BURNET, Texas (Nov. 30) – The increasingly intrusive and demeaning actions of federal agents under the pretext of protecting airline passengers is a greater threat to our liberty than any possible terrorist action, said R. Lee Wrights, a potential Libertarian presidential candidate.
“The latest tactics being used by the Transportation Security Administration, body scanners and full pat-downs, have been called security theater by critics,” Wrights said. “Not only is it theater, it’s a dilapidated theater, showing a really bad play, but a play you can’t walk out on.”
“Rather than employing proven security methods, the TSA has engaged in a war on the rights of Americans,” Wrights said. He said that a recent experience he had flying from New Orleans to Dallas made him realize just how dangerous this war on liberty has become.
“I was standing in the longest airport security line I’ve ever experienced when I came up on a prohibited item sign, the only one along the line,” he said. “The sign listed only one prohibited item – snow globes. Not knives, not box cutters, not finger-nail clippers – but snow globes.”
Wrights said he laughed and was still chuckling when he presented his boarding pass and ID to a TSA agent. “I asked him why snow globes were prohibited. He tried to explain, but stopped when I laughed and asked, ‘Seriously, snow globes?’ The agent then laughed himself, shook his head and said, ‘Yeah, I know.'”
“It was then I realized that the real danger to Americans isn’t any terrorist, nor is it even the violations of individual rights by misguided government security agents,” Wrights said. “The real danger to Americans is our own complacency, our own willingness to allow ourselves to be subjected to the slow erosion of our freedom without protest,” he said. “Instead of standing up for our rights, we laugh about it and make jokes.”
What is worse still, Wrights said, is that both liberal and conservative commentators support these infringements on our rights, even going so far as to suggest that those who protest may be helping the terrorists. He noted that an internal TSA directive labeled anyone who opposed the new security measures or chose to opt-out of the body scanners as potential “domestic terrorists.”
Wrights said that TSA airport security is an illusion. “There’s no real security at airports, not even close to what I experienced on military bases while serving in the Air Force,” he said. “Most TSA agents I’ve observed didn’t seem capable of stopping anyone who seriously wanted to do harm. Those I’ve seen appeared lackadaisical, just going through the motions.”
In place of effective security measures, Wrights said the TSA relies on fear, intimidation and the coercion of ordinary people, treating them as criminal suspects without rights. “The whole scheme is designed to intimidate, coerce and dehumanize people, in order to cower them into submission,” Wrights said. “Why else would airport security lines resemble cattle pens.”
“Why else would TSA agents be allowed to grope people, even children, using a procedure that resembles a sexual assault,” he said. “Why else would government agents be allowed to view body images of people that border on pornography, and which may even be physically harmful to the individual.”
“And why else would government agents not only be allowed but encouraged to commit acts that would be illegal if committed by an ordinary citizen,” he said.
Wrights said he was particularly disturbed by the TSA agent who told a passenger objecting to the pat-down that he gave up his rights when he bought an airline ticket, and if he felt uncomfortable getting frisked he shouldn’t fly.
“The last time I heard a government agent tell me I had given up my rights was when I enlisted,” Wrights said. “But in that case, I willingly and voluntarily took an oath, and even then I didn’t give up all my rights.”
In that oath Wrights said he promised to “…defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” “I still live by that oath,” he said. “That’s why I’ll question the unjust acts of anyone, especially a government agent who acts in a manner that shows contempt for the Constitution and for the rights of the people they’re supposed to be protecting.”
Wrights said he recalled another image from that security line in New Orleans. “When I looked at the people shuffling through the security line in their stocking feet I couldn’t help but recall images from old movies I’ve seen, scenes from 1940’s Germany,” Wrights said.
Anyone who might think this is an over-the-top comparison should remember what happened in Germany during the 1930s, Wrights said. Most people then, including the Jews, also complacently acquiesced to the gradual erosion of the rights as a temporary but necessary step to protect their “national security.”
Wrights is considering seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 should be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. He has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.
The 52-year old writer and political activist was born in Winston Salem, NC and now lives in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.