Boston Criminal Attorney Kevin J. Mahoney on TSA, Pocket-knives, and Government Overreaching
Might a wheelchair-bound 3-year-old with spinal bifida be a terrorist? One would think so, given the insistence of TSA agents in February, 2013 that the child be patted down before boarding the plane. While the Transportation Security Administration has apologized to the family for the incident—after it received national attention—what happened to little Lucy on her way to Disney World is just one more example of a federal agency taking the American public hostage with its nearly limitless authority.
When then President Bush authorized the establishment of TSA following the September 11 attacks, it seemed like a good idea to many. Citizens long complacent about national security had been awakened to a new world: no longer could one assume safety; no longer did America seem beyond the grasp of foreign fascist leaders or groups. The lesson we should have learned from history is that a populace is willingly to surrender liberties in correlation with the degree to which they feel their security threatened. Unfortunately, the federal government is well aware of this lesson, and in the years following that infamous day in 2001 TSA has increasingly put it to the test by developing silly rules for air travel and manhandling passengers.
Want to take that bottle of shampoo in your luggage? Did you pack sunscreen so that you can enjoy the sandy beaches at your vacation destination without the risk of skin cancer? Think again. You just might lose those items. Argue about it, and you might be excluded from the plane—or worse.
Whether one agrees with the recent announcement that passengers will now be allowed to carry small pocket knives on board planes or not, the move does seem a surprising relaxation of rules from an agency that heretofore has been intractable. Whether a blade that is less than 2.36 inches long and half and inch wide is likely to be used by hijackers to take over a plane is arguable; indeed, many airlines and their employees are dead set against the new policy. Of course, there may be as much political motivation behind their arguments as concern over safety.
Politics and national security seem, indeed, to be partnered up today. If you aren’t sure this is the case, consider the fact that while you may be able to carry a small pocket knife on board aircraft most other places, in Massachusetts it is still against the law. Massachusetts politicians on both sides are using the pocket knife issue to gain audience—and presumably votes. Among their arguments is the fact that box cutters are still disallowed on aircraft, yet both items were used by terrorists on 9-11.
The real point of all this is not pocket knives. That is the straw man, a false issue that clouds the real one: the overreaching of federal authority, and its intrusion on our liberties. TSA rules make no differentiation between passengers that would take into account the unlikelihood of a 3-year-old on her way to Disney World being a jihadist or an 80-year-old nun taking over a plane. And the more politicized the debate, the more our government will argue that our security is indeed at ever-increasing peril, and the more we may be willing to surrender the very liberties that we hold dear and restrain our government from harassing us endlessly.
Contact Boston Criminal Attorney Kevin J. Mahoney
If you are facing criminal charges, you need an experienced and relentless Boston criminal attorney on your side to guard your rights and protect your best interests. Call me at 617-492-0055 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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