5 reasons to reject TSA’s strip search and grope

Hello savvy travelers. Anyone who has read this blog – pretty much ever – knows that I’m no fan of the TSA and its asinine procedures. Momentum is gathering in both old and new media to question TSA’s use of visual strip searching and genital fondling, and I wanted to provide five points on this subject for your consideration. I’ll leave the constitutional questions out of this particular debate and stick to specifics:

1. WBI (whole body imaging) is only-skin deep. That’s right, if a terrorist puts a bomb in a body cavity he’ll sail right through these machines without being stopped. Don’t think it’s been done yet? Ask the Saudi prince who almost lost his head when an al-Qa’ida guy detonated a rectal bomb a few feet away from him.

2. TSA lied about these machines not being able to store or print images.  According to documents obtained by EPIC, in 2008 TSA specified that the machines had to have image storage and sending capabilities.  Beyond that evidence, let’s apply some common sense to this: let’s say TSA catches an actual terrorist with one of these scanners.  Are they trying to tell us they would not be able to produce evidence from these machines for law enforcement?  I don’t believe it.  And that opens up a whole host of other questions, like how long are these images being stored for, how are they secured, who has access to them, what legal protections do travelers have to ensure they are not distributed?  The list goes on.

3. The person viewing your naked body in a booth might be sequestered, but there’s no guarantee they are same-sex.  How would you feel about a pervy 50-something TSA’er ogling the naked image of your teenage daughter?  Enough said.

4. TSA’s alternative to the strip search – an ‘enhanced’ pat-down – would be sexual assault anywhere else.  The nature of my job is that I’m in contact with a lot of frequent fliers.  I’m one myself, but thankfully have not yet had to opt-out of these machines.  But for those who have, I’ve heard stories from credible people of testicle and penis fondling, breast squeezing and other inappropriate touching.  If that ever happens to me one of two things is going to happen (and I say this very seriously): I’m going to punch the guy in the head as hard as I can, or I will file sexual assault charges against him.  It just depends on how much restraint I can muster when the moment comes.

5. The scanners are nothing more than another revolving door deal from Washington.  Ex-Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff has his own consulting firm now.  Who’s on his client list?  Body scanner manufacturers.  Follow the money, folks.

All that and I haven’t even mentioned poor Rolando Negrin, a screener at Miami International who is facing assault charges against a co-worker.  Why did Mr. Negrin assault him?  Co-workers had been teasing Mr. Negrin mercilessly for months about the size of his genitals, revealed during a body scan.  If the TSA can’t even keep its own house in order…

[Edited to add: I didn't get into the health risks either!  See the resource sites below for more information on that.]

Lest I be accused of offering criticism without suggesting a solution, I say focus on explosives.  Whole-body imaging is about money, power and control, not security.  Metal detectors and standard x-ray machines are very effective at detecting firearms, and hand and bag swabs (explosive trace detection) are more accurate in checking for bombs.  That covers the bases, with the added benefit that no one needs to slip a Benjamin into my waistband as I leave the checkpoint.

Finally some resources for further reading.  Learn what rights you have at the checkpoint:

Don’t Scan Us

Nudeoscope

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  • Usairwaysnh

    You are so right – we should completely remove ALL body scanners, metal detectors and any form of pat-downs … all people are good and honest and would never do anything to compromise the safety of their fellow travelers, attempt to hijack, blow up a plane or crash them into buildings!

    Flying on an airplane is NOT a right (like voting, education, and speech – you are a prime example) … it is a privilege you pay for. If you don’t like traveling on a safe aircraft – try catching a greyhound bus, I hear those are VERY safe!

    D323070 Reply:

    Wow, what a perfect example of the straw man fallacy by Usairwaysnh.

    Ahab625 Reply:

    hate to point this out. TSA has authority on your bus/train/ship/freeway traveling also. they can put in this sort of check if they want. Please let me know where should they draw the line

    Zoop Reply:

    Nobody suggested removing all security. Who are you talking to, you stupid fucking troll? lol

    Smiggle Reply:

    So traveling is a privilege not a right, huh? So what about the process to get to the plane… does that violate a right?

    Do you consider your 4th Amendment a right or privilege? Are the “Bill of Rights” now the “Bill of Privileges”. See any contradiction with your viewpoint?

    “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.”

    Loralie Reply:

    Apparently, Usair believes the hype that these nudie x-ray scanners and crotch searches makes air travel “safe.” I think debunking the efficacy of such practices along with documenting the health hazards that x-rays pose will be helpful in swaying those who have fallen for this fraud.

    Tom Reply:

    Actually, travel is a right of US citizens. That includes interstate travel by car, bus, boat and airplane. It’s been tested in the courts several times. Let’s just keep the facts straight.

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  • FrequentFlyer

    I just opted out of one of these scanners yesterday in Rochester. There was definitely annoyance from the male TSA agent that directed me to the machine in the first place and then made me repeat several times “I’m not going through that kind.” The female agent who did the pat down (without offering to go to a private area by the way, though I didn’t ask) was nice enough but very thorough. Considering I was wearing slim-fitting pants of a thin material, I really don’t think the thrice-checking of my crotch area was necessary.

    I’m all for security as I’m a frequent traveler and have no desire to die, but even Israeli security experts admit these machines will not detect what we’re trying to protect ourselves from. I want the kind of security El Al recommends – when is the last time they got hijacked?

  • Linkitup

    I plan to demand a woman pat me down and then see if I can get her to accuse me of sexual harassment.

