whenever I fly in the future.

It's fundamentally wrong that any government can force its citizens to submit to totally unreasonable searches so we have the "freedom" to travel. It is fundamentally wrong that the voices of these same citizens are routinely ignored, our feelings marginalized, and our concerns mocked.

I don't know what we can do to change this, but we must do something. I'm writing letters to all of my congressional representatives, contacting an attorney, and reaching out to the ACLU when I get home. I am not optimistic that anything will change, because I feel like the system is institutionally biased against individuals like me ... but maybe if tens of thousands of travelers express our outrage at this treatment, someone will be forced to listen.

Edit to add one more thing: I don't believe that all TSA officersare automatically bad people (though we've seen that at least some are.) For example, I recently flew out of Seattle, opted-out, and got a non-invasive, professional, polite patdown. It was still annoying, but at least my genitals weren't touched in any way, which was decidedly not the case yesterday. I realize that most TSA officers are doing the best they can in a job that requires them to interact with people who automatically dislike them and what they represent. It isn't the individual officer who is the problem; it's the policies he or she is instructed to carry out that need to change.

1. The TSA recently admitted that the amount of radiation passengers are exposed to in backscatter scanners was 10 times more than they originally claimed. The TSA claims that the scanners are still safe, but what else would we expect them to claim?
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Korrente » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:09 am UTC

I hate how people blame the airlines for this. It's not the airlines, it's not the airports, it's the government. The airlines don't want annoyed and angry Wil Wheatons running around never flying again, and they backed their pilots and flight crews when they said they weren't going through screening every day. Many airports were even able to kick the TSA out and hire private security before the government put a stop to that.

Having your own blog is cool and all but maybe he should go try to do something about the problem instead of rewriting everyone else's complaints word for word.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Dream » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:33 am UTC

Korrente wrote:Having your own blog is cool and all but maybe he should go try to do something about the problem instead of rewriting everyone else's complaints word for word.

You are posting on an internet forum. Rule of thumb. Never tell anyone they should go out and do something for real instead of posting it on the internet. It's that thing. Hypocrisy.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Aaeriele » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:54 am UTC

Korrente wrote:I hate how people blame the airlines for this. It's not the airlines, it's not the airports, it's the government. The airlines don't want annoyed and angry Wil Wheatons running around never flying again, and they backed their pilots and flight crews when they said they weren't going through screening every day. Many airports were even able to kick the TSA out and hire private security before the government put a stop to that.

Having your own blog is cool and all but maybe he should go try to do something about the problem instead of rewriting everyone else's complaints word for word.


Which do you think has more lobbying power in Washington D.C. - airline corporations, or a single person?
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Radical_Initiator » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:56 am UTC

Aaeriele wrote:
Korrente wrote:I hate how people blame the airlines for this. It's not the airlines, it's not the airports, it's the government. The airlines don't want annoyed and angry Wil Wheatons running around never flying again, and they backed their pilots and flight crews when they said they weren't going through screening every day. Many airports were even able to kick the TSA out and hire private security before the government put a stop to that.

Having your own blog is cool and all but maybe he should go try to do something about the problem instead of rewriting everyone else's complaints word for word.


Which do you think has more lobbying power in Washington D.C. - airline corporations, or a single person?


We're talking about Wesley Goddamn Crusher.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby netcrusher88 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:28 am UTC

Korrente wrote:I hate how people blame the airlines for this. It's not the airlines, it's not the airports, it's the government. The airlines don't want annoyed and angry Wil Wheatons running around never flying again, and they backed their pilots and flight crews when they said they weren't going through screening every day. Many airports were even able to kick the TSA out and hire private security before the government put a stop to that.

No one blames the airlines for the policy. People blame the airlines for not standing up for their customers. Except when they were under threat of action by the pilots' union, they haven't done shit about the TSA screening.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Levi » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:15 am UTC

Radical_Initiator wrote:
Aaeriele wrote:
Korrente wrote:I hate how people blame the airlines for this. It's not the airlines, it's not the airports, it's the government. The airlines don't want annoyed and angry Wil Wheatons running around never flying again, and they backed their pilots and flight crews when they said they weren't going through screening every day. Many airports were even able to kick the TSA out and hire private security before the government put a stop to that.

