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TSA – you want to what??

November 17, 2010

If you travel, and which milspouse doesn’t, you have seen and been subjected to all the various knee jerk responses of the TSA/Homeland Security.  First we took off our shoes (thanks, shoe bomber)  we took our computers out of their cases.  We put all our little 3 oz bottles of shampoo and conditioner, the new toothpaste in the teeeeny travel size, the small containers of our face cream, the night cream… and the prescription cream (try finding THOSE in 3 oz sizes.. ha!) in our ziploc bags. * anyone else irked that all the bags for those things that I used to use, have had to be replaced? * We take off our belts and pray our pants don’t skid down.   We make damned sure we aren’t wearing an underwire bra, or one with multiple hooks and usually end up in a sports bra.   We put up with being hauled aside because we are the 13th or 25th in line and being searched/wanded/and our careful packing of the backpack/carryon torn apart, or watch an 80 year old in a wheelchair being searched in public and embarrassed by some kid in a rent-a-cop uniform.

Now we hear about scanners that, contrary to what we’ve been told, show a helluva lot more than the fuzzy pictures TSA has allowed to be seen on camera.  That type of full frontal nudity in public is usually reserved for magazines on the top rack with the paper cover or in the back room of the video store!   We are either going to have to stand in a scanner that shows body parts that shouldn’t be seen in public, and hope they don’t store those pictures of us as was done in a courthouse recently (story from ABC News), or allow ourselves to be handled in a manner that would, if done by anyone else, be seen as a sexual assault!

A fellow milspouse did a lot of research on this topic and has given me permission to quote certain parts of her post:

If you set the machine off OR refuse the machine altogether, you will be subject to an “enhanced pat-down”. All information on this procedure points to the fact that it is a body RUB DOWN. The same-sex agent will:
Use her open palm on your body in a fluid, rubbing motion.
Feel your breast and butt cheeks.
Use the same motion to run her hands up your thighs as high as they can go. There have been reports of the agent’s hands touching the vaginal area.
She will determine if your bra is underwire.
There have been reports of “lifting” the breasts.

If a man is subjected to this search, the male agent will run his hands up the thighs until the testicles are felt. Children “over 12” are subjected to the body rub-down and any child deemed capable of holding his or her arms up for 5 seconds will qualify for the X-ray machine.

Also, while in the machine you can’t see your belongings on the luggage X-ray machine. That’s right- even after reports of TSA theft and planting of drugs, a new procedure has been implemented to keep you out of eyesight of your belongings.

Shall we talk about children?  I remember telling my son when he was a little boy,  never to allow anyone to touch him in certain areas, except the doctor when he was having his sports physical and if he felt “funny” about how someone touched him, to yell really loud!  So.. do we tell our children now that the other person who can touch them there is a minimum wage drone in a uniform at an airport, in front of everyone there?  Are you Kidding ME??

A friend who has shared custody of her son and who used to fly put it this way:

One of my favorite things to tell my exhibitionist children is, “We don’t show strangers our potty parts.”  There are lots of obvious reasons for this, yes?  Common decency, pictures being taken and shared for nefarious means, invitations for molestation are among those reasons.  We have child pornography laws to protect our kids from having naked photos taken of them.  While they may not know that their naked image is popping up on a screen for a stranger to ogle, it is still happening.  A complete stranger, whose face I cannot see, would be looking at my son’s penis.  The TSA tries to assure us that the images can’t be saved, but they are big fat liars.  Am I supposed to trust that every single TSA agent is a well-meaning officer of the law who only wants to protect us from the big, bad terrorists?  I can’t even trust a priest to follow the Biblical laws to which he has sworn his life.  But the TSA agents certainly wouldn’t be involved in a child pornography ring–because big bad wolves never pose as harmless sheep or Grandmas.  And the criminally depraved never put on a uniform to disguise their malfeasance.  “Trust us!  We’re just keeping you safe…” No, thank you.”

Now if you decide that this hassle isn’t worth it, if you object to you or your child being manhandled in this manner and decide not to fly, and try to leave the airport, you can be detained!  yes… you may also be sued and face a $10,000 fine.

I’m all for security, don’t get me wrong here.  BUT, this?  is this “security”?  what happened to the “you can’t see anything on those scans” BS that we were handed when the companies rolled out these  insanely expensive machines?  And that’s not even talking about the packages from who knows where than end up on planes… how much screening is done of those?  Oh… well… that’s different, splutters the TSA…. Yes, that’s $$$ and corporations.   THIS is just people.

