The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is violating the Fourth Amendment by forcing travelers to submit to scans that produce images of the naked body, according to one Republican congressman from Texas.
Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, Rep. Ted Poe blasted former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for his links to one of the companies that makes the equipment, The Hill reported.
Poe claimed President George W. Bush’s former DHS secretary had given interviews advocating for the scanners while “getting paid” to sell them.
“There is no evidence these new body scanners make us more secure. But there is evidence that former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff made money hawking these full body scanners,” Poe said.
“[T]he populace is giving up more rights in the name of alleged security. These body scanners are a violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures … There must be a better way to have security at airports than taking pornographic photographs of our citizens, including children, and then giving apparent kickbacks to political hacks.”
Since the attempted bombing on Christmas Day of last year, Chertoff has given dozens of interviews promoting the technology. Chertoff admitted to CNN that one of the clients of his consulting agency, The Chertoff Group, is a company that manufactures the scanners.
In January, an airport passengers’ rights group took on Chertoff.
“Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive,” Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, told The Washington Post.
Taking the floor after Poe, Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) also went after Chertoff.
“A nationwide revolt is developing over the body scanners at the airports and it should,” Duncan said. “Hundreds of thousands of frequent fliers who fly each week are upset of getting these frequent doses of radiation. Parents are upset about being forced to have their children radiated or being touched inappropriately by an unrelated adult.”
“This is much more about money than it is about security. The former secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, represents Rapid Scan, the company which is selling these scanners to his former department,” Duncan continued.
“The American people should not have to choose between having full body radiation or a very embarrassing intrusive pat-down every time they fly as if they were criminals. We need a little more balance and common sense on this,” he said.
Some travelers have also been outraged by the new security policies.
On man trying to board a plane at San Diego International Airport threatened to have a screener arrested.
“If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested,” the man, who blogs as Johnny Edge, said to agents.
“I felt what they were doing was a sexual assault, and that if they were anyone but the government, the act would be illegal,” Edge wrote.
But travelers may have good reason to avoid the scanners. A group of scientists warned Friday that the scanning process may actually be dangerous.
“They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP.
“No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial. We know X-rays are hazardous but we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner,” he said.
A new CBS poll released Tuesday showed that a large majority of Americans agree with use of the technique. Only 15 percent of respondents said they were opposed to the use of body scanners, with four out of five saying they’re in favor.
Independent Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, which held a hearing on the issue, was quick to support the “difficult” and “sensitive” effort, maintaining “it is necessary” to ensure aviation safety.
“This is unfortunately the world in which we live,” Lieberman told the hearing on air cargo security, held in the wake of an attempted cargo plane bombing that originated from an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Yemen.
John Pistole, administrator of the TSA, told lawmakers that he thought “everybody who gets on a flight wants to be sure the people around them have been properly screened.”
This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast Nov. 17, 2010.