Airport Security Protester Arrested

Charlottesville’s Aaron Tobey is awesome. He was charged with “disorderly conduct” for writing the Fourth Amendment on his chest and going through RIC security.

31 Responses to “Airport Security Protester Arrested”


  • Wow. Imagine how disorderly it would be if dozens of us showed up at an airport in bathing suits with the 4th amendment painted on us like the Goldie Hawn sock-it-to-me moments from Laugh-in. Surely this would be a flash-mob moment if ever there was one. This sort of thing deserves to go viral.

  • Viral, at the top of the annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness, rears it ugly head.

    Because what terrorists would love is the idea of flash mobs all over airports.

    Perhaps a middle ground. Say, a plane that gets no security. People could opt for this. Me, I will go with the most security I could get.

    What if these measures existed on 9/10/2001. The 19,858 body parts of the 2,819 dead, and their families are curious? Would saving those lives be worth it?

  • danpri,

    Your dramatic imagery reminds me of something the father of a friend of mine said post 9/11. “One of the dangers of living in a free society is that those freedoms can be use against you as a weapon, the great challenge is not giving up those freedoms should that happen.”

  • No question that this remains a tightrope for all. Yet, the instant another plane kills 100, or 1000 the vast majority of people will be looking for heads to roll. The people making these decisions are at the mercy of the most fickle and volatile of creatures, the voting electorate. We simply have to do what we can to protect the innocent. How far do we go? The person who can answer exactly how far we go without anymore attacks wins the lotto. Of course, this is like knowing the name of the worlds best counterfeiter. We dont, because he/she is still out there.

    I want the security. But I also find is quite interesting that everytime I have posted the question of 9/11, no one seems willing to answer. Would todays measures be worth it? Because perhaps the planes never fly into the tower, we do not bury ourselves in the middle east conflicts… coulda… woulda… shoulda..

    The only answer I have is that I will be sucking in my gut when I hit the screens and hope to be as safe as possible. And the guy who is distracting the security by stripping down and painting himself: take him away.

    National Opt out day was a flop because people wanted to be safe. To me, it seems that those who made the choice to fly, made their voices known…by quietly standing in line and putting their shoes in the bins.

  • Wouldn’t it have just been easier to have it silk screened onto the front and/or back of a T-shirt?

    I think his arrest is more about the fact he showed a lot of skin, and not what he wrote on it.

  • I am an old man. Perhaps the logic of stripping down to nothing in front of a crowd to prevent someone in another room to see you stripped….down.

    Now, dressing from head to toe in tinfoil with metal paint seems like the response!

  • @danpri – today’s methods wouldn’t have prevented 9/11. 9/11 was successful largely because we hadn’t thought about that possibility. Hijacking, generally, was permitted to occur because the thought was that the hijackers wouldn’t bring the plane down and kill themselves. The advantage of surprise and willingness to die was what allowed the hijackers on 9/11 to succeed. Removing box cutters and knives wouldn’t have stopped them. Any number of things can be used a deadly implements given the element of surprise. Clearly they were resourceful and determined enough to find an alternative.

    What has changed now is not the increased security (theater) we have at airports. What has changed is what happened on United flight 93 on 9/11. Passengers and crew are no longer willing to allow someone to take control of the aircraft. An attack like the one we saw on 9/11 isn’t likely to succeed because the people there wouldn’t allow it. The armored and secured cockpit doors and the training of the flight crew are the key elements preventing a repeat attack.

  • What has changed is what happened on United flight 93 on 9/11. Passengers and crew are no longer willing to allow someone to take control of the aircraft. An attack like the one we saw on 9/11 isn’t likely to succeed because the people there wouldn’t allow it. The armored and secured cockpit doors and the training of the flight crew are the key elements preventing a repeat attack.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t United 93 end up crashing into the ground, killing all those on the plane? If so, I don’t see how that offers a blueprint for anything other than saving people on the ground. You, as a passenger, still end up dead.

    And the cockpit doors aren’t foolproof. Nothing is. It’s just a matter of what has been thought of and what hasn’t been thought of. I sat in an exit row on a recent flight and had a couple dozen thoughts of things that could be done if a terrorist simply wanted to create panic and kill several people on board.

    One of the major problems with the aftermath of 9/11 is that everybody things about ways terrorists will kill thousands and forgets that they’ll do things like blow themselves up to kill 21 (Alexandria). That’s still a 21-to-1 advantage, which they’ll gladly accept.

    At the end of the day, we’re not, as a country, going to move away from airport security. Follow the polls and you’ll see that MOST people are fine with the extra security. It’s a vocal minority that is not. What does that mean? It means that if the airlines follow the vocal minority, they’ll actually be worse off as they lose the business of the majority.

