TSA Watch: Should we avoid screening — or embrace it?

Full-body scan or pat-down?

It’s a choice that hundreds of thousands of air travelers will make for the first time this summer.

Not willingly, mind you. Some passengers are even going so far as to change the way they dress in an effort to avoid the whole thing. Susan Jones, an executive from Bellevue, Wash., wears clothes that won’t set off the airport magnetometer, hoping to pass through the checkpoint quickly.

“I have a favorite underwire garment that gets caught going through the machine,” she says. “So I try to remember not to wear it when I’m traveling.”

The TSA policy of either frisking or scanning passengers selected for additional screening dates back to last fall. But the full effects are being felt just now. Airports are bustling with infrequent travelers who have never faced this decision. Many want to know: Is there any way out? Is it even possible to avoid the TSA this summer?

The answers: yes and yes.

If you decide to fly, you can steer clear of this modern-day Morton’s Fork by doing exactly what Jones does, according to the TSA. Remove anything from your person that might set off the metal detector, and unless you’re randomly chosen for the scanner, you can walk free.

You can even improve your odds of avoiding a scanner by looking up your airport online to find out where the machines are and sidestepping them. A new site called TSA Status allows passengers to report which airports use the so-called “backscatter” machines more frequently and which checkpoints have the most aggressive screeners.

For example, a recent report rated the Terminal D screening area at the Philadelphia airport “green” — meaning that there were no machines visible — adding, “It’s still clear as of now.” On the other hand, it warned that the scanners were being used on almost all passengers at Ontario International Airport in Southern California.

Air travelers have used other tricks to elude the scan/pat-down dilemma. They include traveling with the kids — TSA agents seem far less likely to split up a family or to pat down young children — and bringing along pets. The evidence that either of these strategies works is strictly anecdotal, but if it makes any difference, one of the anecdotes is mine.

Nigel Appleby, a reader who lives near Vancouver, used to cross the border to fly out of Seattle whenever he found a bargain. The TSA’s sometimes heavy-handed screening practices have stopped that for the most part. “We’re heading to Europe in September, and we’ll fly out of Vancouver International Airport,” he says.

Some travelers would prefer not to play the game at all, and for them, the decision is made before they buy a ticket.

Darryl Wolfe, who works for a consulting firm in Charlotte, chose a pat-down over a scan last year and regretted it. “I was shocked by the intensity and roughness of the pat-down,” he told me. “In my mind at least, some of it was retribution for opting out. It was more like an assault.”

After that, he stopped flying altogether.

There may be hope for him. A new airline venture called Plane Red plans to start operating between regional airports in smaller craft that would be exempt from TSA screening. Although the airline is still in the planning stages, it has received a fair amount of publicity because of its avoid-the-TSA pitch, according to founder Wade Eyerly.

“It’s remarkable that treating travelers like actual people, preserving their dignity and helping them be more productive requires avoiding the government,” he says.

But avoiding air travel doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have to deal with the TSA. The agency’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response program, which goes by the unfortunate acronym VIPR, randomly checks passengers using other forms of transportation. Last year, VIPR teams were deployed 8,000 times, according to the agency.

I asked the TSA how to avoid a VIPR team and was assured that the program is nothing more than a visual deterrent and limited for now to major transportation systems such as trains, subways and an occasional public event. TSA does not screen automobiles on public streets but looks for “suspicious activity” on roads and in parking lots at transportation hubs.

Still, it seems that with only a few exceptions, such as a cruise or a car trip, it’s increasingly difficult to take a TSA-free vacation. While that rubs many travelers the wrong way, others are far more understanding. Susan Jones says she’d rather be safe than sorry. “I was scheduled to be on one of the 9/11 planes and had my trip canceled at the last minute,” she says. “And my husband was supposed to be at a breakfast meeting at the tower, which also was canceled last minute. So I take security seriously.”

I do, too. I was only a few hundred feet away from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (the one that was meant to send the north tower into the south tower) so I’m not just writing from a theoretical perspective.

Somehow, playing this cat-and-mouse game seems silly. Shouldn’t we be welcoming the screening instead of running from it?


(Photo: achab/Flickr Creative Commons)

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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  • Sam Varshavchik

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    — Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin

  • Fred I

    Honestly, I don’t think we deserve or can expect safety or liberty at this point. America has messed with others for so long that it really doesn’t deserve another chance. This is our country’s fault, and now we have to deal with the TSA and other retarded government bureaucracy.

  • Dave

    And we have people like this: http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpp/news/local/phoenix/woman-arrested-for-groping-tsa-agent-07152011

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iam-Wendy/100002138363206 Iam Wendy

    I for one am planning my next 4 trips – and all will be TSA-free. VIPR? Wait a day or get to the next stop. I simply will not tolerate any interaction with the TSA. Mind you, it takes a lot of extra time, but it can be done. My peace of mind and maintaining my personal integrity demand it. I believe that suspicionless unwanted touching should not be a condition of travel. I believe that being subject to the equivalent of Peeping Toms without cause should not be a condition of travel. I believe that exposing ourselves to radiation, however small, should not be a condition of travel. 

  • Clare

    The article’s mention of the folks from Vancouver brings up an interesting point.  I assume that Canada hasn’t embraced the TSA’s neo-nazi practices (yet), has it?  If not, would it be possible to drive a rental car to Toronto from NYS, fly to Europe and back without risk of molestation or being viewed-in-the-nude, and drive back into the US from Toronto again? 

    Or could I still somehow potentially encounter a TSA groper or cancer-causing machine at some point in this scenario?

    Maybe I shouldn’t even be asking this in a public forum, because Fuhrer Pistole might find out and camp at all US/Canadian border check-points now! 

    (I can’t believe that I am even reduced to thinking like this in the United States of America…)

  • Janice J..

    I suspect that a good number of people really don’t care all that much, myself included. http://tinyurl.com/3fjdeag
    Sure, if you do have to get a pat-down it’s a bit uncomfortable, but really, there are far far worse things that can happen to you. Worrying and complaining about the TSA has grown out of hand, more than the TSA itself I would argue. Just man up and go through the security checkpoint like a big boy.

  • Guest

    Leave now.

  • Fred I


  • cjr001

    I’m surprised that the border hasn’t been mentioned yet as an area where TSA needs to have their grubby, rubber-covered hands yet. After all, Pistole wants TSA to be a cancer that spreads across the nation.

  • cjr001

    “Just man up and go through the security checkpoint like a big boy.”

    I don’t even know where to begin with this piece of total nonsense.

  • Guest

    GTFO.  Of this forum and this country.

  • cjr001

    Susan Jones will not be safe, and she will be sorry.

    Maybe instead of giving the thumbs up to the response to 9/11, she can ask why 9/11 happened at all, because it was preventable.

    No, we shouldn’t embrace TSA, because doing so is tacit admission that the terrorist have won. They no longer need to terrorize us when we can do a damn fine job of it ourselves.

