Today in TSA

I’m outsourcing today’s TSA tale of shame to Fly with Dignity, the new Reddit-inspired site that’s collecting TSA groping stories:

I was going through ORD on Oct 19th and with a metal implant in my hip, of course I set off the detector. I put all of my items on the belt and just before going through the detector, I told the attendant that it would go off because of the implant in my hip, He stopped me from going through and told me to go stand in line by the scanner…yes, they had one.

I complied and in the meantime, three of them were surrounding my bag asking me if there was any liquid in there. I said no, and one said “You wouldn’t lie to us, would you”? They went through it, found a liquid and called me a liar in front of everyone in line… that was embarrassing… Anyway, the lady barked at me to come over and help find the said liquid. I complied and pulled out a tiny toothpaste tube and asked if that was it. She barked no and then found the liquid… my facial towelettes which I always carry when I travel.

Oddly enough, the one decent security experience I’ve ever had was at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) a couple of years ago, when a TSA agent looked me in the eye and asked a few questions about the purpose of my trip while carefully studying me and my family. That’s the only time I’ve ever sensed anything but rote, bored, mechanistic and stupid adherence to ritual from a TSA agent.

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97 replies
  1. 1
    geg6 says:

    Well, the last time I flew, it was in and out of O’Hare where my ex’s brother is a maintenance manager for United. We were taking his 80 yo, handicapped (in a wheelchair) mother to visit the brother’s family in Chicago. We didn’t have much trouble in Pittsburgh on our way there. But flying home, all three of us were taken aside and basically strip searched (we had to take off our belts and unzip our pants and be patted down; ex’s mom was manhandled in her wheelchair because it was difficult to comply while being unable to stand). When we asked why we were given the treatment, the one screener told me that we were automatically suspicious due to ex’s mom’s situation, one which would make it easy to hide contraband.

    80 yo old woman in a wheelchair = TERRIST!

    That’s when I decided I won’t be going anywhere I can’t drive to. And I haven’t.

  2. 2
    Alwhite says:

    I have 2 plates & 11 screws in what remains of my pelvis and I have never set off the alarms at the airport. In one way that has always bothered me, seems like that much stainless should trigger the thing.

    OTOH – in the olden days when I flew all the time, Fargo ND and Green Bay WS had the silliest setting available, the mag stripes on my credit cards set them off.

  3. 3
    stuckinred says:

    My bride has to fly ATL-Richmond tomorrow and, unlike me, she does care about this shit. I told her she needed to relax and get her mind right before she sets foot in the airport.

  4. 4
    Keith G says:

    A just a quick programing note (that is not meant to hijack the thread):

    This is the full video of the recent Medal of Honor ceremony. Unlike many things going on lately, it is very moving and I dare say uplifting.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2RWscJM97U

    I know. The fact that this is happening represents a darker truth, but this guy was given a job to do and did it, and more, with selfless courage – something that seems to be lacking in most of our political leadership and fellow Americans.

  5. 5

    As someone else who will be flying tomorrow, I have to wonder how bad this stuff is going to get over the next week and a half. Will the TSA and Napolitano back down?

  6. 6
    stuckinred says:

    @Keith G: The extensive interview on 60 minutes was great. He considers himself a “mediocre soldier”.

  7. 7
    stuckinred says:

    @Alwhite: Yea, I have had harrington rods on my spine for 35 years and never so much as a beep.

  8. 8
    ChrisS says:

    I’ve gone through detectors with my belt on and never had a beep. The electronics, shoes, and liquids thing really chaffs my ass though. Only because going through the metal detector takes the least amount of time. Taking shoes off (seriously? You’re flying and know about the security theater. Why wear something with crazy laces or shoes that have to be wrenched off or on?).

    I appreciate the experienced traveler lanes, but not every airport has them. Additionally, the extra-special super duper security clashes with the baggage fees airlines charge. Pay $45 to check your bags or deal with the bullshit in security and add a minute or two to your wait in line. Unfortunately, those minutes add up and suddenly there’s a 45 minute wait to get through security.

  9. 9
    Guster says:

    I flew last week, and my wife had this big pot of skin cream that she forgot was gonna be a problem, and was bummed at the prospect of losing it. We hoped the TSA wouldn’t notice, but the agent pulled it out and asked, ‘Is this medically necessary?”

