Independent journalist Brandon Jourdan recently returned from Haiti after being on assignment documenting the rebuilding of schools in the earthquake-devastated country. However, when he returned to the United States, he was immediately detained after deboarding the plane by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. He was questioned about his travels and had all of his documents, computer, phone and camera flash drives searched and copied. This is the seventh time Jourdan says he has been subjected to lengthy searches in five years, and has been told by officials that he is “on a list.” Jourdan joins us in our studio. Catherine Crump, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, says that Jourdan is not the only one facing such treatment by the Obama administration. Crump says many journalists and lawyers who often work abroad have also experienced similar interrogations—and the ACLU believes the First and Fourth Amendments must be honored within U.S. airports.
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, Tue, Nov 11, 1755)
Mr. PAUL: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise this evening to announce that I introduced some legislation today dealing with the calamity that we have found at our airports with TSA. Something has to be done. Everybody is fed up. The people are fed up, the pilots are fed up, I am fed up.
I have come to this floor many times over the past many years and complained about the terrible foreign policy we have had, the terrible monetary policy we have had, the excessive spending and the debt, and also the tax policy. But what we are doing and what we are accepting and putting up with at the airports is so symbolic of us just not standing up and saying enough is enough.
I know the American people are starting to wake up, but our government, those in charge, Congress, as well as the executive branch, are doing nothing. Yes, they are talking about maybe backing off and allowing the pilots to go through. But can you think how silly the whole thing is? The pilot has a gun in the cockpit and he is managing this aircraft, which is a missile, and we make him go through this groping X-ray exercise, having people feeling their underwear. It is absurd, and it is time we wake up.
The bill I have introduced will take care of this. But we have to realize that the real problem is that the American people have been too submissive. We have been too submissive. It has been going on for a long time. This was to be expected even from the beginning of the TSA. And it is deeply flawed. Private property should be protected by private individuals, not bureaucrats.
But the bill that I have introduced will take care of it. It is very simple. It is one paragraph long. It removes the immunity from anybody in the Federal government that does anything that you or I can’t do.
If you can’t grope another person and if you can’t X-ray people and endanger them with possible X-rays, you can’t take nude photographs of individuals, why do we allow the government to do it? We would go to jail. He would be immediately arrested, if an individual citizen went up and did these things, and yet we just sit there and calmly say, oh, they are making us safe. And besides, the argument from the executive branch is that when you buy a ticket, you have sacrificed your rights and it is the duty of the government to make us safe.
That isn’t the case. You never have to sacrifice your rights. The duty of the government is to protect our rights, not to use them and do what they have been doing to us.
The pilots, hopefully, will be exempted from this.
Another suggestion I have that might help us: let’s make sure that every Member of Congress goes through this. Get the x-ray and make them look at the pictures and then go through one of those groping pat-downs, and then I think there would be a difference. Have everybody in the executive branch, anybody–a Cabinet member–make them go through it and look at it. Maybe they would pay more attention. But this doesn’t work. This is not what makes us safer. This is preposterous to think that the TSA has made us safer.
When you think about it, if you look at what’s happened over the past 10 years, during this last decade, we lost 3,000 on a terrible, terrible day for America. But since that time in this last decade we have also lost 6,000 of our military personnel going over there and trying to rectify this problem. We have lost 400,000 people on our government-run highways. We have lost 150,000 individuals from homicides.
So I think there’s reason to be concerned, reason to deal with this problem. We’re not dealing with it the right way. We’re doing the wrong thing. And groping people at the airport doesn’t solve our problems. What has solved our problems, basically, has been that they put a good lock on the door, and they put a gun inside the cockpit. That’s been the greatest boon to our safety.
Safety should be the responsibility of the individual and the private property owner. But right now we assume the government’s always going to take care of us, and we are supposed to sacrifice our liberties. I say that is wrong. We are not safer. And we also know there are individuals who are making money off this. Michael Chertoff, here’s a guy that was the head of the TSA, selling the equipment. And the equipment is questionable. We don’t even know if it works, and it may well be dangerous to our health.
The way I see this, if this doesn’t change, I see what has happened to the American people is we have accepted the notion that we should be treated like cattle. Make us safe, make us secure, put us in barbed wire, feed us, fatten us up, and then they’ll eat us. And we’re a bunch of cattle, and we have to wake up and say, We’ve had it.
I think this whole idea of an opt-out day is just great. We ought to opt out and make the point. Get somebody to watch. And take a camera. It’s time for the American people to stand up and shrug off the shackles of our government at TSA at the airports.