4th Amendment Shipping Tape

Looking at printed wedding gift ribbon some time ago, Kathryn thought it would be amusing to put the 4th amendment on the ribbon, and tie it around our suitcases.

That turned out to be hard to make, but I did make a design for shipping tape which you can see below. The printed shipping tape has the text slant so that as the pattern repeats, the 4th amendment appears as a long continuous string, as well as a block.

You can put this shipping tape on your packages and your airplane luggage. Every time I fly, my luggage gets a card in it telling me how "for my protection" they have searched it.

Now, when they open my luggage, they will have to literally slice the 4th amendment in half in order to do this.

Too bad we can't wrap it around our phone wires, but at least the EFF is suing AT&T to stop the NSA wiretaps.

We ordered several cases of this tape for the EFF. You can get it as a gift if you join the EFF or buy it directly from the EFF Store. There is a fat markup of course, which goes to protecting your civil rights. Buy some for your own shipping tape gun, or give the gift of privacy rights to a friend.

And yeah, I know it probably won't stop them from searching. But if, like John Perry Barlow on his way back from Burning Man, I have to go to court over it, it will be nice to tell the judge that they cut the 4th amendment up to search my bags.

(Minor note: The printer could not always get the repetitions to line up perfectly, so sometimes there's a vertical gap.)


On a recent trip back from Minneapolis, the screener outside the metal detector said "you waive your 4th amendment right when you step into the detector." I've heard other TSA employees (and employees of the private firm handling security at SFO) say that.

While I can't vouch for the accuracy of what they say, the belief seems to be a standard part of screeners' training.

You don't waive it exactly, but you must give permission in order to proceed. Your rights are still intact because you have the right to turn around and walk out without a search. This is the same as at a nightclub, for example.

The important difference is that, since you at no point waive your rights, you have the right at any point to withdraw consent for further searches, turn around, and walk out. My understanding is that taking a weapon into an airport is a crime, though, and that once you're past the checkpoint if law enforcement has probable cause they can detain and search you. I'm sure I won't find any argument, though, when I say that refusing a voluntary search does not constitute probable cause and that if anyone tries to detain you for refusing a search and turning back from the checkpoint, you should get in touch with the ACLU.

The only way I would get in contact with the ACLU is with one hand on the throat and one hand on a bat.

...so the next time your civil liberties are violated, call Bill O'Reilly--maybe he'll go to 'bat' for you.

...But I doubt it--unless your story guarantees HIM higher ratings, it's far more likely that he'll call you a "far left wacko" for even mentioning the Bill of Rights.

First of all, there is a list of all prohbibited items to be transported via passenger aircraft available at the airport or on-line with the TSA and is given in news print and TV. If you try to pass through with any item that is prohibited, you are in violation. You DO have choices. I'm sure the greyhound is running!

Second, the final call on any item to not pass inspection is made by the airline.

Would you be happy if someone you invited into your home brought fireworks and lit them off in your backyard without your permission? Would you like it if your guest decided to smoke in your bathroom? Maybe you are okay with them trying to light a shoe-bomb off in your livingroom. Extreme? Well, considering that you are captive in a pressurized tube 30,000 feet in the air, maybe not so much.

Now, you DO NOT forefit your rights when you walk through an airport check-point. You CONSENT to the screening process by WILLINGLY standing in line and placing your items into a tray to be x-rayed. You were not forced to consent! And, you clearly know the rules! And, when a TSA Officer finds something suspicious or prohibited in your bag via x-ray, I believe that would be probable cause. Remmeber, YOU submitted yourself to the process, the TSA has the support of the local police department, they have full guidlines to follow and have taken an oath to protect the flying public!

With all the blunders and mistakes in the current administration, I think the TSA is the only Government department commited to keeping the traveling public secure. Besides, you could always walk.

I hope you're joking! At one time, I used to think that security was never a waste of time, but now with my frequent encounters with TSA, I know I was wrong with that assessment. I've seen too many security violations that I wonder how many things the do wrong.

Over the last few years, I have taken a poll of 246 (so far) fellow travelers (at the airport while standing in a TSA line) and over 95% of them think that TSA doesn't provide any real security. Additionally, alnost 70% of passengers are more concerned about TSA harassing them (and possibly detaining them) than they are about terrorists. In 11% of the respondents, they are "terrified" of TSA, which I've recently heard as "America's Own Gestapo!"

I've heard of more "interesting" wording for the TSA acronym:

Terrorism Support Agency
Trouble Securing Anything
Terrible Security Anywhere
Thief Society of America
Troublesome Shameless Antagonists
Tyranical, Sadistic and Amoral
Treacherous, Suspicious and Anti-American

Don't forget the classic: "Thousands Standing Around".


You have an interesting point of view. I beg to differ.

As a person who is required to travel for business, I can't be competitive if I don't use the airlines. Corporate jets are too expensive. Greyhound and Amtrak are too slow. Obviously, I drive whenever it's possible, but I can't drive to Hawaii.

Driving, by the way, is also a privilidge. Would it be constitutional if the government made your drivers license conditional on not voting and/or agreeing not to criticize the government? It amounts to the same thing.

The irony is that the screeners (yes, the underpaid, uneducated and non-Americans included) did their jobs on 9/11. The only things that were insufficient were the list of proscribed items and the airlines procedures on handling hijackings. There was no good reason to Federalize screening, and doing so is a violation of my 4th ammendment liberties.

The TSA is taking away your right to go onto the plane without submitting to their search. Therefore, it is a violation of the 4th amendment. It's no different than if they made a search a condition of you walking down the street. The effort is futile - you can't be perfectly safe from your enemies unless you're god. As long as we keep occupying their countries, they're going to find ways to fight back. The attitude that Americans have superior intelligence to the arabs is racist idiocy. I could give you 50 ways to get around any of the security systems in place.

Uh. No. You don't have a right to board a plane. That's a privilege. One that was paid for.

You don't have a right to board any particular plane, or any particular car, or use any particular road, many people believe that the right to travel is fairly fundamental in a free society, and in a country thousands of miles wide, the right to travel by air is essential.

And so people do indeed fight for a right to spend your money and travel, free of inappropriate surveillance and interference by the state.

Any idea how much tape is on the roll? I'm tempted to buy, but only if there's plenty. I want to tape it in a lot of places.

The rolls are 55 yards, which is admittedly the smaller of the 2 standard roll sizes. Since these rolls are for making a statement, more than being the standard rolls for a shipping department, I judged it better to get more rolls for the money.

However, I suspect if you email in we'll cut a deal on multiple rolls!

Clever, but the operative phrase is "unreasonable searches." I think it's idealistically naive to complain about the TSA's random luggage searches. Many people take for granted our free and borderless society which however does come with a minimal cost such as these searches which is for the greater public good.

I no longer believe the searches are random. I have been thoroughly searched everytime I have flown. Every damn ticket I get has those fun "SSSSSS" printed on them. Those searches are not random. I think it has something to do with my name being too ordinary, and thus subject to similar scrutiny as a "John Smith" or such. I just hate it. My cracker ass, which is supposedly the most priveledged in American society, is being unfairly singled out, when I am the least likely person to be of any real threat to any damn plane.


I have an extremely common name, and have all kinds of problems flying. Especially since I live abroad perhaps, I get the third degree every time I try to return to the US. Have I ever lived in virginia? What's my wife's name? Lots of random questions.

Your statement contradicts itself. If we were truly 'free and borderless' we would not be subject to random searches without warrant or cause. When you favor a false sense of safety and security over personal freedom you allow those who give you said safety to be your masters.