    (ETA: We’re white, middle-aged, middle-class, and traveling with an adorable little kid.)
    My wife is pathologically honest. She said, “No.”

    “So it’s not medically necessary?” the agent asked again, clearly leading the witness.

    “Medically necessary?” I asked, in my clever way.

    “If it’s medically necessary,” the agent explained, “I can let you keep it.”

    “Oh. Medically necessary! Yes. Yes, it is. Necessary.”

    They she did a test on it, waving some magic strip over the lotion, and sent us on our way.

  10. 10
    dr. bloor says:

    Mall cops with gadgets.

  11. 11
    duquesne_pdx says:

    TSA asked you what the purpose of your trip was? Were you going through customs? Otherwise, the purpose of your trip is none of their goddamn business.

    This intrusive bs for no good purpose other than getting us used to bowing to authority is getting really, really old.

  12. 12
    stuckinred says:

    @dr. bloor: Tap tap, is this thing broken?

  13. 13
    Woodrowfan says:

    My Mom uses a wheelchair and a walker and getting her through security in Charlotte last year was awful. One the way to DC The TSA people were RUDE and unprofessional. The ones at Dulles in DC were polite and professional. On the way back it was the ones in Dulles who were rude and the ones on NC who were professional…

  14. 14
    JRon says:

    –In Nashville a couple weeks ago, the agent checked the musician’s ID in front of me, then remarked to the other agent, “Hey this guy came from Alabama with a banjo on his knee.” The guy turned around and grinned, and said, “Yeah, I did.”
    –In Atlanta recently, the TSA agent looked at my clean-shaven license photo and told me she thought my new beard looked great.
    –In San Diego an agent came up to a group of us and said, hey guys, this line is moving a lot faster if you’d shift over here, and asked the mom with the stroller to come first. Minor minor stuff, but I could go on and on. I’ve seen a lot more friendly agents than not, though I’m knocking on wood now…

    I think the attitude of the agents has a lot to do with how well the airport is run. Midway has been pretty bad because the airport layout just doesn’t work well for security lines. Same with Logan. DFW has a moronic layout but the agents are still fairly nice. Atlanta is almost always good.

    The problem is the DHS and their stupid policies. I would bet that the TSA would prefer to enforce policies that actually made sense.

    And I doubt that the actual mall-cops that used to work in airports up until 2001 would do nearly as well.

  15. 15
    befuggled says:

    @Guster: The customs guy who went through my wife’s stuff a few years ago when she came back from France was like that.

    “Is this purse made from leather?” he said, slowly but unmistakably shaking his head.

    Of course my wife said no.

  16. 16
    Athenae says:

    Mr. A is completely absentminded, and once forgot he had a Swiss Army knife in his bag once at the airport. Not only did TSA not give him a hard time, they actually let him out of line so he could mail it back to himself from the FedEx station near security. Chicago Midway is really superior to O’Hare in every way.

    I flew out of Amman, Jordan back in 2003. No pat-downs, just a metal detector and a nice young man who went through my bag and, for some completely unknown reason, confiscated the batteries for my tape recorder. He left the recorder and tapes and cameras alone, laughed at all the touristy shit I was bringing home for my folks, and sent me on my way.

    A.

  17. 17
    dr. bloor says:

    @stuckinred:

    Did I miss the phrase in one of your ninety-two comments so far in this thread?

  18. 18
    El Cid says:

    And how are we supposed to know that these aren’t sleeper cell agents who had explosive devices planted in their bodies years ago so as to detonate them when the Caliphate-backed secret foreign Muslim became President?

  19. 19
    Mark says:

    I used to fly to PDX a lot. They have two security setups – the one on the United side of the airport doesn’t get much traffic. At least a year after the TSA stopped caring about whether you took your liquids out of your bag, I got berated by some TSA fool for not doing it. Absolutely dressed down. I didn’t do anything but scowl at her. That was about par for the course there – a lot of barking orders at people and bitching about things that aren’t required at any other airport.

