Is this the only way to change the TSA?

Here’s a question everyone should be asking after last week’s stunning verdict against Andrea Abbott, the Nashville mother who tried to stop TSA agents from patting down her teenage daughter: Where do travelers turn when they have a legitimate grievance against the agency charged with protecting America’s transportation systems?

Abbott and her daughter refused to submit to a full-body scan but eventually consented to have her frisked. Although their July 2011 confrontation was captured on camera (see video, below), and she appears to be quite civil, she was nonetheless charged with disorderly conduct.

Even more surprising was the decision reached by a jury of her peers. After four hours of deliberation, it found her guilty, and she now faces 30 days in jail and a $50 fine.

It’s difficult to find a court in the land that is willing to stand up to the TSA, even on something as small as allowing the public to comment on regulatory rulemaking. Back in September, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s petition to enforce the court’s own order on requiring public comments about the full-body scanners. To some, it looked as if the court told the TSA it had to follow the law and then said, “Oh, never mind.”

It shouldn’t come as a shock that passengers feel powerless against an enormous $8 billion federal agency that seems to have been given carte blanche to search air travelers. Passengers are careful not to say or do anything that might offend an airport screener, lest they end up being arrested and convicted of disorderly conduct.

Think about the last time you were screened by the TSA. Did you feel a little apprehensive? Were you afraid to say anything or do anything that might get you into trouble? Did you just keep your head down, obediently stacking your liquids, gels, laptop, and shoes on the conveyor belt and then walk through the scanner?

We should not have to feel that way.

So what’s a concerned citizen to do? Ask your elected representative to step in? Not a bad idea, but I’ve seen any number of laws proposed since the TSA’s infamous decision to either force air travelers through an untested scanner or offer an “enhanced” prison-style pat-down. From the Texas legislature to the halls of the U.S. Congress, each one of them failed, and future efforts by our representatives will probably be just as half-hearted — and unsuccessful.

Truth is, no one is willing to challenge the TSA. No judge in this land, no jury, no elected representative, has what it takes to put an end to what many believe is a de facto police state.

There’s only one person left: you.

Abbott’s conviction will only galvanize the National Opt-Out Week movement, which is urging every American to opt-out of the full-body scanners Nov. 19 to 26.

After last week’s column, in which I suggested that it was time to stand up to the TSA, some readers thought I was throwing my support behind Opt-Out Week.

That’s an interesting conclusion. As a matter of fact, I do support civil disobedience as a way to bring about change, particularly when nothing else works.

Opt-Out Week is a good start, and it’s certainly better than an opt-out day. I hope a week is enough. But for me, every day is opt-out day. I think it’s necessary to protest the TSA’s questionable screening methods for more than a week.

I’m afraid we may need a more organized movement, with a pledge we can sign, vowing to opt out of the machines every time. In order to truly reform the TSA, we need a million people who refuse to go through the scanners every day. That may be the only way they’ll get the message.

I may be wrong about that. And for the sake of people like Andrea Abbott, who took a principled stand against a government she thought had stepped across the line, I hope I am.

Update: An earlier version of this story didn’t have comments enabled and an incorrect poll. No, it wasn’t a conspiracy. I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. dodging a tsunami warning with my family in Hawaii and just hit the wrong button.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Pam Mandel

    Every day is opt out day.

    Lately, the screeners ask me if “it’s about the radiation… because you, know, it’s safe…” My response is always this: “Do you REALLY want to know what I think and why I’m opting out?” “FEMALE ASSIST.” (Sometimes, but not always, preceded by an eye roll.

    Opt out week is great. Really, it’s great. But let’s get real, it’s not enough. Every one needs to opt out every time they’re at the airport. Every. Single. Time.

    Keep up the fight.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    The bureaucrats who run this country couldn’t care less if we opt out of a scanner at the airport. What they WOULD CARE about is if we all stopped flying for a week. They would care because the airlines would bring pressure to change the system. The airlines would bring the pressure because they’re losing revenue. Money and power make this country go ’round, nothing else.

