A Classic Lesson in What NOT to Do
I’ve read about all the people in the news complaining about our nation’s protectors of the air – the TSA. I’ve listened to the fears people have of the dreaded full body scanner, some resorting to alternate means of travel just to avoid enduring a full body pat down. Really I didn’t pay much attention…until yesterday.
Going through security at the Milwaukee airport, I was directed to go through the body scanner. I’ve been through them many times in many airports, and I don’t even think about it. But yesterday, with a pair of simple black pants with no pockets and a fitted, long sleeve shirt on, I stepped forward, put my hands on top of my head and watched the scanner run around the outside of the glass structure. I was scanned. I took my normal position waiting for the TSA (an official looking guy with a wire in his ear) to get the message from the person watching the screening in some undisclosed location.
Next thing I know the TSA official is calling out for additional personnel. I thought for sure he was calling in the heavys because of the person waiting behind me. But then they asked me (who me?) which bags belonged to me. Suddenly, 3 TSA personnel began picking up my things announcing (a little louder than I would have liked) that they were taking them into a private room. It was frankly an embarrassing scene. Then they told me I needed to have a full body pat down (also a little louder than I would have liked). I said, “fine, please do it right here.” But they insisted that I go into the private room with the frosted windows, behind closed doors, for a next level security pat down. I kept thinking –what are they looking for? Well whatever it was – they were determined to find something. There were 2 people in the room observing my pat down in addition to the 1 woman who was the chief patter. She told me exactly what she was going to do which honestly made me want to cry. Every crevice of my body was touched with the back and side of her hands. Every crevice. What were they looking for?
From a business perspective, if you were to watch the TSA rules being enacted, you may think their set of rules misguided, inefficient and extremely inflexible. How about determining a few suspicious locations to pat? I understand that the rules exist because they don’t want the individual TSA personnel making judgment calls. Everyone gets treated by the same set of rules. But that reality didn’t make the lack of flexibility and the over manned private room where, for 7 excruciatingly long minutes, I endured patting and then bomb residue scanning. Surprisingly… nothing was found. Me, the singled out suspect, embarrassingly called out in front of a busy security line, was left to go free.
If someone came into your business and analyzed your rules and systems would they say… ‘That doesn’t make any sense’ or ‘What a waste of staff time’ or ‘Isn’t there a better way to do this?’ Once a year it may be helpful to review your own systems to determine if you continue to have the best, most efficient and complete ways of doing things. You certainly want to make sure that your well-thought-out systems are smarter than the TSA’s, although that’s not much of a benchmark.
After it was all over, in disbelief, I call my husband to tell him about my TSA experience. I was looking for a little sympathy. Instead, he laughs and says, “Hey kids! Mom almost didn’t make it through security!!” Sure, laugh all you want – until it happens to you.
Don’t put up with this unconstitutional garbage! It’s all worthless security theater that does nothing to keep you “safe”. Boycott Flying ENTIRELY until sanity returns! Please join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Flying/126801010710392
Sorry to say but for your husband to laugh at you- he is an idiot
Lynn N. says
Please come and join us at Boycott Flying, where we have been investigating and discussing this very thing for the past several months. These scanners and pat-downs are now being deployed at bus terminals, train stations, subway stations and all other forms of mass transit. There are also plans for them to be deployed at shopping malls and our schools. It will only keep getting worse until we stand together and fight the DHS invasion.
You never consent to a private pat down. I refused and said “No you do it out here where everyone can see what you do” all the while the blue gloved cretin tried to tell me the AIT device “wasn’t radiation” you gotta love these physics majors moonlighting as TSA thugs.
Sue Wilson says
I’m not laughing. I’m sorry this happened to you. You were sexually assaulted, and you should sue.
I will not fly until this disgusting sexual abuse is put to a stop. Not only were you groped, but you were also radiated. You have no idea what harm that did to your DNA. Stop flying. It’s the only way.
What I would like to know is what justification did they have to conduct a pat-down in the first place? What,”seen” in the scanner, made them decide they had a right to do that to you?