  • Allen Miller

    You’re really trying your best to be a troll aren’t you??

  • Guest

    “Shouldn’t we be welcoming the screening instead of running from it?”  – Only if screening were effective, which it isn’t.  Every time I pass through TSA I spot half a dozen ways a determined, clever person could sneak something dangerous through.  If you want screening, use Israel’s method.  Hire intelligent people and give them training in psychological threat detection methods, instead of hiring surly rejects without the creativity to even be an obstacle.

  • cjr001

    And sadly, the American people once again find that the courts are no help:

    Federal Court Rules That TSA ‘Naked Scans’ Are Constitutional

    Considering that the courts have in recent rules basically said that corporations are individuals that apparently have more rights than real people, I’m not surprised.

  • Scott St John

    In my experience, security in Toronto is quite similar to the US, and often less respectful. They are especially weird in Toronto about staying in your line, no matter if the adjacent line has 2 people and yours has 10. It’s true that I’ve rarely had the full pat-down, but I’ve also had much more scrutiny with carry-ons. They do have the big scanners, but I think they are only used rarely.

    I don’t think driving to Toronto is a great solution. The land border is frequently clogged with traffic, and hey you might be chosen for one of those full car inspections where they look in every nook and cranny of your vehicle…

  • Sam Varshavchik

    I’m highly doubtful that you can find a rental company that will rent you a one way from New York to Toronto.

    However, Amtrak runs one train daily between New York City to Toronto and another between New York City and Montreal, stopping at various cities upstate. If you’re nearby one of the stops, this is a viable alternative, if you don’t mind the slow trip (about 12-15 hours between NYC and Canada).

    Depending on the mood of the Canadian Customs, you may or may not have to haul your bags off the train when crossing the border, to go through customs. Sometimes they’ll just come aboard and clear the train without anyone having to get off.

    As long as you’re not a big hurry, it’s a viable trip. The coach seats have about as much pitch as most business-class seats on many airlines. Most coaches have 110 volt plugs, so you can plug in your electronic devices, and there’s a cafe car that sells junk food and drinks. And the tickets are cheap!

  • better guest

    and where did you come from?

  • Raven

    The TSA is a joke, as we all know. Let me share a story with you that happened last week at IAH.

    I was in baggage claim and I saw a guy with a bunch of generic looking bags drag them over TO the belt. Then, he started swapping them out with ones on the belt. Out of curiosity, I picked up one that he had put on it and it felt amazingly light–probably empty!

    At the very least, he was stealing luggage. At most, planting explosives! I told one of the “security” people down there and they didn’t seem too concerned. Actually, she was more concerned with the text messages she kept getting while I was talking to her.

    So, if your luggage was stolen last week at IAH on Monday, email me. I’ll be happy to send you a photo of this clown since I snapped one with my phone. 

  • Raven

    That looks like someone looking for her 15 minutes of fame…
    Either that, or she forgot her meds.

  • Fred I

    That’s not very American of you. Please go choke on something inappropriate.

  • Raven

    I think the US subsidizes the security in Toronto. Last time I was there (1 yr ago), I swear they had US and Canadian flags on their uniforms and TSA logos as well.

    I could be wrong about that, though.

  • Raven

    Well, that guy who had TB did exactly that a few years ago because he knew he was banned from flying to the US. He flew to Toronto, rented a car and drove to Atlanta.

    I wonder what ever happened to that clown. What an entitled jackass.

  • Charles B

    Quite literally. These machines deliberately emit radiation. A pass through the machine is supposed to be no more dangerous than a dental X-ray. … TO THE ONE IN THE MACHINE. What about the TSA worker standing 3 feet away in the open door, getting hit with dose after dose after dose day after day? Ever notice that the dental workers leave the room or stand behind a lead screen when they run their medical equipment? Odd that the backscatter manufacturers left that part out of their safety regimen. This will definitely prove to be a cancer on our nation, in the most literal and deadly sense for some folks.

  • Kathy

    “Shouldn’t we be welcoming the screening instead of running from it?”  Are you serious?  Excuse me? As a 61 yr old grandma with a knee brace, I do not welcome having to drop my pants in front of strangers thank you very much!!!  It is dehumanizing and demeaning to have to be felt up and strip searched in order to visit my grandchildren!!!  “Wrong does not become right because a government agent says it is!”

  • Jim

    Overall, I think the TSA treats people ok.  I am a frequent flyer and do everthing I can to comply with requirements.  I empty my pockets of everything, take off my jacket, get my computer out, take off my shoes and belt and do the 3/3/3 quart bag all before I send bags throught and go through the scanner. I also try to be nice and not frustrated by the delays or intrusion by the TSA officials.  I also try to thank them for the job they do. Sometimess it is more dificult, other times not. But compliance and a positive demeaner seems to make things better for me and, hopefully, for those behind me.

  • Eighmeagh

    Have to agree with this — there is no security whatsoever in most baggage claim areas.  Piles of unclaimed bags just sit there for hours in most airports, uncollected.  So much for “unattended baggage will be removed” — not in baggage claim!  And since baggage claim is in an “unsecure” area of the airport anyway, anyone could walk in off the street with bags and add whatever bags they wanted to the piles of unclaimed luggage and then just walk away.

    I fly frequently and have never had any issues with invasive TSA procedures, but am still pretty skeptical that much is actually accomplished by all the extra screening.  Two weeks ago in SFO, at ticketing, a guy next to me got so upset over the excess baggage fee that he started shouting and smashed the computer terminal, scattering glass everywhere, then started pulling clothes and things out of the heavy bag and tossing those all over.   This was within probably 20 yards of the security line and multiple TSA personnel.  No one did anything.  UAL personnel just stood there.  TSA, if they noticed, just stood there.  At the VERY least the guy should have been detained pursuant to some municipal vandalism provision.  Sure, the guy was likely just hot headed and nothing more, but if “security” means anything, doesn’t a guy like this warrant more attention than the person who accidentally put a 4 oz tube of toothpaste in a carry on?  Seems to me that airport security is focused on the wrong people and focused on them in only specific places — so, overall, what’s the point?

  • http://badbadwebbis.wordpress.com/ badbadwebbis

    I like your name choice.

  • http://refugefromreality.wordpress.com ButMadNNW

    Chris, I have to be honest. The last line, “Somehow, playing this cat-and-mouse game seems silly. Shouldn’t we be welcoming the screening instead of running from it?” seems like a complete contradiction of your usual stance in how you address the TSA and their activities (and a contradiction of the rest of this article). It confused me when I first read this article a few days ago, and it still confuses me.
    The English major in me cringed. The line struck me as something an editor threw in at the last second to try and make it sound like you’re NOT trying to ruffle the feathers you always do here.

