“They who would give up an essential liberty for safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin.
Although the exact date of Ben Franklin’s quote may not be agreed upon, the essence of the quote is as appropriate today as it was when Mr. Franklin created it. Since 9/11, we have been slowly, piece by piece, trading our liberties for the perception of safety. It has occurred in such a methodical way that most Americans have been willing to accept the “steps” used by the Bush Administration to erode our personal liberties.
All that needs to be done is to ask one question, “If you don’t have anything to hide, what are you afraid of?” That one sentence can stop a rational person dead in his or her tracks. Couple that question with the specter of another 9/11 and the fear mongering of the current administration, and you have a recipe for grabbing yet another piece of liberty from the American people. One of the newer methods of divesting Americans of yet another liberty is an altered form of a “strip search” using a high resolution x-ray scanner to see through clothing while not technically removing anything.
A traditional strip search by definition is the stripping away of clothing to determine if any weapons or dangerous objects are hidden. Ordinarily, this type of strip search would probably occur subsequent to an arrest or some form of detention where some level of constitutional safeguards have been triggered by the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches of the person.
But our government is now ready to try an “electonic strip search” in its ever-advancing effort to thwart terrorists and their plots. These searches will not remove one item of clothing, but they will strip search you just the same. And these searches are not the type that triggers constitutional protections although the ACLU will undoubtedly raise that issue if it pursues a challenge to the x-ray strip searches.
Picture in your mind the last time you had an x-ray. Pretty explicit, right? Especially if the x-ray included parts of your body that you consider to be private. You, the x-ray technician, and your doctor see the image. You have a confidential and privileged relationship with those individuals; you certainly don’t have that same relationship with airport personnel who will be viewing the x-ray image.
However, do not fear, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has offered assurances that it has found a way to blur certain anatomical areas while still being effective enough to ferret out any hidden objects or threats. By avoiding the traditional form of a strip search, the Administration through theTSA is avoiding the Constitution and its protections.
Will the American people trade another chunk of liberty for an illusion of safety? Only time will tell, but, much to my disappointment, I am betting they will.