House Republicans Clobber TSA, Insider Deals On Nudie Scanners

We mentioned Rapiscan, one of the two companies manufacturing the full-body scanners the TSA has been using to stir up the ire of airline passengers of late, yesterday. It turns out that not only is Rapiscan CEO Deepak Chopra (not THAT Deepak Chopra) a maxed-out Obama donor and a member of the president’s retinue for last week’s India trip, but the company uses a lobbying firm run by former Department of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff.

This isn’t likely to defuse the outrage over TSA as the holiday travel crush gets going.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) tied the Chertoff connection together with the TSA’s nightmare in a speech on the House floor yesterday…

Mr. Speaker, a trip to the airport these days leaves Americans with embarrassing choices. Law-abiding citizens can bare it all through a peekaboo body scanner–or they can get groped in a pat-down search by a Federal employee. Now that’s a real choice.

There is no evidence these new body scanners make us more secure. But there is evidence that former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff made money hawking these full body scanners.

The underwear bomber tried to blow up a plane over Detroit last Christmas. Shortly thereafter, Chertoff went on a media tour promoting the full body scanners. This former Homeland Security chief told everyone we had to have the full body scanners at airports to be safe. Too bad he didn’t disclose he was getting paid to sell these intrusive devices. Isn’t that lovely?

Meanwhile, the populace is giving up more rights in the name of alleged security. These body scanners are a violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. There must be a better way to have security at airports than taking pornographic photographs of our citizens, including children, and then giving apparent kickbacks to political hacks.

And that’s just the way it is.

Video of Poe’s speech can be found here.

Poe wasn’t alone. Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) went on the floor for virtually the same speech…

It isn’t just Republican politicians taking aim at the new TSA intrusion. Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the hero pilot who managed to land a bird-stricken US Airways jet in the Hudson River in January 2009, saving all aboard from a fiery death, came out against the use of the TSA body-scans yesterday. “It just isn’t an efficient use of our resources,” Sullenberger said.

Sullenberger’s opinion is widespread in his profession, as lawsuits from pilots and flight attendants are beginning to mount:

But TSA head John Pistole, who said he’s undergone the security procedures himself (one should hope so), says the patdowns are perfectly defensible and offered to have his people come over and give Senators a sample.

“Yes, it was more invasive than what I was used to,” said Pistole. “Of course, what’s in my mind … is what are the plots out there, how are we informed by the latest intelligence and latest technology and what do we need to do to ensure the American people that as they travel that we are being thorough.”

“So yes, it is clearly more invasive. The purpose of that is obviously to detect the type of devices that we had not seen before last Christmas. I am very sensitive to and concerned about people’s privacy concerns and I want to work through that as best we can.”

Pistole said his boss Janet Napolitano has also had the patdown done to her. He didn’t say whether she liked it or tipped the TSA personnel afterward.

Meantime, Sen. Claire McCaskill – who is used to defending the indefensible – touted the new nudie-picture machines as a great victory for privacy.

“I’m wildly excited that I can walk through a machine instead of getting my dose of love pats,” Sen. McCaskill said.

The public-sector happy talk notwithstanding, ordinary folks are less than enthused. UK Guardian columnist Jennifer Abel voices a commonly-held opinion

Listen to this: “My freely chosen bedmates and doctors are the only ones allowed to see my naked body or touch my genitalia.” For a sane person in a sane country that’s the ultimate in “no shit, Sherlock” statement. But not where I live.

Not the United States of America. Not since 11 September 2001, when the government reacted to an attack on its citizens by lashing out against the very citizenry it claims to protect. No bureaucracy better embodies that reactionary principle than the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose contempt for American citizens has grown so great that they now require we submit to government agents either photographing our, to them, visibly naked bodies or groping us in molestation-style patdowns if we ever want to fly again.

Pistole says TSA’s policy isn’t going to change. At least outwardly, it appears they’re going to try to ride out the storm and hope people get used to the body scanners. After all, it’s not TSA who’s losing money on what can easily be predicted to be an air travel boycott after Americans get a taste of groping at airports during the upcoming holidays.



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