    I’m not sure what you meant by that last line, but it clearly didn’t translate to my brain. Sorry.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    That was my own ending. I guess something got lost in translation. In a perfect world, we would understand that the TSA is there for our own security and we would welcome the screening. Of course, as we all know, that’s not the way it’s perceived.

    I didn’t write this to ruffle feathers — or not ruffle feathers — but to point out the fact that we are running from the very people who are supposed to protect us. And I think there’s something wrong with that.

  • Sadie Cee

    I never imagined that this would ever happen. Certainly, the possibility for this to happen exists but I never thought anyone could be so devious and cruel.  Once upon a time, after retrieving one’s luggage from the baggage claim area, one had to go through Customs where each bag had to be opened and inspected.  Then there was spot-checking of every “nth” person or so.  Now one claims one’s bags and heads for the parking lot. 

    How did this individual get into the baggage claim area in the first place?  Aren’t these supposed to be one-way traffic areas?  Could the person have been an airport employee?

    As for the “security” person…is this all in a day’s work for them?  What are they supposed to be securing?  Would she have interrupted her conversation if you had started yelling “STOP THIEF?” Just a suggestion…could you alert the Airport Authority by sending them the information and the photo you have?  Maybe they have received similar info and are in the midst of an investigation.  :-)

    Once I called the mall management to report an incident that took place in their parking lot.  As I was preparing to leave the lot, while the man was dunning me for money at the driver’s side window I looked in the rear view mirror and saw that a woman had planted herself directly behind the car.  I could not leave without running her over, so I gave the man $10 and they left.  The mall manager said that if I had honked the horn without stopping, mall security would have come to investigate.  Of course, the pair would have taken flight by then, but I could have saved myself the $10.  In any event, the manager promised to alert staff to the pair.  If he really did, my call would not have been in vain. 

    Mobile communication devices are going to be the death of us and I mean that literally.  Just finished reading an article about pedestrians falling down escalators, falling off sidewalks, running into cars while crossing the street, while they were gabbing on their cellphones. 

  • Kgiff50

    I don’t feel protected.  I feel violated.  And I think there’s something wrong with that.

  • http://oussamastake.blogspot.com/ Oussama

    I am not so sure about Random Checks, the last 4 trips I took through O’Hare and Detroit we were all pushed through the AIT. That aside, in principle Security is a necessity and we should always embrace is too much more like endure it. I worked at airports with air side passes and sometimes security will let you by because they recognize me, I declined most of the time, I don’t want to be remembered as the guy we did not check if something happens.
    I agree the TSA methods are rough, to say the least, and some are arrogant and full of themselves but on the whole we should not avoid security.

  • Grant

    If not welcoming the screening, we should at least be understanding of it. Muslim terrorists hate us. They want to kill us… in great numbers. TSA may be a flawed response, but they are at least TRYING to protect us. I, for one, support them. (Screeches of outrage from TSA haters to follow).   


    No way in hell would I have given this guy $10.  I’d have just started backing out and if she didn’t get out of the way..oh well.

  • ButMadNNW

    Gotcha. When I thought about it, I wondered if that was what you meant. I agree with Kathy. I don’t feel safer with the current TSA procedures; I’m more scared of my own government than I am of the so-called terrorists.

    That means they’re doing it wrong.

  • Sadie Cee

    Canada and the United States have an international agreement in place, The Canada-United States Preclearance Agreement which has been in existence for over 50 years.  It was last updated in 1974 and is regularly reviewed for currency.  The agreement is in effect at 7 Canadian airports and more will come on stream as soon as they have been deemed to meet all the requirements.  The enabling legislation in Canada is The Preclearance Act of 2002. 

    Canadians and other nationalities travelling to the U.S. are cleared for entry to the U.S. by American customs and immigration before departure from Canada.  This means that they are not required to go through the same process when they arrive at their U.S. destination.  In fact, because of this agreement, air travel from Canada to the U.S. is treated as if it were a domestic flight.

    Personal passenger security is operated by the Canadian authorities.  So the people responsible for wanding, scanning and groping are working under contract to the Canadian government.

    PAX arriving at Pearson (YYZ Toronto) check in at their airline counter  and receive baggage receipts for the baggage they intend to check.  (These receipts must be presented at the U.S. customs hall.)  PAX then proceed to the U.S. Customs and Immigration where all documents are scrutinized and checked baggage is dropped off.  PAX continue through security to their departure gate.

    Two months ago, we travelled to Tampa from Rochester.  We drove by car to and from Rochester, the rest by air.  We were made to go through the body scanner at both airports.  We were never offered a choice.  The two experiences were not unpleasant.  However, the agent in Rochester who stood outside the scanner in front of me kept glancing at me while she called out a series numbers to a person out of my range of vision.  I was afraid to ask what the numbers signified for fear of being arrested on some pretext.

    In June 2010 when I last went through Pearson heading for Europe, the body scanners were not being used.  I was wanded twice and made to remove my shoes which had set of an alarm.  I was not allowed to hold my wallet raised in my hand (even though the Transport Canada Web site had told me I could do so) and had to hand it over to them. My neck pouch was undisturbed.

    When travelling, rudeness and condescension are encountered EVERYWHERE.  Can you imagine being comforted by a red cap in a distant country when I burst into tears as a result of a customs officer screaming something unintelligible in my face?  I was bewildered and he kept on shouting getting ever closer to me.  I was terrified.  Turns out he was telling me that the cart that held my luggage could not be taken outside the customs hall. 


  • Sadie Cee

    You have obviously made this trip yourself.  Everything you’ve said is 100% accurate. 

    Two things I would add are that crossing the border from Canada to the U.S., the U.S. Customs agents sometimes come on the train with dogs.  Once I thought the dogs would have zeroed in on my lunch, but they had no interest in me. 

    Also, during the academic year avoid making the trip on Friday p.m. or Sunday p.m. if you can.  Students travelling between home and university on the weekends give rise to a severe space problem.  The bathrooms also make their presence felt rather quickly.

    Union Station in Toronto is being remodelled at present and let’s hope elevators are being included in the plans.   

  • Sadie Cee

    Two articles that I read recently have given me some hope that the suffering is not going unnoticed. Even though the articles are somewhat dated, someone is paying attention.

    “Obama asks about less intrusive ways to screen air travellers”

    “Security at Pearson more like harassment expert says”

    The Israeli experience appears to be based on behavioral analysis of passengers and comprehensive surveillance.  Specialized training will be required.  Dare we hope that, when adopted, we will see the end of our oppression? 

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Texas Public Utility Commission chairman Barry Smitherman:  “You’re punishing me for opting out, aren’t you?”

    TSA agent:  “Yes, we are.”


  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Yeah, Grant.  The Terrorists Are Everywhere!

    Now be quiet and just bend over and spread ’em.

  • Makers

    Which muslim terrorists? You mean like the old man sitting in front of a tv in pakistan watching videos of himself?  There’s merely a handful of ‘terrorists’ out there at all.  If we have to surrender our liberties to feel ‘safe’ from these incompetent jackasses then indeed we have already lost.

