by Becky Akers
He seems like an OK guy.
Sure, he’s a lawyer – in fact, he “chairs the ABA Committee on Privacy and Information Protection” (pssst, shysters: failing miserably here). Worse, he consorts with politicians and bureaucrats. But otherwise, Mark Rotenberg is innocuous: “…Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, DC.[, h]e teaches information privacy law at Georgetown University Law Center.” He’s also “testified before Congress on many issues,” as he did earlier this month to the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations.
Formerly known as the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA] updated the group for our brave new Amerika last December when he descended to chairmanship of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee (yeah, riiiiiight). But even with the requisite “Homeland” in its title, the subcommittee seems deaf. Who among us hasn’t heard the shrieks and cries of the violated echoing from airports nationwide as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sexually assaults passengers? And yet the subcommittee held hearings March 16 on this grotesque evil, as if either the Constitution or simple decency allow a response other than immediate abolition of the TSA, with swift and severe punishment for its criminals.
You probably suspect by now that Congress has absolutely no intention of pulling the plug on this agency or even of reining it in. Indeed, it cannot: its power is as weak as its will. After years of incubation at the intelligence agencies, the totalitarian, homeland-security government-within-the-government has metastasized for a decade; it’s now as unbeatable as the most virulent cancer; the rest of Leviathan either joins it or is devoured by it. And the TSA knows this. It has openly defied Congress with the same impunity with which it flouts the law.
So why bother with a hearing? Photo ops and whitewash, among other benefits. Congress wants us to think it’s still in charge, that it has the TSA under control rather than vice versa. And it doesn’t hurt for voters to see their representatives whaling away at the national laughingstock everyone hates. Plus, these cowards now have an excuse when constituents complain about gate-rape: “Yes, we feel your pain, so acutely we’ve held hearings.” How many Americans still own enough savvy and gumption to ask, “So what?”
Ergo, this month’s charade. Various experts pontificated as did one of the TSA’s victims: Sharon Cissna, the state representative from Alaska who famously travelled via small plane, ferry, and car rather than submit to the TSA’s molestation. Her story is horrific, something out of Nazi Germany or the gulags of Soviet Russia – and it’s tragically typical, too: “Heading into security [at Seattle’s airport,]… I suddenly found myself directed … [to the] full-body imaging scan. … A female agent placed herself blocking my passage. Scan results would again display … my breast cancer and the resulting scars [the TSA had irradiated and then sexually assaulted her 3 months before]…. I would require [sic for ‘the TSA would exploit my illness with the’] invasive, probing hands of a stranger over my body. Memories of violation would consume my thoughts again … I began to remember what my husband and I’d decided after the previous intensive physical search. That I never had to submit to that horror again! … this twisted policy did not have to be the price of flying to Juneau! … as more and more TSA, airline, airport and police gathered, … I repeatedly said that I would not allow the feeling-up and I would not use the transportation mode that required it. … The freedom to travel should never come at the price of basic human dignity and pride.”
“Sharon Cissna TSA” turns up some 40,000 hits on Google; AOL News featured the story as did MSNBC, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the Miami Herald, among many others. So while sewers are a congresscritter’s natural habitat, it’s likely even they reverberated with news of the TSA’s assault on this citizen. Why listen to it all over again? Yet Our Rulers did – without rushing to horsewhip the TSA’s degenerates. Only in government do wusses call themselves men though thugs assail women and children on their watch.
Riding to the rescue were Mr. Rotenberg and EPIC, which has filed no less than five lawsuits against the TSA. At the hearing, “EPIC urged Congress to suspend the use of airport body scanners for primary screening. EPIC said the devices were not effective and were not minimally intrusive, as courts have required for airport searches” – even if the Constitution demands a warrant. “EPIC cited TSA documents obtained in EPIC’s FOIA lawsuit which showed that the machines are designed to store and transfer images, and not designed to detect powdered explosives.”
No hearing is complete without a defendant. But at the “last minute” the “TSA declined to testify – despite previously confirming through both verbal and written confirmation that they would appear,” Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the subcommittee’s chairman, complained.
Who knew such appearance was optional? Yo, Jason: subpoena. Then again, Mr. Chair is no doubt uncomfortably aware that the TSA would have snubbed that, too, and in front of the whole country. He eventually capitulated to the agency’s orders for a session by itself.
But more astounding than this further evidence of the TSA’s contempt for Congress was its excuse: because of EPIC’s “multiple lawsuits” against the agency, its administrator, John “The Pervert” Pistole sniffed, “I have strong concerns over the Subcommittee’s intention to seat [the TSA’s assistant administrators] Mr. [Robin] Kane and Mr. [Lee] Kair alongside a non-governmental witness [Mr. Rotenberg]…” What, do non-governmental witnesses who dare to sue The Pervert’s fiefdom have cooties?
So far as I can tell, Mr. Rotenberg boasts a clean record aside from his lawyering and hobnobbing with Congress. He’s never sexually assaulted anyone. He doesn’t electronically strip unwilling victims to leer at their nakedness. Nor does he rob passengers, brutalize old ladies and survivors of cancer, or torment handicapped children.
No gentleman voluntarily rubs elbows with the TSA’s savages. If anyone objected to the seating, it shoulda been Mr. Rotenberg.
March 28, 2011