TSA watch: They’re looking for the wrong thing – and congratulating themselves for it

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

If that’s true, then I should probably feel privileged that my old friend Bob Burns has started a “week in review” feature on the TSA site to highlight the positive things his agency has done – and presumably, to counter all of the unfortunate events I tend to write about every week in TSA watch.

But in this week’s post, Burns covers one event for which the TSA deserves to be recognized — and several that left me puzzled.

Let’s start with the one I liked. It involves a passenger at Syracuse International Airport who discovered she had left her cell phone in her rental car after she’d gone through screening. A helpful TSA agent retrieved the handset for her, reported the Consumerist.

“She was polite, courteous, professional and extremely helpful,” the passenger wrote. “I feel like she went above and beyond the call of duty without compromising security at the airport.”

Neat story.

But TSA also tries to connect this customer-service coup with another “success” story that, like the first one I mentioned, has practically nothing to do with making air travel safer.

It notes,

So far this week, our officers have discovered 10 loaded firearms in carry-on bags at security checkpoints across the nation.

In addition to these loaded weapons that we’ve kept off of airplanes, there were also unloaded firearms, loose ammunition, and firearm parts detected that aren’t mentioned in this post.

TSA then goes on to list all of the incidents, which is a little unusual. Maybe it’s because only two of them – a loaded .380 caliber pistol in Salt Lake City and another in Seattle – made the news. Perhaps the agency wants full credit for discovering this cache.

But the problem, as any levelheaded observer will tell you, isn’t guns on planes or ammunition on planes. After all, some pilots keep loaded pistols on the flight deck and air marshals carry weapons, too.

It’s guns in the wrong hands that are the problem.

The TSA’s post leaves me with the impression that the passengers behind these and other gun incidents may have had nefarious motives (it denies that — see Blogger Bob’s comment below). Maybe they should have also provided the names of these would-be terrorists and the charges that were filed against them.

Indeed, the agency mentions nothing about who these passengers were or what actions were taken against them. In truth, these cases are handed over to local authorities, who might prosecute them — or drop them. TSA has no law enforcement authority.

Maybe it’s me, but I think the TSA should wait a while before patting itself on the back again. Even though I love the story about the agent who retrieved the cell phone, that can be done far cheaper by one of those meet-and-greet volunteers who work at the airport, saving American taxpayers billions of dollars a year.

Likewise, the obsessive search for weapons, while it may make some of us feel a little safer, is wrong-headed. The agency should be looking for terrorists instead.

When TSA catches its first Jihadist trying to incinerate an aircraft over American airspace, then it should post its next week in review.

Until then, maybe it ought to keep its “successes” to itself.

(Photo: Publik 18/Flickr)

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 chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Raven_Altosk

    I wanted an option of “Yes, so we can see what *they* consider a success.”

    I own quite a few firearms. When I travel, I usually take my favorite one with me where and when it is allowed. (Meaning, I can’t take it to Canada or England because handguns are illegal)

    To travel with it, I must check it in a special box, and it goes through a bunch of screenings, declarations and signatures. It does not fly as “carry on,” obviously, but as checked luggage.

  • Mbods2002

    The TSA knows so many of us view them unfavorably and think they should be disbanded.  They’re desperate.  I’ll wager ALL the “terrorist weapons” reported were legal or else we would have heard more.

  • jsteele98

    Glad to see someone else finally saying what I have been saying since the TSA idiocy started. We have spent billions of dollars looking for weapons instead of terrorists.

    They are touting the fining of all these “weapons” but there is not indication that any of these people had any ill intentions in mind. There are plenty of incidents where people have been found in possession of loaded firearms in their carry-on AT THE END OF THEIR TRIP. Clearly these people where not terrorists or criminals.

    The terrorists have won. They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They set out to damage some buildings and embarrass America. Instead they knocked down the World Trade Center and brought America and American freedom crashing to the ground with them.

  • middle-aged-diva

    Terrorist or just plain crazy person, I don’t want hand guns on a plane that haven’t been screened and approved. It’s just silly to say that every case is terrorism but safety is more than just protection from terrorism. How about the handful of crazy people who act out on planes? I sure as hell don’t want them acting out on plane with a loaded gun. Sorry Chris, this one’s a stretch.

  • katie

    All of the weapons were presumably found using “old” technology of metal detectors and x-ray bag screening.  They still have not found anything using the new, very expensive, radiation scanners, nor have they been able to justify the invasive pat-downs.

  • Guest

    Put scanners in and forget about the people.  Anyone who gets a hit is sidelined for additional screening.

  • cjr001

    “TSA’s statements suggest that the passengers behind these and other gun incidents may have had nefarious motives.”

    TSA treats everybody as a terrorists in waiting, so their playing up this angle should surprise nobody.

    TSA is in the propaganda business, not the safety business.

  • MO

    My neighbor, a 70 years old guy, went to the airport and forgot that his gun was in his briefcase. Got arrested, gun confiscated etc. This is not a success story, this old man built the country, unfortunately he is old and has amnesia. NOT a TSA success, just harassment of an old man.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1556838763 Nancy Marine Dickinson

    cjr – I think you said it better than I ever could have.  Guilty until proven innocent is the motto of TSA.

  • Bob Burns

    To be fair, I never implied these passengers had nefarious intent. In fact, I went on to tell readers how to properly travel with firearms.

    Bob Burns
    TSA Blogger

  • Badbadbear

    I didn’t vote as both options were patronizing. There needed to be a more middle of the road voting option in there.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yeah, I’d like to hear the first time they find a weapon…something that could actually bring down the plane…in the folds of a woman’s labia. Only that could justify the pounding they gave to MY labia the last time I went through a TSA checkpoint.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Agree. This is the biggest idiocy of all. Why do they search elderly disabled women’s adult diapers? Because, garsh, a terrorist could use an elderly person’s diaper to take down a plane! Has there ever been ONE SINGLE INCIDENT of a terrorist attempting to use an elderly person’s diaper to take down a plane? Of course not.

    Billions upon billions upon billions of our tax dollars spent, to try to stop something from happening that has NEVER HAPPENED.

  • Guest

    Chris:  This is one of those rare times I will disagree with you. Whether the person is or is not a “terrorist”, if they are trying to take a weapon on board, that is serious business. Yes, most of those “caught” are undoubtedly good upright non-terrorists. No matter how careful that person can be, accidents do sometimes happen, etc, etc. In this case, let’s let  TSA continue to do the job and keep unauthorized weapons off the plane. If they want to “brag”, there are certainly worse things they can brag about!

  • DesperateHeart

    Oh my God.  Another assault.  I finally saw how many people “3%” of air travelers actually means:  1.8 million every month are “patted” down.  They need to stop using the word “pat”.  Thanks for speaking up, LeeAnne.  I wish there was a website where people could simply check a box marked “violated in an airport patdown today”.  There are so few names where people are going public with their stories it can be easy to assume it’s a small number of people being assaulted like this.  I’m sorry it happened to you.

  • Gratianus

    Chris, I think your choice of questions is unfair. It’s not just amusing in the way the crime blotter is in local newspapers when it reports bizarre reports of non-existent threats. It is a way of reminding the public that carrying weapons or parts of weapons or anything else that could be used as a weapon is illegal. In this case, I am a firm believer of profiling: if you try to bring any of these things onto a flight, you should be treated as a potential menace until it’s demonstrated otherwise.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Hey blogger Bob…
    How about addressing the incident I detailed on this site last Saturday about the TSA agents at IAH harassing and making fun of a woman who was clearly a pre-op MTF transsexual?

    Here’s the link:

    Comment is about halfway down the screen.

  • LeeAnneClark

    To be fair, Bob, all of TSA’s crowing about all of the “prohibited items” that it confiscates (aka STEALS) just emphasizes the overall stupidity of the whole system: searching for bad things, as opposed to bad people. Swiping a sharp tool from the pocket of a technician on his way to a job site does not make anyone safer. It just makes that poor technician a little poorer, as he’s going to have to buy another one. (And makes the TSA a little richer, as they sell these “confiscated items” to pad their bloated pockets even more.)

    Since you are obviously reading this thread, I have some very specific questions for you. Can you step up to the plate and answer them?

    1. Has the TSA ever once found a weapon that could actually take down a plane within the folds of a woman’s labia? If not, why are women’s labia being touched by TSA screeners? (And don’t bother saying they aren’t, because MINE have been…TWICE.)

    2. If a terrorist wanted to target our air transportation system, wouldn’t it make a helluva lot more sense to just walk up to a crowded TSA checkpoint and blow himself up? He could kill hundreds of passengers and TSOs, without even having to have his junk touched by an infidel. Why does the TSA think that a terrorist would go to all the trouble of trying to get past the checkpoint to blow up the actual plane, when it would be so much easier to blow up the checkpoint?

    3. Why does the TSA think that terrorist are even interested in planes at all anymore? Wouldn’t it make more sense for a terrorist to blow up a bus (as in Israel), a train (as in Europe) or a nightclub (as in Bali)? Since NONE OF THOSE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED, what makes the TSA think that terrorists are so obsessed with planes?