  • Randall

    I had a bad experience at CDG (Charles DeGalle in Paris). Apparently walking up to an airline employee and saying in English “Hello, can you please tell me where X gate is?” is not acceptable. Apparently I was supposed to say “Good Morning” and try to say something in French first. Or, at least that is what he screamed in my face, followed by “Useless American!”

    To which I replied in perfect French, “I’m actually Quebecois (French Canadian), but your prejudice for anyone North American is quite obvious. Thanks for showing such great hospitality. I’m sure your employer will be pleased to know that when I send a letter to the airline.” 

    The way his mouth hung open was so beautiful…

  • Raven

    This is why I carry concealed. The second the guy didn’t understand “no” he’d have seen my shoulder holster. If that didn’t deter the pair, I would be fully prepared to draw on them.

  • Raven

    Whoops, it cut off the rest of what I had written. I sent an email the Houston Airport Authority with the photo on Tuesday. I have yet to receive a reply. The man was not wearing any sort of uniform or wearing any sort of badge, so I’m going to go with no, he was not an employee. 

    The “security” was a total joke. I included that in the email, too, but I doubt anything will be done.

    I honestly thought about submitting a “tip” to the FBI on this because the whole thing is just really bugging me. I don’t know if they’d listen or just brush it off as “petty larceny” but the idea that someone is taking bags off the belt and replacing them with others…that’s really sketchy to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JKYGE7MBEIT6DI67EBNYWOQSMY SirElmo60

    TSA is *NOT* Airport security.  SF has a police division at the airport to provide security.  They are the ones that should have been called to deal with this person.  The TSA agent’s job is to screen passengers (a job they don’t do too well with).  They are not trained security personnel.  I would guess that any TSA agent that left their post to deal with a situation like this would probably be fired.  What if this person was a diversion to try to lure TSA away fro someone else to sneak through?

    While I don’t like or support the way TSA operate, this is a very poor example to use.  In this case, the TSA did what they were suppose to do by not interfering.

  • Rachel

    A pat down is not a strip search. I have never heard of anyone being strip searched unless they actually hide things under their clothes.
    Also, if you’re wearing a knee brace or something similar, you are going to have to show them regardless of whatever screening method they use.

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

    I’m not a big boy.  I’m a petite woman, and I was sexually assaulted by a TSA screener who inserted a foreign object between my labia. That’s the last time I ever allowed a TSA bully to get anywhere near my body.  A bit uncomfortable?  Many, many people have reported sexual-assault-style trauma as a result of the pointless violation of their sexual parts.  You think grooming children for sexual predators by teaching kids that strangers in uniforms can rub them where their bathing suits cover is “safe”?   Disgusting.  Anyone who doesn’t really care all that much just hasn’t been personally victimized by these thugs yet.

  • http://twitter.com/shortymcpeep Shorty McPeeple

    We should fight against the increased assault on our liberties. We should not fly. We should take to the streets. We should protest. We should tell the politicians to stop this mad practice of frisking innocent people, trampling on the Constitution, and feeling the private parts of women and children.

  • http://twitter.com/shortymcpeep Shorty McPeeple

    We should fight against the increased assault on our liberties. We
    should not fly. We should take to the streets. We should protest. We
    should tell the politicians to stop this mad practice of frisking
    innocent people, trampling on the Constitution, and feeling the private
    parts of women and children.

  • http://twitter.com/shortymcpeep Shorty McPeeple

    I think allowing people to photograph your naked body and/or feel you between the legs just because they wear a uniform is being a pansy. If that is being a big boy, then I’ll be anything but.

  • http://twitter.com/shortymcpeep Shorty McPeeple

    I am also feeling terrorized by the government/TSA.

  • http://twitter.com/shortymcpeep Shorty McPeeple

    No, not screeches of outrage. Just wisely researched comments that explain you are incorrect and that the TSA searches are theatre. Would we have these scanners if Congress member had not invested so heavily in the companies producing the technology? Security is big business, and people are getting rich to get rich not to save you. Have a good day.

  • http://twitter.com/shortymcpeep Shorty McPeeple

    Sadly, that article about Obama is old. Given that a CEO of one of the body scanner companies flew to India on Air Force One with Obama last year, I don’t see Obama doing much in the future to get rid of body scanners.

  • Sarah

    I’ve had TSA officers run their hands inside of my pants, touching my underwear, on multiple occasions. While I agree that it’s not a strip search, it’s also not just a pat-down (i.e. just patting the outside of your person/outfit). And I believe that if you are wearing a long, form-fitting skirt, you will have to take it off so that they can run their hands between your legs (although that has not happened to me personally–I don’t wear a lot of long fitted skirts–and this does happen in a private room).

  • Carver

    How much has Congress invested?

  • Carver

    Unfortunately, Americans have a visceral reaction to the word profiling, and understandably so.

  • Robert LiberalTool

    Good luck telling 300 million people not to fly. People are going to fly anyways, and politicians don’t really care about us anyways, despite what we are told.

    And what about the private parts of men? :P

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


    John Kerry invested half a million dollars in the naked scanner companies. 

    Also: “Since the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports.  What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines.”


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

    Absolutely!  I am avoiding the TSA by driving, taking Amtrak, and cancelling trips. 

    Hey, TSA: I’m not your porn star!  If you want to look at pictures of naked people all day, I will gladly direct you to legal establishments that publish plenty of pictures of naked people for you to enjoy.  Now if you can also get your filthy hands out of my pants, I’ll gladly start buying airline tickets again.

  • MichelleLV

    We should be embracing security and getting rid of TSA.    They are about as successful at making the sky safer as the Wal Mart greeter is at stopping a shop lifter.   I know someone who had a larger than 3.3 oz bottle of lotion in her carry on and taser in her purse.  She said they were practically boasting when they made her throw away her lotion and she didn’t realize she had her taser until she got to her destination. Those dumbasses can’t see the forest for the trees.  I do not feel safer that they make little old ladies remove their depends but ignore the people who could use an extra look at.   I personally think they are afraid of finding anything real. 

    For those of you who are curious about not realizing she still had her taser…she said she left from work (downtown at 4 am) to the airport and brought her work bag as a travel purse.  She said she wanted to report it as a learning oportunity but she is afraid it would cause trouble for her and they still wouldn’t learn anything from it. 

  • MichelleLV

    and for those of you who don’t know retailers lose 13 billion in revenue each year.  

  • MichelleLV

    yeah I do all this too and besides a B* TSA screener with an attitude in Puerto Rico, I haven’t had trouble.  I’ve never been groped, but I have had my luggage looked over a handful of times.  But being lucky doesn’t make it right. TSA still is NOT doing a good job of providing real security therefore we should not just keep complying.  I don’t mind following the rules, and being a model traveler but I expect to feel safe and I don’t.    Just because they haven’t molested/detained you or me doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it to many others and as a nation we should stand up for what is right.  CURRENT TSA POLICY IS SO FLAWED IT NEEDS TO BE DEMOLISHED. 