Many people are saying – ok, so don’t fly.  Fine, if I’m going to go on vacation, I’ll pick somewhere I can drive to, keep it local. When I want to go see our granddaughter, we’ll take twice as much leave so we can drive cross country.    But tell that to the military family flying to say goodbye to dad or mom, or traveling to places you can’t get to by driving or taking the train.  Tell that to the family PCSing to Japan, or Europe.  Wonder what TSA will do with the service member in uniform, under orders, flying to join a unit to deploy. “Thank you for your service, let us violate your privacy.” I guess the  “get a pass to greet your servicemember at the gate” won’t be happening much anymore!

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2010 11:50 am

    I have to beg to differ with you on this topic. Personally, I don’t think anyone cares that much about what’s under my clothes, so I’d gladly step into the new scanners. If I have to be subject to the scan and other to ensure I safely arrive at my destination then i’m willing to do so. I think the folks looking at the picture are much like the OBGYN, that guy sees so many vagina’s he doesn’t care about mine or yours.

    Now I’m not such a fan of the kiddo’s being subject to the same searches.

    • November 17, 2010 12:59 pm

      I don’t want pictures being held, that’s an invasion of privacy I don’t allow. and if I happen to be at an airport that doesn’t have a scanner? do I want to be manhandled like that, in public? sorry. there has to be a line. And – let’s not forget, the underwear bomber? they wouldn’t have caught him with the scanner or with the fondle either.

      when the TSA can prove to me that they are scanning packages, like the ones that were caught BECAUSE OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE, NOT THE NON-EXISTENT SCREENING and can catch plots that way, I’ll consider myself “safe”.

  2. TammyJ permalink
    November 17, 2010 11:54 am

    I fear the first case of an exploding tampon….

  3. November 17, 2010 1:01 pm

    Sam,

    I understand your point of view but completely disagree that it ensures your safety. The scans are not capable of seeing body cavities (ie TammyJ’s exploding tampon), beneath folds of fat, and pleats on skirts and pants also interfere with its ability to detect things that are hidden. The folks at the TSA have not been through the training that an OB/GYN has been through, they do not have as much invested in their job as someone who has paid for 8 years of medical school and licensing, nor do they have the same ethical requirements or oversight as an MD. There are other technologies which have been developed that do not violate our privacy in this manner, which are more efficient at detecting ANY explosives on people. These are not favored, however, because the companies that developed those don’t have Michael Chertoff on the payroll.

  4. November 17, 2010 5:05 pm

    I am disgusted at the TSA. I fly about once a year, not really that often I know – BUT I’d rather drive then be subjected to this. I am not going to allow someone to sexually assault me for “security” – and I’m not sure what I would do about them wanting to patdown my kids. Or wait, they wouldn’t get to. I’d leave first.

  5. Smurfette permalink
    November 17, 2010 5:13 pm

    Look, it is far worse than even being uncomfortable. We are talking about violation of the most sacred law in this country: The Constitution.

    Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    “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.”

    We rolled over on this with shoes, and with laptops, and the 3-1-1 rule, and now they want us to do it with our bodies? By giving in to this we are essentially saying that buying a plane ticket equates with probable cause that you intend to do harm to your fellow citizens. When did flying to see my husband stationed in RI become a probable terrorist act?
    And it gets worse, because I have 1 yr left in school and my husband is being stationed in Japan this winter. I am given the choice of being sexually molested, a violation of my 4th Amendment right, or I don’t get to get on a plane and visit him? That’s insane. I have been pondering this though and I think the solution is to spend 2 days driving to the Canadian airport in Toronto and fly from there to Japan. It is sad that foreign countries respect our civil liberties more than my fellow Americans do.
    No, I will not, as a great…great…grand niece of James McHenry, who signed the Constitution for Maryland, who served as Washington’s Secretary of War, give up the rights he fought for. I cannot compromise everything my family has stood in defense of for generations. So, right now I am trying to find an Amtrak ticket so I can meet my husband in CA to visit his family one last time before he leaves the country for 3 yrs to defend this nation against the tyrants abroad. As his wife, I guess it is now my duty to defend us against the tyrants at home.

  6. Smurfette permalink
    November 17, 2010 6:02 pm

    FYI: ACLU has a letter you can send to your representatives in congress regarding this via email.
    https://secure.aclu.org/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&id=1009&page=UserAction

  7. November 17, 2010 10:42 pm

    Military in uniform are NOT treated the same way as civilians. My husband flies a lot for the Reserves since his previous/current units have been a very far distance away. He doesn’t get pat downs, he doesn’t even have to take his shoes off! Some of the TSA officers at our local airport are from nearby units that he knows, so its not always some “rent-a-cop” as you put it. Not any John or Jane Doe off the street can get a job for the TSA, you have to be able to pass extensive background checks, credit checks, and it can take you a year just to get an interview. You have to prove that you are serious about working for the TSA, not just wanting the job in hopes of seeing some peep show.