Interesting. I believe it's naive to think that these are "random" searches. As someone who travels by air almost every week, I can tell you that my luggage is searched every time I fly. There's nothing random about it.

It's a neat idea, although I have a feeling the person doing the bag-checks doesn't even know (or if they do know, they won't care) what Amendment IV is. Perhaps if you say Amendment IV to the Constitution of the United States of America(TM)? Without the TM of course.

.. but the 4th Amendment applies to the government, not the private airline that you are paying to take you somewhere. When you buy a ticket, you agree to a contract. Part of that contract is they can search your bag. If you don't want your bag searched, you don't have to give money to the airline. Also, I would prefer not to be blown up in the sky, so I'm kind of glad they're searching.


It is a private airline, but the searching is being done by government employees, and is often happening on government owned ground.

If the searches were just being performed by a private airline, then I should have the right to start up an airline with no searches at all. I should have the right to start an airline where I encourage the passengers to carry handguns, for the greater good and safety of us all. Why can't I start that airline? Because the Federal Government regulates the airlines, requiring the unreasonable searches. This is why we contend that they are unconstitutional.

I want some of that tape.

I'm pretty sure private airfields and non-commercial airlines are not required to check luggage or personal effects. So buy a jet and ferry your friends around. Good enough for you?

Go ahead, start-up that airline and see how much money you make. See how many people want to fly Vigilante Air.

The Federal Government DOES NOT OWN the airports or the land!!

Let's just pretend for a minute you actually did own an airline. Let's look at the expenses. How much money would you have to spend on ONE plane, let alone a fleet? $30,000,000.00? Now, let's not take into account the fact that you lease the area of the airport which you dock, employees, gas, pensions, advertising, insurance, maintenance, etc. Now, you have all these passengers in the sky and some idiot decides to pack a diving lamp that gets switched on while loading and it's not in a compressed tube next to the other moron who decided to pack kerosene lanters. Hmmm, wonder what will happen? I'll tell you, your $30,000,000.00 investment is blown-up in the sky, your insurance rates go up. You now have a PR problem and are being sued by the family members of every passenger on that flight.

I can't belive you people are all upset because you had to be "inconvenienced" for 30 seconds. Again, Greyhound is still an option!! Or, maybe you could hitch a couple oxen to a wagon.

And, do you really think a stranger is just going to say, "Oh, he's alright. I know, because he said so."

Now, the Airlines helped draw-up the guidlines that the TSA follows. Many of the guidlines were in place since the 1970's. Does anyone remember the hostages that Carter was dealing with and Reagan sold contra to Iran to have returned? If you have seen the videos of 911, the hijackes CLEARLY had weapons when they walked through and the contractors at the time let them through. If you can't get a fricken lighter through now, how the hell do you think someone's going to get something worse onto a plane?

Look, have your opinions, it's okay to be upset, but damn it, tell me what YOU are doing to keep people safe and then I wil give a symapthetic ear.

P.S. I'm no O'Reilly "Loofa" loving, Hannity believing, Limbaugh pill-poppin' freak. And when you insinuate that TSA employees are idiots, I'm sure some are, I'll have you know I have met some who gave up or retired from decent careers to join the TSA. So, don't go trying to sell yourself at a higher price than you are actually worth.

Which airports do you use? With the latest knee jerk rules about water and toothpaste, I'm now up to 90 - 120 minutes all of the time!

When I went to the US in Jan 2004 we used a sports bag for the overflow of crap that we had to buy.

Got searched every time. The backpacker's bags? Never.

While you're at it, you might want to check out the original Bill of Rights - Security Edition which the EFF contracts from me and then marks way up.

That's fine and all, but... you know... brother's gotta make a buck, people!!!


So lets review. The Federal security personnel are searching your bags following an X-Ray screening, following a voluntary exchange of your bag to the airport security, following a voluntary decision to fly as a means of transportation, following 5 years after an attack in which terrorists used an airplane as a means to kill 2,986 people, with the very real possibility that a suitcase could have a bomb device on it, with you essentially able to assume that your bags will be searched, and with absolutely no damage to any of your personal possessions. I can definitely see how that qualifies as 'unreasonable.'

GG hippie, try to be less self righteous.

Many contend, with strong credibility that to travel in a country the size of the USA for many purposes (other than long, slow vacation) flying is not optional, nor any of the things now associated with it. (Particularly to Hawai'i, Alaska, Guam or other areas outside the 48.)

Secondly, the terrorists used 4 planes to kill those people by taking over the controls, nothing to do with what was in their luggage. Of course we don't want bombs in luggage but they are not much more threatening than bombs in any crowded place. So 9/11's cirmustances are not relevant to this question, other than in discussing a general fear of increased terrorist attack.

There is not "no damage." A friend of mine had his bag searched for bombs, and they found a small amount of harmless pot -- something they had no reason to search him for -- and arrested him. There are many other stories of negative consequences here.

If you feel we should start searching everybody as they go about their everday lives, then rewrite the 4th amendment. Seriously. If what you want is so popular, you can get the 2/3rds votes needed.

Of course you have a choice. You will never be absolutely forced to fly, thus it is voluntary. Thank you for pointing out that it is a faster option than other methods of transportation, It wasn't obvious.

In addition to that, thank you for pointing out the obvious in regards to the 9/11 attacks. Apparently you didn't realize that what I was bringing up is the general fact that after an attack so large security will inevitably increase. Most evaluations of airport security place it as lackluster at best even with searches. The airlines and the government would be criticized if they did not search bags. Apparently you are not very concerned with airline security, but I'm sure those responsible for the Airlines and those responsible for Federal airline security see searching bags for bombs that could kill the passengers of an airplane as relavent to the safety of those flying.

"There is not “no damage.” A friend of mine had his bag searched for bombs, and they found a small amount of harmless pot — something they had no reason to search him for — and arrested him"
That is an absolutely terrible example of damage to personal possessions. With that reasoning, you could claim that damage is caused when people are arrested for having a bomb in their suitcase, of course it damages people. You seem to believe that because the airport security is not specifically searching for drugs, your friend should not have been arrested for having marijuana in is bag. Regardless of your position on marijuana legalization, carrying it in any quantity without medical reason backed up by a doctor's recommendation and perscription is still a federal crime. What if airline personnel find 3 kg of cocaine in a suitcase, should they not arrest the person in possession of the cocaine because it was not what they were searching for? Like possession of marijuana, it is still a federal crime in the United States, and as such, the government is well within its rights arresting someone who has illegal substances in the suitcase, even if they are not searching it for the express purpose of finding those substances.

"If you feel we should start searching everybody as they go about their everday lives, then rewrite the 4th amendment"
I think I made it clear that flying on an airline is completely voluntary, and thus, it is your choice whether or not you want your bags searched. I don't think people should be searched without probable cause, per the 4th amendment. Its a bit ironic that after you criticize my tone you suggest for no reason that I am advocating something that goes completely against the U.S. Constitution.

"Seriously. If what you want is so popular, you can get the 2/3rds votes needed."
Popularity has nothing to do with it, I don't know why you wrote this sentence. If you feel that you or your personal effects have been hurt in any way by a government employee performing a search which you knew would happen yet still submitted your possessions to, then why don't you sue for damages. I'm not completely sure, but I think that there is even a branch of government that handles that sort of claim and even interperates whether or not laws (such as the ability of airport security to search bags) are Constitutional. I don't know if you just wanted to sell some tape, but maybe you should look into it if you care that much about it.