  • John Keahey

    “Think about the last time you were screened by the TSA. Did you feel a little apprehensive? Were you afraid to say anything or do anything that might get you into trouble?” Nope. Had nothing to hide, was treated courteously, and was through in less than 2 minutes.

  • Bill___A

    You know, the very very first time I experienced the TSA was at LAX and they were stupid, ineffective, rude people. I was seriously considering never flying in the USA again. However, I’ve never had another experience like that since. It has all been pretty much fine. Yes, there are some that are not as good as others. There is Atlanta, busiest airport in the world, where they put an inexperienced person who takes five times as long to check ID in the “experienced travellers” line.

    As far as the pat downs, I would say that in general, it is not an enjoyable experience for the male TSA agents to pat down most men travellers and the female agents to pat down the female travelers. It is a job and although many of the things they do are ineffective, rather than criticizing the way they do these things, it might be an option to devise some method that works.

    So…she refuses them to go through the scanner and then is “upset” about a pat down? Are they just supposed to let people through who refuse the machine? Sure….just say no to the scanner and walk on through. When you say no to the scanner, you are going to get a pat down. For sure you are. And there are a lot of mothers and fathers who are extremely sensitive about their teenage daughters being “patted down”. Whether that’s a legitimate complaint or not, I don’t think the travelling public would be well served by whatever standards mothers impose upon the people doing the pat downs. That’s like letting the restaurant patrons (including ones who know nothing about food hygiene) determine the cleanliness standards in a food services establishment. Food standards should be determined by regulatory authorities and pat down standards should be officially determined and not according to what each particular mother says.

    I’m sure the pat down could have been achieved in a fast and orderly fashion without some mother dictating to the security people exactly how they should do it. Maybe 30 days in the slammer will give her a chance to think about it. I’m sure she will receive a far more invasive pat down in the jail.

    I’m sick of all these people whining. I will fly 50,000 miles this year and haven’t had a problem yet. I flew 49,000 miles the year before that and 52,000 miles the year previous.

    I agree that the TSA has a lot of stupid rules and that there needs to be some change. However, some mother whining about her teenaged daughter being manually inspected because they refused a scanner is not at the top of my list.
    Would she prefer that people who refuse the scanner go into a room and take off all their clothes, have the clothes inspected, etc? It could get worse…

  • John Keahey

    Well said. A lot of rules ARE stupid; changes and improvements need to be made. Absolutely. But my goal is to get on my flight on time and from point A to point B. TSA is just a necessary bump along the way. I have traveled more than 25,000 miles a year for several years and just haven’t had a problem. I encountered one grumpy screener at Denver once and a kid who seemed to be on his first day on the job in Dallas; that’s the extent of my discomfort.

  • Miami510

    Let us assume the opt-out event is successful in making some change in the procedure. To what change is this event directed toward? The objection is to radiation or some electrical force whose effect is unknown and worrysome. The pat-down is felt to be demeaning and uncomfortable, from a personal violation standpoint. So what’s left?


    The magnatometer that senses metal? Anyone who has been in the military knows a few items people shouldn’t be carrying on a plane that would pass the metal detector. (In the interest of public safety, I’m not about to give any instruction on these matters) The colusion of two or more suicide minded terrorists could each carry small amounts of contraband that together would be a problem.


    If sufficient pressure were put on TSA, the government, or the airlines and no measures were taken, we would hear the loudest, “We Told You So,” after some unfortunate incident that might have been prevented by the current screening.


    On can hypothesize two flights to the same destination; one with current screening and the other with none, with people asked to “take their choice and their chances.” I suspect many of the people who find the current screening objectionable (and I’m one) will choose “the screened flight,” when it comes to putting your own life on the line.


    Any protest should come with a request for specific changes. What is it protestors want?


  • Tincanrider

    A new president, I.e. new boss of DHS would help

  • TSAisTerrorism

    Did you miss the part where TSA’s Large Marge shoved her hand right into the 14 year old’s crotch? And you’re OK with that? Just following the rules…

  • TSAisTerrorism

    TSA is neither necessary, nor a minor bump in the way.

