Security measures are too much

airport security:Miami Dade Police officer Mark Huetter walks the concourse at Miami International Airport.:McClatchy Tribune


airport security:Miami Dade Police officer Mark Huetter walks the concourse at Miami International Airport.:McClatchy Tribune

Mike Stocker

The security the government provides is an illusion.

Yassir Afifi, a student in Santa Clara, lived in Egypt from 2002 to 2008. His father, Aladdin Afifi, was president of the Muslim Community Association in America until his death last year.

Yassir Afifi knows that he has been on an international watchlist because of his father, but did not know how closely he was being watched until he found a GPS tracking device under his car.

There was no real reason to track Afifi. But his case is just one more in the growing paranoia of the United States government. FBI tracking a harmless student illustrates that we are being given the illusion of security, not security itself.

Almost as if to say, “Hey, look, we are doing something to keep you safe,” the Transportation Security Administration, the bane of travelers late for flights, has rolled out a new device to maintain security. The Advanced Imaging Technology device is a step up from an X-ray; it will show a digital image of you. V

The TSA really wants to keep you safe … and allow their screeners to get their rocks off. This is all in the name of you not blowing up an airplane, of course.

Michael Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, refused both the scan and pat-down on the basis of his Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights. He was subsequently turned away from the airport and from doing his job.

“The TSA has abused the power they have taken upon themselves with these scanners,” Roberts said in a phone interview. “When you go to the bank, is the security guard protecting you? No, he is protecting the bank from you.”

In the same way, Roberts said, the TSA is working for the airport, not for the travelers.

“If they were working for you, they wouldn’t be telling you what to do. They would not tell you to get naked (and) they would not be putting their hands all over you,” he said.

In defense of the scanners, the TSA claims that 98 percent of passengers preferred this scan instead of alternative methods of screening.

Then again, who would prefer to try out the new, even more stringent patting down, which may as well be a full cavity search and is more time-consuming? Passengers are simply settling for the lesser of two evils.

John Whitehead, Roberts’ lawyer, said it is the technology being developed that allows the government to keep people in check, even if it violates our rights.

“Technology eviscerates the Constitution and bypasses it,” Whitehead said. “Our telephone calls are being monitored. How far will we let it go?”

Phone calls are representative of what the government can do, he said.

“Technology is becoming autonomous,” Whitehead said. “The problem with technology is that if the government can listen to our phone calls, the Fourth Amendment is dead. It bypasses judges.”

Truly, it is. In all likelihood, both phone interviews were probably monitored, simply because of keywords spoken.

Are we really in a society where that is necessary? Or is it just the illusion that the government is keeping us safe?

Whitehead said security is not really an illusion.

“The problem is, they spend so much time on you and me, and are not spending enough time on the real problem,” he said.

Whitehead said he found it ridiculous that they made a woman take off the sandals she was wearing at an airport.

Really, if someone wanted to sneak something on to a plane, there are ways around airport security.

Do we want a world where the FBI wastes time on what they admitted was a boring student? Of course not, we value our privacy and our rights.

The government is going too far to make us think we are safe.

George Orwell’s “1984” was a cautionary tale, not a guidebook.

Cole Mayer can be reached at [email protected]