    Personally? Yes, the 4th Amendment gives me the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, but nobody’s forcing me to fly. I can just as easily drive or take a train. If I choose to fly, I choose to fly by the airlines’ and FAA’s rules.

    I went to Disney World recently. They checked my backpack before I entered. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the blogosphere when I need it? Oh, the humanity!!!

    Sorry, but if you don’t like the rules, then don’t put yourself in the position where you need to follow them. Suck it up and drive! Besides, you’ll be more “green” that way, anyhow.

  • United 93 did crash into the ground…but it demonstrates the removal of the ability to cause mass destruction on an enormous scale like happened with the planes that hit the twin towers.

    Blowing up 21 people doesn’t require an airplane or an airport and needn’t be subject to airport security. A train, a bus, a McDonald’s at lunch time…they’ll all work. No security to speak of.

    If flying were a private industry and the security was privately run, sure we’d have to play by their rules. The government is running the security show (and bailing out airlines) so the 4th amendment is applicable and it’s being trampled upon. Going to Disney World is a private transaction, they can set the rules they wish and you can choose to go or not. Flying is more complex in terms of private corporations and government actions.

    Airport/airplane security is a reasonable thing to have if it’s well designed. The problem with current airport security is that much of it is useless and nonsensical. For example, you have to have your laptop scanned separately but your netbook/iPad you can leave in your bag.

    Lastly, driving is rarely more green unless you pack an awful lot of people into the vehicle. Full airplanes (which most are these days) are more efficient on a passenger mile basis.

  • I also find is quite interesting that everytime I have posted the question of 9/11, no one seems willing to answer. Would todays measures be worth it?

    Your odds of getting cancer from one trip through a full-body scanner are miniscule—about one in thirty million. Which, coincidentally, are also your odds of dying in a terrorist attack. So either this is a lousy trade-off (if we pretend that scanners mean the end of terrorism via airplane), or we’ve doubled the number of deaths resulting from terrorism (if we assume that terrorism continues).

    Our response to terrorism is not entirely unlike President Bush attacking Iraq in response to September 11th. It might be satisfying, but it’s doing nothing to address the problem at hand. Declaring war on terrorism after September 11th would have been like declaring a war on airplanes after Pearl Harbor.

  • And still no one answers the question…

    I do think that todays measures keep box cutters and knives off of 19 guys. That they are willing to die mean nothing if they are waving around sharp pencils as a threat.

    As to WW@, you can bet we declared air superiority our top priority and that when the Germans could no longer bomb Pearl Harbor it was over for them.

  • I do think that todays measures keep box cutters and knives off of 19 guys. That they are willing to die mean nothing if they are waving around sharp pencils as a threat.

    All they have to do is say “there is a bomb on the plane.” Or use a shoelace as a garrote. Or have a pancake-shaped explosive charge. Really, this kind of thing isn’t hard.

    As to WW@, you can bet we declared air superiority our top priority and that when the Germans could no longer bomb Pearl Harbor it was over for them.

    o_O

  • “As to WW@, you can bet we declared air superiority our top priority and that when the Germans could no longer bomb Pearl Harbor it was over for them.”

    And he wonders why no one bothers to answer him?

  • @ danpri, what, specifically, is the question again?

    Ignoring the evidence that says today’s security measures often miss potentially lethal objects and devices that are specifically prohibited from being carried onto a plane; I’ll concede for the moment the premise that today’s security measures would prevent potential miscreants from brings knives and box cutters aboard a plane.

    However, corkscrews are permitted as are plastic knives (which can be made into a perfectly lethal implement even if it only gets used once). Nail files are permitted as are scissors up to 4 inches in length (specifically with pointed tips…i.e., incredibly dangerous should one wish to use them as such).

    It’s not like the hijackers on 9/11 brought automatic weapons aboard. They used implements not entirely dissimilar from items we allow on planes now. They used them with the element of surprise and with a level of force and for purposes most people had neither expected nor considered. All of our current screening, even if executed perfectly well, still allows for sufficient tools to be brought aboard to carry out an attack similar to 9/11. What would prevent it is the awareness of the people on board and the different training of the flight crew along with a cockpit that is harder to gain access to.

  • Let’s say that today’s measures would have prevented box cutters on 9/11. Those terrorists would have figured that out ahead of time (they took all those practice flights for a reason) and used something else. I’m not saying 9/11 was inevitable by any means, but you can’t really prevent human inventiveness, cleverness, and good planning. It seems to me that airport security — at least the security that travelers see — focuses on objects, but objects weren’t what caused 9/11. I would imagine that current security measures are probably deterring some non-inventive, non-clever single actors who don’t have much in the way of an original or well-thought-out terroristic plan, but I’m hoping that higher levels of security, that we don’t see at the airport, are working to make sure no one develops a wildly successful plan like 9/11 again. If it comes down to airport security to prevent that, it’s kind of too late, IMO.

    danpri, I think no one is answering your question of “if these measures had prevented 9/11, would it have been worth it” because it’s a question that fails to acknowledge all the problems with your highly unrealistic hypothetical scenario in which all twelve (?) of the terrorists are caught at airport security trying to bring their box cutters in because somehow they had no idea (despite multiple test flights) that box-cutters wouldn’t be involved, so they give up and go home. i think what people are actually doing is far more interesting than answering your question.

