Wes Benedict’s Speech at TSA Full-Body Scanner Conference

Given at "The Stripping of Freedom: A Careful Scan of TSA Security Procedures"
January 6, 2011
Carnegie Institute for Sciences, 1530 P Street NW, Washington, DC

I’d like to thank the Electronic Privacy Information Center for putting together this conference and for pulling together a diverse group of panelists.

My name is Wes Benedict. I’m the Executive Director of the Libertarian National Committee. Libertarians stand for free markets and civil liberties.

The Libertarian Party strongly opposes the full-body scanners program.

I recognize that different groups oppose these scanners for different reasons.

Ralph Nader has always been a strong consumer safety advocate. He often sees a role for government in providing safety.

Libertarians would like to see the government do less.

When Libertarians and Ralph Nader agree a program is bad…it’s time for our government to listen.

I’m glad we have a Congressman or two participating today. I wish more Republicans and Democrats took our Constitution and Bill of Rights seriously.

The Transportation Security administration is rapidly rolling out a program at our airports where you have to choose between getting a full-body scan where TSA agents can see an image of you nude, or getting an intrusive pat down like a criminal.

We’ll hear from aviation and security experts that the scanners don’t do any good. Republicans serious about cutting wasteful spending should take a look at cutting this full-body scanner program.

Democrats talk about defending civil liberties. These scanners are an invasion of privacy and intrude on our civil liberties.

We should not treat every American who wants to fly on an airplane like a potential terrorist. Government is supposed to protect our rights, not take them away.

This is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. I often wonder if Osama Bin Laden is laughing at us while our own government terrifies us.

The TSA wants to use machines to see us naked before we get on an airplane, but if you don’t want to be seen naked then you can get patted down like a criminal and felt up instead. When is enough enough?

Terrorists win by tricking us into letting our government overreact and trample on our rights and waste our money.

You’ll hear from experts today who will show that these full body scanners do nothing to make us safer. That’s why we call this "security theater." It’s just the government putting on a show for us by making it look like it’s doing something, even though it doesn’t do any real good.

This is a perfect example of a solution that is worse than doing nothing at all.

I want to know which corporations, and which lobbyists are making how much money off of this wasteful program.

I wish more Congressmen had the guts to put a stop to this program.  I’m hopeful that this conference will help inform and rally Americans to put pressure on our government to put an end to this wasteful insulting program.

Let’s not forget the root cause of our situation. Our government’s intervention into the foreign affairs of other countries inspires terrorists. These full-body scanners are a bad reaction to an unnecessary situation.  While we can’t undo what we’ve already done, we can stop it, and we can control our own reaction.

What would Libertarians do about airline security?

Many airlines are probably glad to have the federal government take responsibility for security. But it’s the airlines who ought to be responsible, and they should bear the liability for what happens on their flights. Rather than have a one-size-fits-all approach imposed by the government, passengers and airlines should be free to work together to determine what methods and levels of security fit their needs best.

Since we don’t have a Libertarian free market for aviation security yet, let’s at least stop the worst abuses of our civil liberties, and the wasteful spending for these full-body scanners.

The Libertarian Party has more information on our website, LP.org.

Once again, I’d like to thank the organizers of this event and the other panelists.

Working together, I’m hopeful that we can get rid of these worthless, wasteful, abusive full-body scanners at our airports, and stop them before they start showing up at other places too.