Sign says vehicles “will be searched by uniformed security”
Paul Joseph Watson
December 3, 2013
TSA-approved warrantless searches of vehicles parked outside airports are being expanded, with a photograph taken at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport informing Thanksgiving travelers that all vehicles belonging to AmeriPark customers “will be searched by uniformed security.”
The policy, which first came to light earlier this summer after complaints from people who found notes inside their car which read, “your vehicle has been inspected under TSA regulations,” continues to cause confusion and stoke concern amongst privacy advocates.
When the story first broke, the TSA was keen to deflect responsibility by explaining that although, “the plan is approved by the TSA, it is up to each airport authority and its state and local law enforcement partners to follow the plan that has been implemented.”
The sign above, originally posted by Young Americans For Liberty, suggests that airport uniformed security guards are responsible for carrying out the searches at Birmingham International, not valet parking staff. The image was taken on November 27, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the busiest travel days of the year.
At some airports the searches are also being conducted with customers receiving no notification whatsoever.
“I was inside paying my bill. I looked through the window and saw this gentleman looking through my trunk,” said Michelle Zevola, who used the Curbside Valet Service at Charlotte Douglas Airport. “He was moving things around, shining a flashlight, going through the compartments. I am so fine being searched at the airport. It’s about safety. But I am not fine with my personal property being searched without permission or notification,” added Zevola.
“There is no posted signage at the valet stand or around the airport that indicates cars left with curbside service will be searched. There is also no warning on the back of the valet ticket,” reported NBC Charlotte. Deputy Aviation Director Jack Christine admitted that the searches had been taking place for a year and half without any signage or notification.
Under the guidelines, the person performing the search, whether that be a valet parking employee or a “unformed security” guard, is instructed to check the trunk, the engine as well as scan inside the car.
The policy represents a clear violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, which protects Americans against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” although TSA officials have justified the measures as necessary “to keep you and your family safe at the airport.”
Critics have lambasted the TSA and airports who enforce the policy for entrusting searches of vehicles to valet parking attendants, who wouldn’t normally be considered to be highly trained in bomb detection skills.
“Take note of that, America. Your safety can only be guaranteed by a search of valet-parked vehicles, but not by a trained agent,” wrote TechDirt’s Tim Cushing. “Instead, your valet will do a brief search of your vehicle to ensure there’s nothing inside the cabin, trunk or under the hood that looks like a bomb. (Like, for instance, a bundle of wires and some other stuff with a post-it attached saying, “NOT A BOMB.”)”
Another traveler who complained that her car had been searched with zero notice was Laurie Iacuzza, who said she was “furious” that airport personnel rifled through her vehicle without permission.