  • If we banned all automobiles we would save over 30,000 American lives per year. Wouldn’t that be worth it?

    If we banned all firearms we would save an additional 30,000 American lives per year. Wouldn’t that be worth it?

    Ten years ago, a score of whack-jobs with box-cutters were responsible for 3,000 deaths in this country. It is now alright for me to be either photographically stripped or groped in a manner that would absolutely be actionable in any other context…because it’s worth it? No. No, it’s not. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    The difference between 9-11 and an Interstate highway has mostly to do with perceived risk, not actual risk. And it is not OK with me that my government is taking advantage of the perceived difference to trample on my rights. What’s going on in the name of “security” has very little to do with actual security.

    So, yes, please, lovingly place that flower in the barrel of the gun held by a very confused, young guardsman. Yes, please, strip to track shorts and display an iteration of the 4th Amendment. It’s definitely something I’d still like to see more of. It might gently lead us back to some sanity if we can expose with humor some of today’s insanity.

  • Waldo, please tell me you got the “was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor” reference…

  • I don’t think the issue is security. I think it is they way the TSA is allowed to treat people. I flew in Europe and the Middle East in the mid to late 80′s and there was always plenty of security. In Europe I went through screening never seen here at that time. To fly to Israel on El Al in 1987 each passenger went through one on one interviews with personnel regarding who packed your bag, who touched your bag why were you going to or leaving Israel, why I knew the word Shalom yet spoke no Hebrew. When they were finished they thanked each person for their time and hoped we understood why they were asking you these things. My point is they treated it as a profession and treated each person with the same respect they wanted to be treated with.

    I read an account of a person who flew in Europe recently. He forgot to take his computer out of his bag and apologized to the person manning the xray. The person said “I know what a computer looks like”. When he asked the screener why it was different with him than in the USA the screener replied “I just want to make sure you are safe, your country wants to be sure you are scared”.

  • I got the reference, Danpri. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Some may still be adjusting to the new year.

  • Waldo, please tell me you got the “was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor” reference…

    Sorry, no. :) But I figured it was probably a joke that went over my head. :)

  • FWIW, I think the one security change that’s an enormous, necessary improvement is reinforced cockpit doors. A brilliant, simple, inexpensive move, that one change has the potential to save a lot of lives.

    Fun fact: more US Air Marshals have been arrested than have made arrests. Air Marshals average four arrests each year. Not four per officer—four total, for all four thousand of them. We spend $200,000,000 per arrest. I’d give some examples of the kinds of people who they’re so rare that I can’t actually find any. Google is too cluttered up with the far-more-frequent stories of Air Marshals being arrested for possession of child porn, rape at gunpoint, drug smuggling, and attempted murder.

  • UNDERWEAR PRINTED WITH THE 4TH AMENDMENT IN METALLIC INK
    “Let them know they’re spying at the privates of a private citizen.”

    I’m not affiliated in any way with that site, but I sure wish I was.

  • Love the underwear.

    Aaron Tobey is a hero for protesting, and I hope justice will prevail. The only reason most Americans seem to go along with this invasion of privacy is because to do otherwise means they’d have to ponder and question. That takes time away from more pressing matters like commerce, complaining about the homeless, and watching Fox News.

    Aren’t the odds far higher that your pilot might be sloppy drunk, or that you’ll be killed on the way to the airport by an SUV-driving soccer mom yacking on her cellphone? Everybody’s ticket gets punched eventually. The odds of it being at the hands of a terrorist are ridiculously small.. and that was before the newer invasive screening.

  • If we banned all automobiles we would save over 30,000 American lives per year. Wouldn’t that be worth it?

    Probably, but we can just require seatbelts and be much better off than not requiring them.

    If we banned all firearms we would save an additional 30,000 American lives per year. Wouldn’t that be worth it?

    Nope. The criminals will still get them (kind of like drugs) and then regular citizens have no means of protection. But, we can work to keep firearms out of the hands of convicted criminals and be better off than not.

    Your line of reasoning actually would lead to banning airplanes, not searching. Metal detectors are a good way of preventing a lot of unnecessary items from making it onto an airplane, just like seatbelts prevent you from flying through your windshield in a crash. Very reasonable.

    The question is whether or not x-rays are reasonable. Personally, I feel like if it makes it FAR more difficult for terrorists to attack airplanes again, then yes it’s worth it. The problem is, we’ll likely never know one way or the other. You can’t count attacks that have been PREVENTED.