    4. If the TSA is so dedicated to treating passengers with respect as it continually states, why are there so many reports of passengers being treated with the exact opposite, such as Lori Dorn, Lena Reppert, Thomas Sawyer, Nadine Hayes, Cathy Bossi, Stacey Armato, Mandi Hamlin, Robert Perry, and countless others that didn’t make the media (including me and my elderly disabled mother)?

    Can you man up and answer these reasonable questions, Bob?

  • Barbara

    This is why it’s called Gate Rape. 

  • LeeAnneClark

    I can’t help but laugh every time I see them claim that pat-downs only happen 3% of the time. For people like me, with metal parts in our bodies (in my case, rods & pins in my spine), we have to get the pat-down EVERY SINGLE TIME. That’s 100% of the time, in case the TSA is as bad at math as it is at adhering to the US Constitution.

    The sad part is, the TSA doesn’t CARE that they are violating and abusing people. If you go read the Travel Safety/Security forum at Flyertalk.com, there are a number of TSOs who post there. Most of them defend to the end what TSA does – no matter how abusive or horrific.  In fact, here’s what TSO Ron said about the horrible assault committed on cancer survivor Lori Dorn last month:

    “There are millions of cancer survivors. Just as there are many millions more people out there that survive the common cold (and quite a few that don’t), survive a broken bone (and quite a few that don’t), meningitis (and some who don’t). By now you are getting my drift, at least I hope so. Why, as a society, are we so protective or irrational over cancer survivors and not the others? I survived another go-round with my teenager last night, and so did she. Why isn’t that making the news?”

    This working TSO, who screens passengers for a living, thinks that cancer survivors deserve no more respect than someone with a common cold! He thinks that the pain and suffering they’ve experienced just to stay alive, the surgical wounds, the missing body parts, don’t deserve any more respect than a guy who had a fight with his daughter! This is who is doing these searches, folks — people like TSO Ron. Go read his posts at Flyertalk, and you will never want to go through a checkpoint again. They think what they are doing is okay…no matter how abusive.

    It’s not only that TSA felt up the chest of a cancer survivor. It’s that TSA is conducting humiliating public examinations of people who are “different”. And they’re doing it with zero compassion, zero empathy with the suffering they have already experienced. Why should anyone have to be treated this way, just to be able to get from point a to point b?

  • LeeAnneClark

    I disagree. When it comes to the TSA, there is no middle road. They are a bloated government agency peopled with abusive thugs who have no respect for basic human rights. They waste 8 billion dollars a year on security theater that not only doesn’t make us any safer, it makes us LESS safe…as we are now subjected to irrational and abusive physical molestations, with no rights, no way to protect ourselves from being assaulted once we have entered the checkpoint. We are at the mercy of uneducated, low-paid, ill-trained goons who have a demonstrated pattern of ignoring civil rights and basic human decency.

    No middle ground there. They need to be stopped…completely.

  • Eric

    I would never travel with a firearm.  Basically because I don’t want to have either the TSA agents or the airline employees steal it out of my bag.  And don’t tell me TSA agent don’t steal.  I wouldn’t put anything more valuable than a tube of toothpaste in my checked bag.

  • PleadTheFourth

    But the biggest “TSA find” story this week wasn’t any of the ones you mentioned.  The biggest thing in the news was the guy who got stopped at JFK with brass knuckles, a dagger, a sword, and stun guns.  In his CHECKED baggage. These things are obviously not a danger to the aircraft.  They can’t be wielded as weapons when they’re in the cargo hold.  TSA is somehow empowered to conduct a search which would be illegal if the cops did it (but TSA gets away with this violation because it’s an administrative rather than a criminal search), but then TSA turns the evidence over to the cops because the crime has nothing to do with transportation safety.  Does no one see the obvious Constitutional loophole here?  I’m beginning to suspect that the real reason TSA exists is to serve as a drug and weapons enforcement arm that doesn’t have to respect the rule of law or the 4th amendment and long-established restrictions on police searches.

  • ButMadNNW

    I also “love” the suggestion that we should congratulate TSO Ron for not inflicting child abuse on or killing his teenager: “I survived another go-round with my teenager last night, and so did she.” Really? That’s the mentality you want to project for the agency you’re defending, Ron?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yup. These are the people feeling our genitals. That’s who they hire. But then, what do you expect when you advertise for jobs on pizza boxes?

  • Jason Hanna

    I’m not anti-TSA.. But.. Yeah.. This is pretty much just PR crap. Is there a higher incidence of guns being caught now? I doubt it.. But if so, it’s probably because more people HAVE guns. People have been getting nabbed going through security with guns since security was put in place, even governors. See Carroll Campbell. It’s nothing new. I’m sure the exact same numbers that got through before get through now, and that’s a very small number. Same percentage gets caught as did pre-TSA.

    If you have to point out the good you do, then that’s because you’re trying to distract from all the bad press. Do good, and people will point it out for you.

  • Brooklyn

    I hate the TSA, but I’m 100% in favor of gun control and I don’t think letting guns on planes is the cause I want to defend. On the contrary: if they’d inspect our luggage and keep their filthy hands and scanners off our bodies, that might be a fair trade.

  • http://www.viaggiareleggeri.com/blog/2148/Carta-prepagata-Ryanair-paghi-anche-se-non-la-usi VL

    Sorry, but “(…) the obsessive search for weapons” does not sound obsessive at all. I have several years in the US, I know how everybody’s very fond of their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, but in the rest of the planet, guns are seen with a bit less tolerance. Quite a bit, actually. I cannot imagine anybody thinking that stopping weapons before they are boarded is a mistake or even just an “obsession”. It is just a necessary step.

    With this I am not saying that the TSA is not wasting taxpayer’s money in many creative and not-so-clever ways.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Unless the passengers had nefarious intent, finding the firearms did no one any good.  TSA costs at least 8 billion dollars per year, or $150 million per week.  So this week TSA found 10 guns, which means we spent fifteen million dollars *each* to catch these entirely irrelevant-to-security weapons violations. 

    TSA was created to detect and thwart terrorist plots: what percentage of these weapons-carrying people were plotting terrorist acts?  At a rate of 10 per week, TSA would have detected about 5000 weapons in carry-on luggage since its inception some 80 billion dollars ago.  Precisely zero of those violators has ever been charged with having plotted a terrorist act.  Meanwhile, at least 16 alleged terrorists passed through TSA’s airport checkpoints on 23 known occasions without being detected.   TSA’s failure rate: 100%.  TSA’s cost: not worth it.

    The systematically abusive mistreatment of innocent travelers, the ritualized sexual humiliation of citizens, is just done for theatrical effect.  TSA has never contributed one positive thing to America and it never will.

  • cjr001

    Propaganda Bob, let us know when your agency actually cares about safety, rather than mistreating millions of innocents for your jollies.

  • cjr001

    TSA should not be bragging about ANYTHING they do.

    They are there to keep us safe. They are NOT there to thump their chests while trying to sweep under the rug the simple fact that they’ve not stopped a SINGLE terrorist.

    So, let the media do their job in covering these stories. And let Propaganda Bob update his resume and then try and find a real job.

  • cjr001

    I do believe as part of that story, the weapons, although checked, were going to be taken somewhere where they would be illegal.

    Still, I wouldn’t trust a TSA agent to be able to know that kind of thing. As it is, they don’t even known their own agency’s rules, much less the laws of a foreign country.

  • Oldsage

    I’m amazed and dismayed. Why do Americans stick with this “guns don’t kill people” mentality, especially on an aircraft? That should be a given. The risk of somebody accidentally or intentionally firing a gun on a plane should be sufficient reason to confiscate a firearm, parts or munitions. I don’t care if they’re turned over to local authorities, just keep them off a plane. Whether it’s the pilot, an air marshall, or drunk uncle Harry, a hand gun discharged at 39,000 feet can depressurize or damage an aircraft, bringing it down. I’m quite pleased to know that the TSA is preventing ordinary thoughtless people from endangering my life because Americans seemingly can’t be without the instant power available to kill someone. Yes, I’m a Canadian and avoid flying on US carriers for several reasons besides the thought of being with cowboys in the sky. ( I’m also a pilot). Hand guns do kill except for a very few who use them for sport the only reason they exist is the provide someone the ability to maim or kill. Americans insist on bringing them everywhere. Thankfully Air Canada and all Canadian carriers (indeed most world airlines)turn anyone who can’t part with their deadly toy and leave it home over to authorities where guaranteed they are prosecuted. General aviation aircraft, autos, motorhomes, will be impounded, and the unfortunate soul will be detained and heavily fined. It is arrogant to think it’s ok to transport these things on aircraft. Bravo to the TSA on this one. Welcome to our beautiful country but respect our laws. The American right to have a well armed militia just doesn’t cut when you into our airports.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    But the issue is that the search wasn’t lawful if it were a search for weapons violations that are unrelated to transportation security.  The TSA is supposedly only there to look for things that could be used in a terrorist attack.  Then, once they use that flimsy reasoning to paw through people’s belongings in a search that police would NEVER be empowered to conduct, the TSA starts finding all kinds of evidence of crimes that have nothing to do with aviation security.    I mean, the TSA’s been reported to have photocopied the entire contents of travelers’ wallets, stealing credit card numbers, counting cash, questioning and detaining a woman at a checkpoint because they suspected her of stealing money from her husband (a completely false and baseless accusation) based on the payor and payee fields of checks she was carrying.  A check is a piece of paper – not a weapon and not a banned item.  The TSA is just acting like an amateur police force with no 4th amendment restrictions on searches!  Screeners are trying, without any understanding of law or policing, to catch all kinds of non-terrorist criminals. 

