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Message Jim Hightower
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Wasn't it great in the holiday season to enjoy friends, family, good meals... and, of course, being radiated or groped at the airport security line.

Authorities have spent billions of our tax dollars on airport technology and agents, supposedly to catch terrorists. But the system amounts to a governmental intrusion that is based on a fundamentally un-American presumption: you are guilty until you proven innocent. The founders -- who faced the terrorists of their day -- would upchuck at out leaders' willingness to so meekly sacrifice the basic right of the presumption of innocence.

And how do you prove you are NOT a fiendish terrorists hellbent on destroying America? By meekly surrendering the very freedoms that the authorities say actual terrorists want to take from us. First, remove your shoes -- a mass bowing-down gesture that must cause terrorists to giggle with fervent delight.

Now, though, we must also submit either to being groped or to having a radiation scan that lets agents peek beneath your skivvies. The scan, appropriately enough, requires you to raise both hands in the surrender position.

The authoritarians and their apologists bark that liberty is a privilege that must be sacrificed for security. As one writer of a letter-to-the-editor put it: "I say scan away and grope away if that makes flying safer." Well, sir, that turns out to be a mighty big "if."

The chief flaw in our present technology-based security scheme is that it doesn't do any good. Hundreds of millions of passengers have been searched, and the system has yet to catch even one terrorist. In fact, the few would-be terrorists who've even attempted an airplane assault were hapless nincompoops who were not deterred by our vast security system, but were brought down by their own incompetence or by alert passengers.

How long will Lady Liberty be forced to bow down to autocratic government rules that aren't working?

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Jim Hightower is an American populist, spreading his message of democratic hope via national radio commentaries, columns, books, his award-winning monthly newsletter (The Hightower Lowdown) and barnstorming tours all across America.

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