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HLSS508 Transportation Security and Civil Liberties Discussion

Responses should be a minimum of 250 words and include direct questions. You may challenge, support or supplement another student’s answer using the terms, concepts and theories from the required readings. Also, do not be afraid to respectfully disagree where you feel appropriate; as this should be part of your analysis process at this academic level.

Respond to Patrick,

Transportation Security and Civil Liberties

This week we discuss a different topic and yet face a similar debate comparable to freedom and security, bioterrorism and civil liberties, and critical infrastructure protection and civil liberties. Also similarly to the other discussions, there is no effective answer that can alleviate the balance of those who feel their civil liberties are being infringed upon by TSA security measures. The government has the responsibility of protecting its citizens and the current security measures are the only way they know how to address such a task. Even with the current measures, “absolute security can never be achieved, and experts caution against extreme security measures, which they say would disrupt how transportation systems function while offering no guarantee against attack” (Kaplan, 2007, para. 2). For a majority of travelers, the security checks, scans, or documents needed is an inconvenience but in reality, they are eroding the right to travel and privacy.

The Right to Travel

The right to travel is a fundamental right inherent to citizens which is well established in America’s history. The right to travel was taken from English law and then established in America through the Articles of Confederation. (Sobel & Torres, 2013). “The Articles’ explicit travel right was so fundamental and originally implicit that the subsequent parallel article in the U.S Constitution needed not spell it out explicitly” (Sobel & Torres, 2013, p.15). The freedom of travel is a guaranteed personal liberty that allows citizens to pursue their lives accordingly as they see fit and emplacing security obstacles is tricky territory. Some obstacles citizens must overcome to exercise their right include the security checks, scans, and valid identification. Body scanning and pat downs can be considered invasive searchers which violates the Fourth Amendment (Sobel & Torres, 2013)

Screening Programs

In addition to physical screening using body scans, baggage checks, and pat downs, there is prescreening programs. The first prescreening program, Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) was introduced in 1998. In 2003 the TSA wanted to expand the program but it was terminated in 2004 out of civil liberty concerns (Sobel & Torres, 2013). The Global Entry program was established in 2008 and was designed to expedite screening for pre-approved members. A similar program to CAPPS, Secure Flight, was implemented in 2009 and receives the same concern about civil liberties and due process (Sobel & Torres, 2013).

Screening Security and Civil Freedoms

Safeguarding the nation from future terrorist attacks is one of the most complex problems our modern society is facing. With advancing technology it can be possible to implement measures that do no push aside basic civil freedoms but this also means terrorists can have access to new technology. “Security experts suggest an element of randomness could help thwart terrorist plots by presenting a dynamic target” (Kaplan, 2007, para. 6). This makes sense since absolute security cannot be achieved and security protocols shouldn’t be predictable. If security cannot be achieved then some would argue the current obstacles only hinder the traveler and their civil rights. Looking from a broader perspective, civil rights are at risk but what else can be done to enhance security?


Kaplan, E. (2007). Rail Security and the Terrorist Threat. Retrieved from: Council on Foreign Relations: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/rail-security-and…

Sobel, R., & Torres, R. L. (2013). The Right to travel: A Fundamental right of citizenship. Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics, and Policy, 80(1), 13-47. Retrieved from: https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docv…

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