The TSA Is Coming To a Highway Near You (Not on My watch!)

March 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Police State

 

By Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

Forbes

One of the great honors of my service to Tennessee is having the opportunity to represent Ft. Campbell which is home to the storied 101st Airborne, the 5th Special Forces Group and the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment which piloted Navy SEAL Team Six during the raid on Osama Bin Laden.

 

Each soldier who calls Ft. Campbell home has gone through some of the most intensive training on the planet which pushed their minds and bodies to their physical limits. In the end, those who make the cut have earned the right to be part of our United States military, are honored to wear its uniform, and are serving on the frontlines in the fight against global terrorism.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our nation’s Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) who Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano contends are our nation’s last line of defense in fighting domestic terrorism. Unlike “hell week” which faces potential Navy SEALs, becoming a TSO requires a basic level of classroom and on the job training. In many cases this rigorous training is less severe than the requirements of becoming a security guard in most states.

Believe it or not, only 7 years ago, TSOs went by a more deserving title, “airport security screeners.” At the time, their title and on the job appearance consisted of a white shirt and black pants. This was fitting because airport security screening is exactly what’s required of the position. However, this is no longer the case.

In the dead of night, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) administratively reclassified airport security screeners as Transportation Security Officers. The TSA then moved to administratively upgrade TSOs uniforms to resemble those of a federal law enforcement officer. They further completed the makeover with metal law enforcement badges. Not surprisingly, government bureaucrats at the TSA left out one crucial component during the artificial makeover – actual federal law enforcement training as is required of Federal Air Marshalls.

While TSOs may have the appearance of a federal law enforcement officer they have neither the authority nor the power. If a passenger brings a loaded gun or an explosive device into an airport screening area there is nothing a TSO can do until the local police step in to save the day.

If TSOs are truly our nation’s last line of defense in stopping an act of terrorism, then the TSA should immediately end the practice of placing hiring notices for available TSO positions on pizza boxes and at discount gas stations as theyhave done in our nation’s capital. Surely, this is not where our federal government is going to find our brightest and sharpest Americans committed to keeping our traveling public safe. I would contend that we can surely strive for a higher standard and may want to look first to our veterans returning home from the battlefield.

Interestingly enough, as TSA officials like to routinely point out, their agency’s acronym stands for Transportation Security Administration, not the Airport SecurityAdministration. This fact has extended the TSA’s reach has far beyond the confines of our nation’s airports. Many of my constituents discovered this first hand this past fall as those familiar blue uniforms and badges appeared on Tennessee highways. In October Tennessee became the first state to conduct a statewide Department of Homeland Security Visible Intermodal Prevention andResponse (VIPR) team operation which randomly inspected Tennessee truck drivers and cars.

VIPR teams which count TSOs among their ranks, conduct searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and every other mass transit location around the country. In fact, as the Los Angeles Times has detailed, VIPR teams conducted 9,300 unannounced checkpoints and other search operations in the last year alone. The very thought of federal employees with zero law enforcement training roaming across our nation’s transportation infrastructure with the hope of randomly thwarting a domestic terrorist attack makes about as much sense as EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s Environmental Justice tour.

In order to help rein in the TSA I introduced H.R. 3608, the Stop TSA’s Reach in Policy Act aka the STRIP Act. This bill will simply overturn the TSA’s administrative decision by prohibiting any TSA employee who has not received federal law enforcement training from using the title “officer,” wearing a police like uniform or a metal police badge. At its most basic level the STRIP Act is about truth in advertising.

As TSOs continue to expand their presence beyond our nation’s airports and onto our highways, every American citizen has the right to know that they are not dealing with actual federal law enforcement officers. Had one Virginia woman known this days before Thanksgiving she may have been able to escape being forcibly raped by a TSO who approached her in a parking lot in full uniform while flashing his badge.

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Comments

One Response to “The TSA Is Coming To a Highway Near You (Not on My watch!)”
  1. Rwolf says:

    NEXT: Could Outspoken Americans, e.g. writers and Bloggers, Americans that defend the Constitution be deemed “Belligerents” by U.S. Government—(repeatedly) stopped at TSA Check-Points; searched, questioned, without probable cause or warrants—Indefinitely Detained?

    TSA is establishing thousands of national Checkpoints at surface transportation locations. One can’t help recall history, the Nazi Military and Police established similar checkpoints—harassed, searched and delayed German travelers and repeatedly targeted persons deemed politically undesirable at roadway checkpoints, boarding and riding trains and at bus stops: many targeted Citizens were intentionally delayed by Nazi authorities so they would be late or miss work; many Citizens lost their jobs. Germans without probable cause were put on (Nazi Government do not hire lists).

    Could today’s outspoken Americans e.g. that defend the Constitution or question government subsequently be deemed (undesirable) or “Belligerents” by U.S. Government—put on no hire lists; repeatedly targeted by TSA to be searched at checkpoints and elsewhere, forced to submit to X-ray scans that potentially damage body organs—or without probable cause interrogated or Indefinitely Detained?

    Had the Nazi Military / Police or Gestapo had X-ray scanners, no doubt the Nazis would have manufactured any reason or no reason to repeatedly x-ray at checkpoints, anywhere—persons the Reich deemed politically or socially undesirable, until either a targeted person was too ill to travel or dead.
    One can only guess how much radiation is covertly transmitted into the bodies of Americans by U.S. Government and Police repeated scanning of private homes without warrants; Americans walking on the street; driving vehicles and “Persons of Interests”—potentially damaging their health.

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