    • November 17, 2010 11:00 pm

      So that’s actually pretty concerning to me… all a terrorist needs to do is get a United States military uniform to by-pass security? Or, as your husband does, know a few agents. There are more domestic terrorism threats- and none to do with airplanes- than international ones for the US. I bet it wouldn’t take much for a cell to infiltrate the TSA.
      You’ve essentially outed your local airport’s TSA as people who show favoritism and alter their job duties for friends and people in uniform. I bet that’s against policy.
      Again, crotch-grabbing has nothing to do with national security. Intelligence is still the best defense. The link below is pretty informative about that method, and how it works for a country under more constant and severe terrorism threats than America ever has been:

      http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/744199—israelification-high-security-little-bother

      • November 17, 2010 11:07 pm

        NEVERMIND the fact that the news is inundated with reports of agents not communicating clearly what is about to happen. I am pretty good at weeding out dramatic people trying to point fingers at the TSA and legitimate complaints. The stories coming in are just sickening. If agents could show a little discretion- like they do to your husband and their friends- people might not be *so* outraged. But as it is, a lot of agents seem to touching genitals and children in really personal ways without being clear about it first, and giving an American citizen the right to walk away. Buying a plane ticket does not mean that we are all to be searched as common criminals. Definitely not for my kids, either.
        If the TSA agents acted more intelligent on a regular basis, people wouldn’t have so much to say about how this system is failing, and hard.

        • libarmywife permalink
          November 17, 2010 11:12 pm

          now… isn’t that funny. EVERY TIME my husband flies, in uniform, he is pulled aside. has to take off his boots, and dump out his ruck. both when he was Guard in Minnesota, and now that he’s Active Army. Even when he left for his last deployment!

        • November 18, 2010 12:27 pm

          Almost every time my husband flies he is searched as well. But he is not even allowed to fly in uniform. Just by seeing his military ID in his wallet he gets flagged.

      • November 17, 2010 11:10 pm

        No, I’m not outing the local TSA for doing a bad job, I’m stating that some of these security guards are in the military, were in the past, or they’re a spouse. These type of people do have a better chance at getting these jobs than some person off the street. My husband also has to show military ID and orders when he flies. Those people he knows that work for the TSA aren’t always the ones that he see’s when he flies, he gets different people every time. He doesn’t get searched at other airports, either.

        • November 17, 2010 11:54 pm

          But people off the streets DO get these jobs! There have been reports of drug planting, abuse of power, and rampant, rampant theft. If the TSA agents you and your husband know actually know how to show discretion, and not blindly follow policy that suggests touching the genital area of a minor- or any citizen of this country not being booked for a crime, for that matter- then I’m glad that they’re out there. But do not be so naive to think that they aren’t a very, VERY small minority. And I mean, less than or equal to 1%. A very old friend of mine is also a TSA agent, so I also know first hand not ALL of them are idiots. I’m glad he does the job- but it seems the best agents are promoted out of regular grunt work- the touching, searching, poking, swapping, prodding- and put into more supervisory roles. There’s very good reason the TSA gets a bad rap- they give it to themselves.

  8. November 18, 2010 10:11 am

    I think good ol’ Ben Franklin said it best: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.”

    • November 18, 2010 12:28 pm

      L – I was thinking about that quote the other day as well. Spot on.

  9. November 18, 2010 11:25 am

    I find the whole new pat-down to be appalling! To think that as a matter of security someone needs to touch my vagina and breast..makes my stomach roll. i am all for National Security – but not for all out sexual ‘assualt’. Another thing I find interesting is the fight from Pilot and Airline crew to NOT participate in either. I call BS on this – what’s good enough for the flying public is good enough for pilot, airline crew, congressmen, senators, celebrities and everyone else!

    • November 22, 2010 8:34 am

      I agree. If the pilots and crews are fighting this, then you know there’s a more serious issue afoot. What happened to good old fashioned profiling and watching people’s behaviors in the airport? Seeing as how the latest threat was packages being shipped, maybe our efforts would be best served enhancing package screening procedures. Maybe that just makes too much sense too.

      All I know is I’m so glad I don’t fly. If I was subjected to one of those “enhanced” pat downs, I’d immediately ask for the police to file a report. I wonder how the TSA will feel when someone finds a lawyer to file a class action suit against them and their agents? That’s how things in this country work. I’m sure there’s already someone working on a class action case as we speak.

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