I described actual harms (like getting things stolen, getting arrested for things unrelated to the bomb-search,) but it is important to understand that the privacy rights, including the ones protected by the 4th amendment, are not about physical damage to one's property. It is a right to be secure in your person, papers and effects. There are psychological as well as physical violations to consider here.

Your arguments about coke fly in the face of much thinking in this area. Obviously we could find all the smugglers if we just searched everybody routinely, even though we have no reason to suspect them for carrying drugs. We don't want this, however, in our society. Nor should we get it by default because we decide to search everybody for bombs.

What you may misunderstand is that even criminals, such as pot smokers, have the right to privacy. It is only lost when there is a reason to suspect them of the criminal act. Yes, you do have the right to carry pot in your bag and not have it be searched unless there is some compelling reason to believe that you personally have contraband. This is true even though carrying pot is itself unlawful.

We clearly use different definitions of voluntary. Tell me, when word came to me my father would die, 3000 miles away within a day, what other means of travel would you have suggested as among my options? The only "option" you can present is to not go, which is certainly possible but at odds with a nation which believes in freedom of travel. With your definition of voluntary, what forms of free travel are non-voluntary? I don't have to drive, I can walk or bike or take transit. Does this mean we can search anybody who uses any one of these particular means if we see a danger in it. (Certainly Iraqis have painfully learned this about driving. I'm glad I'm not in Iraq.)

How would you set the standard, so that the right to travel without having to waive other fundamental rights still exists in a meaningful way?

You are standing in front of the airport, and you have two choices. Either you can leave and travel by some other means or not at all, or you can fulfill whatever obligations your family, job, or anything else is asking of you. There may even be serious consequences of not getting on that flight, because you miss the death of a family member, or lose your job. If you do not get on the flight, however, you can continue to live a productive free life despite the consequences. You will move on and find another job if you have to. But instead you decide to get on the flight, and hand over your bags to airport security, who you know will search the bags. You really don't even have to carry any bags with you on the flight, buy some clothes and a toothbrush when you get to your destination. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines voluntary as "proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent." As you said, we "clearly use different definitions of voluntary," and yours is wrong.

"With your definition of voluntary, what forms of free travel are non-voluntary?." I'm not sure if this is a serious question or not, but I think that the whole 'free' part of 'free travel' has some implications about whether or not its voluntary.

"There are psychological as well as physical violations to consider here"
My point about sueing for damages as a result of your '4th amendment rights being violated' still stands. If you feel that your rights have been violated, causing psychological damage, then let the legislative interperate the Constitution as it applies to the laws regarding airline security searches. Welcome to American Democracy.

"Your arguments about coke fly in the face of much thinking in this area. Obviously we could find all the smugglers if we just searched everybody routinely, even though we have no reason to suspect them for carrying drugs"
First of all, I don't care what the the 'thinking in this area,' says, not arresting a person for knowingly violating a federal law which the security personnel came across while performing a legal and legitimate duty is stupid and wrong. Second, I don't know why you keep implying that I am advocating searching everybody for everything. "We don't want this, however, in our society. Nor should we get it by default because we decide to search everybody for bombs." You are saying that if an Airport Security Personnel performing a completely legal and not unreasonable search of your personal possessions looking specifically for a bomb discovers that you are committing a felony, he should let it go because cocaine wasn't what he was looking for anyway. Make sure you understand that sentence, because that is exactly what you are saying, and its stupid. You only went down that path of arguement because your friend got arrested for marijuana, which you consider to be perfectly ok, even though it is a crime to possess it. Put away your shovel, and stop making that hole deeper.

If police are searching a man's house with a warrant because they suspect him for murder, and happen to find that this man is in possession of a large amount of cocaine, should they let it go? No, of course not. Allowing people to get away with illicit materials in their suitcases because they security personnel were searching for something else not only flies in the face of precedents in terms of other searches, it flies in the face of common sense. I'm sorry that I think that people who are breaking federal laws should be punished if a Federal Employee learns of it while performing legitimate duties.

As I understand it, airport security works like this. An X-Ray screening is performed on the suitcases, and the bags are searched if anything is seen that could possibly be a bomb. A lot of things have the possibility of being a bomb, everything from electronics to shaving cream, so a lot of bags are searched. So basically the Security Personnel are searching the voluntarily submitted possessions in an attempt to locate a device which could kill everyone on a plane.

Answer this: do you honestly think that the Airport Security should not search the bags they are placing airplanes, thus making it possible to detonate a bomb on said airplanes? If you follow that line of thinking, do you think that Airport Security should refrain from searching your carry-on bags, or even stop using metal detectors?

If you accept that we don't want a country where everybody is routinely searched, and you agree we live in a country where most of the population (and almost all businesspeople) regularly fly and indeed must for their jobs, then you must accept what you proclaim is silly -- that indeed they should not do anything about anything they see that is not a threat to aircraft security.

This is not a new concept. While indeed, if police have a warrant they don't have to ignore what else they see, that's in part because they do have a warrant, and you are suspected of criminal activity. However, if the warrant says "Search the living room" then they can't search the bedroom, and anything seen there if they do is not admissible.

Now I personally don't want to accept a world where we're searched every time we travel by air. But for those who do, you can either accept the idea that they must ignore other crimes, or accept that you've created a country where a large sector of the population regularly gets searched in spite of having no reason to suspect them of a crime, and anything found can be used against them.

Which is it to be? Some argue that searching for a bomb is reasonable. But clearly searching for other things is not, but it's what we end up getting, and such a program of search is not reasonable .

Or perhaps some are fine with a system that provides a 4th amendment which no longer has meaning, at least for those who need to use airplanes. And then later trains. And busses. And ships. And roads. And large office buildings. And stadia. And museums. And movies (though it's camcorders they are more scared of there, now.)

You are a communist pig. It is a waste of time to even attempt to engage you in intelligent debate. Your narrow-minded views are exactly the reason our country is in the state of fear that it is currently in.

Actually, Anonymous, your views are more in line with those of the communist regimes, who exercise higher levels of control over their citizen's lives. Maybe you shouldn't resort to childish name-calling, especially if you can't even use a proper insult. Did anyone else notice that as soon as Anonymous started having a hard time responding to statements, he started throwing insults like "communist pig" and "narrow minded." Grow up.

I did enjoy how you simply dodged a point made earlier. Please, give me an example of a non-voluntary ("compulsory") form of travel. I don't *have* to ever leave my house; I could telecommute and order food, clothing and other goods off the internet. Therefore, to use your logic, me walking down the street to a store is a form of voluntary travel, and as such makes me eligible to random search by a governmental authority.

I'm not saying that I disapprove of metal detectors, or x-ray screening screening of carryon baggage, but I think we may be taking things too far by opening and searching every single bag that comes through an airport (we have pretty much proven there are no "random" searches). There can be no guarantee of safety in life; living is risky. The most secure life will also be the most empty life.

I think it's useful to note here that the Anonymous who posted the Communist Pig comment was not indented below Brad's comment, but was inline with it. That means it was in response to the same thing Brad's was, and therefore was directed at the Anonymous who was indeed engaging in a calm and intelligent debate.

Let's not kill off the lovely mind-meeting going on here just because the peanut gallery decided to toss an inane epithet into the middle, ok?

"How would you set the standard, so that the right to travel without having to waive other fundamental rights still exists in a meaningful way?"
You have the right to travel and the CHOICE of how you do that!

Are you to suggest that beacuse you father dies you should be exempt from the screening process? Or that you should be allowed to bring contra-ban onto the airline's property? You think that is your RIGHT?

The TSA does not have the power to arrest. The local police make that decision!