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

    One of my best friends says she was strip-searched at LAX, down to her underwear.  She says this happened after she entered the same security checkpoint several times on the same day.  She is a smoker and had to go outside to smoke, and she showed the TSA agents her stack of boarding passes for a string of cancelled and delayed flights all day long.  They forced her into a private room to show a whole lot more. 

    This is not the only report of a true strip search by TSA.  Search FlyerTalk for documentation of several others.

  • cjr001

    A friend of mine is back in town, visiting from where he now lives in works in another state. He flew in last night, and, once again, received a pat down from TSA on the way out.

    In fact, his receiving of pat downs has been oh so random that he’s received a pat down every time he’s gone through security, to and from, on his last several flights. Whether there’s a body scanner involved or not, he’s continually singled out, and he really has no clue why.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Obama is just as craven and ruthless as Bush was before him.  And just as beholden to the corporations that run this country.

    There’s money to be made on these scanners.  The military and corporate profiteers who soak the government — meaning us — aren’t going to let up.  They’re the ones getting rich off the scanner boondoggle, they’re the ones who profit from this constant hyping of a state of fear, which, as you can see from this blog alone, many people are happy to buy into.

    Obama’s wife and children don’t have to get stripped and groped before getting on a plane.  And until more family members of our cowardly Congress do, nothing will change there, either.

    This abuse was predictable, all of it, to anyone who was paying attention. Just as the reaction of a credulous populace was also predictable.

    As for Israel, see my comment below. (Rafi Sela, the Israeli security expert in one of your linked articles, is also one of the experts I’ve invoked hundreds of times. But people who love to be afraid aren’t interested in expertise, risk assessment, or empirical evidence. They’d rather wallow in their fear.)

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Profiling, of the most rank, ignorant kind is already going on.  You think many TSA goons aren’t getting their rocks off on doing their own brand of “profiling,” based on ignorance and power-tripping?  Common sense dictates that, let alone the news stories that have already come out about high-level Indian diplomats with security clearance ID being groped, right after coming from meetings at the White House, no less, plus the exposed ring at Newark airport of TSA agents going “Mexican hunting.”  Throw in race, which will is always a thorn in the side of somebody or other, of all colors, plus a few helpings of revenge, and you have a potent stew.

    As for the tactics of Isreal, constantly hyped, I’ll repeat again: Though Israel has eliminated terrorism on planes, they’ve learned to accept it in other venues — buses, cafes, marketplaces. Bombs still go off there.  There is no such thing as 100% security, anywhere.  The belief of so many Americans that there is is why they’re willing to bend over and spread ’em every time an authority figure
    tells them to. They cherish the fantasy of security more than the reality of life. Life entails risk.

    The Israelis also rely heavily on racial and ethnic profiling.  If you’re with an American tour group, for example, you’ll be ushered quickly through. If you’re the “wrong” racial or ethnic type, you’ll get a thorough going-over.  And if you’re a peace activist — forget it; you’ll be strip-searched in a back room.  Just ask Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein.

    And please let’s not play Divide And Conquer. Our overlords would love us to do that. That’s how Japanese-Americans were interned during WWII. This is a civil liberties issue, it is a human rights issue, and that means it concerns all of us. Black, white, red, yellow, brown, you name it.

    Terrorists already know that some Americans would just love to do crude profiling based on ethnicity. That’s obvious. They’re capable of recruiting people who don’t fit a bias-fed profile (such as blonde-haired, blue-eyed Colleen LaRose, aka Jihad Jane). And for people who tout profiling men of “Middle Eastern descent” (whatever that means) — Arab Christians, of whom there are hundreds of thousands, are of “Middle Eastern descent” — are we going to profile them, too, or do they get the seal of approval because they’re not Muslim? Do pro-profiling Americans even know that Arab Christians exist?

    We shouldn’t play into the hands of the authoritarians trying to control us. We have to stand up for civil liberties for all people. And the plain fact is that there have been far more Muslim victims of terrorism around the world than anyone else — by the State Department’s own statistics.
    Americans have to stop this 9/11 victimology. We aren’t the only people in the world.

    What we need is responsible intelligence, responsible police work. That’s what has always been used to fight crime.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Rachel, you are mistaken.  Grossly.  Read through just a few of thousands of accounts of abuse I have compiled:


  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Sarah, yes, even though that criminal John Pistole himself said that running hands under skirts is NOT permissible.  This was back in November, when the gropefests were initiated nationwide.  He said this in several interviews.

    But the smurfs make up their own rules whenever they want, wherever they want, however they want, as people have documented countless times on this blog.

  • MarkieA

    A couple of things concern me.

    “I asked the TSA how to avoid a VIPR team and was assured that the program is nothing more than a visual deterrent and limited for now to major transportation systems such as trains, subways and an occasional public event.”

    The “occasional public event”? Really? I’ve heard about the train stations and, I think, bus stations. But public events? So, at the next open-air concert, I shouldn’t be surprised if someone in a blue TSA uniform approaches me for my “papers”? If this starts happening, we are in a world of hurt.

    Chris, the suggestion to use the “trick” of traveling with children is just silly. You either have to travel with the kids or you don’t. You don’t “bring them along” in order to avoid the scanners.

    The TSA Status website seems to only review 21 airports. My airport, BWI, isn’t mentioned and they have become more and more aggressive with the scanners. The “regular” magnetometers are oftentimes completely shut down, leaving you no choice but to got through the scanners, no choice but the pat-down, obviously. Luckily, I haven’t had any bad experiences with t he par-downs (I always opt out of the scanner), but that doesn’t mean I like it.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    MarkieA, I had a taste of the TSA’s power-tripping at BWI in September 2010.  This was just before the gropes were implemented nationwide, which I warned about in this post:

    “We are your neighbors, friends, and relatives”*

    This post also puts the lie to the oft-repeated bromide, ‘just be nice to other people and they’ll be nice to you.’ Some of us are “nice” and respectful to other people all the time because that’s the way we conduct our lives. It’s no guarantee that we’ll be treated well in return, an observation that should be obvious.

    (Sorry to have to link to this site, a group blog I left earlier this year because I got tired of being shouted down by my ostensibly liberal, ostensibly-civil-liberties-loving co-bloggers.  I don’t write there anymore, and they continue with their everything’s-okay-now-that-Obama-is-in-office hypocrisy.)

