“Honestly, I don’t really remember.”

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When I was traveling to Jacksonville, Fla. for the Nullify Now! event, I posted the following on my Facebook page.

“At CVG. Words don’t exist to describe my disdain for the TSA. On a positive note, we are safe from the blind lady and her seeing-eye dog.”

I think my loathing of TSA stems from the fact that it is probably the most “in your face” encounter I have with overreaching federal power. I know other unconstitutional acts engaged in by the fed probably have more of a detrimental impact on my day-to-day life. But when I am queued up in my stocking feet wondering if I should choose a grope or a scan, it brings unconstitutional federal power right out in the open.

It also probably has something to do with my love of aviation. Flight has always fascinated me. I worked six years in the airline industry, and I thoroughly enjoy air travel. I’m like a kid at the playground when I get to the airport. I just love it – except for the “security.”

On my way home, I was just cranky and annoyed enough to voice my displeasure. I was putting my shoes back on when a TSA agent walked past. I beckoned him over.

“Do you guys swear an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution?” I asked.

He seemed a little taken aback by the question, and asked me what I meant. Then he asked, “What are you getting at?”

I simply repeated my query.

“When you take on the role of TSA agent – when you take on this job – do you swear an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution like other federal employees?

“Honestly, I don’t really remember.”

I was stunned. You don’t remember??? How do you not remember an oath?

In fact, TSA agents DO swear an oath.

I, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

And he doesn’t remember.

I suppose it’s fitting, because he certainly doesn’t live by the oath he swore. Sadder still, he went on to tell me he was in the Navy and he did swear an oath when he enlisted. It didn’t seem to mean much more to him than the oath he swore that he doesn’t remember.

We talked for about 10 minutes. I tried to explain my objection to federal airport security, pointing out the lack of constitutional authority in Article 1 Sec. 8. Congress simply has no enumerated power to set up a Transportation Security Administration. Not to mention the Fourth Amendment ramifications. He looked at me like I was from Mars. It was clear he had no clue what Article 1 Sec. 8 says. He swore an oath to uphold a Constitution that he likely never read. He rambled about the Constitution being “outdated,” citing the fact that “the Second Amendment was written during the time of flintlocks.” I reminded him that while technology has certainly changed, the principle remains timeless. Then he tried to sell me on his desire to protect me. I told him better ways had to exist. Oddly, he didn’t argue. Instead, he proceeded to change the subject, going into a short diatribe about teachers’ pay compared to pro athletes and how our country’s priorities are screwed up.

I finally realized I was getting nowhere. I shook his hand and headed for my gate, passing another gaggle of agents heading over to perform secondary gate checks. All I can really say for the man is that he was polite and seemed genuinely interested in hearing me out.

Funny thing, many people hold federal agents in high esteem. We dress them in nice uniforms, sew a badge on their chest, and the public genuflects in reverence.


Granted, the guy I talked with didn’t appear evil. In fact, he was a pretty friendly feller, and probably a decent human being at heart. But with federal power behind him, he does an abhorrent thing. He violates the natural rights of American citizens day after day. And he turns his back on an oath he swore before God. Centralized power can move normal, decent folks to do terrible things. Ask the Jews who lived in Germany in the 1930s. Or the Ukrainians who lived under Stalin. Or Japanese-Americans who watched WWII through a fence.

Earlier this week, we once again saw how low people stoop when hiding behind a badge and the power it represents. A TSA agent at New Jersey’s Newark Airport spotted a sex toy in a passenger’s checked bag during a search and thought it a good idea to leave her a little note.

“Get your freak on girl.”




Sometimes people tell me I overreact. I should just lay off it. Accept it. Don’t make waves. But if I accept this, what will they force on me next? TSA searches on the highways?

I can’t help but think of the words of Frederick Douglass every time I approach the dreaded TSA checkpoint.

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”

Get your freak on girl.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center.  He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky.  See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He also maintains the blog, Tenther Gleanings.


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