Why is this so hard to understand? You want to fly, follow the rules. You know your items may be subject to search why would you pack an illegal substance and then act surprised? You are getting NO symapthy with that argument!

My friend...he was driving...and he got into an accident...and they arrested him because he was drunk. Can you belive that? Alcoholics have rights too you know.

This whole argument is so dumb. If I hand you my backpack, and I know you are going to look through it, I can't scream and yell saying my Fourth Ammendment Right was violated. I freaking gave you my bag with full knowledge that you were going to search it. Where is the problem? Even Bush could figure out such a complex word problem. Why can't you? And if I have an illegal substance in that bag I would run the risk, since we do not know eachother, that you would narc me out.

So, if we have a right to travel, but an option on how to travel, WHY do we have to allow 4th Ammendment violations when flying but not when driving? Where is the line that we ignore the constitution?

Why is it that we comply with the 2nd Ammendment in some places, but not in others? Where is the line that we ignore the constitution?


I live in Cleveland, Ohio, but work in Akron, Ohio. If Summit county decided institute a policy that every person entering the county was subject to search, "for general public protection," it seems like your arguments would support such an arrangement.

When you really look at it, my working in Akron (or working at all) is "completely voluntary." Obviously the government (county in this case) is bound by the constitution, but the company responsible for maintaining the roads could do the searches, couldn't they?

Searching a Cleveland resident traveling to Akron is something that does not happen because such a search would be unreasonable, but this does not apply to airlines because you are bad at analogies. I like how I never said "for general public protection," yet you seem to be quoting me on it. Searching bags is for the protection of those specifically traveling on airlines, which have been the targets of hijackings and attacks long before the 9/11 attacks.

I also like how you are saying that I justified searching bags because flying on airlines is "completely voluntary." I never said that. I justified searches because they are reasonable in this context. I said that flying is voluntary and if you feel your rights have been violated then sue for damages.

"Obviously the government (county in this case) is bound by the constitution, but the company responsible for maintaining the roads could do the searches, couldn't they?"
It was a pretty bad analogy to start off with, I'm not quite sure why you took it this far. But here, I will play along with you. If we are discussing transportation over the roadway between Cleveland and Akron, then your car is analogous to a small single rotor airplane, while a large, privately owned bus is analogous to a large passenger airplane. The bus company has been the target of numerous hijackings and bombings, and recently a hijacked bus was used to kill several hundred people, so the security on the bus between Cleveland and Akron is now controlled by the government. The government wants to search you for weapons and search your bags for bombs, to ensure the safety of the other passengers on the bus. You don't have to ride the bus, but you decide to anyway (almost like its 'voluntary'), and now you are here, complaining that your rights have been violated by the bus security. I've always said, if you are going to use analogies involving airplanes and cities in Ohio, go all the fucking way.

In your extension of the Ohio bus analogy, you say that "The bus company has been the target of numerous hijackings...so the security of the bus is now controlled by the government." You might as well throw away everything before "the security of the bus is now controlled by the government." The point is, the government is involved. Justification of the government's involvement is NOT the issue here and is totally irrelevant, and cannot be debated because what you and I consider to be "just cause" for intervention will most likely differ. And because you and I disagree does not mean that one of us has to be "wrong," as you implied in an earlier post.

The security checkpoints at airports are there to control the airways, and are not to merely keep the general public who choose to fly safe. Even private planes have certain security clearances they must go through. The point trying to be made here is that bad stuff happens; where do you draw the line on the security/freedom issue? People get carjacked, mugged and murdered on our public roads. People who rob banks typically get away by the use of our public roads system. It doesn't matter whether a public bus or a private car is involved. Would you be willing to implement regular checkpoints on roads and highways to ensure that no person driving has any contraband or weapons with which to commit a crime? This would only be ensuring the safety of our roadways and the systems connected to them.

The fact of the matter is the government has no business physically opening and searching the property of practically everyone who chooses to use a particular mode of transportation, even if it is in the interest of "safety." Transportation doesn't warrant such Orwellian measures; visiting the White House, yeah, that probably does warrant such security. It doesn't matter that the airline industry has had its fair share of tragic events. Unless you are willing to implement policies across the board that are similar to the policies being used regarding the airline industries, you should be careful in defending such actions as being fully justifiable.

...And, when someone uses quotation marks, that does not necessarily mean that they are quoting you. Please don't try to pull that crap with me like you did with other posters. You know that quotation marks are also commonly used to indicate an emphasis or some other form of differentiation on the words they contain.

We also voluntarily enter malls populated by thousands, large churches populated by thousands, drive on Interstate highways and city streets and walk on public sidewalks. If you believe it's a good idea to search everyone who voluntarily buys an airline ticket, then it would naturally follow that everyone who voluntarily goes to the mall, a place of worship, drives on a street or highway or walks down a public sidewalk in a crowded Times Square, among thousands of other sites, should also be searched -- and if a person didn't wish to be searched, all they would have to do is avoid going to the mall -- and all those other places.

No one has ever blown up a college basketball arena in the U.S., far as I know, yet I was searched and my wife's purse searched TSA style all because we made the mistake of buying tickets to watch a game to be played between two state universities. State universities are branches of government. Is it reasonable to search college basketball fans, or is such conduct unconstitutional under the 4th Amendment?

Read about Mao and his Revolution and tell me the United States of America isn't experiencing similar government oppressions. Of course, it's all for our own good. The government is smarter than any of us and is our great protector. Sure it is. Ben Franklin knew that when he wrote, "Those who would trade liberty for a little security deserve neither liberty nor security." Can you imagine a barefooted Franklin standing quietly in line at the airport while the TSA searches him and his bags?

God save us all.

Guess what the 4th amendment and all of the constitution might have well been burned. We live in a society of laws that don't portect the rights of the individuals who make up this great country. The forefathers of our government were trecurious decievers.... They built this country so that the powerfull will always stay that way... They own you and your precious piece of paper. Ask any iraqi.......

As far as your "friend" who had the harmless pot, if you want to do something that is an arrestable offence then go ahead and run with it, but don't whine about how you got arrested for doing something that was clearly illegal. We don't care.

The pot was not the point of this debate. You would probably know that if you didn't your mind shut from stubborn apprehension. Perhaps you should have a go at reading what you're trying to demystify... as opposed to seizing up at the conjuring of a "taboo" image.

What if we were to allow frequent flyers, like business types, to go through a thorough background check and training course of some sort to allow them to get a badge? This badge would enable them to use an express lane when going through security checks? Speeding up the process. Don't pilots and flight attendants have such ID cards/badges? Just a thought...

Actually, such a system is just what the terrorists would want. A nice MIT paper a couple of years ago detailed why only truly random screening can work.

Very roughly, if you give passengers some ability to get a pass through the security, in order to focus your attention elsewhere, the terror group can just keep trying various members and techniques until they have somebody who qualifies for the free pass. (As you know the London subway bombers were native-born British kids.) Once they find somebody like that they've now got a free pass onto the planes to try to repeat 9/11.

At that point, anyone who actually wants to hijack a plane gets several people to take the training course and background check. The ones who pass are then in an excellent position to cause harm.

"Frequent flyer" is a combination of financial status and type of work; it doesn't mean someone won't want to do harm.

Not ALL persons or their luggage are searched. We simply do not have the resources to do so not to mention the intolerable delays this would cause. These are among the reasons for the "random" searches. I do not believe these searches to actually be random but rather based on profiling. I don't like it but that's reality. However if you have some young adult Middle Eastern male, he fits the profile of possibly being a terrorist. If they open his suitcase and find a bomb it's only going to re-enforce this kind of behavior. Like it or not people learn from experience and actions that produce results will be repeated. Sadly, the vast majority of terrorism is carried out by people fitting this description and turning a blind eye to this fact would be stupid. Speaking of which, assuming that your belief that everyone gets searched were true, isn't carrying pot or anything else illegal in your luggage just a stupid idea to begin with?