    I don’t blame screeners for trying to catch non-terrorist criminals – after all, they’ve never caught even one of the terrorists they’re supposedly looking for. Screeners feel worthless, so they try to seem important by busting people for drugs or immigration violations or any other thing they can trumpet in the news.  None of it makes any difference to your safety when you fly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Has anyone else here noted the many similarities between Blogger Bob and Bahgdad Bob http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Saeed_al-Sahhaf    ?  Both men are pathetic shills who told blatant lies in service of their despotic employers, while thousands of patriotic Americans fought heroically to bring their evil regimes to an end.

    On the plus side, Blogger Bob’s increasingly desperate and tone-deaf spin doctoring has become legendary as a sign of TSA’s bunker mentality.  The TSA’s days of abusing innocent people are numbered.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yeah. Didn’t think so.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Guns can be stopped from boarding planes without the insanity that takes place now. What gun could I hide under my breast? In the folds of my labia? What gun could a guy hide underneath his penis?

    You don’t need to touch people’s genitalia to prevent guns from being carried on planes. Guns require metal (James Bond movies notwithstanding) – go back to the days of metal detectors and hand-held wands, and we’ll be fine.  It’s the search for explosives and explosives residue that has resulted in all the sexual pawing.

    But the stupidity of THAT is that a determined terrorist could carry on all he needed to blow up a plane today – by using body cavities, which the TSA has not *yet* begun to search. Hence, all this genital-groping is useless and worthless, and does nothing but terrorize, humiliate and traumatize innocent travelers.

    The bottom line is, you cannot eliminate 100% of risk – ANYWHERE. Not on planes, or buses, or subways, or McDonald’s, or malls in middle America. If a terrorist wants to blow people up, there are WAY more effective and efficient ways to do it than to try to sneak weapons onto a plane. The circumstances that led to the 9/11 attacks no longer exist: cockpit doors have been locked and reinforced, and passengers will no longer sit idly by while “hijackers” take over planes. The ONLY two terroristic attempts on airplanes in the last ten years were stopped by…PASSENGERS!

    Airlines have a vested interest in not letting their planes get blown up. Let’s go back to the days when THEY were responsible for keeping their planes safe. Stop wasting 8 BILLION dollars a year in our money, trying to stop something that has a 1 in 25 MILLION chance of happening.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And guns haven’t been allowed on planes for decades. Did the 9/11 terrorists use guns? No- they used box cutters and plain old intimidation.

    The TSA is LESS effective at stopping guns than pre-9/11 security! The TSA has failed almost every tested attempt to get guns through their checkpoints. With more people going through the nude-o-scopes, TSA agents are letting things through that never would have gotten through in the past – while at the same time they are harassing innocent women with breast prostheses and passengers with medical devices that appear to be “anomalies”.

    Metal detectors stop guns. Rubbing genitals, poking babies’ diapers, and pawing elderly disabled people does not.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Gun Control? 
    Please define what you consider gun control because uneducated people throw around the term to include “ban all guns.”

    Traveling with a legal weapon in a legal manner is no cause for alarm. My weapon will not hurt you–it is stowed below the aircraft and in a special, hardbacked box that only I have the key to. 

  • Raven_Altosk

    And here comes the anti-second-amendment crowd…

    I am a licensed owner of numerous firearms. I am a law abiding citizen. When a drugged up degenerate gangbanger kicked in my apartment door eight years ago to rob me, he got quite a surprise. He even held his weapon like those idiot gansta rappers–a good clue that he had no idea how to handle it. He took a shot but wasn’t ready for the recoil.

    Anyway, I drew my holster weapon and gave him a nice shoulder wound. Though he ran, the cops caught him. He’s currently incarcerated, hopefully for at least another ten years. 

    Imagine that scenario if this piece of trash had been able to actually hold his weapon effectively and I had been unarmed?

  • Sadie Cee

    I have had two guns pointed at my head.  In the first instance I was merely six years old and being held in my mother’s arms.  My parents were engaged in a custody battle over their three children.  The paid assassin did not pull the trigger saying as he had the gun raised that he had never killed a woman yet and would return the “blood money” and would not carry out the deal.  In the second case, at 17 the gun was inches from my head and the trigger was pulled by an empty-headed woman who did not know whether it was loaded or not.  Thankfully, the owner of the gun had unloaded it before she took it up.  The woman was laughing the entire time.

    These are nightmares that I have had to live with for my entire life.

    Needless to say, I am paranoid about guns and do not take kindly to having them around or near me.  One blogger stated on this site that she had boarded with a gun in her carry-on luggage that had not been detected by TSA!!!  For once, I applaud the TSA and other security forces.  They are doing a great service by taking guns away and handing the parties over to police for possible prosecution.  I dearly hope that publishing these seizures as “successes” or whatever will serve as a deterrent to those who want to travel with their guns.  Any advocacy in favour of gun possession anywhere astounds and horrifies me.

  • Sadie Cee

    He has amnesia?  Is he a good candidate to have a licence to carry this type of weapon?  Just asking.

  • Dave

    Sadie – I hope I never have to go through what you did, but you sound like you would be the type of person to strip responsible gun owners like Raven on this blog of their lawful right to self-defense.

  • Daisymae

    You have completely missed the point.  The point is not whether or not guns should be allowed on planes.  The point is whether or not TSA protects American travellers from terrorists.

    TSA points to the confiscation of a small number of guns as proof that they are doing their job:  protecting us from terrorists.  The fact that not one of these individuals has been charged with terrorism destroys TSA’s justification that they are protecting us from terrorists.

    TSA cannot point to one single instance in which they have protected us from terrorists.  All the TSA did was to confiscate a small number of illegally transported weapons.  That’s all they did…they did not prevent terrorism in doing so since none of these people intended to commit any terroristic acts.

    We don’t need to pay $8 billion a year to detect and confiscate illegally transported weapons.  Pre-TSA security with metal detectors did a better job of that than TSA is doing now…at a far cheaper price than $8 billion dollars per year.  And no one was sexually violated in the process.

  • Brooklyn

    And imagine if neither of you had had a gun because they were impossible to get!  I like that scenario better.  If we outlawed guns today, then yes, for a period of time the bad guys would still have them.  But that time would pass, their guns would be confiscated and we’d all be safer like the rest of the Western world!

  • Brooklyn

    Let me be clear: yes, I want to ban all guns.

  • Raven_Altosk

    And imagine a world where rainbows fly out of people’s butts and instead of airlines we all ride around unicorns with free baggage!

    …you can’t be serious…but knowing some of the anti-firearm crowd, I’m guessing you are…

  • Raven_Altosk

    In a perfect world, where there was no war, or crackheads who don’t kick in your doors, or muggers, or carjackers, or other thugs and dangers…I’d agree.

    But I live in reality.
    And all of those bad things exist.

    So, maybe you want to re-evaluate your decision making paradigm on that one.

  • Sadie Cee

    You are so right! 

  • Raven_Altosk

    When the last crook, gangbanger, crackhead, terrorist, etc has surrendered their firearms, then I will, too.

  • http://twitter.com/travelingiraffe Crissy

    Well it does show some hope that they are capable of finding something, doesn’t tell us much about how well they actually do it.  

    I think the job of catching terrorists is the job of law enforcement.  The TSA is in many ways the last line of defense for finding and stopping terrorists. But I have my doubts that if the FBI, CIA and all the other Law Enforcement agencies can’t find a terrorist, I don’t have much confidence that the TSA is going to do it.  And if they found someone who was a terrorist, what the heck are they going to do, they’re not even armed!  Not that I’m suggesting they be armed, I’m scared of that.  

  • Dave

    So, if someone goes on a rampage but using a 10″ cast iron skillet, would there then be a clamor to end the sale, manufacture, and use of 10″ cast iron skillets?

    Or how about if that paid assassin’s weapon of choice was a deftly-swung aluminum bat? What then?

    As a friend in law enforcement told me many years ago, if someone wants to cause harm to someone, they will find a way to do it – whether by gun, bat, poison, or even a Mack truck.

    There has to be a point where it is the PERSON who has to be held fully accountable for their actions – NOT the “tools” they use. That is all.

  • cjr001

    War and muggers would exist with or without guns. And the gun problem in this country came along long before.

    Crackheads and carjackers, on the other hand, are only encouraged by how easily they can get their hands on guns.

    There’s a pretty good reason why we have a lot more violent crime than a lot of other places in the world. And no, you don’t need more than one guess to figure out why that is.

    (And no, I’m not entirely against the 2nd Amendment.)

  • cjr001

    Get over yourself, Raven. You love your guns. Yippee freaking skippy good for you.

    But last I checked, it is perfectly reasonable to not want guns in the hand of every man, woman, and child, as some of the pro-firearms crowd want it.