  • TSAisTerrorism

    When they tell you how safe these machines are, that’s a really good time to ask the bloviating Paul Blart wannabe where his dosimeter is to measure radiation exposure and ensure that such is true. After all, if you’ve got nothing to hide…

  • cjr001

    National Opt Out Day/Week/Every Day should be one tool among many. People should also continue to pressure their representatives at all levels. They should take advantage of any chance they get to speak out against TSA and their abuses, whether it’s at the airport or online with threads like this one or other TSA-related stories.

  • Daisiemae

    Absolutely! We need an organized way to let the airlines know exactly how many of us have quit or seriously reduced flying because of TSA. That is the only way we can stop TSA…hit the airlines in the pocketbook and then they will insist on a change. Just like they did when liquids were banned onboard and everything was brought to a standstill because everybody was checking their bags.

  • bpepy

    Yay to Bill—-A!

    I also have never encountered bad TSA agents, but I’m polite and don’t object to the TSA doing their jobs. I actually had a very pleasant encounter with an agent in Salt Lake City recently. I had some leftover Thai food I wanted to carry on. After he ascertained that it really was just Thai food (and let me keep it), he told me that his wife was Thai and was going to open a Thai restaurant soon. I’ll be sure to go there next time I’m in SLC.

  • Sommer Gentry

    I want the government to get a warrant declaring articulable, specific details tending to incriminate me before they’re allowed to search me like I’m some lowlife common criminal. The police can’t shove their hands down my pants while I’m walking down the street without articulable suspicion. Why should far-less-trained bullies shove their hands down my pants at the airport? Buying an airline ticket does not constitute probable cause.

  • Sommer Gentry

    I think the TSA is its own worst enemy, so I can only hope they accelerate the current path of bullying, irradiating, molesting, stealing from, and sexually humiliating the innocent travelers of America. The only way some people will start to understand that the TSA has no interest in their safety is to have a TSA thug shove his finger up into one of their orifices – and those of us who’ve already experienced this kind of TSA treatment will just say “we told you so.”

  • Veronica

    Though I have not had a bad experience with the TSA myself, I definitely believe others when they say they have had a bad experience. I actually had one where I was taking my mom to Italy and she had water and they told her she had to drink it or throw it away. After explaining that she was using it for medication, the agent decided to let her take it, but she said no. She took her medication there and threw the rest away – she did not want him to get into trouble.

    Though some may say that the agent was wrong, I do feel that there are some agents that are nice and there are some that are not (I hope never to run into a nasty one).

    I am not sure if the opt-out of the scanners will be effective enough… I think opting out of travel will be much more effective (though it may be impossible, as people have to travel). :o)

  • Veronica

    Though I agree that the TSA has some policies in place that are questionable, I do feel that searching a young girl so aggressively is wrong.

    Try to put yourself in the mother’s position for one second – would you really want a stranger feeling your young teenage daughter the way this TSA agent did? For that matter, do you want a stranger searching her at all? I am not condemning all agents, just the ones that act like they are Correction Officers doing intake at Riker’s Island.

    I am wondering if you feel this way because she is a teenager? Would you have the same opinion if the girl was 5 or 6 years old?

  • Veronica

    I do not think that the nervousness was due to having anything to hide, but more along the lines of “I hope I do not miss my flight because this TSA agent has a major chip on his/her shoulder”. Again, I am not saying that all agents are like that, because, like you, I have not had a bad experience. However, we should not discount other people’s experience because they do not match ours.

  • Miami510

    This is my second posting in this section.
    After reading the preceeding posts, I have a serious question for those who don’t want physical pat-downs, and refuse the electronic inspections because of potential health concerns. What should the government do to protect planes from hijackers and suicide bombers?
    I personally am outraged at the billions we are forced to spend on TSA and all the equipment. I worry about the x-rays and microwaves and what that might do to my health. I don’t particularly like being patted-down and can appreciate why others, including parents, feel more strongly about physical inspection.
    I’d like to hear some constructive answers and not just complaints.

