"It's Such A Fine Line Between Stupid And Clever"
And the Transportation Security Administration is doubling down on the Stupid.
From commenter Scott Jacobs: The TSA has followed up on its threats against John Tyner, the man behind the "Don't Touch My Junk" video that brought a long-simmering public resentment against the TSA to a boil. Now he's threatened with prosecution.
The Transportation Security Administration has opened an investigation targeting John Tyner, the Oceanside man who left Lindbergh Field under duress on Saturday morning after refusing to undertake a full body scan.
Tyner recorded the half-hour long encounter on his cell phone and later posted it to his personal blog, along with an extensive account of the incident. The blog went viral, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers and thousands of comments.
Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a news conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. He said the investigation could lead to prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000.
The question of "selective prosecution" is frequently raised by ignorant criminal defendants. "They prosecuted me for possession of marijuana because I'm an outspoken advocate for legalization. All the guys at Freddie's Head Shop will tell you so."
But Tyner could make a case of it. There is absolutely no question that Michael J. Aguilar, the head of the Transportation Security Agency in San Diego, would not know Tyner's name, much less be raising the prospect of a $10,000.00 $11,000.00 fine against Tyner if Tyner's "Don't Touch My Junk" video hadn't gone viral. Tyner is being threatened for exercising his constitutional right to free speech.
You may wish to write something like this:
I was distressed to read that the Transportation Security Administration chief in San Diego, Michael Aguilar, announced during a press conference on Monday that his office was opening an investigation of John Tyner, the man who recorded a video of his refusal to walk through a San Diego airport body scanner, then refusing an intrusive search in which a TSA agent would bring hands into contact with Mr. Tyner's genital areas. (You may be aware of this video under its popular name, "Don't touch my junk.")
While there is debate about the safety of full body scanners recently deployed at airports as a reaction to the "underwear bomber" and the British bombers who attempted to disguise explosive chemicals as shampoo, is there any debate that law-abiding Americans such as Mr. Tyner, who simply shot a cell phone video of his interaction with TSA agents concerning his unwillingness to endure a search not much different from that undergone by new jail inmates, should not face government investigation and the threat of prosecution for engaging in free speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution?
I think not. As an American citizen, and your constituent, I am concerned when government agents abuse their power to threaten citizens for lawful behavior. If Mister Aguilar is unable to control himself (over a simple embarrassment revealing a problem anyone who flies frequently would complain about), someone with real authority must control him. Won't you please exercise your authority? If not by oversight, then by contacting Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder to share these concerns? I hope that we both agree that, even if Mr. Tyner's words were vulgar, his refusal to submit to the scan and refusal to endure the search were legal. After all, he did not board the flight; he left the airport instead. He should not be threatened with prosecution and a fine of $11,000.00 (in Mr. Aguilar's words) for exercising a citizen's right to free speech in a free country.
Mr. Aguilar, who has no authority to prosecute anyone (that is a decision for the Justice Department) seems to be abusing his power to get revenge against a citizen who embarrassed his office. The threat of prosecution in and of itself can be used to chill free speech. I hope that you agree with me. Please contact Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder with our shared concerns about a rogue TSA office and its disregard of the Constitution.
Be sure to let them know, politely, that you're a constituent and you vote.
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