Why Won’t Obama Curb the TSA?

Published April 29th, 2011 by tcarpenter

The Transportation Security Administration’s outrages against air travelers reached new heights earlier this month with the (very) thorough pat-down of six-year-old Anna Drexel at the New Orleans airport.  Not only did that action violate common sense, it violated common decency.  The girl’s parents caught the horrific incident on their cell phone video camera, and it immediately went viral on the internet.   After being subjected to what one critic later described as the “freedom fondle,” Anna burst into tears.  That was hardly a surprise.  She had been told repeatedly by her parents and teachers that it was wrong, wrong, wrong for any stranger to touch her in her private places.  Anyone, that is, except arrogant, thuggish bureaucrats working for the TSA.  Talk about mixed messages!

Angry members of Congress have introduced legislation to bar such procedures on young children in the future.  But why should legislation be needed to end the practice–and the TSA’s other offenses against the basic civil liberties of the American people?  The TSA is an agency of the executive branch.  President Obama is the head of the executive branch.  He could order an end to all such abuses with the stroke of his pen on an executive order.  Why has he not done so?  His failure on this issue is just the latest piece of evidence that all of his  rhetoric about “hope and change” in the 2008 presidential campaign was just that–empty rhetoric.  

Decent Americans have had more than enough of the TSA’s airport security theater–useless and obnoxious intrusions on our civil liberties in the name of preventing terrorism.   If President Obama is too timid or uncaring to rein-in this rogue agency, Congress should do it without further delay.


3 Responses to “Why Won’t Obama Curb the TSA?”

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  1. 1

    Paul

    Good post and question, Ted. I’ve been wondering about that myself. It does seem like Obama has the power. I’ve been trying to think thru the reason he doesn’t. To make it even easier I would imagine it this way: Janet, no more pat-downs for kids under 13. Make it so.

    Seems so easy. I don’t buy that Obama is chicken, or fork-tongued or the fascist some of his more hyper critics claim. I keep leaning towards a simple political disaster in the making if he does. How would congress react to such an EO?

  2. 2

    Nick

    Those who owned stock in the airport security scanning machines (the ones who made the most money from the government purchase of all the machines), are also major contributors to many democratic campaigns. Speaks for itself.

  3. 3

    tcarpenter

    I believe the root of Obama’s inaction is a simple political calculation. Although the American people grumble about the TSA’s behavior, and there will be occasional outbursts of outrage, it’s not an issue that is likely to swing an election. On the other hand, if he issues such an EO, and a terrorist incident then occurs, the political damage could be fatal. Given that incentive structure, it would take a brave and principled leader to incur the risk. Obama doesn’t strike me as that kind of leader.

    There does need to be an investigation into the relationship between former high-level DHS officials (starting with Michael Chertoff) and the firms that manufacture the scanning machines. It is beyond unethical if such officials invested in those companies after leaving office.

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