First, I won’t subject myself to a full-body scanner so I’m currently not flying, probably ever. And I used to fly a lot. Second, I would think they have to justify their search after you subject yourself to the scanners.
Last, I’ve contacted all my representatives and senators, and will continue to do so, until the TSA is disbanded altogether. I’m glad you wrote this piece, and I’m hoping that you will also contact your congresspeople to tell them sign on to legislation that eliminates either the TSA completely, or their full-body scanners and intrusive pat-downs. We already know these don’t work, particularly when an undercover agent gets through the scan with a GUN, and guns also get through the table x-ray machines.
Marsha Browne says
Please don’t let this drop. You suffered sexual abuse. Any time somebody touches you against your will, or puts a hand on you where you don’t want it, you have been violated.
This same thing is happening all across this country to men, women, and children of ALL ages, and all anybody says when questioned is, “It’s necessary for your safety.” It’s not, and it’s in patent violation of your Constitutional rights and civil liberties as a U.S. citizen.
Further, there is no proof yet documented that the AIT scanner you went through will not cause cancer, because the bulk of the radiation it transmits stays close to the outer layers (your skin). You apparently got the full treatment of an X-ray and an “enhanced pat-down.” I feel terrible that this happened to you.
When you calm down, write your complaints to your elected representatives, and make it clear to them that if they continue to support this insanity and indecency, they won’t have their jobs for very long. Also, please go to the ACLU website and file a formal complaint with them. They’re gearing up for a dandy class-action lawsuit on behalf of the TSA’s victims.
Seriously, my wife & I have done just that since she was groped on our home last Thanksgiving. The look on her face said it all — no 56-year-old woman (or any other person) should have to endure such sexual assaults in our airports.
I’m guessing it was that time of month and you had a pad on.
That is what TSA’s Strip Search Machines are finding but a person testing the system went through several scans at DFW with a handgun and TSA did not detect that.
TSA is anti-American and should be put down like a rabid dog!
Lisa M says
You were sexually assaulted. The TSA employees (I refuse to call them “officers”) didn’t even follow their own rules. You should definitely complain to your representatives and here: http://www.dhs.gov/xoig/about/gc_1163703329805.shtm
I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s a shame that America has resorted to Soviet Gulag tactics in the name of “security.”
Please log onto this site: http://epic.org/bodyscanner/incident_report/
And report your incident. EPIC is currently suing the DHS and TSA regarding these scanners and would love to hear from you.
Again, I’m sorry.
I’m so sorry you were forced to undergo that .
When EVERY CREVICE of your body has been touched then you have not been “patted down”…you’ve been sexually assaulted. Damnation to the thugs who do that and then try to sugar-coat the assault by calling it a “pat-down”.
I hope your husband has now had time to fully realize what you went through during those 7 excruciatingly long minutes when you were alone in a room with 3 people who were intent on proving YOU were the terrorist when it fact it was they who were terrorizing you!
You were sexually assaulted by a person in a position of authority over you. Regardless of whether you take legal action, do make sure to get some appropriate counseling. Even if you just call a hot-line to talk – truly, you don’t need to have had some horrible violent rape for them to understand and want to support you.
I think that women are failing to address the issue loudly and en-masse simply because as 21C professionals, we have little experience with the kind of butt-pinching and titty-grabbing harassment that was common a generation or so ago.
It’s such a primitive, throwback kind of sexual abuse — as a result, I think women feel that it’s somehow their fault, that somehow they must have failed to live up their standards of confidence, strength and professionalism.
TSA definitely singles out women traveling alone. Like AK State Rep. Sharon Cissna — who just spent two days taking a boat home from Seattle after TSA demanded that she to inspect her mastectomy. Or mathematician Prof. Sommer Gentry — co-developer of paired kidney donation — who says she will no longer fly in the US.
I don’t know why NOW isn’t all over this – and I’ve sent mail asking – they’re not likely to see any more of my $.
Your husband is a jerk for not being a supportive spouse when you were violated and in need of sympathy.
