Federal court rules naked body scanners are illegal, but says they can continue to be used anyway

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: naked body scanners, illegal, health news

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(NaturalNews) Responding to a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) back in November, the District of Columbia (DC) Court of Appeals recently ruled that the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by implementing naked body scanners at airports without first taking public comment on the issue.

However, the court also ruled that it will not require the illegal scanners to be removed from airports, but will instead simply require the TSA to take public comment when moving forward with its plan to install several hundred more naked body scanners by the end of 2011.

When EPIC first filed its lawsuit following the introduction of naked body scanners and full-body pat downs late last year, it cited numerous violations involving not only the APA, but also the Privacy Act, the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Both naked body scanning and pat downs are in clear violation of these and other laws, regardless of whether or not the agency took public comments prior to their introduction -- and EPIC had hoped the court would recognize this fact (

But the DC Court of Appeals has denied that the TSA's "enhanced" security procedures violate any other laws or the US Constitution, with the judges having stated that they were "not persuaded by any of the statutory or constitutional arguments against the rule."

And even though they did admit that the TSA violated the APA, the court is basically letting the agency off the hook for breaking the law because actually enforcing it will "severely disrupt an essential security operation," they say (

Empty ruling has no practical implications for reining in the TSA or ending abuses against innocent Americans

While the court's decision initially makes it appear as though justice is finally being served, further inquiry reveals that it is really nothing more than a "smoke and mirrors" effort to quell public outrage about abuses without actually doing anything about them. The court has basically announced that, yes, the TSA violated the law by introducing naked body scanners and full-body pat downs without first taking public comment -- but since it is a matter of "national security," we are not going to actually punish the agency for breaking the law (that would be unpatriotic, right?).

Frankly, there is nothing at all "severely disrupt[ing]" about disengaging the naked body scanners and ceasing full-body pat downs, and instead reverting back to the simple metal detectors and X-ray scanning procedures that were previously in place. For the court to claim otherwise demonstrates that it is more concerned about pandering to the American version of the Nazi SS than properly interpreting and handling the law.

But the "national security" excuse is precisely how many in the US government have gotten away with promoting and trying to legitimize absurd, unlawful policies. As long as a policy is linked to "fighting the war on terror" or stopping "terrorism" -- even when such a policy clearly violates the law -- it is held to a different standard than every other policy or decision (think Patriot Act).

Take raw milk, for instance. Ordinary citizens that violate even the smallest laws involving the sale or transport of raw milk can expect lofty fines, arrest, and even lengthy prison terms -- and all this over simple milk! (

But the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can unleash all sorts of new "security" protocols that violate the US Constitution, and be vindicated in the process by courts that refuse to hold the agency accountable after the fact because it might threaten "public safety."

TSA can strip search Americans if it wants to, says Justice Department attorney

It is bad enough that the DC Court of Appeals refused to acknowledge the full extent of the TSA's law violations through its illegal implementation of naked body scanners and full-body pat downs. But an attorney for the Justice Department actually made the astounding claim during the opening statements of the case that the DHS has the authority to strip search Americans if it feels as though such action is necessary to deal with "ever-evolving threats."

Such an assertion is a bold slap in the face to Americans, upon whose rights have already been severely infringed by current TSA actions. To make such a ghastly statement about the defendant of a case at the prelude of a ruling against it shows just how out-of-control the US government and justice system has become. Neither the DHS nor its TSA spawn have any legal right to strip search Americans without proper cause, and any federal authority that says otherwise is an enemy of very same Constitution they once swore to uphold and protect.

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