TSA Is Making Airport Valets Search Your Trunk
Mother Jones has found that not only does TSA approve searches of the trunks and interior of unattended cars in an undefined perimeter that’s considered dangerously close to the airport—like a car left with valet parking—but if a valet attendant finds illegal drugs instead of bombs, they will call the police. Privacy experts say these searches could be a violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights.
“We search every car, we open the trunk and take a look around,” says Saour Merwan, a keymaster at the valet service at San Diego International Airport. “We were told by airport authority to do that, since about two years ago. [We] keep an eye out for something suspicious, like wires and cables. The airport has security regulations and we have to follow them.” Merwan says the service doesn’t inform anyone that they’re checking out the inside of the vehicles, and when asked what he’d do if he found illegal drugs, he says, “Of course we’d call the police.”
“This is exactly what the Fourth Amendment was designed to say the government can’t do, generally search everything without suspicion,” says Fred H. Cate, a professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. “At the same time, the Supreme Court has made an exception to searching items that you’ve voluntarily given to someone else—like a car. It’s a crazy argument, but that’s not bothered the courts before.”