An Open Letter To Republicans In Congress: Put An End To Strip And Grope Airport Searches


We have a system for detecting terrorists. You have a system for annoying people. — Attributed to ex-El Al security chief Dan Issacharoff

Conservatives are committed to bettering the lives of the American people, but too often, we don’t start the process by asking, “What problems do people have today and how can we use conservative principles to solve them?” There’s a lot to be said for working on big problems and abstract issues, but sometimes, dealing with the comparatively small issues can have an outsized impact.

One of those small issues where we could make a real difference is with the strip and grope searches that are becoming the new normal in the airports. Here’s Scott Ott talking about what’s going on:

Without regard for threat potential, airline passengers of all ages can now be forced to make the choice between baring their nakedness before a federal agent, or getting a full-body fingertip groping by another federal agent. The advanced imaging technology (AIT) scanners – AKA strip-search machines – now stand watch in more than 65 airports nationwide, with their numbers set to grow by more than 40 percent at year’s end, thanks to your federal stimulus dollars.

The procedure is so humiliating and so invasive that even flight crews are rebelling. The 11,000-member American Pilots’ Association just received a letter from its leader decrying the humiliation, radiation danger, and ineffectiveness at deterring terrorism of this strip-and-grope regimen.

…(Michael) Roberts notes the progression of this liberty-leeching invasion:

After the shoe-bomber attempt, we had to remove our shoes. After the underpants bomber, we had to be electronically strip searched and groped.

What will happen, he asks, after the first time a terrorist smuggles a bomb on a plane inside his rectum or in a breast implant?

There was a time, not too long ago, when that would have been a comedian’s witty one-liner. Now, it sounds more like the future rushing upon us.

You shouldn’t have to be viewed naked or violated by government goons just to be able to get on an airplane. It’s disgusting, it’s dehumanizing, and it’s a violation of people’s privacy.

Yet we’re given a false choice: Either we do this or we put everyone at risk because of terrorism. This is simply not true.

Israel’s El Al is universally recognized as having the best airport security in the world — and they don’t have security guards pulling pretty women out of line so they can look at them naked in body scanners. They also don’t feel up women and run their hands over children’s crotches for security purposes.

So what do they do? Here’s “Isaac Yeffet, the former head of security for El Al” to explain it,

It’s mandatory that every passenger — I don’t care his religion or whatever he is — every passenger has to be interviewed by security people who are qualified and well-trained, and are being tested all year long. I trained my guys and educated them, that every flight, for them, is the first flight.

…We are constantly in touch with the Israeli intelligence to find out if there are any suspicious passengers among hundreds of passengers coming to take the flight.

…During the year, we did thousands of tests of our security guys around the world. It cost money, but once you save lives, it’s worth all the money that the government gave us to have the right security system.

I used to send a male or female that we trusted. We used to give them tickets and send them to an airport to take a flight to Tel Aviv. We concealed whatever we could in their luggage. Everything was fake, and we wanted to find out if the security people would stop this passenger or not.

If there was any failure, the security people immediately were fired, and we called in all the security people to tell people why they failed, what happened step by step. I wanted everyone to learn from any failure. And if they were very successful, I wanted everyone to know why.

…I want to interview you. It won’t take too long if you’re bona fide. We never had a delay.

…I have heard so many times El Al is a small airline. We in America are big air carriers. Number one, we have over 400 airports around the country, why hasn’t anyone from this government asked himself, let’s take one airport out of 400 airports and try to implement El Al’s system because their system proved they’re the best of the best.

For the last 40 years, El Al did not have a single tragedy. And they came to attack us and to blow up our aircraft, but we knew how to stop them on the ground. So let’s try to implement the system at one airport in the country and then come to a conclusion…

It’s been said that El Al is a small airline and this won’t work for big American airlines. To me, that sounds like nothing more than a lame excuse. In other words, we’d rather take the assembly line approach with high tech equipment and low skill security guards rather than focus on training and worry that the ACLU will raise hell when someone isn’t allowed to fly.

Whether you like the El Al approach or not, the system that’s being put into place now is ridiculous and un-American. We’ve had people complain endlessly because they’re afraid the government might look at the library books they’ve checked out, but now they’re supposed to be okay with airport security looking at them naked and feeling up their wives and daughters? This has got to change and Republican politicians should be willing to step up and say so.

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