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    FYI, from a story last year (this involves the Canadian equivalent of our CBP, which is also known to use strip-searches as deliberate harassment):

    Woman mocked during airport strip search
    Last Updated: July 20, 2010 11:50am

    Shileen Flynn, 29, had already missed one flight and lost her luggage when she says she found herself in a room at the Vancouver airport, naked and squatting, while two crude border agents strip-searched her.
    . . .
    With no mention of the alleged verbal harassment by the border service officers, the letter explained that a strip search can be conducted if an officer “has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has secreted contraband on or about their body,” as long as a senior officer approves the search, and the suspect is informed of their rights.

    “It was sickening to watch and see what they were doing. They then went into full cover-up in the investigation and simply lied when convenient to cover up any wrongdoing,” Charlie told QMI Agency.


  • Eighmeagh

    I understand the difference between TSA and local airport security or local law enforcement personnel.  I disagree that TSA agents are not “trained security personnel” — if they are not, at least some of them are *supposed* to be, at least according to the TSA website.  But, regardless of who should have dealt with this individual, someone should have, and no one did.  If it’s not a TSA agent’s job to handle troubling behavior outside the “boundaries” of the security checkpoint, whatever those boundaries are, if security is to mean anything, presumably an agent has the ability to at least *contact* the appropriate airport security personnel or local law enforcement without stepping away from a post. Surely the point of TSA can’t be “it didn’t happen at the security checkpoint, it happened 20 yards away at the ticketing counter, therefore it doesn’t concern me.”

    The whole incident suggested to me that, for all the window dressing of security, no one in the area who witnessed the incident, which included TSA agents and UAL personnel, knew how to address an actual problematic situation, even if it was as simple as calling SF police.  In my mind, a guy with such a demonstrated short fuse is potentially a huge problem in the air — what if he gets angry about something else midflight and decides to deck a flight attendant instead of a computer terminal?  Isn’t this the type of behavior that *should* concern TSA? (which is supposed to have behavior detection officers who can refer incidents to local law enforcement)  If TSA starts and stops at baggage screening, which apparently also doesn’t include baggage *claim*, then what have we really accomplished?  Not that I’m necessarily advocating for an increased role of TSA, but for a role that makes sense.  It seems to me that we’ve lost sight of the forest for the trees.

    Again, I’ve never had any issues myself with any TSA agent or screening procedure — I have never received even a pat down myself, let alone anything more invasive — and have generally found agents to be very polite, even friendly, so I don’t have the per se problem with TSA that others on this forum do.  I’m just not convinced that their presence has actually enhanced security as much as we might tend to want to believe. 

  • Sadie Cee

    There is no word yet about what took place before this outburst.  What did the agent say or do?  I want to hear about that.

  • Sadie Cee

    Go for it!  To the FBI, I mean.  It can’t hurt and may do some good, who knows?  I can see removing the luggage which we could consider to be just theft, but replacing the bags with others?  Too sinister for words!

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    According to neighbors in Colorado, Yukari Miyamae flies 3 days a week.  If that means 3 round trips (and I don’t know if that’s what it means), that would be 6 times through the TSA molestation gauntlet every week.  She had been groped many times; this wasn’t the first time, according to various news accounts.  It sounds like she finally snapped.

    Being a lifelong advocate of non-violence, I can’t say I recommend this course of action.  But I can understand how it happened.  I’m entirely sympathetic to Ms. Miyamae and mean it when I say I would be happy to contribute to her legal defense.  I also don’t believe there’s a jury in the country who would vote to convict (unless they never fly or have been living under a rock).  Phil Mocek was acquitted, quickly.  I believe, if her case even comes to trial, she will be, too.

  • Sadie Cee

    From the initial question as to why Ms Flynn was using a payphone, I knew that the encounter had no place else to go but down.  The actions of the CBSA agents involved were insulting, degrading, shameful and excessive and there is nothing that anyone can say to me in their defence.

    The extent of the powers that agents of the Canada Border Services Agency have is terrifying.  Although they are classified as peace officers, not police officers, they have the same powers of search and arrest.  They are charged with enforcing not only the Customs Act and the Canadian Criminal Code but numerous other federal statutes as well.  All this power and they receive less than six months of training.

    Ms Flynn will not receive compensation, nor even an apology and incidents like this are repeated over and over.  You may have heard of the incident at a Canadian airport where a woman who had had a mastectomy was made to remove her prosthesis in open view. 

    This search could have violated Ms Flynn’s Charter rights (to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure) and a case could also be made for a violation of her right not to be arbitrarily detained.  Did we not read that when she was first noticed, she was merely using a payphone and further, that their trained dogs showed no interest in her?

    A regrettable incident involving the federal police force that took place at the Vancouver airport in 2007.  Although he was not being searched, this case emphasizes how dangerous a lack of proper training in passenger relations can be.  Unfortunately, there will be no justice for Mr. Dziekanski.




  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Sadie, that story is horrible.  Tasers are increasingly becoming the go-to option, when most of the time they’re really just an excuse for abuse.  In the USA a few years ago, a young woman with minor mental health problems became “agitated” (the magic word) in an airport, was hauled off, and put in a room unsupervised, handcuffed to a bench.  Within 15 minutes she was dead.  She had somehow gotten tangled and accidentally strangled herself.  No charges against the officers, of course.  She left a husband and child behind.

    CBP in this country also has absolute power.  Back when I traveled, I always said “Yes, Sir,” “No, Sir” to them and took them deadly seriously. I knew that they had the power to do anything they wanted, and that I forfeited my rights when returning to this country.  The ACLU has had (maybe still has pending?) a class action lawsuit against them for targeting black women traveling alone and strip-searching them.  The ACLU has been worthless on TSA abuse, by the way, but at least they filed suit against CBP in that case.

  • Carver

    No all pat down are random, nor does anyone claim that they are.  Some are because there is some suspicion of illegal activity.  Most likely there is something about your friend that raises suspicion.

  • Grant

    Sorry to hear you had to leave Cogitamus, dear. Now… what would it take to get you to leave this site, too?  :-)

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

    You’re more likely to die from peanuts than terrorists, Grant.  Get a grip. 

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    A lot more than snark like that.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Yeah, like he rolled his eyes or looked in the “wrong” direction or didn’t exhibit sufficient obeisance to his masters.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Schneier on Security
    November 13, 2009
    Beyond Security Theater


  • John R. Strohm

    TSA is doing a job that needs doing.  The problem is that they are doing it dam’ badly, and it shows.

    When a TSA agent calls for an assist, he should not have to call three times, while five (5) other TSA agents, all wearing gloves, stand around and hold Social Hour.  No, this is not hypothetical.  It just happened, at O’Hare Terminal 3.

    At Tokyo Narita, when a passenger trips the metal detector, the agent to do the search is RIGHT THERE, immediately.  Ditto Bangkok Suvarnabhumi.  Ditto Frankfurt.  I have metal hips.  I’ve tripped every metal detector I’ve ever walked through.  Only in the US is there ever any delay, while we wait for a frisker to finish his coffee break, or whatever, and decide to do his job for a few minutes, and, in the US, there is ALWAYS delay.

