Recently there has been a rash of complaints that TSA agents are stepping over the line of professionalism and using their position of authority to unnecessarily intimidate and grope the breasts and other private areas of women passengers. They are being told to submit to the humiliation or be denied access to their flight. The supposed protocal requires screeners to verbally inform the passenger what they need to do before doing it and to use only the back of the hand when performing the procedure.
Certain security measures may be necessary to ensure the safety of the flying public. It goes beyond the pale however, when some of the TSA's own agents are coming forward and either confirming the illicet behavior or shedding light on instances that have not been publically reported yet.
In one of the sources cited for this dissertation one reader commented that;
"As someone who conducted pat-down searches on many, many people over my 15 years in law enforcement, I think I can safely speak for airport screeners when I say that it is no more desirable for the person doing the patting than it is for the pattee. Probing the armpits, crotches and chest area of strangers is not something to write home about or something that professionals get giddy about, sharing stories in the bar after work like excited teenagers. " --Mark Arsenault
Having previously had a career in Law Enforcement I truely understand what Mark is saying. At that time Officers had not yet started wearing the surgical gloves that are used in just about all cases of search in today's time. It was not something to write home about or get giddy over. It was and in some cases still is, even with gloves, a dangerous proposition. Further it was not a selective process. Persons were only searched incident to an arrest or strictly according to the "Terry Frisk" guidelines. Women were not singled out for public humiliation because they had a great looking rack. The point of contention I have with what Mark said is the use of the word professional. Knowing the recruitment process, training requirements and pay scale I would hardly call many of todays TSA agents professional. Certainly not after the deplorable acts some of the professional agents are reporting.
In a report on WJLA Channel 7 News last night, unidentified screeners at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport said women were being selected for private screening based on breast size and strip-searched. The searches were required after screeners kicked equipment to set off alarms.
"In a sense, they were being raped," one TSA screener said. Strip searches were being conducted in a stairwell, WJLA reported, but were moved to a supervisor's private office where the activities were recorded on a hidden camera.
If this is demonstration of the high standards of professionalism required by TSA screeners I rest my case. There are certainly some professional screeners employed by the TSA and they are speaking out about the abuses;
TSA Employee: "They actually had the passenger remove the clothing that covered the sensitive area and perform a duck walk to see if something would fall out."
TSA Employee: I couldn't believe it! I said is that a camera up there? And they said yeah.
Andrea McCarren: Do you think the women being strip searched had any idea they were being videotaped? TSA Employee: Absolutely not
Does everyone understand what this says? It means that women among other degrading acts were , in order to be allowed to board their flights, forced to remove their panties and duck walk to prove that they had nothing hidden in her vaginas. Originally, it seems that these degradations were performed in a public stairwell. After complaints the indecency was relocated to a managers office where the "necessary searches" were taped and monitored by closed circuit video equipment. (ed... for use in training future TSA agents or for later getting giddy about over a beer I'm sure)
"In a sense, they were being raped," one TSA screener said.
Strip searches were being conducted in a stairwell, WJLA reported, but were moved to a supervisor's private office where the activities were recorded on a hidden camera.
It is not limited to the everyday common citizen that travels by air either;
When former Rep. Helen Chenoweth, Idaho Republican, was flagged as a high-risk passenger with a one-way ticket from Boise, Idaho, to Reno, Nev., she refused to be patted down and was forced to drive to her destination.
I believe that no citizen is or should be above the law, but certainly upon identification there are some people that do not need to be subjected to being groped and/or humiliated in public. I say that not as an endorsement of special priviledges for elected officials, but as a point of common sense. In this particular case Ms. Chenoweth, a Congressional Representitive has taken an oath the uphold the constitution and has been nothing but a stalwart American citizen. In the time it took to deal with someone of Representitive Chenoweths character how many real trouble makers could has proceeded unencumbered?
"That area is private," Mrs. Chenoweth told KBCI-TV, the Boise NBC affiliate. "We have programs teaching children that these areas are private and yet we have our government patting us down. There's something wrong with that. To be patted down like that was just way over the edge and that's why I chose to drive and I will drive from now on," she said.
In another disturbing incident a woman wearing a tank top sans bra was revolted at the idea of being fondled and refused to have her breasts groped. inatead she raised her shirt to show that she was not hiding anything and was subsequently denied boarding.
"They were yelling the same thing: 'If you don't let her continue the search — and that entails feeling your breasts — you will not board your airplane home to San Diego.' "
"I was shaking, I was sobbing. I couldn't believe that this was happening to me. It was surreal. It was like out of a movie, with these guys yelling at me, telling me that, yes, she has to feel my breasts or I'm not getting on my airplane," Kingsford said. They took her to a private area to continue the search, but she said she was still uncomfortable with them touching her breasts so she tugged down her shirt to show them that she wasn't hiding anything."And then they said, 'That's it. We're not going to complete the search and you're not boarding your plane,'" Kingsford said. "They escorted us out and said they didn't care how we got home, it wasn't their problem."
Ms. Kingsford was travelling with a 3 month old son and her fiancce. They were forced to wait several hours for the airline, as required, to retrieve their luggage before returning home in a rental car. The luggage was never retrieved and Ms. Kingsford was forced to take the 15 hour drive procuring replacement infant necessities along the way. If this does not border on child abuse by the esteemed agents of the TSA then nothing does. What reason would a TSA agent have for still wanting to grope a "tanktop wearing obviously braless female"? Especially after she raised her top to physically show them that she did not have contraband hidden under her breasts.
"I was wearing a pretty form-fitting tank top. There's nothing really to be hiding. You could see my figure. I didn't have any packs. She had patted down my torso. She had completed the torso pat down and wanded me with a security wand but some reason she said she wanted to see my breasts," Kingsford said. In a phone interview, Ava told me that two female airport screeners had taken her to a back room to touch her breasts. To avoid being touched, Ava pulled down her tank top and bra-less said: "See, I'm not hiding anything." But, incredibly, the screener replied: "That's it. You just flashed us and you're not boarding your plane."
These are not just isolated incidents either, KYW-TV in Philadelphia reports that at least 3 women from that area have come forward with similar stories. It is very troubling when supposedly professional individuals in the employ of the people they are violating are allowed to engage in the deplorable actions that are being reported in the media. Common sense, decency and reasoning have gone completely out the window. TSA agents are government employees. Servants of the people. That they are either so poorly trained or are being told to conduct themselves in this manner by supervisory personel is an affront to the very foundations that this country was founded on.
Woman #3: "I was like, whoah! You can't do that and the supervisor who I had been objecting to was standing right there and he said yes, we can."
TSA Employee: "It's very upsetting to see this happen and there are a lot of screeners that took his job thinking that they could do something good and many of them have quit and many of them are talking about quitting now."
The TSA proudly states that of the millions of air travelers in this country they only receive a dozen or so complaints a week from passengers (mostly women) that feel the agents have crossed the line. That does not mean that there are only 12 a week, it simply means that like rape the problem is so under whelmingly reported that one can only imagine how wide spread the abuse is. That this is a game or some sadistic pleasure on the part of the agents is clearly demonstrated in the following statement heard by one passenger that was subjected to the degradation;
Jamie Sibulkin told the Boston Globe she requested that her search before a flight from Boston to Dallas be performed by a woman, who joked to the male screener he was "missing out."