  • cjr001

    When the only purpose of the tool is to kill, then analogies to baseball bats and skillets and whatever other nonsense people come up with completely fall apart.

  • Linda Bator

    They search for those things NOT allowed in your carryons, and weapons are one of those things not allowed.  There is a way to legally transport them, but these folks chose not to follow the law in this instance.  Nothing to crow about catching, as it is their job, but they do need to make folks aware of what they can do to legally transport those items, rather than try to carry them on.

  • Daisymae

    I wonder about that too.  What if one of these high school dropouts actually finds a bomb one day?  What are they going to do other than say, “Oh, s**t!”

  • Linda Bator

    Agreed – but not loaded and in your carry-on!  Which is why they were confiscated.  And if people get more information on the site as how to legally transport, all for it.  But crowing about doing your job is no biggie IMHO.

  • Linda Bator

    Not against having a gun at all – just don’t want a loaded wepon carried on board the plane.  You can legally transport safely, and NO ONE needs access to a dangerous wepon on board the plane.  But not against guns or legally transporting them. 

  • Mark K

    I don’t find anything that says the TSA is there to catch terrorists.  They exist to prevent things from getting on planes that could be used by terrorists.  They are doing that, admittedly not 100% but thay have some successes.  I don’t see where the TSA bragging about their “successes” serve any purpose other than a a weak attempt to justify their cost.
    I am happy the TSA are finding the loaded guns.  Loaded guns don’t need to be on planes (except for those for air marshals and properly trained pilots).  While I am sure that most of the people caught with the guns don’t intend to shoot up the place, you just never know what might set someone off or what their intention is and one of them might just be a terrorist.  If you need your gun with you where you are going, there are proper ways to carry it in checked luggage that are legal and safe.

  • Martin

    I’m no fan of the TSA, but how exactly would you have had them handle this case?  A guy with cognitive difficulties is caught with a weapon. Clearly the gun gets confiscated.  Maybe the arrest is avoidable depending on how he responded to questioning. But did he fail to cooperate because he got upset or couldn’t answer or understand the questions?

    Guns aside, I’m not tickled with the idea of somebody traveling who can’t tell me what is in the briefcase he carried onto the plane. It makes me wonder if he’s going to be able to make his way where he needs to go, or even if he’s going to be able to keep himself safe. What you call harassment, I call looking out for the guy’s welfare and the welfare of everybody he’s going to come into contact with.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Are you happy to have your genitals touched in order to stop a gun from getting onboard? How about your wife’s? Your teenage daughter? Are you okay with having your elderly disabled mother publicly humiliated, and forced to remove her adult diaper in order to supposedly stop guns from getting on planes? Are you find with having your prepubescent daughter’s naked body viewed by some nameless faceless man hidden behind a screen? How about with your uncle having his urostomy bag squeezed until it spills urine all over him?

    Nobody thinks guns belong on planes. But nor do they belong on a bus, or train, or in a courthouse filled with criminals, or a sporting event filled with drunk & disorderly fans.  But nobody is sexually molesting children and grannies to stop them from getting in those places, are they?

    Metal detectors stop guns. Pawing the genitalia of innocent passengers does not.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Do you know what they are doing with the “prohibited items” they confiscate today? They are putting them in a bin right there at the checkpoint. So when that bomb blows up, it’ll take out all the TSOs, and the hundreds of passengers waiting there for their own scope-or-grope.

    I think that pretty much says it all.

  • Celt12377

    Oh, please, the melodrama is a bit over the top at this point. I’m one of the lucky ones who always seems to get singled out for the extended pat down. I’m a white, chubby, middle-aged woman. On a flight earlier this year I was even taken into a private room and given a thorough pat down…by two female agents, who explained what they were doing. And yes, one of them put her hand between my legs. But she did not “grope” my labia, or come anywhere near any sort of invasive touch of any degree. I think LeeAnne, you are way over-exaggerating both your experiences and your reaction to them. Just earlier this month I was told — after the full-body x-ray experience — that they thought they saw something in my back pocket (there was nothing in my pocket) and the agent would need to “touch [my] buttock,” with the gloved, back of her hand. Did I want a private screening?  No, no worries, do what you need to do right here. It wasn’t any more invasive than bumping into other people on a crowded…well, airplane.  Do I enjoy being singled out every time I fly?  No.  Do I call the slight touches I’ve received “pawing at genitalia”?  Absolutely not.  Trust me, LeeAnne, there is nothing special about YOUR genitalia. We’ve all got one kind or the other, and those TSA agents most likely don’t want to touch you, either. Suck it up and do as asked, or drive or take the bus. No one is forcing you to fly.

  • Daisymae

    Yeah, that’s what the TSO did with my sunscreen when I passed through San Francisco a couple of years ago.  She actually tossed it through the air into the bin.  Another sucess story for TSA!  Dangerous sunscreen (that had already flown on two previous flights from Maui and Honolulu) confiscated!

    (What a boom that would have made if it actually had been a bomb!)

  • Daisymae

    Your lack of humanity is astounding.

  • Celt12377

    Again…oh, please. There are horrific acts of violence inflicted on women all over this planet every day. Actual rapes, torture, murder, abuse, enslavement. A brief pat down by a TSA agent in a busy airport doesn’t begin to compare to the actual violation, pain, and suffering of far too many. No one is forcing LeeAnne to fly. She has a choice. Many woman do not. I have an abundance of humanity, thanks, but I also have perspective, and true suffering is something to be outraged about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Shocked.  I don’t know how to feel other than shocked that you would scold another woman who has been sexually violated about the inappropriateness of her reaction.  The TSA doesn’t give women a choice of whether flying is worth unwanted sexual contact: instead, the TSA blatantly lies or lies by omission about what will be touched and then just goes ahead and touches without permission.  Just this week a woman went on TV to complain that she wasn’t told her “v-word” would be touched, then suddenly felt a stranger’s hand on her sex organs.  http://www.krdo.com/video/28854237/index.html
    So, no, many passengers don’t know that this is happening and are not being given a chance to make an informed choice.

    And no, not everyone has “one kind or the other” of genitalia.  Your ignorance is showing.  Just scroll down this very thread to see one story of how the TSA abuses and humiliates travelers with non-normative genitalia.  One litigant in one of the dozens of lawsuits against the TSA working slowly through the courts is a man with an enlarged testicle who was subjected to a humiliating sexual assault in the secret room.

    I’m ashamed of you.  How dare you minimize another woman’s experience of sexual assault?  What’s no big deal to you may feel like a big horrendous deal to someone else, particularly for victims of prior sexual violence.  For instance, Alaska State Representative Sharon Cissna has made it very clear that an airport patdown revived her memories of a childhood assault.  The TSA sexually assaulted me seven years ago, and I can tell you that I will never, ever get over it or ever forget it.  Whether my suffering has been worse than someone else’s is something I won’t judge.  But whether I will fight to prevent every woman’s preventable suffering is a foregone conclusion.  TSA, stop hurting people!  And Celt12377, stop insulting sexual assault victims.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Do the screeners touch your labia through your clothes, or not?  I can’t tell from reading your post.  You mention you’ve had many patdowns: are your labia consistently touched, sometimes, never?  I still, after following this topic intensely for a year, have no idea whether labia and testicles are supposed to be touched, are accidentally touched sometimes by sloppy screeners, are maliciously touched sometimes by sadistic screeners, or are intentionally missed sometimes by sympathetic screeners.  Since John Pistole won’t tell us what a patdown is, we can only go by guesses based on travelers’ reported experiences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    No, I’m referring to the incident involving the brass knuckles and the sword and things that were in checked baggage.  The TSA does not ban those things in checked baggage.  Instead, the TSA was playing amateur cop and tattling to the real police about something that was totally irrelevant to airline security.

  • Mark K

    The guns collected that were reported by the TSA were found by the xray machines within carry on luggage.  None were found on people.  They would have been found regardless of what type of search method is being used on the people. 

    I don’t like the TSA any more than you do.  While I and no members of my family have had any of those types of things you listed happen to them so far, I am not like many who turn a blind eye to what is going on.  I have actively worked with members of congress to work out a way to change things through constructive conversations not accusations.  I have heard all of those stories you listed posted over and over by you and others here.  Repeating them over and over to us here isn’t changing anything.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Celt, whoever you are…I’ve BEEN raped. Yes, I am a victim of a long-ago rape. So your insensitive comments about horrific acts of violence happening to women come across as rather hollow. Try, for just a moment, to find an ounce of humanity inside of you and imagine what it feels like to a rape victim to have strangers touch my genitals against my will…just so I can exercise my right as a US citizen to travel.

    I believe my past qualifies me to know when I’m being sexually assaulted yet AGAIN. I also believe I have the right to decide who touches my genitals – something that I feel even more strongly about than someone who is not a rape victim. I do NOT choose a strange woman in a blue smurf suit to touch the intimate parts of my body. And yet I MUST allow her, or I am prevented from using my legally purchased plane ticket.

    As for “no one forcing me to fly” – so I suppose you think I should have NOT gone to my uncle’s funeral two weeks ago – the man who raised me from childhood after my father died? So I suppose I should skip going to see my son graduate from his Army training…the only time I got to see him for a whole YEAR? So what about my job – should I quit, since it requires travel, and…what…go on unemployment? Is that a valid choice in your world?

