Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TSA Threatens Texas Over Antigroping Bill

Examiner.com: A bill passed by the Texas House of Representatives making it illegal for the Transportation and Security Administration to conduct invasive pat-downs is dead after threats to cancel all outgoing Lone Star State flights.

The bill, which was quite explicit in its formulation, would have made it a misdemeanor for TSA personnel to touch “the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing.” The penalties for violating the law would have included a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

After the Texas House passed the bill, the TSA fired a warning volley, blogging that the state is barred by the U.S. Constitution from regulating the federal government. But when the bill went to the state Senate for a vote, the feds took more decisive action on the TSA’s behalf. U.S. attorney John Murphy drafted a letter stating that if the bill passed the Senate, the TSA would cancel all flights out of Texas. The letter argued that the TSA “could not ensure the safety of passengers and crews” unless agents were given the free range they currently enjoy, which has included:

   - Reaching, twice in one pat-down, into the underpants of a whining 6-year-old.

   - Groping the breasts, inner thighs, and crotch of a female passenger who had just cleared security.

   - Patting down a wheelchair-bound 14-year-old victim of brain and spinal cancer.

Republican Dan Patrick, who was the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, withdrew it when he realized he lacked the votes needed for passage. The senator is quoted in the Texas Tribune as having remarked: There was a time in this state, there was a time in our history, where we stood up to the federal government and we did not cower to rules and policies that invaded the privacy of Texans.

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