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TSA perpetuating U.S. rape culture by penetrating Americans' bodies without consent


(NaturalNews) Rape culture stems from an idea that some people (primarily men), are entitled to impose their will on the bodies of other people (primarily women), without their consent. This deeper, underlying idea also has other manifestations in the culture – among them, the idea that the government has the right to subject citizens to intrusive and degrading searches, again without their consent.

In the latest example of this toxic trend, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently made a quiet, unannounced change to its regulations for the use of full-body scanners at airports. The new rules say that although most passengers will still be allowed to opt-out of the controversial scanners and receive a pat-down search instead, TSA agents can – at their own discretion – deny any passenger the right to a pat-down and force them to use the scanner. Passengers who refuse will not be allowed to pass through security and go to the gate.

Broken promises

The document does not explain the reason for the change, or spell out any criteria TSA agents must use to deny someone the right to refuse a full-body scan.

George McHendry, an assistant professor of communications at Creighton University, noted that by not providing these guidelines, the TSA will be more likely to come under fire from certain demographics that have preferred to avoid the scans, such as disabled or transgender people.

"The pat-down becomes a way for them to get you through security with minimal resistance," McHendry said. "It's been a pretty good pressure valve for that."

Notably, the rule change breaks a promise the TSA made in 2009: that the full-body scans would always be voluntary.

"The TSA is going back on its word," said TSA watchdog Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University. "The scanners were sold to Congress and the public on the promise that they were optional, but for at least some people, that is no longer the case."

Pattern of TSA recklessness, illegality

In fact, previous TSA promises mean that the new regulations may actually violate the law. According to Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the TSA has repeatedly promised courts in writing that the use of scanners is optional. A federal appeals court that upheld the constitutionality of the scanners based its decision on these promises.

"The TSA lacks the legal authority to compel travelers to go through the body scanners," Rotenberg said.

The quiet rule change is consistent with the TSA's overall approach, which is to avoid scrutiny of its full-body scanner policy. According to Marc Scribner, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the TSA has repeatedly ignored federal rulemaking regulations – and as a consequence, travelers remain constantly unclear about their rights.

"We're in bizarro-world with TSA," Scribner said.

"It wasn't clear before what the policy was. Now it's even less clear," Scribner said. "I don't know if they could have done anything worse."

This increase of confusion actually undercuts the stated goal of increasing airline security, said Indiana University law professor Fred Cate.

"Almost anywhere else in government or industry, if you don't do things by the rules, it's something people can complain about," Cate said. "Here if you don't do something by the rules, they just say you don't know what the rules are or we can't tell you."

The full-body scanners have attracted a wide range of opposition, on fronts ranging from privacy concerns (over the ability to take and store naked photos of passengers), to their immense cost and the fact that they were pushed through without voter input, to complaints that their safety is not proven and that their use violates the Fourth Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches.

Sources for this article include:




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