    Have YOU been raped? Until you have, don’t even THINK about saying such insensitive things to me, or anyone else, about our experiences.

    My TSA assaults happened. They were witnessed. Other passengers came up to me later to tell me how horrified they were. Are you calling me a liar? I have described in detail what happened to me, and it was all 100% true. Every detail.

    I’m happy that none of your pat-downs have been as abusive or violating as mine. But you have just taken the top spot in the “if it hasn’t happened to me, it hasn’t happened” club. Yeah, great logic, dear. Thousands of others can attest that it HAS happened.

    When you’ve been raped, and then had a strange woman slam her hand up into your crotch in a clear punishment for opting out of the nude-o-scope and forcing her to actually *work*, then come back and post. Until then…shut the hell up.

    :::shaking head::: I’m ashamed of you too. And you should be ashamed of yourself. If you’re not…well…that says it all.

  • LeeAnneClark

    First of all, if you don’t want to read my reports again, then don’t read them.  I will continue to post them, knowing that there are always new readers to see these reports for the first time, and have their eyes opened to what’s really going on in our airports.

    Second, what makes you think that ALL I’m doing is repeating my stories? I’m doing much more. This is but one small part of my activism. And I will continue to fight against TSA abuse until it STOPS.

    Thank you for not turning a blind eye, and for your efforts with members of congress. ALL voices are needed – including the voices of those of us who’ve been viciously abused. We’re entitled to our anger…and we’re entitled to speak out as we see fit.

  • Celt12377

    Yes, I have been raped. That’s one reason I know there’s a universe of difference between a TSA pat down and an actual violation — sexual or otherwise — of my body. I cannot begin to equate the two, as you seem determined to do.  And I seriously doubt that “thousands” can attest that what you describe as violent TSA pat downs have happened. In my experience, I’ve seen other passengers going into hysterics over being asked to remove their shoes. I do not like removing my shoes, but I also do not consider it a gross, humiliating violation of my body and my rights…as I’ve seen some people claim. Perspective. Use it or lose it.

    As for being “ashamed” of me…have at it.  I don’t care. 

    And yes, if you do not want to fly because of these potential perceived violations, then you make the choice to not fly and find other modes of transportation, or don’t go.  Flying is not a right, it’s a commodity that you purchase. You can purchase a car, too, but there are a boatload of restrictions surrounding your use of that commodity, or your right to use it — legally purchased or not — can be taken away. 

    I have friends and acquaintances who refuse to fly. Yes, they occasionally miss distant family events, and they make it clear to their employers that they will not fly if travel is part of the job requirements. There are positions in my life I take a stance on, too, but I also accept that it is then my responsibility — and mine alone — to make the accommodations for my own choices.

  • Celt12377

    Sommer, yes, the pat down is done while you are fully clothed. Women screeners pat down women. They wear gloves, and explain in detail what they are going to do before they do it. “I am going to pat your chest and underarms with the back of my hand…” etc.  I have been quite thoroughly patted down in a private screening room in three different (U.S.) airports, and it is no more invasive nor “sexual” than going to a seamstress for alterations. Also, in my experience, there have always been two female agents present — one a supervisor called in to observe — when I’ve undergone this process. I’ve also been patted down three or four times that I can remember out in the public screening area when they thought they saw something on the full-body scanner, after being offered the choice of a private screening. 

    Do I think there may be the occasional sloppy or sadistic screener?  Probably. Human beings are what they are. But I can also attest that in my experience any sort of physical pat down is done with at least two agents present, whether done in a private room or (at the passenger’s choice) in the public area. I seriously doubt that there is a systematic conspiracy in place to sexually harass and violate as many people as possible, as some people seem to believe. 

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m very sorry to hear that you too have been raped. And I’m even more sorry that, as a victim yourself, you have so little compassion or understanding for the different ways in which such a crime affects people. Clearly it has not affected you in the same way as me: you seem to have no problem with strangers touching your body against your will. I, however, DO have a problem with it – as do many rape victims.

    Again, let me remind you that the fact that something hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened to others. Yes, there are literally thousands of reports of abusive gropings done by TSA agents – just go read the ACLU website and you’ll see. You can dispute this all you want, but the facts are the facts: there are thousands of similar reports. Are they all lying? Are they all exaggerating?

    Nobody has said that these assaults are done for sexual “reasons”. But the fact (yes, FACT) is that some gropings involve touching sexual organs. TWICE mine have been touched – once, so violently that it lifted me up off the floor. As a rape victim, you of all people should know that rape isn’t about sex – it’s about power, control, violence. Many of the abusive TSA assaults were clearly efforts to exert power and control – keep in mind the type of people the TSA is hiring: uneducated, inexperienced, ill-trained, low-paid. Many of these people have never had power over others before, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen hostility directed at passengers by TSOs (screaming at them when they don’t put things in bins right, barking orders, rudeness for no reason).

    And yes, many of them do their pat-downs abusively for no reason other than punishment for having made their lives a little more difficult by opting out of the nude-o-scope. That is the only reason I can think of for that TSO in LAX to jam her thumb forcefully into my vagina. And there are innumerable similar reports of punitively-done pat-downs. Are they all lying? Exaggerating?

    As for choosing not to fly – Really? So in your world, you see no problem with Americans HAVING to make a choice to skip family funerals, quit jobs and miss important events solely to avoid having to go through an offensive physical groping? REALLY? You’re okay with that? Wow. I feel sorry for you. But, at the risk of being the first to exercise Godwin’s law here…I suppose that’s what the Germans thought as the clamps on personal freedoms were squeezed tighter and tighter…until they squeezed them into oblivion, and personal freedoms disappeared.

    Me? I will continue to fight, to ensure that nobody has to choose between a sexual assault or visiting their grandchildren.

  • LeeAnneClark

    So you’re accepting of the “sloppy or sadistic screeners”? That’s okay by you? You acknowledge that they exist – but you’re fine with that?

    Wow.  Just…wow.

    Seeing blatant inhumanity in front of my eyes is always a shock.  But I suppose it’s a good reminder that people like you exist.

    Yes, human beings are what they are. Some of us, however, are willing to stand up to the inhumanities we see out there.  Others, as we can see, just don’t give a hoot if it hasn’t happened to them…and will actually attack the victims for speaking out.

  • Sadie Cee

    Celt12377 you should realize that you are responding from your own individual experiences and perspective.  Please do not deny, decry or belittle the reactions or feelings of others.  In other words, you are coming across as being very insensitive.  Here no one size fits all because in these matters people have varying sensiblities and degrees of tolerance. 

  • Sadie Cee

    From your inside knowledge, can you tell us if we are to begin hoping for a speedy end to the personal violations that take place every day? 

  • Celt12377

    There are people who choose to be victims, and there are people who choose to not be victims. I choose to not be a victim. Been there, done that, didn’t like it. And I most certainly do have a problem with anyone touching my body against my will.  But I do not and cannot equate a pat down through clothing by a gloved hand in a public place — or even in a “private” screening area with at least two people other than myself present — with “groping” of my “sexual organs” and something akin to rape. Having experienced both, there is a universe of difference.

    And yes, since I have seen people throw tantrums that they are being “violated” because they’re required to remove their shoes (which I find useless and annoying myself), I do think MANY of the reports of “violence” and “assault” by TSA agents as exaggerated. I seriously doubt that any TSO “jammed her thumb into [your] vagina,” since the vagina is an internal organ. Unless you were naked and spread-eagled, nothing — no thumb, nothing else — entered your vagina.  Did she run a hand into your crotch area while you were fully clothed?  Probably.  Are you exaggerating what was done?  I believe so. 

    And once again, yes, I believe that if you’re going to take a stance on not participating in what is required to fly, then that is your choice. There are many people who will not fly for any number of reasons. There are trade-offs for our personal choices on any number of levels on a daily basis.

  • Celt12377

    Oh, trust me, I stand up to inhumanity. But actual inhumanity — rape, enslavement, torture, abuse, neglect, murder, tyranny, etc. — is not in the same category as the TSA situation. It just is not.

    Am I accepting of “sloppy and sadistic screeners”? Of course not. I acknowledge that they most likely exist, since they are all human beings. I am not accepting of sloppy and sadistic dentists, either (have had a couple of those), physicians, veterinarians, police officers, college instructors, pedicurists, or any other profession. But I also have enough perspective to not damn an entire profession or agency because of the bad conduct of a select few. 

    One time in Heathrow Airport, on my way back to the U.S., the security agent checked my passport, looked at me, and said, “You need to come with me.”  I did. I was taken into a private room where he — and he alone, no woman, no other agent — proceeded to go through EVERYTHING I had. He unpacked my suitcase and went through everything. He unpacked my carry-on, and went through everything. He questioned me on where I had been and what I had done during my eight days in London and England. I was not required to remove anything other than my jacket and shoes, but believe me, he gave me a thorough going-over. Why?  I have no idea. I did not speak unless asked a direct question, and I did not challenge his actions. When he was satisfied, whatever his basis was for satisfaction that I was not carrying contraband, weapons, bombs, live animals, was not an enemy agent, whatever — he repacked everything into my suitcase and carry-on and escorted me back to my travelling companions. Who asked me what that was all about. To this day, I have no idea. Despite being pulled aside more often than not when I travel within the U.S. for more thorough screening, I have not encountered anything that has approached that level of thoroughness.  So again….perspective.