  • mbods

    Boycott flying, if you can. We haven’t flown in years because of the horrors at the airport. I know it’s difficult if it’s for your job or an emergency, but I can’t think of any other reason.

  • Bill Carr

    Good luck getting anything like that

  • DavidYoung2

    Look, they went to trial and the jury sided with the TSA. That’s 12 men and women who looked at the facts and found the traveller was WRONG. Why is it that the TSA-haters can’t believe that 12 of their fellow citizens spent hours looking at the facts and came to the conclusion the TSA was correct. Are you guys so blinded that nothing will convince you that they ever do anything right? If so, you’ve lost your objectivity and, thus, any legitimacy.

  • frostysnowman

    Even worse – I had nothing to hide, so it was OK that I was treated like a criminal at the airport!

  • Sommer Gentry

    The government should expand efforts to interdict and capture those who plot violent actions before they can put their plans into action. The only investments likely to pay off are these, like the investigative team that discovered the U.K. liquid bombers’ plot in 2006. Airport security wouldn’t have stopped that plot if the police hadn’t stopped the plotters from entering the airport, and airport security surely can’t stop the next one. It doesn’t matter what insanity the TSA puts us through – weapons are innumerable, evolving, and adaptable, so we can’t keep weapons off planes. Your shoelaces are weapons, sharpened credit cards are lethal. What kind of madness is it to think the hundreds-of-years-old tradition of improvised prisonyard weapons are completely unknown to terrorists? The only thing we can do is try to keep terrorists off of planes, which we can accomplish by finding terrorists and arresting them. I’ll note, though, that in 11 years of massive overinvestment in looking for terrorists, the U.S. government has arrested basically no one for terrorism aside from a few sad sack mentally ill people that they entrapped.

    Or, how about this concept? The government should invest in preventing deaths using some rational decision-making. How can we save the most lives with this dollar? The right answers are: smoke detectors, upgrading levees, flood control devices, replacing bridges, et cetera. The wrong answer is: pay a bunch of people to stick their hands down your pants. More Americans are killed by their furniture than by terrorists. Get. A. Grip.

  • Marcin Jeske

    Chris, I agree that every day should be Opt-out day, because no one should have to go through strip-scanners, and it would show the ridiculousness of treating everyone as a suspect. If the government wants to violate our rights, it should be obvious and out in the open, so that no one can deny that the TSA is treating each traveller the same as a suspect of a crime about to be arrested.

    I honestly object to the scanners on both fronts. 1) They are unnecessary uses of types of radiation the effects of which we do not have extensive experience with and 2) they are an invasive search that should not be a routine procedure in a civilized country.

    Each time I fly, I wait to see if I am directed to a metal detector or the scanner. If they point to a scanner, I politely opt-out, politely wait, and politely let the TSA agent do what they’ve been trained to do. Yes, pat-downs are also an invasive search, but at least the radiation concern is removed… and I am able to choose the invasive search which is least invasive for my standards (though I can understand that others prefer naked images rather that physical contact).

    A few things I have noticed… recently, most of the “opt-out assist” agents pointedly ask why I opted out, and if I have any concerns about the scanners that they can address… I usually mumble something about “untested waves”, but I wonder if they are not being asked to note and report answers as part of TSA’s data gathering. Maybe I should be giving a clearer statement on both my reasons.

    At one airport, they made me wait for the assist right next to the big x-ray machine, which seemed an odd place to put someone who has expressed a concern about radiation (though I assume those machines are properly shielded).

    They used to yell “male assist” really loudly so everyone in the line could hear (I assumed as a way to “shame” the opter), but that seems to have stopped (radio is used) mostly because it would backfire; on many occasions, opting out seems to inspire other people to opt out.

    Unlike others, I never make a scene, even if I am left waiting for a long time (recently, the TSA guy got so impatient with me calmly waiting for 10 minutes that he kept on calling for “male assist” every minute or so). I have never had an issue with the assist guy doing anything inappropriate and usually we carry on a nice conversation while they feel me up.