Having your own blog is cool and all but maybe he should go try to do something about the problem instead of rewriting everyone else's complaints word for word.


Which do you think has more lobbying power in Washington D.C. - airline corporations, or a single person?


We're talking about Wesley Goddamn Crusher.

Maybe we could get William Fucking Riker on it too. Then we'd be set.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Glass Fractal » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:19 am UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:No one blames the airlines for the policy. People blame the airlines for not standing up for their customers. Except when they were under threat of action by the pilots' union, they haven't done shit about the TSA screening.


Probably because polls have consistently shown that most people don't care about anything but the pat downs. The "massive" demand to fix the TSA is astroturf.

There was a point when the rules became stricter and the FOX newscasters were talking about the uprising against the TSA or something but when they went to the camera crew at JFK they couldn't find a single person that cared in the slightest.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:50 am UTC

Glass Fractal wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:No one blames the airlines for the policy. People blame the airlines for not standing up for their customers. Except when they were under threat of action by the pilots' union, they haven't done shit about the TSA screening.


Probably because polls have consistently shown that most people don't care about anything but the pat downs. The "massive" demand to fix the TSA is astroturf.

There was a point when the rules became stricter and the FOX newscasters were talking about the uprising against the TSA or something but when they went to the camera crew at JFK they couldn't find a single person that cared in the slightest.


The only things Americans hate more then having their genitals groped is letting the terrrrrrists win.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Isaac Hill » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:59 am UTC

Korrente wrote:Having your own blog is cool and all but maybe he should go try to do something about the problem instead of rewriting everyone else's complaints word for word.

He does mention writing his Congress-critters, contacting a lawyer and contacting the ACLU.

There are some good links in Wil's comment thread. For those without the time to search them out:
Penn Gillette writes of getting groped back in 2002.
One man waits out the TSA.
In these two stories, making the TSA people call the real police helped.
Alaskan State Rep and masectomy survivor takes two day ferry to avoid TSA procedures.
Israeli airport security officer says scanners are ineffective.
http://wewontfly.com/ has more links.

I've travelled for work very rarely. It was kind of fun, but I'm going to avoid it if at all possible so long as the groping rules are in effect. Though to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why. I've been frisked going into a club and accepted it, but the airport thing bothers me. I think it's because frisking everybody takes enough time to limit the invasiveness of the search. They just pat my pockets to be sure there's no weapons there and move on to the next person. From Wil and Penn's stories, it seems the airport people do much more.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Glass Fractal » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:10 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
Glass Fractal wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:No one blames the airlines for the policy. People blame the airlines for not standing up for their customers. Except when they were under threat of action by the pilots' union, they haven't done shit about the TSA screening.


Probably because polls have consistently shown that most people don't care about anything but the pat downs. The "massive" demand to fix the TSA is astroturf.

There was a point when the rules became stricter and the FOX newscasters were talking about the uprising against the TSA or something but when they went to the camera crew at JFK they couldn't find a single person that cared in the slightest.


The only things Americans hate more then having their genitals groped is letting the terrrrrrists win.


Possibly. I recall security checks as always involving standing around long enough to make my feet hurt and then walking through a box guarded by a person that didn't qualify to be a cop. That's essentially still what it is. Adding one mild inconvenience to something that was already a mild inconvenience won't generate riots. A visible change would generate more complaints. Going from annoying to annoying + technology thing I don't understand that looks just like the old one only worries the most private of people (which is both unfortunate and probably by design).

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Shivahn » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:10 am UTC

Isaac Hill wrote:I've travelled for work very rarely. It was kind of fun, but I'm going to avoid it if at all possible so long as the groping rules are in effect. Though to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why. I've been frisked going into a club and accepted it, but the airport thing bothers me. I think it's because frisking everybody takes enough time to limit the invasiveness of the search. They just pat my pockets to be sure there's no weapons there and move on to the next person. From Wil and Penn's stories, it seems the airport people do much more.


