Blog of Rights

Seriously Mr. President, Pat-Downs Are No Joke

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 5:35pm

While promoting his high-speed rail plan during last night's State of the Union speech, President Obama quipped: "For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down."

Ha!

We, of course, had something to say about that. So we tweeted in response : "President Obama makes funny about TSA pat-downs, but the violations of the Constitution are NO JOKE! http://bit.ly/gB4q5D ".

This morning, Raw Story wrote: "Obama’s TSA pat-downs joke infuriates ACLU."

"Infuriates" might be a tad strong, but jokes aside, President Obama has the power to stop these shockingly intrusive invasions of privacy . We've received more than 1,000 complaints by travelers, many of whom describe the pat-downs as humiliating, abusive and degrading. And these pat-downs are the alternative to going through a machine that sees through your clothes . Is this any choice at all?

And to make matters worse, the naked machines and pat-downs — the TSA's latest bit of security theater designed to try to make us feel safer — don't actually increase safety.

Events around the world have demonstrated that airports aren't the only places terrorists can attack, which is why the ACLU will continue to advocate for national security resources to focus on intelligence-gathering and good old-fashioned law enforcement, not over-the-top tactics that violate our privacy. As Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out on The Colbert Report last year:

If the terrorists plot has advanced to the point where they're in the airport an hour away from detonating the bomb, if they defeated the FBI, the CIA, the entire US military to make it to that point, you think those guys in the blue shirts with the bins and the shoes are really going to be able to stop this plot?

That's no joke. Tell the Department of Homeland Security to rein in the TSA's abusive searches and respect travelers' privacy rights.

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