Pilot Suing TSA, Homeland Security Over New Airport Screening Procedures

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 17, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Despite the growing protests the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security continue to stand by their invasive scanners and pat-downs at the airports. Now earlier today TSA administrator John Pistole was on Capitol Hill defending these new procedures.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I must admit I get the impression that you're expressing your understanding. I'm thinking nothing is going to change.

JOHN PISTOLE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, so if your question is, do I understand the sensitivities of people? Yes. If you're asking, am I going to change the policies? No. Because I think that is what being informed by the latest intelligence, the latest efforts by terrorists that kill our people in the air.

No, I'm not going to change those policies.


HANNITY: Now it's just not passengers who are outraged. A growing number of airline pilots are also just as upset and some are not going to stand for it any more.

And joining me now is Michael Roberts. He is one of two commercial airline pilots who are suing the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA, claiming the new procedures violate their constitution rights.

His lawyer John Whitehead from the Rutherford Institute is also here.

Guys, welcome aboard.

John, why don't you tell us about the lawsuit.

JOHN WHITEHEAD, THE RUTHERFORD INSTITUTE: Well, it's a 4th Amendment lawsuit. Under our Constitution, the 4th Amendment protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures.

In this country we've never allowed any kind of government agents, whether it'd be police or people that work for the government to conduct full body strip searches which is what the body scanners do, or pat-downs unless there's some kind suspicion of criminal activity.


WHITEHEAD: None of that is available here. So that's exactly what's happening. And the question is, does our Constitution protect us or does it not?

HANNITY: All right. Michael, you and another pilot in separate incidents, you refused to submit to either the full body scan or the enhanced pat-down. Tell us what happened.

MICHAEL ROBERTS, PILOT SUING HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, Sean, it's pretty simple. I was commuting to work in Houston where I'm based. And I was stopped along the way by federal agents. And they wanted to see my penis.

And when I told them that was not OK, they said, all right, it's optional.

HANNITY: Whoa, whoa, wait, wait.


ROBERTS: But we're going to have to put our hands on them, instead.

HANNITY: Wait. Michael, hang on. They wanted to see what?

ROBERTS: You heard me. They wanted -- as John Tyner put it they wanted to see my junk. And I said yes, that's not OK, guys.

HANNITY: Wait. Wait a minute, when you said --


HANNITY: Wait a minute. They wanted to see it?

ROBERTS: Well, that's what those machines do. It's a virtual strip search. The AIT scanners scan your body. They can see whether a man is circumcised or a woman is menstruating. They can see everything.

HANNITY: All right. So you refused -- you have not flown since -- as I understand it -- mid October as a result of this?

ROBERTS: That was the 15th. That's right.

HANNITY: OK. What's -- and the reason given -- do you still have the option to comply?

ROBERTS: Well, yes, I suppose I do.

HANNITY: Yes. But as far as you are saying you will not submit to this in any way?

ROBERTS: Well, no. Like I said, if I don't show it to them, then they -- they insist on touching it. And if I don't let them do either one of those things, then my only option is to go home and that's where I am. I'm at home.

HANNITY: All right. So, John, let's examine the legal -- your legal remedies here and what you think your chances are in court.

WHITEHEAD: Well, I think our chances are good if the rule of law upholds, as the current law is that you can't strip search or do full body frisks. And what Michael is talking about are the frisks they're doing are really invasive. The slide method, they go up and they touch the genitalia or the breasts of women.

We've got hundreds of e-mails across the country from women who are outraged, men as well. So if the Constitution is in operation we should win this case under the 4th Amendment. It guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures.

If we don't stop this at airports, in my opinion?


WHITEHEAD: You're going to see these machines on streets, in front of buildings. I mean it is going to expand. I think the real issue here with Michael Roberts and the case with Ann Poe, the other pilot, is that, are we going to allow a police state to be erected?

This is the first step, folks. We're getting conditioned to accepting a very invasive police state tactics.

HANNITY: All right. As we pointed out in the last segment, and I've been saying now for a couple of days here, Michael, I do not think this is the answer. I think Israel has created a great model that we could follow. And I think that's going to -- that's going to include using our intelligence services far more than we are using now.

And that means profiling in part. And not going after little old ladies in wheelchairs. And I think we're going to use -- we've got to use our limited resources better.

Now here's the dilemma that we face. We definitely want -- when we get on an airplane we want to know we are safe. So you see the problem we have, terrorists want to destroy -- hijack these planes. We saw what happened on 9/11.

What do you think the answer is?

ROBERTS: Well, first of all, we need to understand that what's happening right now in our airports is not safe. And we need to protect ourselves and our children from it.

And as far as the solution, absolutely. Intelligence-based, best practices proven over time. And it needs to be done by the right people. By legitimate professionals who have a vested interest in the quality of the work they're doing. Not politicians and bureaucrats. But actual industry professionals.

HANNITY: You know we had Leann Tweeden on last night. Her husband is an Air Force pilot. And he works for one of the airlines. She had a pretty good line. I mean, you're a pilot. If they can't trust you, you have the ability to take that airplane and crash it.

ROBERTS: That's right. At some point you really do just have to take it on faith. You know I haven't -- I haven't crashed an airplane in the last 4 1/2 years. And now I've been going through that same checkpoint, walking throughout the metal detector. Not setting off any alarms.

I did the same thing on the 15th, by the way. No alarms went off when I went through the metal detector. But they still wanted to -- you know, they still wanted to cop a feel. And -- so it's not about security at all. It's about -- you know, the overreaching arm of the state.

HANNITY: All right. John, what do you think --


HANNITY: -- is the answer?

WHITEHEAD: You make a really -- you make a really good point here. The Israeli security head has said that body scanners are a joke. Do not pick up what's in body cavities. This is where the fuels are stored. They are not safe. They don't use them in the most highly tense airport in the world. They do background checks and interviews and they have well-trained agents.

What I'm seeing in the airports is untrained, poorly trained TSA agents, and they just want to shove --

HANNITY: Well, let me just --

WHITEHEAD: -- people through machines with high doses of radiation.

HANNITY: John, let me -- I got to be honest. I fly a lot and I got to be honest. I've not experienced poorly trained TSA agents. I have -- they have been --

ROBERTS: Wow. Really?

HANNITY: Well, I'm giving you my own flying experience. They have been --

WHITEHEAD: We've seen -- we've got a lot of reports from --

HANNITY: Listen. I think I've been wanded more than anybody. I have not been flying since these enhanced pat-downs. But I have been patted down in the past. They have been extraordinarily professional.

It seems to me they're doing their job. I'm not blaming them.

ROBERTS: It doesn't matter, Sean.

HANNITY: I'm blaming Homeland Security.

ROBERTS: It doesn't make any -- so what? They're professional gropers. They're professional --


ROBERTS: Violating our 4th Amendment rights against --

WHITEHEAD: They're really not trained. The point I'm trying to make is that Israel agents are really trained --

HANNITY: That's the answer.

WHITEHEAD: -- in psychological behavior. I mean behaviorism. These people that work in American airports are not trained properly.


ROBERTS: They follow the rules --

HANNITY: I think the answer is intelligence.

WHITEHEAD: -- experience the full body pat-downs and they are trained to do that.

HANNITY: I agree on that part. All right, guys, thanks for being with us.

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