Whether very young, very old, or in-between, if you fly then you may think TSA seems to be totally out of control with the "show us your body or we'll feel you up" routine. Yet there is little video or audio proof of what Americans are subjected to at airports. That is changing, thanks in part to John Tyner who turned on his cell phone and recorded the whole crazy event...well, the audio at least.
John Tyner did not want to go through the TSA backscatter machine at the San Diego International Airport. Yesterday, Tyner was thrown out of the airport after refusing to submit to a security check "groin" pat down and then also threatened with a $10,000 fine and a civil suit if he left the airport. Tyner has asked people to share his story that was recorded after he turned on his cell phone's video camera, sat it atop his luggage, and ran it through the x-ray machine. After his horrific ordeal, Tyner came home and blogged about it immediately. He has three videos posted on his site that I greatly encourage you to check out. You may need to hear all three to believe it.
After Tyner opted for going through the metal scanner and then a basic pat down, he was escorted to another area where a TSA security guard explained where he was going to touch Tyner for the enhanced pat down. Tyner stated, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested."
A TSA supervisor came over to Tyner and explained his choices of allowing someone to pat him down, or if he wasn't comfortable with that, "we can escort you back out and you don't have to fly today."
Tyner replied, "Okay I don't understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying."
The supervisor said, "This is not considered a sexual assault."
"It would be if you were not the government," said Tyner. The TSA supervisor tried to explain why the pat down was considered legal, but Tyner stated, "I'd like only my wife and maybe my doctor to touch me there."
At 8:34 in the video, we hear a TSA agent tell Tyner, "By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights."
"I think the government took them away after 9/11," Tyner replied.
The TSA made Tyner wait before Transportation Security Manager David Silva, more TSA agents, and even the local police surrounded the area where Tyner was being detained.
Tyner wrote, "I could overhear Mr. Silva say something to the effect of, 'then escort him from the airport.' I again offered to submit to the metal detector, and my father-in-law, who was nearby also tried to plead for some reasonableness on the TSA's part.... I asked, 'are we done here' (it was clear at this point that I was going to be escorted out), and the local police officer said, 'follow me.' I followed him around the side of the screening area and back out to the ticketing area."
American Airlines refunded his non-refundable ticket but before Tyner could leave, he was approached by another man who informed him that Tyner could not leave the airport. "He said that once I start the screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed. Having left the area, he stated, I would be subject to a civil suit and a $10,000 fine. I asked him if he was also going to fine the 6 TSA agents and the local police officer who escorted me from the secure area. After all, I did exactly what I was told. He said that they didn't know the rules, and that he would deal with them later."
Tyner wanted to leave, but the man in the suit who claimed he was trying to help said, "It will look better for you when we bring the case against you that we are going to bring, okay, that you cooperated."
Tyner replied, "You bring that case" and left the airport.
Despite the fact that many people have reported feeling sexually assaulted after being rubbed down by TSA agents, TSA says its pat-down procedures are not acts of molestation. In defense of its security measures, TSA Administrator John Pistole stated, "Our enemy is creative and willing to go to great lengths to evade detection."
I don't think most Americans object to the need for security, but when you teach your child about "good touches" and "bad touches" . . . what do you tell that child about TSA touching him or her? In this video, a 3-year-old is being patted down by a TSA agent. The little girl keeps screaming, "Quit touching me! Quit touching me!"
Are little kids possibly the "creative enemy" then? TSA stated, "We have to screen everyone, regardless of age (even babies), before they can go through the security checkpoint."
According to Reuters, a boy, age 8, was selected for extra screening by TSA. After watching his son be subjected to the pat down, the boy's father who wished not to be named, told Reuters, "We spend my child's whole life telling him that only mom, dad and a doctor can touch you in your private area, and now we have to add TSA agent and that's just wrong. At some point the terrorists have won."
USA today reported that American Airlines and US Airways pilot unions advised their members not to submit to body scanners at airport security checkpoints, as repeated exposure could pose health risks, and instead to opt for TSA pat downs. Yet a pilot said he felt "sexually molested" after the pat down. Flight attendants also joined the ranks of those who do not want to submit to body scans at airport security, but one flight attendant filed a suit after being "groped."
Earlier this year, CBS News reported on TSA agents who are trained to spot terrorists and suggested TSA "behavior detection" programs were a $200 million sham that have never caught a terrorist in nine years. There seems to be a growing backlash against TSA body scanners and invasive body-rubbing pat downs. How many terrorists have the body scanners and TSA agent rub downs actually caught?
Privacy groups are working to put an end to TSA body scans and pat downs. EPIC filed a suit with the Federal Appeals Court to suspend the airport body scanner program. The Electronic Privacy Information group claims the "TSA program violates the federal Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act, and the Administrative Procedures Act." The ACLU has asked travelers who experience problems at TSA security checkpoints, with either the body scanners or the enhanced TSA pat downs, to file a complaint.
Brian Sodegren has called for a National Opt-Out Day on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, when many people will be flying, "to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change." National Opt-Out is "the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an 'enhanced pat down' that touches people's breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner. You should never have to explain to your children, 'Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK'....We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent."
What other options might our government take to implement security without subjecting Americans to "groping abuse" which have left young and old feeling sexually molested? How about going back to bomb sniffing dogs that are effective even in war zones...so why not airports? According to Wired, "forget drones, metal detectors, chemical sniffers and super spycams." Lieutenant General Michael Oates, the commander of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, stated, "Dogs are the best detectors."
Like this? Check out these other posts:
- All of today's Microsoft news and blogs
- Geoslavery: Location-Awareness Gone Wrong?
- EFF Warns of Untrustworthy SSL, Undetectable Surveillance
- Welcome to Skynet, the CCTV Surveillance Society
- ACLU Report: Spying on Free Speech Nearly At Cold War Level
- Full-Body X-Ray Scanners Driving Down A Street Near You?
- Facial recognition: Identifying faces in a crowd in real-time
- FTC Appoints Cool Hacker as First Chief Technologist
- TSA: Show Us Your Body Or We'll Feel You Up
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Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. Smith has a diverse background in information technology, programming, web development, IT consulting, and information security. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.
Smith is an independent contractor and is not affiliated with any vendor that makes or sells information technology.
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