    There was a giant sign in security that read “The TSA respects your dignity” or something very similar. Yet every stupid thing that happened to me there was within 15 feet of the ever-observant supervisor sitting above everyone and watching. F U

  20. 20
    bkny says:

    and while (legitimate) attention is paid to this, congress is about to legalize the massive document fraud perperated by the mortgage lenders and their bankster pals.

    http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/

  21. 21
    Chris says:

    Here’s another, more than ordinarily disgusting TSA article, from Tea Party Movement house organ Pajamas Media; http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/m.....nightmare/

    The author is dazed and outraged by the sheer humiliation of having been strip-searched by the TSA; why, oh God, did this happen to me? The comments section explains to him that it’s because of political correctness that won’t let us attack “our real enemies,” Napolitano’s Napoleonic powermongering, the thuggery of unionized government agents, and finally, someone compares the TSA measures to – wait for it – the situation in Hitler’s concentration camps. (Ironically, PJM’s Bill Whittle wrote an article a couple years ago in which he – possibly fictionally – reported righteously and publicly dressing down a hipster jackass for insulting TSA personnel by calling them Nazis. That his outrage is nowhere to be seen this time goes without saying).

    From all quarters, there’s a very sincere outrage that their lily-white Real American skins might be violated in a way that should only ever be done to stinking towelheads and dotheads.

    Would “Humiliate A Conservative: Treat Them Like They Treat Everyone Else” fit on a bumper sticker? Discuss.

  22. 22

    Two years ago a TSA worker on a power trip obsconded with a tiny “snow globe” toy I’d bought for my 6-year-old niece, even though the liquid was well within the allowable limit. I wrote about it here.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, the only way this will get any better is when people actually stop flying and the airlines exert the only pressure which matters any more: the corporate kind.

    Basically no one gives a shit about public opinion anymore. They do care about profits, losses, and corporate boards. Sad but true.

  23. 23

    @bkny: that was discussed here last night, iirc.

  24. 24
    ChrisS says:

    “There is an ever-evolving nature to terrorist plots,” said Pistole. “It is clear we have to be one step ahead of the terrorists.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories.....3113.shtml

    The TSA is one step behind the terrorists and always will be. We’re still taking our shoes off because some guy failed at blowing up a plane.

  25. 25

    @Southern Beale:

    the only way this will get any better is when people actually stop flying and the airlines exert the only pressure which matters any more: the corporate kind.

    Unfortunately, the way our modern world is situated, that’s not always an option. The rail travel system for long trips is not optimal, and driving more than 6-8 hours just sucks unless you have a co-pilot or a lot of time to kill.

    And that’s not even getting to the business traveling side of things.

  26. 26
    ChrisS says:

    My favorite though:
    Despite the visible outcry, a CBSNews poll says 4 out of 5 Americans are in favor of keeping the enhanced airport security techniques.

    How many that approve are those that never fly or haven’t flown in 15 years? Besides, aren’t we supposed to govern by our rock-solid principles and not polls?

  27. 27
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    I hate this because now everybody gets treated the way I’ve been treated for the last, oh, 25 years or so.

    Back when I was an Intel Officer, I travelled on my official passport all the time. I was in Beijing in 1990, 8 months after Tienanmen. Was easy getting into the country.

    Getting back into the USofA? On my official passport? The customs agents glomed onto me like white on rice. Asked what I did, who I worked for, what was I in China for. I refused to answer any of the questions, simply pointed to the official passport and said “I work for an intelligence agency and had an easier time getting into COMMUNIST CHINA than I do getting back into my own country.” They loved that. Pulled me aside for another 20 minutes to stand alone, then let me proceed.

    At the time, the stereotype was that I looked like a drug dealer. Thus, each and every time I’d come back into the country, I’d get the exact same treatment.

    My friends would say I was crazy until they traveled with me and got to see it for themselves.

    Now everybody gets to see what it’s like and I feel sorry for everybody. When I fly now, they think I’m a terrorist (I’m a cross between Ringo Starr and Yasir Arafat). Coming back from Britain in 2003, the Brits had it out for every American. This was at the height of the buildup to the Iraq War and it was clear the airport security people had a political axe to grind with the American citizenry. Funny, on that trip, once I got back into the States, I didn’t have the usual problems I normally do.

  28. 28
    stuckinred says:

    @dr. bloor: Uh, 3 is a lot like 92.

  29. 29
    scav says:

    @ChrisS:

    Besides, aren’t we supposed to govern by our rock-solid principles and not polls?

    Not if the white middle class are inconvenienced or the upper classes have to take a financial hit.

  30. 30
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale:

    As I’ve said elsewhere, the only way this will get any better is when people actually stop flying and the airlines exert the only pressure which matters any more: the corporate kind.

