TSA: Fourth Amendment = Terrorism

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Via The Legal Satyricon, here's another tale involving our heroes at the Trouser Search Administration.

Aaron Tobey, a 21-year-old student is suing the TSA and other officials, alleging that he was unconstitutionally and illegally detained after he took his shirt off at a checkpoint to reveal that he had written the "unreasonable searches" part of the Fourth Amendment on himself with magic marker. (Seems like this would be difficult to do yourself, even with a mirror, but the "4" is backwards so maybe he did.)

In a protest against the scanner nonsense, he had decided he was going to opt out of that and de-shirt himself for the pat-down. (That's a good idea for lots of reasons – recent tests showed the scanners emit 10 times as much radiation as expected, although not to worry because the TSA says that's just a "calculation error.") "He was making it easy for them," said Tobey's lawyer, "and in the process he wanted to communicate his objection [to the search]."

In response, the TSA officers congratulated the young man on his commitment to civil rights, conducted the minimum search necessary for the safety of the public, and sent him on his way.

Wait, I'm reading this wrong – it says they cuffed him, interrogated him, had the airport police charge him with "disorderly conduct" (favorite of official thugs everywhere), and then contacted the cops at his university and suggested that they report Tobey to the Dean of Students. That's if the allegations in Tobey's complaint are true, at least. Tobey also alleges that he was finally released only after being spoken to by someone purporting to be a federal air marshal, who "asked Plaintiff about his affiliation with, or knowledge of, any terrorist organizations, if he had been asked to do what he did by any third party, and what his intentions and goals were."

Maybe this explains why they don't catch any real terrorists, if one of the things they're watching for is whether somebody has part of the Bill of Rights written on his chest. Do you have any knowledge of any terrorist organizations, Mr. Air Marshal? Because this doesn't really seem to fit the profile. Oh, what about the Thomas Jefferson Gang? Do they count?

The complaint, which was filed on March 9 in the Eastern District of Virginia, appears to be very well done and so may be worth hanging onto for future suing-the-TSA purposes.