Frisking everyone also, you know, does something.

Patting down one in every whatever number of people, or putting them into a scanner that uses ionizing radiation that doesn't actually detect a lot of threatening things, on the other hand, really doesn't do much more than be showy.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Korrente » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:12 am UTC

Dream wrote:You are posting on an internet forum. Rule of thumb. Never tell anyone they should go out and do something for real instead of posting it on the internet. It's that thing. Hypocrisy.


It's not hypocrisy because I really have no opinion about the issue. I'll likely be exempt from it the next time I'm on an airliner, and if I'm not and just traveling, I have no issue with the scanners. It would be nice if there were a more precise (functional) scanning method that didn't involve someone seeing me naked, but since there isn't right now, oh well.

Aaeriele wrote:Which do you think has more lobbying power in Washington D.C. - airline corporations, or a single person?


He probably has more money in the bank than most airlines do. If he feels so strongly he really should get people together, especially since he likely has some wealthy friends. Yet his call to arms is more of a 'lets do...something...I guess...it probably won't work...'

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Jahoclave » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:29 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
Glass Fractal wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:No one blames the airlines for the policy. People blame the airlines for not standing up for their customers. Except when they were under threat of action by the pilots' union, they haven't done shit about the TSA screening.


Probably because polls have consistently shown that most people don't care about anything but the pat downs. The "massive" demand to fix the TSA is astroturf.

There was a point when the rules became stricter and the FOX newscasters were talking about the uprising against the TSA or something but when they went to the camera crew at JFK they couldn't find a single person that cared in the slightest.


The only things Americans hate more then having their genitals groped is letting the terrrrrrists win.

Has anybody looked at America's budget lately? The terrorist already won. We're having to tank domestic spending to keep fighting wars that are going nowhere. So yeah, congrats terrorists, well played master game.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby sje46 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:03 am UTC

Korrente wrote:Having your own blog is cool and all but maybe he should go try to do something about the problem instead of rewriting everyone else's complaints word for word.



I hereby declare this the Argument ad Non Satis (Latin grammar check pending). An argument that doesn't really suggest that the other person is wrong, but suggests that they are a lazy person and that their speaking their opinion does nothing. First off, speaking your mind does do a lot....if everyone did it, we wouldn't be in this mess we are in now. Secondly, this is a famous celebrity...his particular opinion is going to make quite a few people think about this issue, and come out on his side. Thirdly, most of the time people accuse others of just talking and not doing anything, they make no effort in finding out whether they did or not. This is minor, but he did auction off a signed iPod to raise money for Operation Grabass.

Don't complain about others speaking their mind, okay?
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Korrente » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:19 am UTC

sje46 wrote:
Korrente wrote:Having your own blog is cool and all but maybe he should go try to do something about the problem instead of rewriting everyone else's complaints word for word.


I hereby declare this the Argument ad Non Satis (Latin grammar check pending). An argument that doesn't really suggest that the other person is wrong, but suggests that they are a lazy person and that their speaking their opinion does nothing. First off, speaking your mind does do a lot....if everyone did it, we wouldn't be in this mess we are in now. Secondly, this is a famous celebrity...his particular opinion is going to make quite a few people think about this issue, and come out on his side. Thirdly, most of the time people accuse others of just talking and not doing anything, they make no effort in finding out whether they did or not. This is minor, but he did auction off a signed iPod to raise money for Operation Grabass.

Don't complain about others speaking their mind, okay?


