I am becoming increasingly alarmed at the overtly aggressive, so-called “security measures” our Federal Government is choosing to take. They are in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment, which was added to the Constitution to prevent our Republic from potentially degenerating into a police state and an authoritarian regime. The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The founding fathers created a wise document with great foresight to protect us from moving in this direction. Much of this guidance came from the Bible and its emphasis on individual sovereignty as an important component of the spiritual path toward God. The loss of sovereignty, (also known as slavery or living under state terrorism), is not conducive to spiritual awakening. For these reasons I encourage you to voice your concerns regarding the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) programs that have done over 8,000 searches in our public spaces, including shopping malls, high school proms, bus and train stations; and with plans to do these “screening” attacks on our physical, emotional, and spiritual health and sovereignty with fixed “backscatter X-ray checks at all points of transportation on a permanent basis – unless we collectively say, “No”. Please voice these concerns over the liberties taken by the VIPR and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to your senators and congressmen. Encourage them to protect our rights as expressed through the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The ever-increasing encroachment upon our individual sovereignty in the name of “security” is slowly becoming a form of state terrorism for the suppression of its citizens under the guise of protection. If we do not use our voice today, we may find ourselves without voice tomorrow. This message is not so much of a political statement, as it comes from a holistic health perspective that says the support and protection of the 4th Amendment is important for our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and evolution. Below is an open letter that I have written to my Arizona congresswoman and senators.
Peace Be With You,
Dear Senator McCain, Senator Kyle, and Congresswoman Giffords,
I am writing today to express my concern over what appears to be an intentional erosion of 4th Amendment rights under the guise of “national security”. I am specifically concerned over the expanding programs of the VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) at airports. The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The preservation of these rights is more important than questionably effective “security” measures. As a frequent traveler and as a rabbi, physician and psychiatrist, I am becoming increasingly alarmed at both the hyper-vigilance of security teams and the growing acceptance of “ritualized humiliation” of the average American as normal. This normalization of pat-downs, cavity searches, nude X-ray devices, and an overall climate of suspicion is all part of this slow boil that is slowly taking away the liberties and unalienable rights provided us by our constitution. There is a reason we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights. It is to protect our inalienable human rights. Our founding fathers understood the seduction of humans toward power and control.
For comparative reference, one of my patients, who lived in Russia until 1979 under the full communist regime 30 years ago, underwent persecution there and has now lived in the U.S. for 30 years, pointed out to me that the U.S. has become far more a police state than Russia ever was. That is a shocking reflection on the situation at hand. People come to my rejuvenation center from over 103 nations and all 50 states, and I am hearing a continual increase in complaints about the TSA, and how my clients are reluctant to fly to Arizona (or actually anywhere). This is bad for my business and bad for the growing health-based economy that Arizona is expanding into.
In 2009 the VIPR cost American taxpayers $30 million to continue this assault by instituting 25 teams of agents, to which they would add 12 more teams in 2012. This will bring VIPR’s operating budget to $110 million. With this money, VIPR will turn TSA into a national-security, counterterrorism organization”, which sounds good in theory, to protect our security, but not at the cost of giving up or 4th Amendment rights and our freedoms, which offer a quality of life guaranteed by the Constitution for a rather questionable security operation by the VIPR, which targets all Americans rather than selectively looking for potential terrorists. (Comparatively, the system currently used in Israel, which selectively screens for potential terrorists, has proven to be much more effective.) These general measures create “insecurity” and also a lack of faith in the intentions of the present government. In other words, there is a growing national presence in our everyday lives that is functionally “terroristic”.
TSA’s methods are chaotic, dangerous, and ineffective when compared with the security measures taken by other countries, such as Israel, who have made excellent use of dogs for detecting bombs and drugs, and selective focus on those with terrorist profiles. I am not against all reasonable security measures such as the Border Patrol, with whom we work in close cooperation, as we are 20 miles from the Mexican border. Border Control is essential in these times, and it is important to prevent these random terrorism situations from arising by increasing border security. Moreover, the TSA uses pre-backscatter security methods with thoughtfulness and sensitivity at our local Tucson Airport which is greatly appreciated. There is a need for thoughtful and sensitive security measures at our airports and borders.
The VIPR, on the other hand, operates in complete violation of this fundamental right, while justifying their actions as “reasonable”. While VIPR’s intent to secure “soft targets” like stadiums, shopping malls, and subways could be viewed as superficially admirable, their rationale that “because terrorism may strike anywhere, we should search anywhere” is, at best, unreasonable and, at worst, an extreme infringement on our rights as U.S. citizens. Thus far there have been nearly 8,000 of these team invasions, resulting in no terrorism-related arrests, serving instead to harass and humiliate the population.
The VIPR appears to serve as a theatrical security front for an incremental ratcheting-up of intrusive teams and searches, creating a climate where TSA’s activities become normalized, while desensitizing the general populace to an ever-expanding authoritarian, police state regime. Our Constitution and Bill or Rights are at risk, and I would ask you to defend them by voting against any further violation of our rights and by voting in favor of laws that reinforce the intentions of the Fourth Amendment, and protect from any expansion of VIPR and TSA in general.
Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, MD, MD(H), DD
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