  • R. Lezar

    Wait – you speak French, yet you chose to initiate a conversation with an airline employee *in France* in English? That’s not an excuse for him to be nasty, but why would you not show him the respect of addressing him in the local language when you had the ability to do so?

  • Randall

    I’m fluent, but English is still the language I use every day. I had heard him speaking to another traveler in English, and just went for it. Assume for a second that I was not fluent and he had behaved this way on a lost traveler who only speaks English. At least I was able to put him back in his place.

  • cjr001

    Yeah, his being 6′ 4″ and 230 lbs or so, basically built like a linebacker, white, round trip ticket, isn’t looking for trouble.

    Yep, all the things we automatically associate with ‘suspicious’, right? All the things that make one deserve a good groping.

    Sorry, Carver, but it’s bullshit, and it’s high time you come up with some new material for your endless defense of TSA.

  • cjr001

    Furthermore: thanks for proving the point about how ridiculous TSA is.

    My friend is *obviously* guilty until proven innocent… every single damn time he flies. Yep, that makes perfect bloody sense.

    Just remember, Carver, when they come for you, nobody will be there.

  • Clare

    Dear Lord, Sommer, I am so sorry that happened to you!  Good grief!  Have you publicized this in any way?  Filed suit?  What possible explanation could they invent that would justify this “foreign object”?  How perverted are they gonna get?!  Man, I’m going to have nightmares just after reading your post–I don’t know how you can stand it, I would be an emotional basket-case after going through that…

  • Clare

    Lisa, THANK YOU for posting that link–I am going to share it with everybody I know!

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    For those who want to show support for Yukari Mihamae (or Miyamae as some news sources are spelling it), two contacts, her defense atty and the prosecutor:

    According to FB and Martindale Hubbell, her attorney’s name is Judd Golden, who practices constitutional law, as well as general law. Says he’ll be issuing a statement “soon.”  He’s also chair of the Boulder County ACLU.

    (By the way, do you know how far you have to push a culturally conformist person like a Japanese woman to fight back like this??  The Japanese are raised to bow to authority; it’s a cultural imperative.  Think about that for a minute.  This woman was abused beyond endurance.  They’re going to have to make an example of her by prosecuting; otherwise, this will start happening all over the country, and they know it.  It’ll start happening anyway, but . . . .)

    The prosecutor, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
    Maricopa County Attorney Office 301 West Jefferson Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003
    Phone 602-506-3411. You can send an E-mail through this link:

    Here’s what I submitted to Bill Montgomery via that link:

    Dear Mr. Montgomery:

    As a journalist who has been covering TSA abuse for the past 18 months, and a lifelong advocate of non-violence, I am urging you to drop all charges against Yukari Mihamae (Miyamae).

    My understanding is that Ms. Mihamae had already endured repeated gropes by TSA agents in the past, and finally snapped. While I don’t advocate physical confrontation, I can understand how this happened and I sympathize with Mihamae.

    If this comes to trial, I don’t believe there’s a jury in the country that would vote to convict.

    This is a critical civil liberties issue. TSA abuse is rampant. Incidents aren’t few and far between, and they aren’t minor. I’ve compiled just the ones that have received a modicum of publicity in a document that stands at over 40 pages. You can see it at this link:http://www.travelunderground.org/index.php?threads/master-lists-of-tsa-abuses-crimes.317/

    It seems to me those incidents are what law enforcement should be investigating, not Yukari Mihamae.

    Lisa Simeone
    Baltimore, MD

  • Daisymae

    Do you mean that TSA is supposed to be protecting us but they are actually not?  They are actually terrorizing us so therefore we are running away from the people who are SUPPOSED to protect us but actually terrorize us instead?

    I was really confused also and hoping you didn’t mean we should accept their abusive behaviour as it currently is.  Based on your previous blogs I didn’t think that could be right.

  • LadySiren

    Personally, I’d prefer more Lisas and less Grants, but that’s just me.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I try to avoid the TSA wherever possible, specifically the pat-down/scan choice. I think something is wrong with the agency, when the people it should be screening are running from it. There’s nothing wrong with us for trying to avoid the unnecessary hardship of having your dignity violated.

  • Daisymae

    Lisa, Grant is a jerk.  Please keep up your good work.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    From one of the Facebook pages in her support:

    Judd Golden
    Folks: I’m Yukari’s attorney. Her last name is Miyamae. Yukari has been violated and traumatized. She wishes to maintain her privacy at this time. She appreciates everyone’s support. We are gathering facts and will be making a public statement soon.


  • Tubby

    Holy crap, enough with the drama already!

  • agree with Grant

    Lisa, people would take you a lot more seriously if you cut out all the dramatic crap in your posts – it does make it sound just like whining. Especially if we can’t actually find the point you are trying to make.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Sorry, person who hides behind the moniker “agree with Grant,” I’ve posted chapter and verse, sourced reports, statistical analysis, risk assessment, and empirical evidence so often on these pages I’ve lost count.  That you characterize these things as “dramatic” and “whining” says more about you than it does about me.

    But that’s cool.  Shooting the messenger is a time-honored practice.

  • Silence Dogood

    Oh. So you aren’t aware of the new cancer clusters popping up among TSA’s employees?

  • Silence Dogood

    It’s nice to know you’ll eventually allow them to stick their fingers up your a*s. After all, complying with the requirements is just part of the show, right?

  • Sadie Cee

    I see that I will have to do some further research on “behavioral analysis of passengers” and “comprehensive surveillance.”  I took these at face value and didn’t associate either of them with “profiling” and with “racial” and “ethnic” profiling, in particular.   Please understand that adverse targeting of a human being on the basis any physical, emotional, mental or cultural characteristic is abhorrent to me. 

    Considerable years of observing human nature have led me to believe that certain people should never be placed in positions of power or authority; that some people with particular fetishes and perversions are drawn to occupations where they will have ample opportunity to indulge their aberrant predilections and that the principles of equity and equality are merely theoretical concepts for many people.

    I endorse your call for reponsible intelligence.  Law enforcement must become aware of those who present a danger to the community, their location and their activities.  Should such people be accorded the privilege of travelling, or has travel become a right?

    Having law-abiding citizens standing in line for hours at airports waiting for their bodies to be assaulted is repellent and transport security agencies need to take this back to the drawing board.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Sadie, re your comments on people’s propensity for abusing power, that’s why I keep bringing up so often on these pages the names Philip Zimbardo, Stanley Milgram, Solomon Asch, and the Stanford Prison Experiment, Milgram Experiment, and Asch Paradigm.  (More empirical evidence that seems to disturb the TSA apologists.)

    These famous experiments demonstrated more than 40 years ago the tendency for people — “ordinary,” “normal,” “average” people — not sadists, not mentally unhinged freaks — to dissolve the boundaries between decency and indecency, between dignity and cruelty, so easily when put into positions of absolute authority.  That’s why what the TSA is doing was predictable, and will only get worse unless we put a stop to it.

