Jesse Ventura Sues TSA in Pat-Down Smackdown
January 24, 2011
Former governor Jesse Ventura never shied away from a battle during his one term as Minnesota's chief executive.
Now, as a "television performer," as he describes himself in a new lawsuit, the former pro-wrestler is trying to launch a legal smackdown against the agencies that are supposed to protect the flying public.
In a complaint filed Monday morning in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota, Ventura is suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its secretary, Janet Napolitano, as well as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and its administrator, John Pistole.
Ventura accuses the agencies of violating his "basic rights to privacy and dignity, and his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures," after he received a pat-down by a TSA agent at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in November 2010.
Ventura, who said he has a titanium implant after hip replacement surgery in 2008, alleges the pat-down included "warrantless, non-suspicion-based offensive touching, gripping and rubbing of the genital and other sensitive areas of his body," which, the lawsuit contends, met "the definition for an unlawful sexual assault."
Ventura's Minneapolis-based attorney, David Olsen, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this afternoon, "The security procedures are going too far. There's a line somewhere and he believes that line has been crossed."
Olsen said Ventura no longer flies on commercial aviation because he is unwilling to submit to either a pat-down or a full-body scan, putting his job as host of cable television's Conspiracy Theory show, in jeopardy.
"He's made a decision that someone needs to make a stand and he's not one to back down from a fight," said Olsen. "He sees the erosion of civil liberties here and he's willing to stand up not only for himself, but for others."
A T.S.A. spokesperson said the agency "does not comment on pending litigation."
On its website, the T.S.A. says "Pat-downs are one important tool to help T.S.A. detect hidden and dangerous items such as explosives."
A message left at the D.H.S. in Washington, D.C. was not immediately returned.
In 2001, in the days after the September 11th terrorist attacks, then-Governor Ventura said increased scrutiny would be acceptable.
"We're at war and we're at war inside our own country," Ventura said on Sept. 27, 2001, "something we've never seen or heard of before inside the United States of America. I don't think you can be too careful and people are just going to have to accept a little bit of inconvenience."
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."