If that becomes a standard I would be very honored. But that's not quite what I was saying. I'm not suggesting he's lazy and has no voice (I mentioned him being a celebrity in my previous post) but that he's only complaining the same complaint everyone else has had who has complained. Okay maybe that's the only thing to complain about, but hearing it from one more person doesn't make me feel any different about it. Call my cynical but I feel like he's not going to go marching to his state capitol and demand a chat with his representative, or start a campaign to change things.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby sje46 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:25 am UTC

So you're annoyed with people expressing their opinions because you heard it before? The world doesn't revolve around you, and I'm sure plenty of people heard about this for the first time from Wil.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Korrente » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:50 am UTC

sje46 wrote:So you're annoyed with people expressing their opinions because you heard it before? The world doesn't revolve around you, and I'm sure plenty of people heard about this for the first time from Wil.


You guys are viscous!

My opinion revolves around me... if he can post what he did, I can post what I'm saying and you can attack me all you want in the same manner. But you are all attacking me thinking that I'm saying his opinion is worthless when I didn't say that. I am saying that he's simply restated a generic complaint on the issue, then urged everyone to write to politicians while telling them it won't work...that's as good as not doing anything at all. The issue I have is that he's not going to do anything about it. He has a stronger voice than most people and he doesn't seem to be set on using it. I would love for him to prove me wrong.

Also how many people could there be that follow the blog of a Star Trek character that haven't heard of the TSA stuff somewhere before?

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Magnanimous » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:29 am UTC

Korrente wrote:[...] I am saying that he's simply restated a generic complaint on the issue, then urged everyone to write to politicians while telling them it won't work...that's as good as not doing anything at all. The issue I have is that he's not going to do anything about it. He has a stronger voice than most people and he doesn't seem to be set on using it. I would love for him to prove me wrong.

Also how many people could there be that follow the blog of a Star Trek character that haven't heard of the TSA stuff somewhere before?

The thing about social uprising is that it's very rarely one person doing all of the talking. Him posting a mini-rant won't cause a big movement, but it will certainly remind people of the issue... I hadn't thought about the TSA much in the past month, and now that the hype's died down I bet most people aren't as willing to act.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Prefanity » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:04 am UTC

Radical_Initiator wrote:We're talking about Wesley Goddamn Crusher.

Got anyone else? He made the first season of TNG almost unbearable.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Qaanol » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:34 am UTC

As I understand things, 49 U.S.C. § 44902 requires that airlines must refuse to transport any passenger who has not consented to be searched as specified in 49 U.S.C. § 44901.

It is in my view eminently unreasonable for the government to search, or to require the search, of any person except those for whom there is reasonable suspicion of immediate wrongdoing, or those for whom a search warrant has been issued. Since neither condition applies to the vast majority of airline passengers, I posit that the laws in question are in direct violation of the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution. The fact that it is feasible to search passengers does not make it reasonable for the federal government to conduct or require such searches.

Additionally, the federal government has banned passengers from carrying certain items onto airplanes. I don’t have links to the relevant laws at hand, but I don’t think there’s any disagreement on the point. Federal regulations make it illegal for most airline passengers to carry a handgun or a sharp knife (among numerous other objects) onto a flight. I claim these laws directly contravene the 2nd amendment to the United States Constitution.

Note that my complaints are aimed specifically at actions by the federal government that appear in my layman’s opinion to be unconstitutional. If an airline wants to ban certain carry-on items, that is not illegal. If an airline wants to require its passengers to consent to a search, to my knowledge that is not illegal either. But when the federal government enacts policies that run afoul of the Constitution, that is unacceptable.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:04 am UTC

Prefanity wrote:
Radical_Initiator wrote:We're talking about Wesley Goddamn Crusher.

Got anyone else? He made the first few seasons of TNG almost unbearable.

FTFY

Not really his fault: the character was written as a Gary Sue for Eugene Wesley Roddenberry, and it showed through the character's subtly arrogant dialogue.

Since neither condition applies to the vast majority of airline passengers, I posit that the laws in question are in direct violation of the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution.

I think the counterargument to that is that, by flying, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Prefanity » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:17 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Prefanity wrote:
Radical_Initiator wrote:We're talking about Wesley Goddamn Crusher.

Got anyone else? He made the first few seasons of TNG almost unbearable.