"Some argue that searching for a bomb is reasonable. But clearly searching for other things is not, but it’s what we end up getting, and such a program of search is not reasonable."

They are NOT just searching for bombs. They are searching for contraband which includes not only bombs but other weapons as well as narcotics and so forth. What your friend was doing is called "smuggling". It would be extremely assinine to narrow the scope of the search to bombs only. So, what, if they open a suitcase and discover machine guns, flame throwers, rocket launchers and what not but no bombs they just let them through? Get real. That kind of lax security would surely be taken advantage of. It's common sense to attack the enemy where he is weakest.

"Secondly, the terrorists used 4 planes to kill those people by taking over the controls, nothing to do with what was in their luggage. Of course we don’t want bombs in luggage but they are not much more threatening than bombs in any crowded place."

I'm not sure how old you are so it is possible you may not remember a time when it seemed like every time you turned on the news some plane was being hijacked to Beruit or somesuch location. More often than not these accompanied threats of there being a bomb on board and in many cases it turned out to be true. The most recent such incident I can recall took place at the hands of Libyan terrorists in 1988 aboard Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland because of a bomb hidden in the forward cargo area. In other words, the luggage compartment. For further details those interested can go here: http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/lockrb2.htm

Secondly bombs onboard airplanes are often MUCH more devastating because the explosion takes place in a more tightly confined area and if placed properly can bring the plane down thus creating a much LARGER bomb and we've already seen just how effective THAT can be.

"This is not a new concept. While indeed, if police have a warrant they don’t have to ignore what else they see, that’s in part because they do have a warrant, and you are suspected of criminal activity. However, if the warrant says “Search the living room” then they can’t search the bedroom, and anything seen there if they do is not admissible."

Precisely. In this case it gives them the authority to search your suitcase and your persons. If they discover information in your suitcase such as the address of your business or residence they do NOT have the authority to drive out there and search those. This is not to say that they CANNOT obtain the authority to do so if sufficent cause exists. If they catch you with a suitcase full of cocaine it would be reasonable to assume you're a drug smuggler and they would likely obtain warrants based on that. Since the airlines are federally regulated they gain the right to search you through what is called "implied consent". As far as I know this applies to ALL federal installations such as military bases. Bascially the way it works is that by crossing that threshhold onto their turf you are implying that you give consent to be searched. At any time prior to the commencement of the search you can terminate consent and depart the premesis. Once they start the search it may be too late. I'm not sure what the law is at that point. Maybe someone else out there who knows could fill me in.

This debate about whether or not in this or that case travelling the airlines is voluntary is rather moot. Although to give my 2 cents the phrase "I had no choice" is absolute nonsense. We ALWAYS have choices it's just that sometimes they all suck and you're stuck deciding which one sucks the least. If your friend had nothing illegal in his luggage he would not have been arrested. It's really just that simple.

The morale here is, I suppose, if you have to fly across the country to attend the funeral of a family member don't take anything illegal.

Actually, I believe the goal at least is that all bags are searched (within the definition of the 4th amendment) by such means as x-rays, chemical tests. Those that get a flag from that, and presumably some others, get a physical inspection. Oddly, this was probably more clearly legal when the private airlines ran security, they aren't bound by the 4th.

My point here is that people make the case that "searching for bombs" is a reasonable search under the 4th. But searching for other contraband is well established as not. In Barlow's case, for example, they claim they opened his bag to look at the wires in his LED gloves. After determining the gloves were harmless, what reason was there to go to the other end of his bag, dig out his pill bottles, pull out the cotton and other pills and search for the pot? Why is that reasonable?

It doesn't matter that carrying pot on the plane is stupid knowing they are searching as they are. The 4th protects your privacy, including your illegal activity when you're being stupid. It doesn't say, "the law-abiding people shall be secure in their effects." The search must meet a reasonableness test (which just randomly looking for drugs does not) or there must be probable cause and a warrant.

As I said, bombs on planes are somewhat more scary that ones on Madrid trains, London subways and Jerusalem transit. But it's no comparison to the 9/11 fear. There's an argument that to the extent that all this aircraft security has actually worked, it has just diverted the bombs to other places. Who knows, perhaps the lower tolls of the Madrid trains or Bali nightclubs are worth all this. 270 died at Lockerbie, 202 in Bali, 190 in Madrid -- I'm not seeing a giant difference, they are all roughly equally tragic, if one can put a quantifier on tragedy. (Not to mention planes were still vulnerable to the Lockerbie non-suicide trick for many years after, and in some ways still are.)

(BTW does carrying pot on a domestic flight count as smuggling?)

The problem with the implied consent theory is that unlike entering military bases, it is specious to suggest that in a country of this size you have other alternatives to travel. Of course, technically they exist (though not outside the 48 now that they are moving these searches/ID checks to passenger ships) but get real. If you can't fly your movement in this country by modern standards is severely curtailed.

I believe that certainly the goal is to search all luggage but the resources do not as yet exist to do so.

"My point here is that people make the case that “searching for bombs” is a reasonable search under the 4th. But searching for other contraband is well established as not."

Established how exactly? Cite some examples please. As I stated before narrowing the scope of the search to bombs only renders the concept so ineffective as to make it pointless to search for anything at all.

"In Barlow’s case, for example, they claim they opened his bag to look at the wires in his LED gloves. After determining the gloves were harmless, what reason was there to go to the other end of his bag, dig out his pill bottles, pull out the cotton and other pills and search for the pot? Why is that reasonable?"

This is a bit of a gray area here. Those of us who are technically savvy enough to recognize it as a harmless item may see the furthering of the search as unreasonable however the majority of society who have no clue what that funny looking thing is are going to be suspicious. It's their JOB to be suspicious of things they don't recognize and once you make them suspicious expect more intense scrutiny.

"It doesn’t matter that carrying pot on the plane is stupid knowing they are searching as they are. The 4th protects your privacy, including your illegal activity when you’re being stupid. It doesn’t say, “the law-abiding people shall be secure in their effects.” The search must meet a reasonableness test (which just randomly looking for drugs does not) or there must be probable cause and a warrant."

This sort of argument, "my rights are protected even when I am being stupid", works fine if we're talking about something like seatbelt laws where your stupidity only gets yourself killed. Granted pot by itself isn't all that threatening. In fact I'd rather have the guy riding in a plane than driving a car but they are searching for contraband which means anything illegal they find is fair game. Just like when you cross the border back into the U.S. from another country they are not just searching for narcotics. They are searching for ANY contraband. A lot of people being inconvienenced or arrested for smuggling contraband in the course of ensuring the plane I am in doesn't end up becoming a smoking hole in the ground doesn't really bother me all that much.

"(BTW does carrying pot on a domestic flight count as smuggling?)"

Actually no. As long as no international borders are crossed the lesser charge of "trafficking" could possibly apply but most likely would end up being simply "possession" provided there aren't special circumstances applied when trying to board an aircraft.

"The problem with the implied consent theory is that unlike entering military bases, it is specious to suggest that in a country of this size you have other alternatives to travel. Of course, technically they exist (though not outside the 48 now that they are moving these searches/ID checks to passenger ships) but get real. If you can’t fly your movement in this country by modern standards is severely curtailed."

Be that as it may there are always choices. You can choose not to carry illegal items in your luggage, you can choose not to fly, or you can choose to take your chances.

