At TSA, the hits just keep on coming

Perhaps the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently has received reliable intelligence that al Qaeda has been busy recruiting cancer survivors as sleeper terrorists, and grade-school students travelling with their parents as suicide bombers.  Or maybe TSA’s leaders recently reminded the agency’s many thousands of security screeners that using common sense when deciding which airline passengers to subject to the most intrusive and demeaning security check possible, would result in an unsatisfactory rating on their next performance evaluation.

Whatever the reason, and despite a rising tide of criticism and resistance from the travelling public, the parade of  horror stories emanating from airport security check points continues.

A North Carolina breast cancer survivor was forced to remove her prosthesis during a “pat-down.”  At Detroit Metropolitan Airport a male bladder cancer survivor was forced to remove his urostomy bag, during his screening by a TSA agent so devoid of decency that the passenger wound up covered in his own urine.

In Salt Lake City, a young boy was pulled aside for “secondary screening.”  A video of the incident shows a TSA worker patting down the shirtless child while his father stands behind him watching.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently has documented more than 900 complaints from passengers, whose experiences at the hands of TSA left them feeling violated and humiliated by screeners who went too far in carrying out their duties.

Sadly, these stories are becoming all too familiar as the government refuses to back down from these invasive tactics; largely a show of security theater.

Yet even as TSA and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are sticking to their story that the full, naked-body scans and the intrusive manual body searches are absolutely essential to maintain the security of commercial air travel, questions abound.

Reports are surfacing, for example, that in response to a pre-Thanksgiving Day call for air travelers to “opt out” of the full-body scanners, at many TSA checkpoints the scanners were purposefully turned off in order to minimize the chance for a successful “Opt Out Day,” and to ease the PR problems faced by TSA.

In another incident, Adam Savage of the television show Mythbusters, was subjected to a full-body scan as he was making his way through security to board a flight to speak at a conference. In a video available on YouTube, Savage explains how he usually goes through his luggage to remove any items that may be potentially harmful; noting that in this particular case he forgot to do so. Savage pulled out two 12-inch steel razor blades that were accidently left in his inside jacket pocket. Holding the razor blades at the audience, he says, referring to TSA, “You’re going to look at my junk, and somehow you miss this?”

And it is not just at airports any longer. Some federal office buildings apparently are turning to the naked-image body scanners.

For DHS, the airports may be just the starting point.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano already has floated a plan to add additional security measures to mass transit, trains, and boats.  While it is not yet clear whether such measures would be as invasive as those now employed at airports, I would not recommend holding your breath waiting for a more reasonable approach.

61 comments Add your comment

[...] terrorists, and grade-school students travelling with their parents as suicide bombers,” he writes in his blog. There’s one notable omission, which is this unbelievable standoff between TSA and a passenger [...]

Mark

November 27th, 2010
9:28 pm

Boycott Flying COMPLETELY, until sanity returns! Please join us: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Flying/126801010710392

Rick H.

November 28th, 2010
6:58 am

As a long time military member, I do not have much modesty left and I would strip naked in the airport. However one description I have not heard in all the discussion is that being treated or “touched” in this manner is DEHUMANIZING. That is why people are reacting so strongly. It is not the modesty issues it’s being treated like a piece of meat. That is why we are trained in the military with the ability to defend against these types of assaults.
So you are assaulted and dehumanized but are not any safer. Even with the risk of terrorist, flying is the safest form of travel. More have gone down to mechanical problems than terrorist attacks since 9/11.
I have heard the comment”Whatever it takes” for security.
It is such a callous, unappreciative and lazy opinion that has allowed authoritarians to rise all throughout human history. To be touch without expressed un-coerced permission is a violation of that person sovereignty, dignity and humanity. But of course, “anything” for safety, right? But then some are to callous to feel the violation because they already are the property of others, not appreciative of the cost others have paid for their freedom and liberty and choose a course of action that doesn’t require any thought or action.

Sue

November 28th, 2010
9:11 am

An elderly lady sitting beside me on a flight from New Orleans said she was pulled aside by the screeners, patted down and had her hands swiped. By all appearances, she was a sweet, little old lady. To TSA, she must have been a desperado. Outrageous.

Tracy

November 28th, 2010
11:08 am

It’s funny watching half the braindead replies blame democrats and liberals for this.

Yeah, you guys keep voting those Republicans in, I’m sure they really care about your civil liberties. Ahem…patriot act…ahem.

The GOP has 100% sold out to massive government, but luckily for them the majority of their voters can’t figure that out. No, they’re too busy looking at the crap across the aisle to notice they’re standing knee deep in it themselves.

Bunch of baby Stalins everywhere.

LeeH1

November 28th, 2010
2:59 pm

If you don’t like something, it is easy to change. Just make sure hte people who have the power to change it suffer the same situation. If John Boehner can breeze past the TSA pat down because he has a Congressional ID, then nothing will be done. Hold them up, pat down their grandchildren, make them suffer the same delays and indignities, and something will be done.

I don’t believe in giving anyone a pass. All Americans should have the treated equally with the TSA scans, or they simply become TSA scams for the public.

No special privlideges for congressmen or bureaucrats or pilots. Everyone suffers the same, or the situation is a farce.

Drifter

November 28th, 2010
7:52 pm

This reactionary screening and patting down is security theater. If it makes you feel more secure, you’re an idiot and you deserve these government sanctioned sexual assaults. Unfortunately, the rest of us will have to endure them and pay the government thugs doing them. The TSA leadership is unwilling to do what is necessary to provide real security and should be eliminated. The DHS might have actually accomplished something, but if they did it was at an extremely high cost, both in dollars and basic civil rights.

Jim Babb

November 28th, 2010
8:11 pm

Bob, perhaps you owe the country another apology for another dumb-ass vote. Did you think we wouldn’t look it up?
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2001-448

TSA Security Gone Groping | raquelokyay.com

November 30th, 2010
2:50 pm

[...] AIT screening devices are used to view the naked images of random passengers (approximately 1 in every 100) for the purpose of “protecting” us from terrorists in the sky (yes, there are terrorists I agree, but why are you harassing me?).  For those who are disagreeable to the AIT screening, they can “opt out” and instead be subjected to a “physical pat-down.”  Here, the TSA agent can touch and view our most private body parts rather than view them alone (sounds like a bad romance novel).  Either option is unacceptable. “The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently has documented more than 900 complaints from passengers, whose experiences at the hands of TSA left them feeling violated and humiliated by screeners who went too far in carrying out their duties.” (Bob Barr Blog) [...]

Ken

December 2nd, 2010
5:07 pm

Will john the pervert pistole do the same for TSA, that the tax cheat timothy guitner did for the IRS.