My name is Michael Roberts. On October 15 2010, I was prevented by agents of the Transportation Security Administration and airport police from entering the terminal area of Memphis International Airport as I attempted to report for my commute to Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport. I was scheduled to begin flying a trip there as a professional airline pilot. Not inclined or willing to undergo the virtual strip searching procedures that had just been implemented in Memphis, and which are now being rolled out in airports throughout the country, I was told after I passed through the regular pulse induction metal detector (without triggering an alert) that my refusal to reveal nude images of my body to federal airport security agents had provoked the secondary screening protocol. This meant I must submit to being physically frisked, to include contact with my crotch, buttocks, as well as the rest of my body before I would be allowed to pass to my gate of departure. I informed the agents that this was not acceptable to me and, after a lengthy and outrageous ordeal, permitted to leave the airport.
I knew that day was coming. Last summer, TSA announced the policy changes requiring that all travelers be handled this way when entering those airports where the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) devices had been installed. On July 13, my company informed crew members of the TSA’s announcement in an internal memo. After careful consideration and research, fellow pilots and I sent a letter to our management (read it here) informing them of our disapproval of the new rules and notifying the company that we do not consent to the AIT screening procedures or regard the frisking ‘option’, so-called, as a reasonable alternative. As I have done with everything else that has transpired since, I published that letter – albeit to little avail at the time – as I understand and take seriously my role and responsibility as a beneficiary of the public trust.
Immediately following my experience on October 15 in Memphis, I recorded the details (see here) while they remained fresh in my mind and published them as well. I suppose the rest is history in the making. I’ve been surprised, humbled, and overwhelmed by the massive response this has received and urge every American to carefully consider the legacy we will leave to those who come after us, and whether we ourselves will honor our many forebears who’ve sacrificed far more than their careers or the convenience of air travel for the cause of liberty.
Likewise, I implore other freedom loving people across the planet to resist the tide of tyranny that is rising throughout the world. Those who are responsible for these things, being driven by nothing more than their own greed and lust for power, cannot succeed without popular consent. We must not give it to them.
Michael S. Roberts
Update: On November 4, Continental Airlines Boeing 777 pilot Ann Poe had a nearly identical experience to my own as she attempted to commute to Newark from her home in Ft. Lauderdale (read about it here). On November 16 she and I, represented by the Rutherford Institute, filed a Fourth Amendment lawsuit in federal court against Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and John Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Agency. The purpose of the suit is to restore the natural rights and liberty guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution for all law-abiding citizens.
Another pilot, First Officer Howard Pinkham of US Airways, today also published his story of how he was so affected by the government’s abuse at a security checkpoint in Phoenix that he declared himself unfit to fly, causing his flight to cancel. Read his story at: PHX – 10/30/10 – Pilot Howard Pinkham. Mr. Pinkham has also obtained legal representation with the Rutherford Institute.
A number of other professional flight and cabin crew members have had similar experiences in recent days, to say nothing of the countless other patrons of the air transportation system who are daily being subjected to the state’s authoritarian crimes.
Airline crew members please see the Crew page, and feel free to contact us any time. Please understand that our in-boxes are extremely full, but if your situation is urgent make it clear in the subject header of your email or state the urgency early in your voice mail and we will make every effort to respond accordingly.
Our position is simple:
Citizens of a free society must not tolerate attempts by government security agents to see beneath their clothing or lay hands upon them without probable cause.
Such acts are inconsistent with the undergirding principles of a free and virtuous society. Federal sanction does not and cannot negate the criminal nature and design of such acts. These despotic overtures violate Natural Law and are expressly prohibited by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
To be sure, there are many issues which rightly factor into the discussion and debate surrounding this matter. There is no justification, however, for abrogating the basic right of the people to be secure in their persons against the unreasonable search and seizure currently being perpetrated by an ambitious, rogue state which stands in clear and brazen violation of the public trust.