  • Sommer Gentry

    What do you think that the video of this incident shows? I watched it, and the body language seems clear to me: the police officer was acting aggressively and angrily towards the mother, getting closer and closer to her face. She was clearly only using her words. I find it disturbing and disappointing that one can’t speak words against the TSA’s truly filthy actions without getting arrested.

    Why exactly is it so unforgiveable to state clearly how unacceptable the TSA’s actions are? Because

    “The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime.”
    Emma Goldman

    I will not watch silently while the TSA sexually assaults children. I will never stop fighting.

  • LeeAnneClark

    There have been many suggestions about better ways to deal with the miniscule risk of terrorists on planes. Security experts have made proposals, written articles, and addressed TSA leaders on numerous occasions. I’m not a security expert myself so I will leave the details to them, but I can share with you the four MOST IMPORTANT facts to consider on this topic that I have gleaned from the experts. I urge everyone who thinks the TSA is “making us safer” to read this:

    1. NOTHING, and I mean nothing, short of full strip-down body-cavity searches, can be done to prevent a truly determined, intelligent terrorist from getting on a plane with a WEI (weapon, explosive, incendiary). No matter how much the TSA irradiates, gropes, and intimidates us, it’s already been proven that TSA screening is entirely inadequate and as porous as a sponge. Don’t believe me? Check out this article: Engineer Jonathan Corbett was able to get a weapon through the scanner just by artfully placing it on his body. People get through TSA screening with weapons all the time – even guns (there are articles about these failures frequently). Heck the TSA fails it’s OWN tests 75% of the time! So the bottom line is, unless you want to completely surrender all semblance of dignity and freedom in order to fly, and want to allow strangers to peer and probe directly up your orifices, you ARE going to be exposed to some level of risk, regardless of what the TSA does.

    2. That risk is so small as to be practically immeasurable. The risk is something like 1 in 25 MILLION – far smaller than getting hit by lightning. Exponentially smaller than dying in a car crash – and yet you get in a car every day without wearing a flame-proof crash suit, right? So why are we subjecting ourselves to untested scanners and abusive gropes in order to reduce a risk that is already so tiny it can barely be measured? Life has risk. You go to the post office – you could get shot by a raging postal employee. You walk to your car in a parking lot at night – you could get attacked by a rapist. You go jogging in a park – you could get murdered by a serial killer. Heck, you are more in jeopardy of dying from stepping out of your bathtub than flying on a plane. And yet we aren’t asking the government to demand non-skid floor mats in your bathroom, are we? Why do we want the government to go through these invasive, offensive “security” measures to fly, when it’s more dangerous to take a bath?

    3. Even in the infinitesimally tiny chance that an actual, hell-bent terrorist managed to get on a plane with a weapon, the chances of him being able to cause any kind of damage is virtually non-existent. Why? Two reasons: reinforced cockpit doors, and enlightened passengers. The reason 9/11 happened is because a) the hijackers were able to access the cockpit and take over the plane, and b) American passengers had been conditioned to let hijackers do what they want, believing they’ll be able to get out of it alive. Neither condition exists today. These days not even a machete, much less a box-cutter (or a butter knife!) would be able to bring down a plane. Unless you had more terrorists on the flight than passengers, he would be neutralized in minutes. Even explosives would not do the job – it’s just not that easy to fire off a bomb on a plane. In the years since 9/11 there have been only TWO incidents of terrorists attempting to attack a US airliner – and both were stopped by passengers.