  • Brooklyn

    I gather you’ve never lived outside the US?  The western European countries and Canada do have occasional gun crimes, but nothing like the number we have and their legislation allows them to confiscate all the guns that they find.  Unicorns? Not so much.  And only the TSA knows about our butts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    What about my point below: the TSA does NOT tell travelers that their sex organs will be touched, so travelers are abused without any prior warning and without the opportunity to “choose” whether or not their flight is worth being sexually violated?

  • Celt12377

    In my experience — and I’ve been quite thoroughly patted down about half a dozen times — if anything, the TSA agent explains quite thoroughly and at great length what she is about to do. The explanation takes far longer than the actual pat down. Just last month when I was about to be subjected to it again I said, “No need to explain it, I’ve heard it before, just do what you need to do.”  So sorry, but no, when properly performed, the pat down carries ample prior warning. There is no surprise groping or anything like that. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Many women do not have a choice about the abuse being inflicted on them in airports.  What about minors? They can’t legally “consent” to this, and it doesn’t seem they can refuse it, either.  Do you seriously argue that a father has the right to force his 17-year-old daughter to let strangers touch her labia?  That a 13-year-old girl doesn’t have enough autonomy to decide for herself whether she is comfortable with a stranger touching her breasts?  And if you advocate forcing this kind of offensive touching on very young women, how do you expect these women to be able to stand up to other strangers who make them uncomfortable?  I want young women to trust that queasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs that says … this isn’t right … and then shouts and yells NO, STOP TOUCHING ME!  You seem to think it’s okay to force them to submit.  I do not.

  • Celt12377

    Everyone responds from their individual experience and perspective. You may interpret my words as “insensitive,” but the same brush can be used on anyone’s words who also declare that all TSO’s are uneducated, power-hungry, sadistic, untrained, lazy, etc., etc. As you say…one size does not fit all. My experience, both as a semi-frequent flyer and as an observer of human behavior, is that some people “doth protest too much, methinks.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    There’s no surprise groping, except when there is!   How do you respond to the torrent of reports that women weren’t warned before being violated: Susie Castillo’s story, the news report I linked below,
    the flight attendant Megan N., blogger Erin at Our Little Chatterboxes?

    Here’s what Megan said at http://wewontfly.com/flight-attendant-tsa-sexual-assault-story

    “I was asked by the female TSA agent if I wanted a private screening
    and I said no because I had did not expect what was about to happen.The
    agent went up my right leg first and then met my vagina with full
    force…the same on the other leg with the same result. She then used
    both of her hands to feel my breasts and squeezing them. At this point I
    was in shock.

    When I came out of security my husband asked me.
    “What the hell was that?”. I have never felt so humiliated and violated.
    I have gone through the stages of being a sexual assault victim … Shock, Denial, Blame, Pain, Anger … I have yet to come with the
    Acceptance stage.”

    Here’s a bit of Erin’s story from http://www.ourlittlechatterboxes.com/2010/11/tsa-sexual-assault.html:

    “She reached from behind in the middle of my buttocks towards my vagina area.

    She did not tell me that she was going to touch my buttocks, or reach forward to my vagina area.

    She then moved in front of my and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts.

    She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts.

    She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs.

    She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area, touching both of my labia.

    She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area or my labia.”

    It doesn’t get much more clear and concise than that.  TSA screeners touch people’s genitalia without permission.  That’s a fact.  You can insist on your illusion that these women chose to be violated all you want, but many of us were assaulted against our will and without any prior warning.

  • LeeAnneClark

    So…there it is – you have openly called me a liar. It is impossible to have an intelligent discussion with someone who will simply call me a liar.

    Just FTR – it happened exactly as I said. I was wearing tight black leggings. She made me spread my legs, such that my labia were actually separated. She ran her hand up the inside of my thigh, thumb sticking up, FAST and HARD. Her thumb penetrated between my labia, shoving my leggings up into my vagina.

    This was all done against my will. That, dear, is the very definition of a sexual assault.

    But of course you think I’m making all this up. Oh how I wish I was.

    One other thing: it is exactly my activism to STOP THIS ABUSE that makes me NOT a victim. I refuse to be victimized again…and, unlike you, I am willing to put myself out there to help ensure that no other woman ever has to go through this traumatic experience again.

    But then clearly we are very different kinds of people. (As in…I actually have some humanity, sensitivity, and concern for others.)

  • LeeAnneClark

    Ah, but in Celt’s world…she’s exaggerating. :::rolling eyes::: Remember, if it hasn’t happened to Celt, it hasn’t happened!

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yes, perspective. And that is clearly what you’re lacking. Because it hasn’t happened to you.

    You come back and talk with us when you go through a screening, and someone slams their thumb up into YOUR vagina.

    Until then, bottom line, you have no idea what you’re talking about. It hasn’t happened to you…so from your perspective, it hasn’t happened.

    There are varying degrees of inhumanity. The Nazi’s started out with a few small boycotts of Jewish stores and some anti-Semitic literature. Then, disorganized hooliganism by a few radical SA’s. Followed by more organized beatings & boycotts.  Followed by pickets and barricades in front of Jewish-owned factories and stores. Then, removal of non-Aryans from the Civil Service. More baby steps, followed by larger steps. By then, the German populace was so inured to the Nazis’ brazenly anti-Jewish practices that nobody blinked when they enacted anti-Jewish legislation. Eventually, they rounded ’em all up and killed them.

    Of course, to people like you…it wasn’t happening. Because it wasn’t happening to YOU.

  • Celt12377

    Um, no, I have not called you a liar. I have said that I believe you are exaggerating. And I seriously, seriously doubt anything entered your vagina, since once again, that’s an internal organ. The fact that you had any clothing on — leggings, as you report — would prevent that from happening. Also, if this “assault” was as violent as you describe it, what did you do about it then and there? If someone assaults you, you call law enforcement. You press charges.

    I have been groped, and assaulted, quite a few times throughout my life. In bars, at concerts, on public transportation… And I have been raped. Again, there is a significant difference between an intentional groping/assault and a TSA pat down.  If I were to be groped or assaulted by a TSA agent, I would press charges. Did you?  In my experience, the pat down is NOT done in secret. There is the person performing the procedure and a second, supervisory agent, even in a private room. Did you have a witness to this assault who corroborates your experience?

  • Celt12377

    Ah, but in YOUR world, all TSA agents are low-life groping uneducated power-hungry perverts. Because if one bad experience happened to YOU, then it must be universal.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Nobody has said they are *all* sadistic, power-hungry, etc. But there are certain facts to take into account here: TSA hires thousands upon thousands of people with little formal education, pays them low wages, and gives them barely 2 weeks of training before sending them out to perform manual searches on the bodies of innocent civilians. They advertise for TSA jobs on pizza boxes – what kind of person do you think that’s going to draw? This is the demographic from which they are drawing their workforce.

    As for being sadistic & lazy – many of us have witnessed enough of this type of behavior from TSOs to be able to state, from our own experiences, that these are not uncommon traits. Certainly there are good ones – I travel frequently, and get groped EVERY SINGLE TIME that I fly (the metal in my spine sets off the metal detectors)…and the vast majority of my gropes have been at least tolerable, if unpleasant. But the two that I experienced that were downright abusive…well, they HAPPENED. And they should NEVER happen. Ever. To any American.

    You can think I protest too much…but I guarantee you that those who HAVE suffered abusive TSA gropes are happy that people like me are out here protesting, so that eventually nobody will ever have to suffer such abuse at the hands of our own government again.

  • LeeAnneClark

    “I seriously, seriously doubt anything entered your vagina.” That, dear, is calling me a liar – because I’m telling you that it DID.

    There is an external opening to the vagina. Take a look down there. I didn’t tell you how far her thumb penetrated. But the simple, bare fact is…even if all she did was touch the OUTSIDE of my vagina – that’s unacceptable. That’s sexual assault. That’s my genitalia.

    I DID try to call an LEO. I repeatedly said “Call a law enforcement officer. NOW.” But she didn’t. She did eventually call a supervisor, who gave me a more humane pat-down that did not involve touching my genitals

    Witnesses? Oh yes. There were the three TSOs standing around watching it. There was my mother, who was my traveling companion that day. Several passengers who witnessed it came up to me afterward to tell me how horrified they were. I also have a full audio recording of the event on my cellphone, which I’d placed on audio record mode before I put it in the bin (I started doing this after my first TSA assault). I have listened to the audio, and you can hear me say several times “Call a law enforcement officer. NOW.”

    But none of this means anything to you…because you think I’m lying. Not much point in continuing this conversation.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Not only do you call me a liar…now you put WORDS IN MY MOUTH that I didn’t say. Look, just stick to posting insensitive, inhumane attacks on crime victims. Stop saying I said things I didn’t say. Can you show me where I said this?