In closing you say, "be that as it may" but this is a key point. You have "choices" but they are not meaningful ones. Your logic suggests it's OK if we lose de facto freedom to travel without being subject to search, as long as the option to drive still exists. How about going to Alaska, then? Are you going to tell me that because I can buy my own jet aircraft, we still have all our rights? What good it is to have all our rights by this definition?

As I've said, it's well established that they can't just randomly stop you and search you for drugs. This is a right secured by the constitution. If such rights can be removed because the realities of the world demand boarding planes, and they can say you give up your rights by trying to board a plane, what kind of system of rights is that? What rights are safe in this context?

Will you permit them to say I give up my rights by driving a taxpayer supported road or walking a taxpaper supported sidewalk, and if I want to keep them, I can always make the choice to stay home? What part of your logic forbids this step?

As I stated previously we always have choices. Sometimes our only choices all suck and we're stuck with picking the one that sucks the least. Just because someone gets caught sneaking narcotics onto a plane doesn't mean they had no choice. It means they simply made a poor choice and must suffer the consequences. Whining about rights violations when they clearly have NOT been violated is a poor and childish refusal to accept responsibility.

The Fourth Amendment states:

"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."

The key word here is "reasonable". Circumstances outside the scope of our opinions often determine what is reasonable and what isn't.

For example:

Due to events in the past it is reasonable (and I say neccessary) to search persons and luggage in order to ensure the safety of passengers and personnel. As far as illegal items outstide the scope of weapons and bombs they are covered by the clause of Inevitable Discovery.

For further details you can go here:


If you don't like it I suggest you begin a campaign to alter the(se) Constitutional amendment(s).

Welcome to democracy.

When will you people realize the way to stop the terrorists is not to control them out of existence? It's to negate the reason for their existence.

Now, if you're going to be foolish enough to control them, do it properly, and legally. In response to an earlier post of yours, Anonymous, the TSA employees searching your bag are conducting a search for "Dangerous Items," and not general contraband. Specifically searching for dangerous items that they don't want on a plane. Take a look at the signs. They don't talk about pot, they talk about knives and nail clippers. Neglect the fact that it's not too hard to use a bit of psychology and shielding to conceal a knife in your luggage.

What we need is truly random searching, if you're to search at all. Basic screening, simple random number generator, auto-number the passengers, and you've got screening that doesn't have any theoretical holes in it. You're still left to worry about technological limitations, but those can be solved.

As for the "voluntary" nature of the searches, that's a fallacy. You may be able to supposedly choose not to fly, but it's impractical not to, and flight's a comfort that your average American will not give up, even if you restrict their liberties. The people in charge count on this.

And the response we should have when someone is so pissed at us as to try to destroy us is not to simply hunker down and try to weather the assault. It is not to lash out in anger. It is to figure out what's going on. Why are they doing this, do they have a valid concern, is there actually something we need to work on? America is fallible. We can be wrong. We can fuck up other countries. We suck at fixing it. Notice these things. The people in the other countries do, as we can see from the growing level of terrorism. So why aren't we analysing ourselves, analysing the terrorists, and fighting an ideological war? That's actually winnable. Fix the country, then sell the improvements to the world. Convince them that we're fixed. That we're not in the business of breaking countries for profit anymore. Terrorism will drop dramatically.

Actually, I think the key word(s) here are "probable cause".

Explain to me why having a pumpkin pie around Thanksgiving is good enough probable cause to have it taken away?


Okay... here's a simple solution for you with the old "flying in this country isn't exactly voluntary" argument.... Its called Cessna 152

Get a private airplane, and you can freely fly out of a small private airport without going through any security screenings... A Cessna 152 is the air travel equivalent of going somewhere in your own vehicle.

If you're going to travel using a public carrier (ie plane, train, bus) then you consent to a search... if you don't want to consent to a search, then use a private alternative.

I have to say I am impressed with the points made on all sides, and the pragmatic side pops up with yet a third gripe.


The impact is huge. Our governments response has been in some ways worse than the problem. While the airlines have had their issues, the response to 9/11 has driven 6 of the 7 big airlines to bankruptcy. Air travel has added costs that are questionably effective.

I would like a $1 for every article by some TV station or newspaper doing yet another "expose" on how they sneaked a Rocket Propelled Grenade or some nail clippers past the system. Another dollar please for the each mention of stupid things people pack, and another please for the dump truck loads of newly confiscated nail clippers, small Swiss army knifes, etc that are sold on e-bay quarterly.

bottom line... are we flying safer...

Well, even though most all hijackers fit a profile, it is illegal to profile... (weird argument in light of the fact it is also illegal to search without cause or warrant, but hey, its all theory anyway, right?)

So since the "shoe bomber" somehow was able to board, then get arrested before detonation, the rest of the flying nation now gets to take it's shoes off while in line. Me, my spouse, our 4 year old, and my 76 year old mother in law, we all get to de-shoe and re-shoe thanks to him. Man, I am SO clad he did not hide a bomb in his boxers or briefs... think of what we would all be doing NOW!

The biggest damage was done with box cutters... but if they had really wanted to mess with us, what if they had been weight lifters who just grabbed the stews, and threaten to break their necks... like a bad Bond flick villain? What then? would we all be asked to press 75 pounds, and if we could do that, agree to be bound before boarding?

Worse, a little over half the freight in the hold is screened. NOT the luggage... but the flowers being air shipped and stuff like that... Northwest made more revenue from cargo than people the last few years... Air Freight...

SO bottom line, we now inconvenience Hundreds of thousands, cause huge losses of time and money, created a new federal bureaucracy (complete with pensions, uniforms and certificates) all to create a system that is just 60 percent secure on a good day.

In the mean time, paying little attention to the point that AlQuida shifts tactics each time... Truck bomb the World Trade Center, Hijack planes, Run a raft along side a ship... have you seen these extensively repeated?

They do one thing, we spend tones of time, money and resource to prevent it, selling out our civil liberties along the way, and bam... they hit a different thing in a different way.

Now we have the eternal screening and TSA positions... in the meantime, 95 percent of all containers at ports go unscreened. Infrastructure is left unguarded (No money left to pay for this stuff!) Our own 9/11 commission say that after 5 years, of the 60 suggestions, we have followed up on 2... maybe 3, enough to feel confident.

by switching tactics, they make us spend even more in more places... then all they have to do is wait and see us go bankrupt, or become a totalitarian state by our own choice.

The amount of money we spent on TSA would have paid to set up boarding schools throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan, and teach the basics of moderation... we keep making enemies faster than we can kill them, and we can never be 100 percent secure.

But we can do the pragmatic. Locking cabin doors. Detection automation and installation. Linking lists of known and wanted folks to the ticket seller computer (this alone would have prevents boarding of 4 of the 19 on 9/11... yet this has NOT YET BEEN DONE)

Learning Arabic, and how to enter names using Arabic... A major issue is the dozen or so ways to spell Mohammad, and the problems that creates for the current no fly list system...

Reality audits of the current no fly list... 23 agencies just dumped named to show they had names. the list now includes several senators, and more. Stupid.

Sadly, I believe the horse is LONG GONE from this barn... it will be a while before we see another attempt by hijacking passenger jets...

but I would be watching Freight operations... and ports... and neither is being watched as well as it should be for the lack of money... money spent so the TSA guy can remind my 75 year old Mother In law to remove her shoes.


