[Wilkes] TSA: Terrorists Screw America | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Wilkes] TSA: Terrorists Screw America

The Transportation Security Administration implemented new policies that, in essence, give strippers more rights in their places of employment than airline passengers in an airport.

With most TSA checkpoints, you go through a metal detector while your carry-on luggage goes on a X-ray-equipped conveyor belt. If you happen to set off the metal detector after going through the detector twice, you are now at a dubious fork in the road.

You can choose (A) the "enhanced pat down," (which can include touching along the thigh near your groin and breasts) or (B) a backscatter X-ray device that snaps an image of your body sans clothes. It's sort of like a twisted version of those "Choose-Your-Own Adventure" books—the "Choose-Your-Own Molestation" flight plan.

If you refuse the backscatter machine, it's the enhanced pat down for you. If you refuse that, you're eligible for an up-to $11,000 civil penalty for violating the federal law, the precise amount of which is determined by the circumstances and the TSA's discretion.

Laws protect strippers by preventing their clients from actively touching them; however, TSA employees now have a mandate to grope you. It's blatant disregard for privacy and human decency.

As Americans, we're supposed to trust our government. My problem is believing that the TSA staff is as loyal to the government as we're supposed to believe they are. I've read and heard stories about TSA agents copying and spreading backscatter images among themselves and others.

Take the case of TSA agent Rolando Negrin, who allegedly started a fight with coworkers after they allegedly spread a backscatter image of him naked (including his family jewels) around the workplace. Because TSA agents use the device, they have to go through it as well, much like police are required to be maced before being licensed to use mace themselves. These agents can't even trust their colleagues.

Technology website Gizmodo published 100 backscatter images of unsuspecting Americans (granted, faces and more sensitive portions were blurred) after it reported that the U.S. Court of Marshals in Orlando, Fla., had saved about 35,000 of such images. A simple Freedom of Information Act request later, and Gizmodo had broken the government and TSA's promise that such images would never be made public.

Then Houston, Texas-based journalist Steve Simon decided it was newsworthy to show his young daughter undergoing an "enhanced pat down" while kicking, screaming and crying, all at the hands of a tenacious female TSA agent. I could never fathom letting someone touch
my child like this, even in the name of national security, nor would I film this process for news fodder, and bring it to my company for broadcast.

What about the case where two female TSA agents asked a flight attendant, a cancer survivor, to remove her prosthetic breast? Then there's the man whose urostomy bag (a bag that stores urine) loosed and his urine spilled on his body, even though he claims to have told the TSA agents responsible for the pat down beforehand of his condition.

TSA Chief John Pistole apologized to this man, something he should do to every American who has been the subject of an enhanced pat down or the pornoscanner.

These cases, some documented with footage and others not, go on and on. Check Youtube if you don't believe me.

Children, wheelchair users, the elderly, and the rest of us are subject to groping, poking and prodding in the name of national security. What's happening here is the terrorists are winning; if extremists hate us for our freedoms, as many a legislator has said in the past, do they like us now that we have fewer and fewer civil liberties?

What if the TSA halted these policies? What if we went about flying the old-fashioned way, without the nude photo shoot or unwelcome fondling? Would airline terrorists suddenly proliferate? Would we see all our skylines crumble? Not likely.

What the TSA's "enhanced pat downs" and backscatter machines provide is a facade of security. The average airline patron is likely relieved at seeing people having every square inch of their bodies rubbed down.

The Jackson-Evers International Airport uses the TSA's services (though federal law doesn't require it to do so; it can use one of five federally approved alternative companies). While it doesn't have a backscatter machine, security personnel use enhanced pat downs for passengers who fail to pass through metal detectors twice.

It's a fine line we draw in the name of national security. How far is too far? After all, neither a pornoscanner nor a TSA grope-fest is going to locate the ounce of C4 a terrorist might swallow or stick up his bum.

I'll drive or take the train until these measures are repealed. I encourage everyone to write his or her state and national representatives and at least sound off on this issue. We can have legitimate bipartisan support for repeal at the national level.

Face it, unless you're one of the elite, you're going to have to choose your path with the TSA's Choose-Your-Own-Molestation flight plan.

Previous Comments


I agree with your POV 100%. I see this as not being about security but about making Americans blindly obedient to a stronger and stronger government....a form of conditioning. These methods aren't used in other countries around the world just the good ole USA. There was roughly an eleven month gap between the "underwear bomber" and the enhanced scans and pat-downs. Nothing happened in those eleven months.

Mr Fat Back


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