FTFY

Not really his fault: the character was written as a Gary Sue for Eugene Wesley Roddenberry, and it showed through the character's subtly arrogant dialogue.


Oh, I agree that Wesley Crusher was annoying because of poor writing, but in a discussion on Star Trek I feel the original definition for "Mary Sue" should be upheld.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Plasma Man » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:45 pm UTC

There are many good reasons for not wanting to go through a whole body scanner, but it appears that fears about the radiation may be unfounded, according to the BBC. In a helpful move, the article links to its primary reference, published online at the Archives of Internal Medicine.
This doesn't really affect the debate, but as concerns over the radiation from the scanners was mentioned in the original article, I thought I'd supply a bit more information.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:49 pm UTC

Plasma Man wrote:There are many good reasons for not wanting to go through a whole body scanner, but it appears that fears about the radiation may be unfounded, according to the BBC. In a helpful move, the article links to its primary reference, published online at the Archives of Internal Medicine.
This doesn't really affect the debate, but as concerns over the radiation from the scanners was mentioned in the original article, I thought I'd supply a bit more information.


I think the real fear (for some people) is that of voyeurism. Now, for somebody who looks like me I'm not to worried about it, but apparently pictures have been leaked before.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby netcrusher88 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:03 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Prefanity wrote:
Radical_Initiator wrote:We're talking about Wesley Goddamn Crusher.

Got anyone else? He made the first few seasons of TNG almost unbearable.

FTFY

Shut up, Wesley.

Wil is actually a really cool guy.
sourmilk wrote:I think the counterargument to that is that, by flying, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights.

That argument is still ignorant and wrong. A person cannot be forced to give up their rights - period - and there are many instances where flying is not something a person can reasonably be expected to be able to not do. Emergency at home while on vacation. Business travel (this is a huge one). In my opinion it's unreasonable to expect people to avoid flying for vacations as well, but that's a bit harder to convince people of. Americans like our delusions of the nation as a whole suffering from such an excess of leisure time that one can take just take a train or drive wherever they're going instead of flying.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Dauric » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:12 pm UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:
sourmilk wrote:I think the counterargument to that is that, by flying, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights.

That argument is still ignorant and wrong. A person cannot be forced to give up their rights - period - and there are many instances where flying is not something a person can reasonably be expected to be able to not do. Emergency at home while on vacation. Business travel (this is a huge one). In my opinion it's unreasonable to expect people to avoid flying for vacations as well, but that's a bit harder to convince people of. Americans like our delusions of the nation as a whole suffering from such an excess of leisure time that one can take just take a train or drive wherever they're going instead of flying.


We've had 50+ years of commercial aviation, it's a fundamental part of our infrastructure. I think the only people who have those delusions with regard to air-travel are the ones that don't fly (or don't have friends or family that fly) on a regular basis whether for employment or any other reason.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Malice » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:17 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Since neither condition applies to the vast majority of airline passengers, I posit that the laws in question are in direct violation of the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution.

I think the counterargument to that is that, by flying, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights.[/quote]

Other than the fact that you'd like it to be different for flying because it makes you feel safer, what prevents the government from using that argument for everything? "By going outside your house into public spaces, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights. Oh, and by buying or renting a house, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights."
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:24 pm UTC

Malice wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Since neither condition applies to the vast majority of airline passengers, I posit that the laws in question are in direct violation of the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution.

I think the counterargument to that is that, by flying, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights.


Other than the fact that you'd like it to be different for flying because it makes you feel safer, what prevents the government from using that argument for everything? "By going outside your house into public spaces, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights. Oh, and by buying or renting a house, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights."[/quote]

I'm not sure what criteria an action has to meet before there's implied consent of some sort attached, but people definitely waive certain times. For example, when driving a car there is implied consent that you submit to a Breathalyzer test at the request of a police officer. These seems like a violation of the fourth amendment, as the officer doesn't require a warrant, but the courts ruled that when you drive you choose to waive your fourth amendment rights.