    Yeah.  Didn’t think so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    I don’t think TSA agents are low-life groping power-hungry perverts.  I think their boss orders them to sexually assault people.  The TSA’s “screening procedure” is sexual assault, regardless of the mindset of the screener. I don’t care what the screener thinks or wants.  I care that her hands are touching the sex organs of people who don’t want sexual contact with her.  Forcing unwelcome sexual touching on someone is called sexual assault where I come from.  What difference does it make if they did it because someone paid them to do it?  They did something morally repugnant, something indecent and shameful, they did something no caring human being would do to another. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Well, Celt, I’m still waiting for your reply on how all the women who have been surprise groped really wanted it deep down, you can see they were just begging for it, they showed up at a checkpoint didn’t they, dressed that way, just asking for a hand up the crotch. 

  • LeeAnneClark

    Funny – that’s pretty much what my rapist said after he raped me.

  • Grant

    Will you, Sommer, and Celt PLEASE put a sock in it?! Thank you.   

  • Raven_Altosk

    Well, I’ll agree with you on the TSA knowing our butts… LOL.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Sorry, Grant, I was hoping Celt would respond to my question about the many people whom TSA touched without a clear description of what was about to happen.  I mean, consenting is one thing, but then don’t they have to tell you what you’re consenting to? Do you have an opinion about whether this is a fair thing to do to people? 

  • LeeAnneClark

    Is somebody making you read this?

  • Celt12377

    Hyperbole never solves any problematic situation. Comparing a TSA pat down to the Holocaust is hyperbole to the extreme. Johnny Depp recently compared being made up for a photo shoot to being raped; did you catch that one? Another fine example of hyperbole, albeit not quite as extreme as yours. He, at least, apologized for his overstatement of what he considers an unpleasant and annoying situation.

    Again, no thumb entered your vagina…sorry, didn’t happen.  If it did, you could’ve, and should’ve, had the person who assaulted you arrested. Trust me, if someone ever “slams” his or her thumb into my vagina and that person is not a lover or my OB/GYN, then he or she will be assaulted in return, and I will call the police.  You don’t report that you did so. Instead, you’re trolling boards like this proclaiming your victimhood. 

    I do know what I’m talking about, as much as you do. Being patted down by TSA agents is annoying. It is not, however, sexual assault. There are more effective ways to screen air passengers — Israel does it right, for example — but apparently our gov’t hasn’t figured it out yet. Until they do, then I suggest working for change without slinging around accusations along the lines of having thumbs slammed into your vagina. 

  • LeeAnneClark

    Ah…so you are out-and-out calling me a liar now! I have REPEATEDLY told you that her thumb penetrated my vagina…my point was that even if it didn’t “penetrate”, even if all it did was touch the outside of it, it’s STILL sexual assault. And you CLEARLY don’t know what you’re talking about because YOU WEREN’T THERE. You didn’t experience it. I did. I’m glad to hear you admit that if it happened to you, you would call the police. I tried repeatedly to get LEO there…to no avail. When the supervisor finally screened me, I was so traumatized (and close to missing my flight) that I left the area and boarded my plane. Would you have chosen to miss your flight, losing hundreds of dollars? I had my elderly disabled mother with me – that was not an option.

    Trust me, MANY Americans do not consider TSA comparisons to Nazi’s to be hyperbole. The point is, even the Nazi’s started out by committing small indignities…which escalated, as the populace turned a blind eye, or stuck their heads in the sand pretending it wasn’t happening – just like you.

    I am not “slinging around accusations”. I have spoken nothing but the truth. I find it bizarre that you continue to call me a liar, when YOU WERE NOT THERE. There are numerous reports of similar assaults, described exactly as I have – slamming hands into crotches to the point where they separated labia, and even thumbs penetrating into vaginas Mine is not the only vagina penetrated by the TSA – not by a long shot. If you cared enough to find out the truth, you could easily do a simple google search and read many similar reports.

    But you are intent on sticking your head in the sand, calling us victims liars, and denying the truth.

    I know what happened to me. You do not. As I said earlier, it is impossible to hold an intelligent discussion with someone who denies facts, and calls people liars, without any actual knowledge.

    I’m done with you.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I never said I wanted that. 
    I fly too much to know John Q. Public intimately.
    Trust me, there are people out there who don’t need to have firearms.

  • cjr001

    Another TSA agent has been arrested for having child porn in his home. Awesome.

    I wonder how many children he was allowed to feel up in his time?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Anyone still want to question whether or not TSOs are abusing passengers? Anyone still want to question whether or not TSA is hiring perverts?

  • Celt12377

    I have not called you a liar. I have said, over and over, that you are exaggerating and have slipped into hyperbole.  From your continued frothing, I’m fairly sure you’re one of those people who finds it necessary to escalate what could, with a little conversation, remain a civil exchange. You’ve proven that here. The fact that you had your cell phone on to record your expected confrontation with screening personnel is further evidence of this.  

    Yes, definitely, if someone actually assaulted me, I would skip my flight and involve law enforcement. I would not ask the person who assaulted me to call the police, I would do it myself.  Reportedly you did have a cell phone with you…

    As for Googling for other reports, I can Google and read reports of people being kidnapped by extraterrestrials or chatting with Elvis as he serves pancakes in a diner in Boise, too. Just with a few minutes of Googling, actually, I found several sites that make the same observation I did: the vagina is an internal organ, and claims of TSA “penetration into the vagina,” especially when the victim is wearing clothing, are exaggeration.  

    I am most definitely not sticking my head in the sand, as you said. But I also refuse to descend into the realm of hyperbole, gross generalization (what was the claim? TSA employees are uneducated because the TSA advertises for employees on pizza boxes? So…I am to assume you believe that only uneducated people eat delivery pizza? Or I am to believe that what you’re saying is that people who you describe as “uneducated” are prone to being sexually abusive to strangers?), and hysteria (comparing anything short of systematic mass murder to the horror that was the Nazi regime?  Hysteria.) 

    The TSA is a flawed agency. Changes must be made. Working for change in a civil, rational, and reasonable manner is more effective (but OK, granted, gets far less pop culture media attention) than, well, then outraged hyperbole.

    Have a nice day.

  • Daisymae

    Don’t worry about your children or grandchildren, cjr.  They are safe.  Celt has assured us that no sexual assaults have occurred at the airports.  I’m so relieved.

    I guess Michael Scott Wilson was only a pedophile when he was off airport property.  When he viewed naked images of children on the scanners or ran his hands over their genitals during the “enhanced patdowns”, I guess he was thinking of what he needed to buy at the grocery store the next day.

    Anyway, if your children are molested by Wilson (or Clifton Lyles or David Ralph Anderson or Sean Shanahan or Thomas Gordon Jr or any of their TSA buddies) make sure you get a law enforcement officer to press charges; otherwise, as Celt assure us, the molestation didn’t happen. You’re exaggerating (code word for lying.)

    Oh, wait….when Andrea Abbott and Claire Hirschkind tried to call a law enforcement officer, they were arrested.  Oops.

    What do we do once we’re arrested for protesting the sexual assault, Celt?  I want to make sure I know what to do once I’m in jail for complaining about being sexually assaulted.  Can I call my lawyer before or after they strip search me like they did to Claire Hischkind?  I want to make sure I do everything right according to your instructions.  After all, I don’t want to be exaggerating (lying).

    Oh, and if Elvis or ET shows up, I’ll make sure they understand that it’s not possible to have a thumb shoved into their vagina (or whatever orifice they possess).  That should relieve any anxiety they feel when they see those blue gloves.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Part of me wants to laugh at this awesome post ;-)…but the other part remains horrified that you felt it necessary to post it at all. Sadly, Celt is representative of a large percentage of our population – the sheeple, happy to do what the government goons tell them to do no matter how intrusive, unwilling to question their “authoritah” (because, after all, they’re wearing blue suits), happy to bury their heads in the sand to what’s really happening, and willing to blatantly attack and call liars those who attempt to open their eyes to the truth.

    When the facts don’t fit their vision of reality, they simply deny them. It’s pathetic…but it’s what we’ve got to work with out there. It sure does make it hard to hope that our activism will ever have an impact, with people like Celt out there supporting the abuse (or pretending it never happened at all).

  • LeeAnneClark

    So, you seem bizarrely stuck on this “penetration” thing, ignoring every other aspect of my story…using the fact that you think “penetration” didn’t happen, to render my entire story moot. Let me ask you this: if her hand didn’t actually “penetrate” (as you seem to think the vagina isn’t accessible from the outside), if it only touched the exterior, does THAT constitute sexual assault in your mind? Or does that make it okay in your world?

    Also, I can’t help but wonder about your concept of the female anatomy. Vagina is solely internal? REALLY? Hmmm….how does someone access it? I can assure you, mine has external access. You might want to take a peek down there.

  • Daisymae

    Well, you know how it is.  It takes the wind out of a bully’s sails when you laugh at them. 

