Ventura vows he'll 'never fly commercial' after ruling

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2011 - 11:20 PM

The ex-governor also hinted he may run for president, and apply for Mexican citizenship, following court's rejection of pat-down suit.

One day after Jesse Ventura lost his legal challenge to airport pat-downs and full-body scans, the former Minnesota governor declared Friday that he will "never fly commercial again" and just might run for president so he can change passenger security measures.

Ventura made his comments outside the federal courthouse in St. Paul, where in January he sued to challenge the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) airport security procedures. The suit was thrown out because Congress set up the law so that all such challenges must be brought directly in Circuit Courts of Appeals, wrote U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson.

After getting a titanium implant in his hip in 2008, Ventura's suit said, he started lighting up airport magnetometers. At first, screeners waved a magnetic hand wand over him and sent him through. But last year, the TSA's enhanced screening procedures meant he had to go through invasive full-body scans or pat-downs, the suit added.

The scans reveal too much and the pat-downs require a security officer to grope his body, "including private and sensitive areas," the suit read.

"I will never fly commercially again," Ventura said to reporters Friday, adding that he hasn't flown since he was searched at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport nearly a year ago.

He complained that the federal courts are denying him constitutional rights, but said that he's unsure whether he will appeal Thursday's dismissal.

"I want a trial by jury. They tell me I can have a jury decide my fate!" Ventura said. "If given a jury, I will win."

He questioned whether he could trust a panel of three government-paid appeals court judges. But he left open the door, noting that he hadn't conferred with his attorneys yet.

Ventura contended that the TSA's procedures treat passengers as guilty until proven innocent. "I will not, in a free country, be treated like a criminal," he said.

Ventura added that he and his wife, Terry, intend to apply for Mexican citizenship and become dual citizens. The two have spent long stretches of time living in Mexico since he left office.

Ventura said maybe the only way to change the rules at TSA is to become president. Asked whether he was planning to run, Ventura responded, "I'm thinking about it." That's something he's done in previous election cycles, but he has never been a candidate for the White House.

"Jesse's on a roll!" he quipped.

Ventura, governor from 1999 through 2002 and earlier a pro wrestler known as Jesse "The Body" Ventura, currently hosts "Conspiracy Theory" on the truTV network. His held up the press conference he called for a couple of minutes until his own crew could get set up.

One reporter noted that Ventura had expressed security concerns while he was governor in the wake of the 9/11 terrorism attacks. "Don't even get me started on 9/11," Ventura responded.

"[President] George Bush said we were attacked because they were jealous of our freedoms. So we take away our freedoms so they won't be jealous anymore?" he said, incredulous. "I think they're winning."

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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