    Civil disobedience: buy a fully refundable ticket, ten minutes before the flight request a full refund. Write a letter to a CEO of the airline explaining that you won’t fly because the security is too invasive and you don’t want nude photos circulating of yourself and/or to be sexually assaulted by TSA agents.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Enough people do this, it hits the airlines where it hurts because they can’t accurately assess the capacity of the flight. They will lobby Congress. It would take time and a concerted effort, however.

    I don’t know if an organized effort would be illegal, but I can imagine the airlines would try to say it was.

  31. 31
    Punchy says:

    We’re still taking our shoes off because some guy failed at blowing up a plane.

    Shouldn’t this now come to a halt? If they can count the number of pubes I have with this camera, are you telling me they cant see C-4 in my Chuckie T’s?

  32. 32
    terraformer says:

    @ChrisS:

    Indeed, TSA is one step behind. They’re reactive.

    When I called to make reservations yesterday, my discussion was preceded by a voice over “The TSA does not allow printer cartridges in carry-on bags or in checked luggage.”

    Talk about reactive.

    Meanwhile, my wife with a high-risk pregnancy and I are looking forward to the scanners at MKE – we’re going to ‘opt out’ and, while she’s an attorney and told me she’d tell them that, I’m trying to tell her that they don’t care who you are and saying that might just piss them off more. Just deal with the pat down and get through.

    But someone needs to spend some political capital here and step the fark up on this. OBL is laughing his ass off, as are the scanner manufacturers and the general community of security-police equipment manufacturers, gleefully rubbing their hands at the millions to be made in coming years as we become more and more “supervised.”

  33. 33
    shortstop says:

    ORD is my home airport and my experiences with the TSA there have been uniformly horrifying until about a year ago. Apparently they all took some course about that time in which they learned that they’re not actually required to start off each interaction with open hostility, arrogance and condescension. The difference has been quite noticeable.

    It is fucking outrageous that we have to keep putting up with this intrusive stuff that doesn’t make us safer, makes various assholes wealthier and makes flying a royal pain in the ass. It’s also annoying to hear people glibly say “Just drive everywhere!” or “Boycott the airlines!” When I hear that, I know the speaker either never goes anywhere anyway or has a life/location in which he/she doesn’t need to get anywhere that’s not driveable.

  34. 34
    Comrade Mary says:

    @stuckinred: Same here! (Scoliosis surgery at 15 at Sick Kids in Toronto). I’ve never beeped at all when going through airport security.

  35. 35
    JRon says:

    @Violet: Can one still buy fully refundable tickets?

  36. 36
    PurpleGirl says:

    In the mid-90s I was visiting in Florida and attending an SF convention there regularly. By my last trip I would go to the airport without wearing my watch, jewelry, bra and any other seeming metal thing. I was repeatedly wanded after walking through the metal detector. It seemed sterling silver and the bra hooks always set off the detector. I used the same routine in 2002 when I went to Los Angeles. Maybe my next trips to L.A. or Florida will be by train.

  37. 37
    Dream On says:

    “You wouldn’t lie to us, would you”

    A very cheap-ass cope-ese way of intimidation. Anyone who wants to see an effective security system should go to Edinburgh, Scotland, where – in my experience – they were tactful and effective.

    Worst TSA experience for me was in Atlanta, hands-down.

  38. 38
    Annelid Gustator says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: I was there in England when it actually broke out, and had no troubles at all, from anyone, in official capacity or not. Including on my air-travel exit. So, your broad brush, I see it.

  39. 39
    Violet says:

    @terraformer:

    But someone needs to spend some political capital here and step the fark up on this.

    I don’t think anyone needs to spend much if any any political capital. There is a lot of support on both sides of the political spectrum for doing away with ‘security theater’ and doing stuff that actually makes sense. We’re upset about it over here. There are Rec List diaries about it at GOS. Limbaugh has ranted about it on his show. Red State is writing about it. Etc.

    With the Senate hearings going on today, the upcoming Opt Out Day next Wednesday, and the general noise about it in the media, now is the perfect time for someone like the President to step in and say, “People are sick of this. Although the TSA does a good job with what it is asked to do, it is what it is asked to do that needs to be changed. Our flying public should not be treated like criminals.”

    If he did that, he’d win a lot of respect from people on both sides of the aisle.