  • http://litbrit.blogspot.com/ Deborah Newell Tornello

    Gosh, Grant, this is a post entitled “TSA Watch”.  It, like other TSA Watch posts before it, does a great job of informing people about the ongoing problem that a significant number of Americans have with the TSA, not the least of which are the repeated violations of people’s civil liberties in the name of safety.  The waste.  The humiliation.  The regarding of innocent, law-abiding citizens as criminals until proven innocent–a direct inversion of one of America’s bedrock principles. All that stuff, and more. It affects travelers, so much so that Chris has made it a regular feature.

    Perhaps you’d prefer to look at some nice, beachy travel postcards or slide-shows of people’s exciting cruises to the Yucatan?  It’s all in the keywords you use to perform your searches, Grant–all in the keywords.

  • cjr001

    I’m surprised it took this long for this to happen, somebody who simply said, “Fine, if you’re going to grope me, then I’m going to grope you.”

    But then, what is there to charge her with? After all, it’s apparently OK for TSA to do this, so why not for the rest of us?

    It shouldn’t have come to this, but I wouldn’t blame anybody in the least for having this kind of reaction.

  • Joe_American

    If the new body scanners were really that important for security, the TSA would make EVERYONE go through them, not just a few people such as attractive young women, grandmas, disabled people, and college students who know their constitutional rights.  :P  Don’t you love security THEATRE? 

  • Fisher1949

    In the past eight months, TSA has been plagued by reports of agent
    thefts, sex crimes, assaults, drug trafficking, security breaches, passenger
    abuse and drug use. Over sixty screeners have been implicated in that brief
    time without one notable success to offset this abysmal record. There is
    something fundamentally wrong when an organization posts this level of criminal

    This ineffective focus on passengers has become both excessive and
    dangerous. Once cockpit doors were reinforced and pilots armed a terrorist
    could not gain control of a plane a repeat of 9/11 became impossible. A human
    is physically incapable of concealing enough explosive to bring down an
    airliner yet the focus of TSA remains on passengers while allowing 60% of cargo
    on airliners to go unscreened and remaining oblivious to threat of a ground
    based attack.

    Over a million Americans have died in defense of our Constitutional
    liberties and it is shameful that the fearful and cowardly among us would
    squander those rights for the miniscule degree of security that TSA provides.

    TSA is far too broken to be reformed and must be closed. There needs to
    be a grand jury investigation of the agency and its leadership for corruption
    and mismanagement.


  • Fisher1949

    Opinions from cowards like this are a disgrace. Anyone who would agree to having their genitals. or those of their children, fondled by clerk with a tin badge just to board a plane are unfit to be called Americans.

    Maybe the commenter should “man up” and stop whining like a frightened 3 year old afraid of imaginary monsters under the bed.

  • Fisher1949

    If you were really a frequent flyer ypu would know its 3/1/1, not 3/3/3. Obviously you’re a TSA troll and a poorly informed on a that.

    How much is TSA paying you do to do a poor job of defending them? You however have confirmed that even paid trolls, like everyone else at TSA, are incompetent.

  • Fisher1949

    This will be the last time I read anything from this writer.

    Just another lame TSA apologist. Sellout.

  • Sadie Cee

    Lisa, I do agree that the findings from Milgram’s study (despite its limitations) could well be used to explain the readiness with which some ordinary people resort to cruelty when power is given to them.  However, I believe that in other more extreme cases we have to go beyond merely possessing the authority to be able to explain what motivates some of the behaviour that takes place.  For obvious reasons, I hesitate to be more explicit.  Perhaps by researching the other names you have provided I will find support for what I have in mind.   

  • Grant

    Mom?  Are we still on for Thanksgiving??  :-(

  • Jackson

    Good heavens…what is the big deal?  Just walk through the scanner and get on with your life!  I fly quite often and go through the full-body scanners as well as the magnetometer and neither bother me.  I have more important things to think about than TSA and their scanners. 

    I know I’m a minority, but I can’t be the only one not bothered by either of the scanning options.

  • cjr001

    Thanks for being part of the problem!

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    The good news is —

    Video: Woman accused of groping TSA agent won’t be charged with sexual abuse.


    And favorite line from this article:

    The TSA agent also didn’t meet the qualifications of a law enforcement officer, which would have triggered a charge of assaulting a police officer, Cobb said.


    Though they love to play pretend with their blue uniforms and fake badges, they aren’t law enforcement officers. (Yet another reason why actual law enforcement officers can’t stand them.)

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    “Just walk through the scanner and get on with your life!”

    Okay, we’ve explained this about a dozen times, but here goes again:  just because you acquiesce to the scanner doesn’t mean you’ll be spared a grope.  The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    And “get on with your life” indeed.  That’s what those of us who don’t think Terrorists Are Hiding Around Every Corner are trying to do.  We’re being impeded by the TSA and by people who are so afraid of the risks inherent in everyday life that they’re better off staying home cowering under their beds and leaving the flying to us.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Yukari Miyamae Legal Defense Fund


  • Brooklyn

    Don’t do anything to draw the FBI’s attention to you if you use this site!  Next thing you know, you’ll be selected for pat-downs whenever you travel.  Conspiracy theory?  You bet!

  • Brooklyn

    Well, maybe, but the TB risk could have been avoided if the airlines allowed us to change our tickets when we’re sick.  Some of you may be able to afford to pay for reticketing, but I’ve flown sick many times and suspect that most other people have as well. I’ve also gotten sick many times after a flight.  Do I blame the sick people?  No – I blame the airlines, and Congress for not regulating them. 

  • Brooklyn

    That’s a brilliant idea – you could drive to the nearest stop on the US side and just take the train the rest of the way into Canada.  But if you’re flying overseas from JFK, the site Chris mentions will allow you to avoid the scanners altogether.  Would routing through Canada work if, say, you wanted to get from New York to San Francisco?  And how would you avoid the scanners on the return, since you’d left your car on the east coast?  I’d really like to hear from anyone who has this system worked out – I haven’t seen my family since the new scanners came into operation and I miss them.

  • Brooklyn

    You seem to have forgotten the cancer risk from the new scanners: it’s a different kind of radiation.  So now your only choice is to be groped, or not to fly.  And this is fair?

  • Daisymae

    Thank you for clearing that up.

  • http://twitter.com/NancyNally Nancy Nally

    I also experienced the “everyone has to go through the scanner” screening at O’Hare on Friday of this week. It’s not being used as a secondary screening in addition to the magnetometers there – it’s the primary screening tool. Should have seen the look on the TSA agent’s face when I just looked at him and said I’d like the alternate screening. He actually looked confused! LOL I guess they don’t get too many opt-outs. But I refuse to be a guinea pig in the government’s backscatter technology experiment.