    4. The most telling of all: there ARE NO TERRORISTS trying to take down US aircraft! How do we know this? Try a bit of basic logic here: if there are terrorist cells across America determined to kill Americans, why are they not going after far easier targets than planes? Why are they not blowing up trains (as in Madrid), nightclubs (as in Bali), or buses (as in Israel)? Why does anyone think they are so single-mindedly obsessed with planes? And even if they were so obsessed with planes, why wouldn’t they just walk up to a crowded TSA checkpoint and blow it up, instead of trying to actually get ON a plane? They could have far more impact, taking out hundreds of people, including dozens of standing-around TSA agents, in one fell swoop, and they wouldn’t even have to let an infidel touch their junk. So why isn’t that happening? Because REAL security experts in our intelligence agencies (not low-wage mall cops) are fighting terrorism behind the scenes, infiltrating cells, gathering intelligence, and making sure no terrorists get to the point of even being able to execute a plan like that.

    So what should be done at airports? Go back to the way it was before the TSA was created. Put airport security back in the hands of the airlines. They have a compelling interest in making sure their planes don’t fall out of the sky. Use metal detectors to ensure guns don’t make it on planes. Work closely with REAL US intelligence agencies to identify actual risks. Continue to educate Americans about what to do in the infinitesimally tiny chance they might encounter a whacko on a plane.

    And for pete’s sake stop strip-searching Grannies, frisking babies in diapers, and sexually assaulting teenage girls.

  • LeeAnneClark

    LOL! You made the same point I tried to make, only far more succinctly. It’s always a pleasure to read comments based on actual logic and intelligence on this topic…rather than the usual “they can do anything they want to me to keep my plane from blowing up!” drivel.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And two constructive answers just appeared.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    1) CORRECT ANSWER First, you are now offering a false choice: Current screening or none. The answer is: Previously legal metal detectors, no groping of penises/testicles/vulvas/female breasts. Allow shoes on. Allow reasonable liquids.
    If anyone flew since 1994 when a liquid bomb was used and killed 1 person on a Phillipine flight, clearly you agree with me as you have flown.
    If anyone flew between 2002 and 2003, you agree with me on liquids.
    If anyone flew after December, 2009 and before November 2010, clearly you agree with me that scanners and groping are not needed.
    If anyone flew over the past 6 months, clearly you agree with me as only 40% of passengers are subjected to scanners and groping.
    If anyone flew since the beginning of aviation in the US to this month, knowing that not 100% of cargo is screened on passenger flights, clearly you agree with me.

    So, I thank everyone who has flown and agrees with me.

    If you have flown over the last year, and do not agree with me, then I will only respect your opinion if you immediately stop all flying until scanners and groping are used on 100% of passengers and the TSA meets their goal of scanning 100% of cargo on passenger flights (despite the fact stuff can still get through on cargo).

    2) MIAMI510: I don’t disagree that non-metallic explosives, most likely PETN based items could be brought on a plane. The detonation of them requires a little more thought, but I like to think I could figure out how to smuggle an initiator. Of course, a real well-planned attack could eventually find vulnerabilities by compromising one of the 46,000 TSA workers. We could kidnap their kids for example and hold them hostage to letting a package through. Or, there may be simpler methods….drug smuggling is easy enough to use as an avenue for explosives.

    More importantly, Lee Anne Clark underestimated the odds of a suicidal airline passenger with a working non-metallic bomb on a US domestic flight. Covering EVERY GLOBAL FLIGHT since 1980 on Commercial airlines, there have been 4 known attempts by suicidal airline passengers with working non-metallic bombs. (2 bombs were left on a plane by the bombers, so really it is 2 “suicidal”. None were in the US).

    That is 34,487,566,845 global passengers on 403,800,813 flights in 32 years. I researched this with help of another Freedom To Travel USA member. That is .125 bombers a year against around 1.8 Billion passengers a year globally. The odds of a successful bomber are then 1 out of every 14.4 Billions passengers at today’s annual passenger totals. And success so far is 2 dead in 4 attempts, all planes landed safely, DESPITE years to plan/design/refine/perfect working non-metallic bombs.

    CONCLUSION: There is no legitimate threat to throw away our liberties to perform the most intrusive searches in US history on Americans – with or without nude images. Even without nude images, we still denigrate and embarrass those with medical conditions or the 9 million+ a year subjected to groping after scanning anyway. And for some, “Flying While Handicapped” is the new “Driving While Black”.