That said, I do believe that the TSA is taking unreasonable actions. I just don't think it's unconstitutional, at least not under the fourth amendment.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby omgryebread » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:51 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:Patting down one in every whatever number of people, or putting them into a scanner that uses ionizing radiation that doesn't actually detect a lot of threatening things, on the other hand, really doesn't do much more than be showy.
Not really a good argument against anything. The vast majority of all security measures are designed to be showy. IRS audits don't catch very many of the people committing tax fraud, they are designed to discourage people, because you could get caught. If I wanted to murder someone, some decent planning would mean the cops can't stop me, but they can severely discourage me from doing so.

Of course, I don't think the threat of getting arrested is that much to people who intend to die anyway. And there's no significant problem with non-suicidal hijackers to address.

On the other hand, I don't think the scans are that invasive, and they've never bothered me.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby netcrusher88 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:02 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I'm not sure what criteria an action has to meet before there's implied consent of some sort attached, but people definitely waive certain times. For example, when driving a car there is implied consent that you submit to a Breathalyzer test at the request of a police officer. These seems like a violation of the fourth amendment, as the officer doesn't require a warrant, but the courts ruled that when you drive you choose to waive your fourth amendment rights.

A breathalyzer is not a fair comparison to either the AIT scanners or the so-called enhanced pat down. It is not intrusive, it is reliable, and it is not particularly prone to false positives or negatives - and it's also only applied at officers' discretion. None of these are true of the TSA's new policies.

Just want to point out while we're at it: if a police officer subjected someone to the kind of abuse that the TSA requires travelers who don't trust the scanners with their privacy or safety to submit to without reasonable suspicion and reasonable justification for doing so, they would be fired. And very likely successfully sued.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Griffin » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:07 pm UTC

Also, an officer can STILL only give you a breathalyzer if there is reason to believe you've committed a crime (driving while intoxicated).

They cannot just pull you over and test you - that would be unconstitutional in the US.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Chen » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:35 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:Also, an officer can STILL only give you a breathalyzer if there is reason to believe you've committed a crime (driving while intoxicated).

They cannot just pull you over and test you - that would be unconstitutional in the US.


While they may be, strictly speaking, not in line with the 4th amendment, sobriety checkpoints, where there is no probable cause, were determined to be constitutionally permissible http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_D ... ce_v._Sitz.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Dauric » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:42 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Griffin wrote:Also, an officer can STILL only give you a breathalyzer if there is reason to believe you've committed a crime (driving while intoxicated).

They cannot just pull you over and test you - that would be unconstitutional in the US.


While they may be, strictly speaking, not in line with the 4th amendment, sobriety checkpoints, where there is no probable cause, were determined to be constitutionally permissible http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_D ... ce_v._Sitz.


However if the sobriety checkpoints had involved groping genitals looking for an 'open container' the balancing test between government interest and "unreasonableness" would most likely not have gone the same way.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Shivahn » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:44 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:
Shivahn wrote:Patting down one in every whatever number of people, or putting them into a scanner that uses ionizing radiation that doesn't actually detect a lot of threatening things, on the other hand, really doesn't do much more than be showy.
Not really a good argument against anything. The vast majority of all security measures are designed to be showy. IRS audits don't catch very many of the people committing tax fraud, they are designed to discourage people, because you could get caught. If I wanted to murder someone, some decent planning would mean the cops can't stop me, but they can severely discourage me from doing so.

Of course, I don't think the threat of getting arrested is that much to people who intend to die anyway. And there's no significant problem with non-suicidal hijackers to address.

On the other hand, I don't think the scans are that invasive, and they've never bothered me.



That's kind of a good argument against all of those, actually, sans evidence that they actually are discouraging people from doing whatever. Especially given that the scanners don't actually catch a lot of the common threats. But more importantly, being subject to such a pat down or imaging is a much bigger invasion than having your taxes audited.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby DSenette » Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:13 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Malice wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Since neither condition applies to the vast majority of airline passengers, I posit that the laws in question are in direct violation of the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution.

