The TSA Battlefront: Privacy Vs. Security


What with the looming holiday season and the busiest travel days of the year, along with the TSA’s most recent security measures, there’s a significant debate brewing over who’s right, who’s wrong, and what, exactly, is going too far. Many have reported being patted down “inappropriately”; others fear the possible side effects of using a machine equipped with backscatter technology; still others are concerned about being seen nude by TSA workers.

While many say “yes” to the “it’s too much” movement, labeling TSA security procedures as “inappropriate” and “invasive,” others have begun to argue quite the opposite.

Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Senator Joseph Lieberman, defended the Obama administration’s latest security procedures, stating:

“I think perhaps the reaction to the pat-down procedures got ahead of TSA’s or the department’s description of what you were doing and why you were doing it… it’s necessary for the security — homeland security of the American people.”

Because here’s the thing: Under the Constitution of the United States, the Transportation Security Administration technically wins in this case. Per se, the branch of “right to privacy” is never fully covered by the Constitution. There’s a clause maintained by the Bill of Rights that protects the rights of an individual in cases of search and seizure (4th Amendment), and a clause that hands all other powers over to the States (10th Amendment), yet neither directly relate to the given situation considering the necessity of pre-flight searches in government-regulated airports. As one blogger put it:

“Flying is a privilege, not a right. An enclosed tube at 30,000 feet is a dictatorship not a democracy. I don’t like it, but I’d rather give up certain rights for a few hours to better my chances of arriving safely. We know the TSA doesn’t catch everything, but I’d like to let them catch as much as they can.”

At the end of the day, this debate is about security, not privacy. Let us not forget the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is doing the job they’ve been assigned to perform. Sure, there will be slip-ups, inappropriate behavior, and possible disputes, just as in any other area of life in which a human being is functioning. But when push comes to shove, protecting passengers in the name of both national and international security wins any day. Besides, those “risque” images aren’t even that sexy.