The Obama Administration announced their fiscal year 2010 budget proposal today. Under the administration’s proposal for DHS appropriations, the TSA’s annual budget would increase by more than a billion dollars from 2009 to 2011, with most of that going toward the purchase of “up to 1,000” new virtual strip-search (“Whole Body Imaging” or, in the latest euphemistic language of the budget, “Advanced Imaging Technology”) machines.
Up to a point, it was possible to argue that the TSA was still being operated on auto-pilot by holdovers from the previous administration — as indeed it still is. But the President has had plenty of time in the year since his inauguration to clean house, to put someone new in charge, or simply to give the legacy administrators new marching orders (for which we gave his transition team an explicit itemized blueprint to bring the TSA within the rule of law).
The President’s budget makes clear his deliberate choice to identify his Administration with, and to perpetuate and expand, the TSA’s culture of disregard for civil liberties, human rights, or judicial accountability. It also makes clear the need for Americans who oppose that march toward the abyss to let their members of Congress and the Senate know how they feel about being inspected by virtual voyeurs who themselves are protected from public view in a private back room, and then being groped, if they are wearing a sanitary napkin or a padded bra or anything else underneath their clothes, every time they want to exercise their right to move about the country.