    For those who WANT to do something, we encourage you to join our email list at . We continue to work with legislators and others, and you can stay up to date on TSA issues with our weekly email.

    Thanks for caring about American values.

  • Daisiemae

    I am now standing and waving my American flag!

  • naoma foreman

    Why would she object to a pat down by a woman TSA for a teenager? My last flight I went through the scanner — although I did object — I really did not want to do it (have cancer in my past) and then had a pat down — quit thorough and something done to my hands that had to be checked.

  • Sommer Gentry

    Another quick response: 23 people die in airplane accidents for every one who dies in an airplane terrorist incident. Accordingly, the right thing to do is demand that we start spending 23 * 8.5 billion = about 200 billion dollars per year to prevent airplane accidents. I trust this sounds as ludicrous to you as it does to me.

    What’s reasonable is for us to use the same sorts of searches that prevailed on 9/10/2001: metal detectors, x-rays for baggage, and that’s it. What happened on September 11th was not a failure of searches: it was the government’s explicit instructions to pilots that they must cooperate with hijackers that caused that tragedy. It can never happen again because we won’t cooperate with hijackers and because we have reinforced cockpit doors. So, my answer is metal detectors, x-rays for baggage, plus increased police / intelligence agency funding to detect plots before they make it to the airport doors, because no plot ever has or ever will be stopped by an airport search.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Are you seriously asking why a mother would object to having her teenage daughter’s genitals touched by a stranger? REALLY?

    I think the answer is pretty self-evident, and I also think that any mother should feel the same way: you just don’t allow strangers to touch your children’s sexual organs. The gender of the toucher doesn’t matter. Having your child’s genitals touched by ANY stranger is wrong, offensive and illegal.

    Until such time as the TSA can guarantee that children’s genitals will not be touched during the course of a TSA “pat-down”, I would not allow my children to be patted down…period. While some pat-downs have not involved genital touching, many of them do. This is indisputable – there are videos, including the one on this very article, showing it happening. The TSA screener clearly shoves her hands right into the girl’s crotch, coming into direct contact with her genitals through her clothes. That is sexual touching by a stranger. And any decent parent should not allow that to happen to their child.

  • DavidYoung2

    You looked at a video over the internet? Wow – case solved. Those 12 men and women wasted their time because, hey, you saw a video.

    And a police officer acted aggressively? You could tell that from an overhead video, but the people who heard testimony and witnesses are wrong because, hey, you saw a video over the internet.

    Andfinally — the COP was aggressive you say? How does that relate to the TSA? They aren’t cops. And they don’t arrest people. Case closed – traveller guilty.

  • Sommer Gentry

    Watching the video is relevant because the video shows clearly that Abbott never physically prevented anyone from doing anything. The crime Ms. Abbott was convicted of is speaking her mind about what our government did to her child. That’s significant in the United States of America. We should not fear the consequences of peacefully protesting against our government.

    And as for your last paragraph – try to keep up. There was a police officer on the scene and he arrested her for speaking her mind against the TSA. I’m not sure what or whom you are disagreeing with in your last paragraph.

  • pauletteb

    Another round-trip flight . . . another two interactions with TSA people who were nothing but polite and efficient. Another over-the-top column by Chris to feed his rabid anti-TSA followers. Yawn!

  • Sommer Gentry

    Did they politely and efficiently shove their hands up between your legs and hit you in the genitalia, as they did on video to Andrea Abbott’s daughter? If so, then you and I have a different definition of “polite”. And if not, then you don’t know what you’re talking about. After these cretins sexually assault you or your little girl, come back here and tell us how much you liked it.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Another “anything-for-safety” type posting more “it didn’t happen to me, so it must not be happening to others” nonsense.


    I also walked down a dark alley once, and wasn’t raped. I now feel it’s perfectly acceptable to tell the woman who WAS raped in that alley that it must not have happened to her. Because it didn’t happen to me. See how that logic works? Oh…wait…

  • Ryan

    Every day is opt out day. Every time.