    It’s easy to count what has happened and make up claims like air marshals aren’t worth the money because they only average 4 arrests per year. Great! Do we get rid of the police because they’re preventing crime?

    “Hey, the police department is doing their job and preventing crime. Time to slash their budget!”

    Going back to seatbelts, do you stop wearing one because you’ve never needed one?

    At the end of the day, I don’t care about someone looking at my x-ray. If you see me in person, you’d realize nobody would be looking for long. Plus, I think after the first hundred or so nude bodies, the glamor of the job would wear off significantly… if it ever existed in the first place.

    Yes, please, strip to track shorts and display an iteration of the 4th Amendment. It’s definitely something I’d still like to see more of.

    You’d like to see it. But would you participate? It’s very easy to sit behind a keyboard and proclaim what you’d like to see. It’s very different to actually protest. And that goes back to the vocal minority. Everybody’s blogging about the enhanced security, but it seems FAR more people are accepting it as they board their airplanes daily.

    Going back to Waldo’s comments, should we stop the new security because ONE guy got arrested while protesting? Seems like HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of others are perfectly okay with it.

    A Gallup poll in Jan 2010 showed 78% were fine with full-body scans. Only 20% disapproved. And 70% were more uncomfortable with a pat down.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/125018/air-travelers-body-scans-stride.aspx

    Once again, the blogosphere’s outrage doesn’t measure up to actual outrage. Not terribly surprising.

  • The number of people who died in New York on 9/11 was 2,752 (not including the hijackers). 184 people died at the Pentagon. We really shouldn’t round off human lives when we know how many died. I understand that’s it’s for simplicity’s sake and that no disrespect is meant and I’m not trying to cast aspersions on any one individual. I think we should be specific about it where possible.

  • It’s easy to count what has happened and make up claims like air marshals aren’t worth the money because they only average 4 arrests per year. Great! Do we get rid of the police because they’re preventing crime?

    Well, then you’ve got to sign up for my Elephant Extermination Service. Those little bastards could wind up in your attic at any time now, and they’ll just tear up your duct work. True, I’m yet to nab one yet. But, hey, great! Do we get rid of the police because they’re preventing crime?

  • Going back to Waldo’s comments, should we stop the new security because ONE guy got arrested while protesting? Seems like HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of others are perfectly okay with it.

    A Gallup poll in Jan 2010 showed 78% were fine with full-body scans. Only 20% disapproved. And 70% were more uncomfortable with a pat down.

    People aren’t protesting that this is unpopular. They’re protesting that it’s unconstitutional. The constitution is not subject to popular interpretation. Slavery was widely supported. Segregation was widely supported. But it was still wrong, no matter how popular that it was.

  • In fact, the constitution exists in part specifically to prevent ‘the tyranny of the majority’, a fact I have been rather thankful for lately, given the state of political discourse.

  • Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

    I had forgotten the bit about ‘the tyranny of the majority” — thanks for the reminder.

    We do have an indirect democracy for a reason. Unfortunately, the reason has been rather circumvented by professional representatives and senators, professional lobbyists, professional staffers, and many other professions: some of which really are the oldest we have.

    I want my government to think beyond my personal, petty preferences & I try to think that way myself. Security uber alles really doesn’t do that. It really doesn’t.

    Marketing is what’s so very frightening these days — as so often expressed by “polls”. What can people be made to believe is the foremost question, rather than what is true.

    We’ve been sold on corporate food, corporate (this quarter) profits, and corporate government. Very little of which is true. The polls tell them they’re successful — this quarter. And they are successful, if the willing abdication of individual rights are any indication.

    The United States — and what is done in its name — is increasingly frightening. Would I don a bathing suit and some painted words at an airport security check point? Not without other people helping me out. And that’s scary, too. I have my dependent child to think of, which makes me a mild hostage of too many things. I know my cowardice and actively ponder is it realistic or is it an untenable compromise. If not me saying stop, who? If not me saying stop now, when?

    Not being part of the solution, does make you part of the problem. This marvelous young man has done a brave yet small thing. The older I get, the more I realize that bravery is best served small. If it could go viral — become something normal and done — if enough brave young creatures could shield me and my child, I would join them. For now, as I have for almost ten years, I avoid the airlines and drive or take the train. My protest is a silent lack of interaction. I’d prefer to go make salt with Gandhi.

  • The biggest and best thing we can do to prevent terrorist attacks on our airplanes is to stop killing innocents in other countries on a daily basis.
    The 9/11 hijackers did not attack because they hat eour freedoms, they attacked because of US global dominance and militarism. We will always be a target as long as our foreign policy remains that of violent dominance over other cultures.
    The risk of terrorism is increased since the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions and occupations began. As we go about drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen the threat increases further.
    You want to reduce terrorism? Stop participating in it.

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