About a year ago, a federal appeals court ordered the deeply unpopular Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to obey the law and hold public hearings on its widely loathed “naked body scanners.” The massive bureaucracy flouted the judicial order and has so far failed to comply. This week, however, the court demanded that the Department of Homeland Security explain itself by the end of the month.
A coalition of TSA critics including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) originally sought to have the nude scanners removed from airports on constitutional grounds, alleging a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures” Other opponents also said the pornographic machines violate the right to privacy.
Because the controversial TSA devices use a type of radiation to peer through people’s clothes, many experts and activists worry about health dangers, too — not to mention the fact that federal bureaucrats are ogling naked men, women, and children. Besides, the machines were exposed as completely useless by an engineer last year.
As expected, the appeals court stopped short of ordering the rogue agency to stop using the porno scanners in its July 2011 ruling last July — federal courts are not exactly known for limiting federal power, regardless of what the Constitution states. It did rule, however, that the airport “safety” outfit had failed to hold the lawfully required 90-day public-comment hearings and that the law had to be obeyed “promptly.”
“This rulemaking is the only way to determine whether TSA's air travel security regime is worth its huge costs and adverse effects on the public's well-being,” noted former American Airlines chief Robert Crandall and transportation policy analyst Marc Scribner with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Several independent analyses have found that TSA's use of these machines would be economically wasteful even if they worked as well as TSA claims, but may actually make us less safe.”
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