  • LeeAnneClark

    LOL – after reading some of the more recent comments I’m beginning to wonder if I’m actually female, given the lack of consensus about the location of certain key parts of female anatomy! (Or maybe it’s not *me* who isn’t female…) ;-)

  • LeeAnneClark

    From Freedom to Travel:  Facts for people who have been led to believe that terrorists are a significant threat (thought this might be useful): FACT: Per the TSA, 2004-2005, 70% failure rate in screener tests. FACT: per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (US Agency). 2004-2005 there were 21.9 million departures by US airlines carrying over 1.5 billion passengers (including inbound from other countries). These do NOT include departures by foreign airlines. FACT: during 2004-2005 there were no terrorist airline incidents. Didn’t matter whether the plane departed from a US airport or a less-rigorously-secured airport. No incidents.

    Extremely low risk. Less risky than taking a shower (that is a true statement). So for those that are really that concerned about their own safety, I would encourage them to place the same level of concern and care towards situations that are proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to have higher risk to them of really serious injury or death. That list includes showering, taking a bath, driving a car, eating peanuts, getting hit by lightning, getting bitten by a shark, buying tainted spinach and eating it…. the list is almost infinitely long because there’s not much that’s less risky than being taken down in a terrorist plane incident. Maybe dying by being hit by a falling meteor. Maybe.

  • Celt12377

    Actually, you’re the one oddly stuck on the “penetration thing.” I’m beginning to think you get a nickel from someone every time you post the words “penetration” or “vagina” on a blog.  And obviously I’m not ignoring other aspects of your story, since I most recently mentioned your cell phone set to record (a bizarre choice when trying to get through airport security, to be sure, but to each her own), and your generalizations of TSA agents finding their calling on pizza boxes, just to name two tidbits you’ve offered.

    At no point have I said nor indicated that the vagina isn’t accessible from outside the body. My esophagus is accessible from the outside of my body, too, but if someone sticks a thumb against or even between my lips I do not claim that they jammed their thumb into my esophagus.  By definition, “technically speaking, the vagina is a specific internal structure.” I’m well familiar with mine, thanks. And also with my esophagus, for that matter.

    As I’ve said before, no, assault is not okay.  However, again, IF your encounter was as violent as you repeatedly insist that it was, then I’m just amazed that someone as apparently belligerent and confrontational as you did not call the police — yourself — on the spot, and have the person who assaulted you arrested.  I’m fairly sure — unless this took place in a private area, and your claim that many people witnessed it seems to indicate it did not — then there is probably — or was, depending on how long ago this occurred — security camera video of the screening area, and evidence would exist to substantiate your claim. So you would even have objective evidence to prove this happened. Did you pursue this?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Ooh, now you’ve been reduced to name-calling! (E.g. “belligerent”) As I said earlier, it is entirely impossible to hold an intelligent discussion with people who simply deny facts…especially when they weren’t even there.

    Nor is it possible to have an intelligent discussion with someone who so harshly attacks a CRIME VICTIM.

    Last comment to you: I hope someday you experience a “pat-down” just like mine. Until then, I have nothing to say to you.

  • Celt12377

    If you went into security screening with your cell phone on “record,” expecting a confrontation, when the overwhelming majority of passengers — thousands and thousands — go through TSA screening daily without incident, then yep, I think there’s a touch of “belligerence” there.  I’m entitled to my opinion there, just as much as you are entitled to your opinion that all TSA agents are uneducated perverts that found the job on a pizza box.  

    You say there was a crime, and yet you did not call the police yourself (demanding that your attacker call the law? Probably isn’t going to work in most situations where you are allegedly being victimized) and pursue the issue through legal channels. 

    As I’ve said before, I’ve been subjected to several quite thorough pat downs, some where I’ve been taken to the “private room,” and including one in England that should’ve left me and the man who put me through it engaged. And as I’ve said before, yes, I’ve been raped.  And in my opinion, there is a huge, vast, world of difference between a horrifying, violent, savage assault like a rape and a TSA pat down. That you are equating the two is a bit insulting to rape victims, like myself. You’ve also compared the TSA problem to the Holocaust, which I think my Jewish friends might find excessive and offensive.

    But please, carry on.  

  • LeeAnneClark

    Feel better now? Yes, bullies usually do, after they’ve flogged their victims.

  • doctork

    I, like some others would rather read about the major coups. How  many people want to learn all the traffic tickets isssued and to whom as well
    as all arrests in their area during a given period of time. Some of these may be “nonsensatiional.” Requiring weekly reporting of all incidents &
    investigations can hurt an agency 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    I disagree that recording one’s TSA encounter is a belligerent act.  The TSA explicitly permits such recording, so why would you see it as confrontational? Making a recording of a public official performing a public duty in a public place is not illegal, and should never be considered as any sign of anything beyond a citizen performing his vital duty of monitoring the behavior of his government.  From the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruling a recent case: “A citizen’s right to film government
    officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their
    duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established
    liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment,” the court stated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530479200 Dana Scheider

    As valuables go, firearms are among the safer things to check because they are subject to additional security measures (like no one employee being alone with a bag with a gun in it). Of course, that doesn’t protect it from being stolen in a team effort, but it does bring another dynamic into the mix (even if your coworker is helping you steal the gun, who’s to say she won’t rat you out?). I know of some people who deliberately check guns with other valuables (e.g. photographic equipment) because they know that the gun will be handled with more security (not to mention more gently) than other baggage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530479200 Dana Scheider

    I totally agree with you, LeeAnne. I have been fortunate enough not to have been sexually assaulted by the TSA yet, but it turns my stomach to think of all the people who have. I am so sorry that has happened to you. You’re right, they do make us less safe. Before these naked scanners and pat downs were introduced, I NEVER was afraid of ANYTHING happening at an airport. Now, I have to take Klonopin – a lot of it – every time I enter an airport to allay the panic attack I would otherwise inevitably have contemplating the prospect that it is just a matter of time until I experience a violation like you have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530479200 Dana Scheider

    I wouldn’t mind guns in carry-ons if they were in the hands of CCW license holders who had undergone substantial training in gun safety (conscientiously not pointing a gun at anyone, loaded or not, EVER, is – believe it or not – a pretty effective way to avoid tragic accidents, as is keeping guns in holsters that prevent accidental trigger pulls or transporting them disassembled in locked boxes), but I agree that any old person shouldn’t be able to walk up to security with a gun and not get stopped. However, the TSA has demonstrated itself incapable out this task in a competent manner.

    You say you “applaud” the TSA. I don’t. Not because I think any Joe Schmoe should be able to march through security with an Uzi, but because the TSA’s demonstrated ineptitude at detecting weapons is appalling – particularly in light of the egregious violations of our (non-second-amendment-related) rights it commits.

    By all means, limit weapons on planes. But let’s not kid ourselves – catching 10 guns is not a “success” when God knows how many more got through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530479200 Dana Scheider

    Don’t feed the trolls, Daisymae.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530479200 Dana Scheider

    You are so right but PLEASE don’t feed the trolls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530479200 Dana Scheider

    I am so sorry LeeAnne but she’s a troll. Don’t engage her.

  • Lisa Simeone

    Ah, yes, the old canard, trotted out anew every time this subject comes up:  “Nothing bad ever happened to me; therefore, nothing bad ever happens!”  Q. E. D.

  • Lisa Simeone

    “I seriously doubt that there is a systematic conspiracy in place to sexually harass and violate as many people as possible, as some people seem to believe.”

    You are so missing the point.

  • Lisa Simeone

    Celt12377 writes: “There are horrific acts of violence inflicted on women all over this planet every day. Actual rapes, torture, murder, abuse, enslavement.”

    TRANSLATION:  “Therefore, bullying, harassment, abuse, and assault by the TSA is no big deal. Take it and shut up.”

  • Lisa Simeone

    Sigh.  Here we go again.  

    As we’ve discussed so many times already, and presented evidence thereof, flying is a right.  Legal jurisprudence has established and upheld it numerous times.

    And, again, just because you don’t believe that thousands of people have been abused doesn’t change the facts:


  • Lisa Simeone

    “the real reason TSA exists is to serve as a drug and weapons enforcement arm that doesn’t have to respect the rule of law or the 4th amendment and long-established restrictions on police searches.”


  • TSORon

    And no less either LeeAnne.  Our objective is to treat everyone with respect, the same level of respect.  Cancer, missing a limb, mentally challenged, all deserve as much respect as the average passenger, not more and certainly not less.
    The problem is when someone thinks they are special because of something like that and believe that they deserve a special kind of treatment.  This is illogical.  Our job is to screen every passenger to the same level of security (with of course the odd random additional screening thrown in as an additional layer of security), and to do that some folks require different techniques.  The end result must be the same, everyone gets safely to their destination. 
    We find weapons all the time LeeAnne.  Using both new and old technology.  Not all of them make the news, in fact very few actually do, but that does not change the fact that AIT’s have found numerous weapons and other dangerous objects on passengers consistently since they were installed.
    1.8 million every month get additional screening?  Not sure where you get your numbers from but OK.  So assuming your number is correct, we have 1.5 million passengers plus passing through our checkpoints every day.  Please do the math.
    John Steel
    “Intent” is very difficult to determine John, and people lie all the time.  The most common excuse we hear is “I forgot it was in there”, and for the most part I am more than willing to believe them.  It does not change the fact that they brought a firearm into a prohibited area, loaded or unloaded.  We can never be sure of their intent, but we can be very sure that at least some of the “I forgot” crowd really didn’t forget.