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How Normal People Learn to Hate the Government

I was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the district where the "twentieth hijacker," Zacarias Moussaoui, was convicted of conspiracy to commit mass murder.  I was also a longtime friend of Barbara Olson, wife of former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who was murdered by Moussaoui's confederates in the plane they flew into the Pentagon.  I take terrorism as seriously as anyone.  In my view, the death penalty is too good for these people.

This does not mean, however, that any measure we adopt to prevent terrorism gets an automatic green light.  If we are to have a constitutional government exercising enumerated powers over a free people, there are limits.  Would that TSA recognized some.

Today I saw a widely reported story about a four year-old girl who ran past the security line to hug goodbye to her grandmother.  For this she was taken to a "secure area" and subjected to an intrusive search (although not, so far as has been reported, a strip search).  

That by itself is troublesome enough, but what caught my eye was an add-on farther down the page:

Last week, the Huffington Post wrote about a 10-year-old diabetic boy who received a pat-down after his insulin pump triggered the alarm. Jacob Wisnik was wearing a new pump that was placed over his groin. According to his mother, Eva, he was not permitted to reposition or move the pump before the pat-down.

Somehow, even to my suspicious prosecutor's eye, a ten year-old with an insulin pump he needs (but assuredly doesn't want) just doesn't seem like much of a hijacking threat. TSA of course knows this.  Searching a kid like that is gratuitous, abusive and humiliating, and is done solely because government apparatchiks know they can get away with it.  But just to make this last point unmistakable, the TSA spokesman said this:

"[The agency]  is reviewing the passenger's screening experience to determine whether procedures were appropriately applied. We regret the family's perception of the experience was not positive and always strive to screen passengers respectfully while ensuring the safety of all travelers."

And that is why I titled this post, "How Normal People Learn to Hate the Government."

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