“what she was going to do which honestly made me want to cry. ” -that’s traumatizing, you have my sincerest sympathy.
To the Mister and I hope you’re reading this: learn to be a better man and husband.
I was sexually assaulted gang-style by some Customs Border Patrol Agents in Detroit back in the late 1990s. It happened in a private room, but I was not told that I was being put in such a place. This is kidnapping and false imprisonment. It was terrifying. I’ve escaped a couple of situations like this in the past involving unarmed, non-uniformed men, but there was no way to run from these people. They are huge, armed and they surround you. They use all kinds of accusatory language and they are verbally abusive. When I asked them what they were doing and what they were looking for a huge man bellowed at me to shut up. (I was a small woman travelling alone – pretty much everybody looks like a giant, but these people were all huge!) Finally, I was released without explanation. I believe they took some personal items from my suitcase, as well. I was freaked out for about three days. Then I started making formal complaints, talking to a lawyer, the airline, etc. Nobody took any responsibility. I haven’t flown since then. I won’t go near an airport. It’s a terrible shame. I used to travel for business and pleasure. Now, I’m scared to drive on the highways because the cops are so out of control. When they are uniformed with guns, you don’t stand a chance. It’s not like dealing with ordinary rapists. Why couldn’t people wake up to what was going on 15 years ago!? But, you didn’t. Well, it’s your turn to be raped by uniformed thugs now.
And, I also think something is wrong with your husband. That’s now how you respond to your wife telling you she was brutally sexually assaulted.
Todd Wilson says
My son’s friends (all in the service) call it a “Freedom Fondle”.
Lisa Simeone says
I’m terribly sorry this happened to you. It has happened to COUNTLESS other people, male and female, all ages, all colors, all you-name-it. I’ve been following TSA abuse closely for the past 18 months, and the numbers of incidents are legion.
As for this: “I understand that the rules exist because they don’t want the individual TSA personnel making judgment calls. Everyone gets treated by the same set of rules.”
No, that’s false. The “rules” change according to individual TSA agent’s whims. And you were singled out for abuse because you were traveling alone and had no one to stand up for you, to check these thugs, to witness.
This isn’t about security. None of this is about security. It’s about power. It’s about control. It’s about grooming and credulous — and still sheeplike — populace to accept ever more invasive, ever more intrusive measures.
I do have to ask why you weren’t aware that all this was going on before? I find this stunning. Did you think all the accounts in the news were anomalies, or people simply lying or “whining”? Or were you okay with it as long as it was happening to someone else.
Alas, I fear far too many Americans fall into that last category.
This is not the first time it has happened, or the last. Others have had similar experiences, if not worse.
One woman had her blouse pulled down and her breasts exposed.
Old women have been stripped searched.
Others have spent a night in jail, and spent thousands of dollars in legal fees.
The National Association of Airline Passengers would like to see all TSA agents licensed by the state, bonded and insured to guarantee good conduct. There should be a civilian review board at each airport to hear complaints by passengers, with the power to suspend, revoke or fail to renew every screeners license. Police need to be trained to protect passengers from misconduct by TSA agents.
Right now passengers have no recourse against TSA agent misconduct. Police will refuse to hear your complaint, and prosecutors are afraid to prosecute TSA wrongdoing. TSA agents can have the US justice department defend them for free, while the passenger has to use his own funds to defend himself. Want to sue the TSA? You must first file a claim under the civil procedures act, wait 6 moths, and then file in court. And of course, the TSA investigates itself, and surprise surprise, it never finds any wrongdoing on its part. But it can, and will, and has levyed civil penalties on passengers. Who adjudicates those penalties? The TSA itself, of course!
BTW, every congressman’s staff that I have talked to tells me the same thing – TSA is the one agency that does not respond to their letters.
Some people will tell you, “If you don’t like it, don’t fly!” and many people give up their right to fly because of the TSA. That is an understandable reaction. But let’s not give up the fight. We all have a right to fly. Lets change the law now so we can all fly without being intimidated, irradiated or molested by the TSA.