Ron Paul: Why Sacrifice our Liberties for the Illusion of Perfect Safety?

Ron Paul returned to CNN to debate Homeland Security advisor Fran Townsend on TSA’s abusive pat-downs and body scans.

Date: 11/23/2010


News Anchor: Well, between body scans and frisking, airport screeners have touched a nerve among the travelling public. The result an uproar over pat-downs. Joining me here is CNN’s national security contributor, Frances Townsend. She was the Homeland Security advisor to President George Bush, and serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Board. And from Texas, via Skype, Republican Congressman, Ron Paul. Thank you so much, both of you, for joining us here in the situation room.

I want to start off with you, congressman. The TSA has put an announcement out for travelers who are traveling over the holiday weekend, saying if you have to have one of those enhanced pat-downs, it would take place in a private area and that they could be accompanied by somebody to watch what was actually happening, what was taking place. Does that give you any comfort in thinking that perhaps people would not feel as violated, as disturbed, by that intimate process?

Ron Paul: Well, I think they should feel violated, all you have to do is look at some of those pictures. And the people are outraged over it, and they’re not feeling safer because of it, they just feel like the government has overstepped their bounds. They don’t want to be x-rayed, there are still some questions about those x-rays, there are questions about malfunctions of the x-rays. And there’s no evidence that this is going to make anybody any safer. And actually, there have been some pretty good bomb experts that actually testified that the bomb from the underwear bomber, the material he had, he had a long way to go before he would have ever been able to explode something. And yet I would say – and this is understatement – that we have overreacted to what happened over a year ago.

News Anchor: Fran, you understand security intimately from the ground up. But tell us, does this make a difference here? Is the congressman right when he says this really doesn’t matter?

Frances Townsend: No, I mean let’s be clear. The same bomb-maker who made the Christmas day Detroit attempted bomb, the guy with the bomb in his underwear was the same one who was behind these most recent packages coming out of Yemen. He’s a sophisticated bomb-maker, and the government is rightly worried because if he adapts, they may not be able to catch him. And so while there have been many problems with the way the government’s gone about explaining what they’re doing and training their employees to do it properly, let’s be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. That is, we do have to be very careful during periods of increased threats to make sure that we’re appropriately screening. Now I think the government understands they haven’t gone about this very well, and John Pistole went out on Sunday and issued a statement saying they’re going to be mindful to try to be as least intrusive as possible. I think they have a long way to go to convince the American people this is right. But what we don’t want to do is intimidate them into not doing it at all.

News Anchor: Congressman, you’re shaking your head. Why?

Ron Paul: Well, you know, we’re dealing with a created problem, it’s a manufactured problem. I mean, we got to look at it with the proper perspective. First, you can’t have perfect safety. And another thing is, the odds of any person in this country getting killed by a terrorist is less than getting struck by lightning. I mean, just think in the last ten years things have done pretty well because they put a gun in the cockpit and they locked the door. But to destroy our liberties, throw away the constitution, don’t care about the Fourth Amendment and cavelierly say, “Oh well, the people want to be safe, it’s good to sacrifice our liberties”, and on and on. But, you know, there’s no going back on this. The government gets away with a lot. They won’t pay attention to all the killing going on overseas, they get confused about the financial crisis. But I’ll tell you what, this prodding … the people have had it and they’re not going to put up with it. I think it’s a great issue to call the attention to the American people how abusive our government is. They’re supposed to protect our liberties; they’re not supposed to be engaged in destroying our liberties.

News Anchor: Frances, those are pretty serious accusations.

Frances Townsend: Well, Susan, let’s be clear. The congressman says that this is a manufactured problem. It’s a problem manufactured by our enemies and Al-Qaida who have been trying to blow up the airplanes, whether it’s in the cargo or in the passenger department.

Ron Paul: Why? Why do they want to come after us?

Frances Townsend: I don’t really care. If I’m flying on a plane I want to be safe.

Ron Paul: Ha ha ha, you got to ask that, and that’s why we’re not getting anywhere. You got to find out why. You know we’re over there fighting a war against the Taliban. The Taliban are not even part of the Al-Qaida, but we’re spending trillion dollars trying to kill Taliban creating more Al-Qaida. If you don’t ask that question, you can’t solve this problem.

Frances Townsend: The Taliban is very closely aligned to the Al-Qaida and to their methods in terms of attacking and targeting the United States. Look, when I say that I don’t care, the fact of the matter is that we have to be clear that Al-Qaida is obsessed with aviation, they want to target it, and they want to kill Americans. And so the government has an obligation to act against that.

News Anchor: Congressman, you were talking about the constitution ..