  • Anonymous

    The TSA freaks are all psychopathic sadists and repressed homosexuals who love the idea of torturing people and get sexual thrills out of groping strangers and viewing naked pictures of strangers. When they are not at work, they are having sex with the neighbors’ pets

  • Pogo

    The TSA also has authority to conduct actual strip searches. They have also taken a hardline stance and stated today that passengers will be required to complete a security check once started, or face a huge fine. This means that once you step in that line, or possibly even onto airport property, you could be required to do anything up to and including removing your clothing down to your underwear, and no actual cause is needed. This includes children, BTW, and is the actual TSA policy as it stands today.

    “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” – Pogo

    Nss Reply:

    Not down to the underwear, but completely naked and then they check openings..

  • Iml8ter

    Hell, it’s starting to sound as if more people are getting foreplay at the airports then they are getting in their own bedrooms!!!!! I think everyone should forego bathing/showering at least 5 days before flying – I bet those TSA workers., before the day is over, will think twice before revisiting the crotch area and the arm pits over and over again, lol!!! I’m not against security what so ever, yet, if this same type of behavior happened while in the movie theaters, in a public restroom, while standing on the street corner we could file sexual assult charges against that person. Yet, in the airport we get to buy the ticket to fly, get groped and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it???? There is something truly wrong with our country when foreigners coming into OUR country have more rights and privacy then the American citizens that live here. Next time I fly I pray my baby decides to take a dump in their diaper because I’m not going to change it until I get on the plane, lol!!! The TSA likes to dish out shit……I wonder if they will like searching through it, LMAO!!!! On a serious note, secruity is very important for our airlines and our country although the “enforcers” need to find a better way to go about it. If someone is going to search my crotch 3 different times when I’m going to fly, they had better have at least a two carat diamond waiting for me ahead of time!!!!!

  • Mercedes Lackey

    Well guess what is 100% more effective at detecting explosives and explosive components that any machine.

    Beagles.

    Customs uses them, and they can detect literally anything they are trained to. But beagles only cost $60 each, the training puts them up in the $2000 area, max. No fat cat makes money off beagles.

  • Tcm_crew

    Pogo: No. TSA does NOT have authority to conduct strip searches. As for their new “enhanced patdowns”, which, oddly enough, appear to meet the legal definition of sexual assault in my humble opinion, I think it’s time for a CONTINUING flyer’s protest by refraining from flying on one day a week. I nominate Tuesday, since it’s already a low volume day and won’t inconvenient people flying on Thursday for 4-day getaway vacations. Pass the word: Do not book to fly on Tuesdays.

  • Anonymous

    On November 20th, I was leaving Norfolk, Virginia for Seattle (on my way to Alaska for my niece’s wedding. BTW- I am a middle aged white woman. I went through the metal detector with no problems, except they asked me to remove the jacket of my travel suit, which I did. Then I was approached by a woman TSA agent who asked me to go to a glassed in area. She then told me she was going to feel inside my waist band and then pat me down, including touching my crotch area. I said I was not comfortable with this and I would like to talk to her supervisor. The supervisor came over and said that “this is our procedure”. I got loud at this point saying that I considered touching my crotch to be sexual assault. He said that it was the only way that I would get on the plane. Then he called his supervisor, for who I had to sit and wait. He gave the same answer “this is our procedure”. I asked why I was being searched like this and was told it was that I had “baggy pants”. The pants were made of a stretchy material for travel but were not oversized. I asked if I could go to the private room and remove the offending pants. I was told that they were going to do the procedure no matter what I had on. Leaving me no choice but to miss my plane and the wedding. I submitted myself to the “procedure” which did include frimly feeling my crotch. I was traumatized by this experience and so shaken that I was crying and could hardly speak as they handed me the “complaint form” that I requested. The refused to give me the agents name other than “Angela”. They said that they were not required to give last names.

    Ugghhh… I can not believe this is happening in my own country. I want to contact a lawyer, but not sure what kind of lawyer (if any) would take a case like this.

  • None

    why do people that don’t need to fly, travel on the US airlines? A fly out for a few weeks will cripple the airlines and inform the nation that the time has come to rebel against abuses by Government of “free people”.

  • Violet

    I came to this site looking for the organized resistance to this tyranny at the airports, and most of what I find is a bunch of individuals who are willing to let themselves be fondled, and want to call that resistance. That doesn’t seem like resistance to me. Where are the people who are willing to risk arrest and loss of time and money? I doubt this can be won in the court of public opinion. Yeah, a lot of people are upset. Yeah, we all see the naked power grab by the PTB. But what good does it do any of us if we don’t get out from behind our computer screens and raise hell? This seems like mutual support for complaining. Where is the organized resistance and what constructive actions are they taking?

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  • Wil Clarke

    Indianapolis Airport 12:30 PM Monday December 30, I was told that there was a blurry area near my groin on the x-ray scanner. I was asked to follow two TSA agents to a private room. TSA agents Lynch and Moore directed me to the room where I offered to simply remove some clothing if that would help, but neither agent answered me, TSA Moore began giving me stern instructions regarding what to do, and what not to do. TSA Lynch just played with his phone or maybe took pictures, I’m not sure exactly.

    TSA Moore was aggressive to say the least, I was more than surprised as he put his hands inside my jeans from the belt line. He continued front and back, but he again and again went back to my groin, grabbing me fondling me aggressively, at one one point so aggressive I nearly fell to the floor, I’m still in pain.

    Finally the assault ended, and I was both relieved and very annoyed. I was violated, and I’m not sure if I will recover from this. The agents just casually walked away, and from what I could perceive they were joking about the entire encounter! This whole situation is inexcusable, what is going on with the TSA?

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