But alas, no security person is able, it seems, to act on that. You do have to agree that there would be a nightmare for those in charge if they left open the same holes and they were used again. However, Al Quaida doesn't have to risk using the same holes. Our society is full of holes -- by design. It is folly to think we can be rid of them and live in a society we would enjoy. Look how much security Israel has. Yes, it means that often the suicide bombers kill only one or two innocents, and that's better than them killing many, but it doesn't stop them from coming.

So we get security theatre. Look like you're doing something (with no regard for the cost to society.) Every so often bring about some real security (I expect most of that is hidden because those types believe in security by obscurity in any event.)

And I would like a dollar for every person who whines about the inconvenience then sadly shakes their heads and say "They should have done something to prevent that." whenever the news shows the aftermath of some terrorist act.

For those who have jobs that depend on business flights, or relatives in areas where driving is not reasonable, the searches are done with permission, but under duress; much like urinating in a cup to get or keep a job. Both are unreasonable search and seizure, especially the seizure of a body fluid.

"This is not a new concept. While indeed, if police have a warrant they don’t have to ignore what else they see, that’s in part because they do have a warrant, and you are suspected of criminal activity. However, if the warrant says “Search the living room” then they can’t search the bedroom, and anything seen there if they do is not admissible."

That has nothing to do with your argument, they essentially do have a warrant to search your bag. If in fact they went to your car and searched it and found Pot, then yes, you would be able to sue them, but they are not, they are searching your bag. It is known by everyone that carrying illegal substances is... well... ILLEGAL!!! If your friend didn't know this, then it's his fault, ignorance of a law is not an excuse. While flying on an airplane may not be 'voluntary' in your mind, carrying illegal substances is. No one forced your friend to put pot in his bag. No one forced him to check a bag. There are certain legitimate puroposes for checking bags and having metal detectors, are you going to start saying that metal detectors are wrong also? It's the same principle. If your keys set off the detector you will be "searched" by a hand held device.

"They essentially do have a warrant." Wow. What scary words. They don't. What we have is a legal argument that a search of bags for dangers to air security is a "reasonable" search under the 4th. We definitely do not have the equivalent of a warrant. I'm chilled to think anybody would feel that way.

Of course he knew pot was illegal. Like most reasonable people, he doesn't understand how pot is illegal when the far more dangerous drug alcohol is not, but that's not the main point. The point is the 4th amendment is there to protect your privacy whether you are doing something illegal or not. Perhaps this point is too subtle. It was judged that, if we let the government search us any time they felt like it, and gave no rights to those who actually were found to be doing something illegal, we would have a police state, one we don't want. That "If you're guilty, you don't deserve the protections" is a dangerous fallacy. In fact, they are there for the accused perhaps even more than for the innocent.

I'm not a Yank, but I have read your constitution and bill of rights thoroughly. It is a beautiful living document and was written with the reasonableness and dispassion that such matters require. It is my humble opinion that your fine nation really needs to embrace the original principles upon which it was founded. Especially a mistrust of power and authority. The people of the US grant the government rights and powers, not the other way around.

I've traveled quite a lot in my years. I've been searched, and had plenty of times where I wasn't. There were times where I wasn't and thought I should have been, and also the other way around. And the screenings they do now still cannot compare to the screenings one goes through countries other than the United States. And certainly not through the East/West borders of Germany - for those who've gone there will never forget. Knowing a vast variety of people here in the U.S. all my life, I know that it is better to be safe. There is a percentage of people who just aren't the brightest lights in the attic. I mean, given the opportunity, there is going to be some idiot carrying both oxygen tanks and boxes of matches to put under his/her seat. It will happen. If you don't fly on a regular basis, you would think I am over reacting, but - well, I'm not. If it makes it easier on you, then imagine this. Imagine you've decided to become self employed driving people around town, when one day you pick up a person who seems well dressed and groomed. Quite normal outwardly. But during the drive while listening to the radio, the talk turns to divorce. Well, as it turns out, your passenger just went through a one-of-a-kind divorce. And it turns out this person is a baseball bat salesman. Well it doesn't take long for things to get out of hand. But thankfully you can stop the car anywhere, and along with your other passengers you are able to eject this wacko at the curb. As well, you can drop off the other passenger who'll need stitches thanks to a lousville slugger to the temple off at the hospital. Well, after hearing about how all of the passengers are going to sue the pants off of you, you decide never to allow this to happen again. You love your job, you know people need your service, you make money at it. So, tell me, what are you going to do?

the key word in that passage is "againts unreasonable searches"

Whether a search is reasonable or not is moot if there is not a warrant. Do you honestly think there would be a requirement for probable cause if the framers intended for government to be able to search without a warrant?

There is no warrant required if you consent to the search.... You consent to the search by giving them your bag to search... if you do not consent to the search, then go by private plane instead of a public air carrier.

John, some Americans don't want to 'consent' as you put it. May they work towards their goal of affirming their freedoms while still keeping air travel safe.

Consent under duress is no consent at all. I think most Americans 'consent' as an accommodation to continue on their day with minimal impact. I applaud those who take time out of their lives to show resistance to the misinformed legislative tyranny. Misinformed in that TSA does not make us safer at all, and yet they have cost the American tax payer dearly.

Please work to disband the TSA.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." I would have to agree with him.

It is possible that every person who walks through an airport has a gun shoved up his or her ass. Now, would it not be safer if we all got cavity searched on every trip we took? In theory: Of course. However, no one would ever agree that this is acceptable.
Or, how about this: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/06/backscatter_x-r.html?
Do you want strangers to see you naked? The point isn't that it's inconvenient. The point isn't about not wanting people to take your coke away or any number of other details. The point is that you are being violated and you should care. Just because it isn't bodily, doesn't mean it isn't violating your right to privacy. We have rights for a reason and if you don't protect them, no one else will. If you give them an inch, they will take a mile. Don’t. Trust. Your. Government. They're searching your bags without probable cause now and they're going to be shoving their hands up your ass without probable cause later. I promise you.

In addition, yes, we do have options. We can never leave our houses; we can drive to Poland, or take a train to Hawaii. I am quite tired of hearing you dance on nuances about "options". I should not have to choose to avoid airports, just as I should not have to choose to avoid hydrogenated oils. As far as I'm concerned, the Government is doing a service for the people, just like the food industry. I'm paying you to make me happy. I'm not happy. Do not poison me and call it safe. Do not attack me and call it protection. The only option is for them to change, not me. I am not budging.

In any case, the extra protection that we hear about is just a way to make us feel safe. In actuality, we're not any safer now than we were 10 years ago. We're just more divided and nervous. For example: I was going to Las Vegas with my friend, Lindsay. This was about two years ago, we were 16. They searched her stuff five times because they thought they saw a lighter in her suitcase. They soon figured out that it was inside of her stuffed bunny. They were considering tearing it open, when one of the agents asked her, "Could it ever make noise?" Well, it turned out that it could. Their lighter was actually a battery pack. We spent an hour being prodded because of a stuffed toy. Lindsay had traveled very extensively and had taken that bunny everywhere she went since the day she was born. It was never a problem before. Why was it one now? On the return home from the same trip, her mother had bought a set of butter knives. They took them away. This was expected and not really a problem. However, when we stopped in one of the shops near the terminal, the same knife set was for sale. Interesting? It gets better. Two weeks later, my brother and I were on the way home from my Father's house. He lives in Phoenix. For Christmas, he had received a large arrow (with the head very sharp and intact). He was holding it in his hands, unpackaged and completely visible, as he walked through the security checkpoint. He went through the metal detector, walked through the terminal, and boarded the plane. Nobody noticed. Nobody said one word. It is confusing to me that somebody can easily bring a weapon onto a plane without harassment, but you'll be assaulted if you try to bring a stuffed animal.

