Ron Paul: Prosecute TSA Agents for Groping

Ron Paul has introduced a law (the "American Traveler Dignity Act") that would punish TSA agents for groping and x-raying Americans.

Ron  Paul has introduced a law (the “American Traveler Dignity Act“) that would punish TSA agents for groping and x-raying Americans:

A BILL – HR 6416

To ensure that certain Federal employees cannot hide behind immunity.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

He introduced the bill thusly:

I rise this evening to announce that I introduced some legislation today dealing with the calamity that we have found at our airports with TSA. Something has to be done. Everybody is fed up. The people are fed up, the pilots are fed up, I’m fed up.

You know, I’ve come to this floor many times over the past many years and complained about the terrible foreign policy we’ve had, the terrible monetary policy we’ve had, the excessive spending and the debt and also the tax policy. But what we’re doing and what we’re accepting in putting up with at this airport is so symbolic of us just not standing up and saying, “Enough is enough”.

I know the American people are starting to wake up, but our government, those in charge – Congress as well as the executive branch – are doing nothing. Yes, they’re talking about maybe backing off and allowing the pilots to go through. But can you think how silly the whole thing is? The pilot has a gun in the cockpit, and he’s managing this aircraft, which is a missile, and we make him go through this groping x-ray exercise, having people feeling their underwear. It’s absurd, and it’s time we wake up.

The bill I’ve introduced will take care of this. But we have to realize that the real problem is that the American people have been too submissive, we have been too submissive. It’s been going on for a long time, and this was to be expected even from the beginning of the TSA and it’s deeply flawed. Private property should be protected by private individuals, not bureaucrats.

But the bill that I’ve introduced will take care of it. It’s very simple, it’s one paragraph long. It removes the immunity from anybody in the federal government that does anything that you or I can’t do. If you can’t grope another person and if you can’t x-ray people and endanger them with possible x-rays, you can’t take nude photographs of individuals, why do we allow the government to do it? We would go to jail. He’d be immediately arrested if an individual citizen went out and did these things, and yet we just sit there calmly and say, “Oh, they’re making us safe”.

And, besides, the argument from the executive branch is that when you buy a ticket, you have sacrificed your rights, and it is the duty of the government to make us safe. That isn’t the case. You never have to sacrifice your rights. The duty of the government is to protect our rights, not to abuse them and do what they have been doing to us. The pilots hopefully will be exempted from this.

This is a publicity stunt — and a good one — rather than a bill with any chance of being enacted into law.   But Paul makes a good point:  Americans are too submissive to government, which is the price of expecting government to protect us from all possible harm.  It’s time to take stock of ourselves and recalibrate.

Presumably, were such a law to go into effect, it would mean the end of federalized airport security, returning the responsibility to the airports and airlines.   And that would be a welcome change.  But only, as Dave Schuler keeps reminding us, if we actually hold them responsible.   After 9/11, government stepped in and paid off massive settlements to the families of those who lost family members as a result of those four plane crashes — and exempted the airlines from liability.   It has to be clear that we won’t be doing that again.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, Terrorism, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. anjin-san says:

    > Americans are too submissive to government

    You have to be joking. The right stood and cheered while Bush expanded the power and size of the federal government. Liberals warned about it, and were called traitors for their trouble.

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    It’s a publicity stunt, yes, but a misdirected one. Why punish the TSA agents who are following protocol (note: I’m not talking about those who are specifically targeting someone they want to feel up–punish those bastards)? I’m sure most TSA agents really don’t want to have to touch groins all day, but they want even less to be jobless. The bill should be targeting those in charge of the TSA who invent these ridiculous procedures.

  3. wr says:

    Let’s see: Government sets a policy, hires people to carry it out. Policy turns out to be unpopular, so government decides to threaten their own employees with lawsuits or jail time for carrying out their orders.

    Next up: Ron Paul proposes prosecuting senior citizens for theft if they accept Medicare.

  4. Laura says:

    My 7 year old daughter was recently sexually assaulted by a neighbor. As a result, we have spent countless hours in therapy with her repeating a very simple rule. Only your parents and your doctor have a reason to touch parts of your body that a bathing suit covers. Am I now supposed to change that rule to include TSA agents? “Sorry sweetie, mommy was wrong. It’s also safe for strangers at the airport to touch your private parts.” The other rule is that if something doesn’t feel right, you should get away from that situation immediately. I can’t imagine anything feeling right about being groped by a TSA agent. The only problem is, in that situation, it’s Illegal to leave. Has anyone stopped to consider how damaging a “search” of this nature could be to victims of rape and sexual assault? These agents should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Sexual assault is sexual assault. There’s no way to spin it and make it acceptable.

  5. wr says:

    But Rush Limbaugh said it was all fun and games, like a frat party.

    Oh, wait, that’s when brown people are sexually tortured. When white people are searched, that’s assault.

  6. Trueofvoice says:

    Americans are overly submissive to authority of any kind, whether it be TSA agents feeling your balls or a cell phone company adding bogus charges to your bill. The vast majority of us simply accept what is thrown at us; we’re trained from birth to submit to “The Man”.

  7. Madge says:

    We all understand who put this TRASH out there, some of us understand that both sides are following the same sick agenda. Some of us understand the New World Order is about enslavement of mankind. It’s not about race or gender, so please stop looking at the color of your skin and PAY ATTENTION to the laws being implemented. As a mother the day my children are sexually molested in order to ride on an airplane is the day they’ll be picking my cold dead groped “junk” off the floor!!!!!!!!!!!

    Let’s just face it, this is NOT about safety this is about CONTROL! Really mothers, you going to sit by and watch your little girl or boy be groped and molested in the name of safety? It’s time for humankind to wake up and do so quickly. (remember the best way to conquer is to divide, blacks against whites, Muslims against Christians, etc., the best way to control is through FEAR)