Body scanners out of use, invasive pat downs curtailed in political ploy as TSA mocked critics, exposing fact that security is nothing more than theatre
Wednesday, Dec 1st, 2010
A civil liberties watchdog group has filed a Freedom of Information Act request in an attempt to shed more light on the TSA’s efforts to disrupt a day of protest aimed at full body scanners and invasive pat-downs by largely curtailing their use for one day only last week.
The FOIA request also seeks to determine whether the TSA regards the leaders of the protest movement as “domestic extremists”, following the leak of a TSA memo indicating that to be the case.
The non-partisan, non-profit organization Liberty Guard , led by former Congressman Bob Barr, is demanding internal TSA directives and communication pertaining to the “opt -out” grass roots protest day that took place on November 24th.
While it was expected that the protests on the eve of Thanksgiving would be widespread, causing delays and extensive queues at airport security lines, in reality the majority of travelers experienced no problems.
The TSA and the corporate media immediately implied that this was proof positive that the public were not concerned about the new TSA procedures, and that, contrary to numerous opinion polls , the majority supported them.
The TSA even mockingly suggested  that “What some protesters threatened as an opt out day has turned into a TSA appreciation day.”
However, it soon became apparent that the reason there was so little protesting taking place was because the TSA had roped off most of its naked body scanners  and apparently instructed its agents to tone down the level and severity of pat-downs.
The New Jersey Star-Ledger subsequently reported  that, “The majority of Newark’s full-body scanners were idle throughout much of the day, depriving most passengers of the chance to opt out of the controversial screening procedure even if they had wanted to.”
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At the nation’s busiest airport, Atlanta-Hartsfield, there was,”limited, if any, use of the controversial full-body scanners,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .
Later reports confirmed  that, the TSA had “backed down and resorted to using the old screening procedures — metal detectors and less-intrusive pat-downs.”
Liberty Guard is attempting to uncover documentation that will prove the TSA was forced to alter its policy for fear of a huge public relations embarrassment in the form of thousands of passengers refusing to submit to its invasive methods.
“Considering recent hardline statements made by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole, this apparent sudden reversal in the TSA’s direction warrants additional scrutiny,” said Joe Seehussen, President of Liberty Guard . “We’d like to know if we can expect a policy shift from the TSA or if they were merely attempting to shut down the public outcry regarding their search procedures.”
If Liberty Guard can produce the internal TSA documents proving this was the case, then it will serve as concrete proof that Big Sis’s security talk is nothing more than hot air. If the scanners were so imperative to keep us safe from terrorists then why would the TSA turn them off, as well as reining in pat downs, in a vain effort to score political points?
Liberty Guard’s Chairman Bob Barr points out that any evidence suggesting deliberate manipulation of security procedures for political purposes must be investigated further.
“We’d like to think that the TSA has been listening to citizens concerned about being given a choice between naked imaging or pat down searches of people’s private parts. If this is the indeed the case, we’d like to commend the TSA for applying a bit of common sense to the controversial situation. However, it’s far more likely the reason was political and we think the public should be made aware of the motivations of our country’s security chiefs.” Barr said.
In addition, Liberty Guard has requested all internal TSA material that mentions the terms Matt Drudge”, “Drudgereport.com”, “Alex Jones”, “PrisonPlanet.com”, “John Tyner”, “national opt-out day”, “Opt-Out Alliance” and “domestic extremists”.
Any material that surfaces containing such terms may prove that not only did the TSA act in backing down because of the efforts of the leaders of the Opt Out movement, but that it also considers those organizations and individuals a potential threat.
Liberty Guard’s FOIA request can be viewed here  (PDF).
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor at Alex Jones’ Infowars.net , and regular contributor to Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.