I think the counterargument to that is that, by flying, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights.


Other than the fact that you'd like it to be different for flying because it makes you feel safer, what prevents the government from using that argument for everything? "By going outside your house into public spaces, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights. Oh, and by buying or renting a house, you agree to waive your 4th amendment rights."


I'm not sure what criteria an action has to meet before there's implied consent of some sort attached, but people definitely waive certain times. For example, when driving a car there is implied consent that you submit to a Breathalyzer test at the request of a police officer. These seems like a violation of the fourth amendment, as the officer doesn't require a warrant, but the courts ruled that when you drive you choose to waive your fourth amendment rights.

That said, I do believe that the TSA is taking unreasonable actions. I just don't think it's unconstitutional, at least not under the fourth amendment.[/quote]
FYI you are actually NOT required to consent to a breathalizer. police can request that you consent to one but you are not required to take one. if they suspect that you are intoxicated they can however then require you to take a blood test back at the station. i THINK they have to issue a field sobriety test before they get that far though.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby KrO2 » Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:34 am UTC

FYI you are actually NOT required to consent to a breathalizer. police can request that you consent to one but you are not required to take one. if they suspect that you are intoxicated they can however then require you to take a blood test back at the station. i THINK they have to issue a field sobriety test before they get that far though.

Yes you are. Oregon (and, according to Wikipedia, every other state) does have that Implied Consent Law saying that if you're driving, you already consented. But this isn't a waiver of the Fourth Amendment because you're not under arrest, it's a Terry stop. It's not a question of whether they can pull you over and make you take the test without evidence, it's just that the standard of evidence they need is lower, down from probable cause to reasonable suspicion.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Tirian » Fri Apr 08, 2011 4:35 am UTC

Shivahn wrote:Frisking everyone also, you know, does something.


Does it? I haven't heard the stories about these scanners or pat-downs catching a bomb that otherwise would have made it onto a plane, and I have the sense that they'd be proud to point out a victory like that. I suppose one might suggest that the existence of the scanners and pat-downs would deter terrorists by sending them back to the drawing board, but I'd be pretty skeptical. There weren't any plots in between the Christmas bomber when it struck us that we needed to be concerned about the groins of the flying public and the roll-out of the security measures ten months later, so it is certainly worth contemplating that these measures only serve to frustrate the law-abiding public.

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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby Plasma Man » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:25 pm UTC

That is a good point, security procedures that are known about will be taken into account by any potential attacker. The question is whether this successfully deters them from carrying out an attack, or simply results in them finding a way around the procedures. With trrrst attacks being so rare, trying to statistically analyse the data and work out which is the case is nigh-impossible. Personally, I take a different approach to the analysis, namely that I can think of ways around these security procedures (I'm not going to list them, for obvious reasons), so it seems likely that anyone who wishes to carry out an attack would also be able to work out ways around these known procedures. It may decrease the frequency of attacks by making it harder to carry out a successful one, but I doubt it will stop them completely. And as I pointed out earlier, trrrst attacks on planes are such rare events that trying to say whether a system is having an effect (and if so how much of an effect) is fairly pointless.
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Re: Wil Wheaton on the TSA

Postby zmatt » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:15 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Griffin wrote:Also, an officer can STILL only give you a breathalyzer if there is reason to believe you've committed a crime (driving while intoxicated).

They cannot just pull you over and test you - that would be unconstitutional in the US.


While they may be, strictly speaking, not in line with the 4th amendment, sobriety checkpoints, where there is no probable cause, were determined to be constitutionally permissible http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_D ... ce_v._Sitz.


Yes but a passenger on a plane isn't the same as the driver of a car. You can be over the legal limit and be a passenger. In fact the government encourages the drunk ones to be driven by someone sober. The sobriety checkpoints are more akin to searching pilots. However pilots are held to a higher standard than joe sixpack with a drivers license (lets be honest in America they come in crackerjack boxes) so that argument doesn't hold either.
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