(This letter is a response to the commentary titled “Rand Paul goes to the airport” in the Feb. 3 issue of The Murray State News.)
In the Feb. 3 issue of The Murray State News’ “Campus Voice” series, Joshua Hitz wrote in criticism of Sen. Rand Paul’s objections to the actions of the Transportation Security Administration. Senator Paul particularly drew objections to the way the TSA handled a personal encounter he had with them on Jan. 25 in the Nashville airport.
Hitz states “Paul is the bad guy here.” However, let us first properly recount the situation so that we may evaluate it in an objective manner. Sen. Paul was in the Nashville airport preparing to board a plane to D.C., when he passed through the body scanner an “anomaly” was triggered on his right leg. Sen. Paul lifted his pant leg to show there was nothing of concern there, however the TSA insisted upon a body pat down.
Holding to his principles that these pat downs are intrusive and wrong, Sen. Paul refused and asked if he could simply pass through the body scanner a second time—to which the TSA refused. From there Sen. Paul was detained for over an hour before the TSA finally relented and allowed Sen. Paul to pass through the body scanner a second time. Nothing was triggered the second time through.
Sen. Paul is not the bad guy here. He has successfully exposed something somewhat alarming about the TSA procedures. Either the TSA body scanner machines trigger randomly so that random and unwarranted searches and pat downs can be conducted or the machines have a tendency to error and either trigger falsely or perhaps miss actual offenders. Considering the TSA denies that the first possibility is true, then it remains that the second option must be true. Do TSA body scanning machines have a tendency to err and show an “anomaly” one time, but not the second time?
Furthermore, Sen. Paul never criticized the particular agents doing their jobs. In fact he recognized that they were doing just that: their jobs. He criticized instead the function of the TSA, the role they play and their methods of doing it.
Additionally, Senator Paul never called or asked for “special treatment” for his position. Rather, he called for reasonability in the methods of the TSA. He suggested perhaps a program for frequent flyers to be implemented, not specifically for government officials, which could expedite the security process in airports. There are thousands of Americans who pass through the same airport security checkpoint numerous times a week, who see the same TSA agents numerous times every week, who fly thousands upon thousands of miles every week.
Reasonableness, and not hysteria, in our security methods would provide for a practical way for such frequent and well-known flyers to accelerate and ease the increasing burden of air travel.
Mr. Hitz says that Senator Paul must not be “anyone’s favorite person right now.” Well, I’m a fan. He’s standing up for reasonable practices in a system increasingly dominated by drastic and reactionary measures.
Most importantly though, he’s standing up for my rights as an American citizen under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”