The point of terrorism is in its name. If you fall to your knees and bow down to the fear that they are trying to make you feel, then they have already won. We are all Americans and we should not be prosecuting each other and ourselves for being born that way. We are innocent until proven guilty and it should never be the other way around. The best thing this country can do now is to grow a backbone and band together to be One Nation under Who Cares. As it stands right now, we're all running around like chickens with our heads cut off and it's making us weaker rather than safer. Trust your neighbor and hold your head up high in airplanes. Don't let them get to you.

Over here in Australia, our constitution or any of its amendments don't even protect any of the rights of citizens, just the rights of the State & Federal governments...

Alas, our government's quick obedience with the current US administration has seen similar, though not yet as stringent, security measurements being imposed on airline travel. The supposed necessity of airline travel, whether you agree with it being necessary or not, is quite apparent if you ever want to the west coast from the east: there really are little other options. Now we have to endure the 4 hour trip from Sydney to Perth with less than 100mLs of water!

It's perfectly reasonable to assume the government will attempt to provide some security in our airspace, but this responsibility has to stop at some point. In the end, people who travel by air have to realise that there is a risk that something will go wrong, leading to their deaths, when they get on a plane, just like motorists agree to the much higher risk of death of getting in their car. Personally, I would prefer a slightly higher probability of death, well below that of terrestrial transport, than to give up a perfectly good set of nail scissors and my trusty bottle of water. I guess that's just the mathematician in me talking.

That's right, I'd risk the probability of some terrorist stabbing the stewards with nail scissors, commandeering the cockpit, then either getting shot down by jet fighters or incinerated by 1 litre of liquid explosives! It really seems like such a negligible threat in my opinion, and we can't live our lives wondering "what if?".

There's probably hundreds of things that can or are being done to increase security on airliners without inconveniencing passengers who have no intention of doing anything wrong. Innocent until proven guilty - a common idea in a number of countries.

I'm sure there will be people who don't agree with what I said, to them: feel free to pick apart what I have said piece by piece! :P

On my trip to Aussieland last year, I found the air travel to be a breath of fresh air. I laughed at the notices that they had recently had to put in requirement that you needed to be there 30 minutes before the flight if you wanted to check bags!

How adorable.

Ahh where to start.
The 4th Amend only applies to the federal governmental employees. So the 4th Amendment does not apply to you and me as long as we are not governmental employees. So the airline personnel can search the bags as long as they do not do so if acting as an agent of the state; ie A person cannot be seen as participating in the search just to serve the purpose of the governmental agents.

Law has stated as far back as 1921 that private persons are seperate and distinct from searches conducted under state authority. An example of which is if a Fedex guy finds illegal contraband in a damage package he simply notifies the local PD and shows them the evidence. No laws have been broken as the evidence is gained from a private citizen who has not broken the law to obtain the evidence.

Also the 4th Amendment only applies to intracountry travel. As soon as you want to cross the US border the 4th Amend does not apply. They do not need probable cause to conduct a search of the person, vehicle, or propery. I won't even go into the exceptions to probable cause as this subject alone is an entire semester at some uni's.

As far a having stuff taken away just check the bag and be done with it.

I hate to sound melodramatic about it, but while everyone was at the beach or "The Simpsons Movie" on the first weekend in August, the U.S. government shredded the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, the one requiring court-approved "probable cause" before Americans can be searched or spied upon. This is not the feverish imagination of left-wing bloggers and the ACLU. It's the plain truth of where we've come as a country, at the behest of a president who has betrayed his oath to defend the Constitution and with the acquiescence of Democratic congressional headers and leaders who know better. Historians will likely see this episode as a classic case of fear — both physical and political — trumping principle amid the ancient tension between personal freedom and national security.

The real irony of all this is that for the $6 Billion we spent last year getting our rights violated, we really aren't any safer (nor do we need to be!). As a Vietnam veteran who got regularly mortared and rocketed in a "Secure" base camp of the First Air Cavalry, I can assure you that the element of surprise will get you every time. And the vietcong weren't even suicidal - they wanted to come back and do it again later!

Soooooo....fast forward forty years. Does anybody really think they can anticipate what a terrorist is going to do sometime in the future? Guess again. Think our geniuses in Homeland Security know? Guess again and again. The thing is, the average terrorist is smarter and more motivated than the average baggage screener. Do you think it's "unreasonable" to spend $6 Billion per annum in our tax dollars to catch a coke user or a purveyor of fraudulent checks? I do. But apparently the TSA doesn't, because that's what they advertise on their website as their big accomplishments. Obviously no one in Congress has the guts to object, because they're frightened of public opinion.

And now for the Constitutional question - is the Fourth Amendment being violated? Seems to me that those who have posted the obvious point that many trips are obligatory for job or other reasons have answered that quite well. Please consider: it's a fact that 50% of the population is just scared to death of airplanes. (And those would be the good ones, with good service, maintenance, and friendly faces even. No bombs! But every time they get on board, 50% of us sweat bullets, from takeoff to touchdown. Does that sound voluntary? Of course not. They do it because they have to. So when they go through the security line, is it any more "voluntary?" What do you think? Three guesses, and the first two don't count.

The sheep on this blog that argue for the status quo are not only wrong, they're enablers of an increasingly strident and oppressive government that wants to keep its jobs and is perfectly willing to squander the Constitution, our freedoms, our commercial progress, our taxes, and our troops in an endless war in Iraq. Security is a state of mind, not a state of being. The "guy upstairs" always knows how to use fear to manipulate all of us and keep his power. Machiavelli knew it, as did the founding fathers.

And the rest of us.......we're going to have to do something about it. Talk is cheap. But for heaven sakes write your Congress and give them hell. At least that's a start!

The Lighter Side Of Global Terrorism (Extended Space-Melt Version) :

by Jello Biafra

Can I touch you here? May I search your bags?
You have randomly been selected
Got a funny name
And you look the part
Plus, I like the way
You bulge in your clothes

I love me job
Rock bottom pay never felt so hot
Big man, uniform and badge
Pedophile Santas ain't got nothin' on me

I love to feel sexy things
Other people's sexy things
I love to peek at people's things
Other people's private things

When I was young and someone's guest
I'd find a way to sneak upstairs
Peek in the closet, paw through the drawers
And feel a funny tingle up from below

Oh, how I love to find
New playthings for my mind
I file these thoughts away
Until I go on break
When I can finally touch myself

See your shiny jewels
On your neck and wrists
They could be weapons
We must play safe
So fork 'em over
Of you're under arrest
Maybe you should have checked them in your suitcase

Meanwhile, down below
What have we here? Let's open this one up
Pills! Cash! Electronics to fence
Let's see you prove they were there in the first place

Who is that behind the one way mirror blind
Just little ol' me
And my non-dairy cream
Gotta wipe it up and go select someone new

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution reads, “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.”

Can somebody please explain to me how anybody in their right mind thinks that forcing me to remove my shoes is a “reasonable search?” And why are Americans such dumb lemmings that they’ll pay the TSA for the privilege of being patted down at an airport? I should take a picture of my special message socks I wear when going through airport security lines. I wear shorts, cowboy boots, and white tube socks on which I’ve written, “FUCK” on the right leg and “The TSA” on the left. I’ve been subjected to 7 extra security pat-downs out of 11 times wearing them.

And before anybody comes up with the brilliant argument that there’s no 4th Amendment issue because I’ve agreed to be searched when buying my airline ticket, how would there be a 14th Amendment issue with a bus company selling fares with fine print stating, “Niggers seated in the rear?”

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