Ron Paul: Why should we get watched without our clothes on then? That’s what you’re doing. The kids are having to take their clothes off. Why does a woman have to remove her breast implant in order for somebody to be guaranteed that she’s not a bomber? This is insanity, this is not logic.

News Anchor: Congressman, let Frances respond, please. Frances, go ahead.

Frances Townsend: I agree with the congressman, Susan, that those examples that he sights are egregious, and what we hope is that those are the exceptions. And TSA has got a responsibly to ensure those are the exceptions, and that actions are taken against the most egregious violations that are not consistent with their own policies. They’ve got to be sure that people are appropriately trained and that these searches are not an opportunity for abuse. So he and I are in agreement on that; the government has a very severe responsibly to ensure that.

News Anchor: I’m going to have to leave it at that. Congressman Ron Paul, I appreciate your time as well as Frances Townsend’s. And we want to let our viewers know that we will be able to speak with the head of the TSA, John Pistole, very shortly after this break.

  • TerrorWarrior5000

    Ron Paul? More like Ron Buttfart!


  • sy2pie

    Ron Paul wins…

  • gramosjr7

    What will happen to you when you die? Have you ever told lies, stolen, used God’s name in vain? If yes, then you are a liar, theif, and a blasphemer. When you die & stand before God you’ll be guilty of breaking His law. The bible says you’ll end up in Hell! But God sent God his Son Jesus to die on a cross for your sins, & He rose from the dead on the third day. If you’ll believe the Gospel(Jesus died for your sins & was resurrected) for the forgiveness of your sins, you’ll have eternal life!

  • Lorenzo2468

    Maybe when a terrorist puts a bomb up his cock the TSA will blow you before you can board a plane.

  • GameStopNY

    Ron Paul tears everyone up in debates. LOL made my day!

  • IntenseExisting

    Ron needs a good dose of reality

  • mattius83

    Ron Paul is such a gem, and breathes a breath of common sense every time he speaks. I made a video that I know would make Congressman Paul proud. Although I would be honored if he watched it, I would be equally proud if his supporters viewed it.
    Watch it here:

  • MrWakethesheeple

    If you are not with Ron Paul on these issues you are a traitor against the United States. Take a hard look in the mirror.

  • Vertigo2903

    Our government is out of control

  • czubspenx

    This woman does not believe in the Constitution aka reasonable search, probable cause, etc. Why would anybody support this woman’s position. All she is, is a paid mouth piece. She’s paid to take a certain stance. If she lost her job tomorrow and was paid by some group to now uphold the Constitution, she would say what she was told to say. Ron Paul is always Ron Paul, year in year out, decade in decade out.

  • waluum

    4:15 …
    Ron Paul: “Why? Why do they want to come after us?”
    Fran Townsend: “I don’t really care why. If I’m flying on a plane I want to be safe.”

    …this woman was the Homeland Security Advisor to Bush? What was Bush thinking? How did she qualify?

  • TheWayha

    When all the attempted bombers seem to have CIA handlers and with so many questions being asked about CIAs involvement with 911 I tend to think your screening the wrong people. This is hog wash and I’m not pleased that my money is being spent this way. All government actions must be challenged with the Constitution. We need to challenge our judges first then bring criminals to court. Enough is enough.

    • Libertarian777

      isn’t it funny how the double agent who killed I think it was 7 CIA agents in Afghanistan, is in a war zone and was allowed to get within killing distance of 7 important agents.

      They don’t pat down double agents in a war zone but they pat down 5 year old kids here.

      What’s wrong with this picture?

  • NoBailout4Banksters

    Must be a TSA agent voted thumbs down since there was only one.

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    Dr. Ron Paul 2012

    “Only a Doctor Will Heal Our Country”

  • Pandorum4000


  • CartoonPoem

    Ron Paul OWNS!

  • markusgp

    Right on! I wish he had talked about the mastermind of those bomb plots having dinner at the pentagon after 9/11 and she her angry bitch face turning green

  • maradona2

    Lol dumb bitch, the terrorist can attack anywhere they want to, a mall, train, streets, buildings. So should we be searched everywhere we go? Or is there a terrorist handbook that says “It’s more comfortable and safe to commit suicide in an airplane”?

  • sizmike

    Ron Paul OWNZ those neocon bitches

    Ron Paul 2012 !

  • nedmorlef

    when americans are violated by the gov’t and it gets out in the media, the first response is always…”those are exceptions” . we’ve heard this with every slaughter of the drug war too.

  • nedmorlef

    we’re fighting a politically correct war. that’s not fighting to win. On the flip side we the ppl are giving up our rights for political correctness. Tell them “give up the terrorists or we level the country”. the gov’t is using this as a type of marshal law.