  40. 40
    Ash Can says:

    @Chris: The right-wingers are discovering the TSA, bless their hearts.

  41. 41
    stuckinred says:

    @Comrade Mary: I had a compression fracture t-6 in a van crash in 75. I was very lucky to be in Atlanta and have Emory orthodpods work on me. I think they were a fairly new approach back then and when they gave me the choice between drilling into my skull and putting me in traction for 6 months. . .well that was that.

  42. 42
    srv says:

    I forgot about a soda in a backpack and they weren’t annoyed in the least, particularly after the guy had unzipped every pocket twice and still couldn’t find it.

    The upside of all this is fewer people will travel. Good for me, I’m tired of the crowds.

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @JRon:

    Can one still buy fully refundable tickets?

    Yes, definitely.

  44. 44
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Annelid Gustator:

    One my day at the airport, I saw this happen on 3 different flights. It’s not as if they took a select group of ‘Murkins, they took each and every one on all three flights and gave them “the bidness”.

    Believe it or not, I was glad to see it since most of the people were typical obnoxious ‘Murkin Tourons Abroad who most likely voted for the Worst President Ever and fucking deserved to be treated that way.

    I was glad to see the Brits be that way quite frankly. It was the only time I’ve ever been in a foreign airport (to include Britain many times) where the security people behaved like ours do. Otherwise, international flying was always a relative joy in terms of security and stuff.

  45. 45
    Mudge says:

    Re Mark at #19. I flew from PDX this weekend. I had never had to take my liquids out before (been through lots of airports too), but they were loud and insistent. Strange place.

  46. 46
    jwb says:

    @Violet: “If he did that, he’d win a lot of respect from people on both sides of the aisle.”

    Ha, the goopers would pivot immediately into full screech mode about only terrorists need to be worried about our security “precautions” and how its un-American not to endure this for the sake of our safety. They are only bashing on it now because the administration is backing the policy.

  47. 47
    shortstop says:

    @JRon: You can buy refundable tickets, but they’re considerably more expensive than non-refundable ones — often twice the price.

  48. 48
    geg6 says:

    @shortstop:

    It’s also annoying to hear people glibly say “Just drive everywhere!” or “Boycott the airlines!” When I hear that, I know the speaker either never goes anywhere anyway or has a life/location in which he/she doesn’t need to get anywhere that’s not driveable.

    It may be annoying, but it’s true. Sorry if you have a job that requires your being subjected to a strip search or having your naked body subject to being passed around online to titillate our GED-holding TSA screeners, but the fact is that most people DON’T need to fly and only did because it was convenient. I can go anywhere in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada that I wish by car and will never fly again until this ridiculous security theater stops. I used to fly at least 5-6 times a year. That’s 5-6 airline fares I won’t be wasting my money on and that greedy airlines won’t get. And I am the majority. It sucks for people like you, but your annoyance at hearing people like me talk about it is, apparently, now part of your job (just as my annoyance at listening to wealthy people bitch that they can’t get Pell grants is part of mine).

  49. 49
    Wag says:

    I recently flew from Denver to Tucson for my Grandma’s funeral. At DIA I went through the body scanner, and then had to have a full grope pat down. This after taking off my boots, belt ect prior to going through the scanner. My family, who went throught he regular metal detectors walked through without a hitch. I fear that this is a technology that may increase our false negative search rate to an unsustainable level.

  50. 50
    stuckinred says:

    @geg6: Easy with the GED shit there pal.

  51. 51
    Violet says:

    @jwb:
    True, the pundits would do that. But the conservatives who are actually in the flying public (and don’t just take private jets like Limbaugh) would support it.

    @shortstop:

    You can buy refundable tickets, but they’re considerably more expensive than non-refundable ones—often twice the price.

    Yes, but the beauty of it is, they are FULLY refundable. So even though they’re twice as expensive, you get all the money back. If you can afford to carry the cost on your credit card, you get all the money back.

    The beauty of this plan is that the airlines THINK they have a full flight, then a bunch of fully refundable ticket holders don’t fly and cancel. It both messes up their ability to assess capacity on flights and hits their finances. Empty seats=losses. They can’t sell that seat to someone else if you cancel at the last minute.

    Follow up with a letter to the airline CEO about why you didn’t fly (security measures too invasive) and if enough people do it, the airlines will lobby Congress for security that makes sense.

  52. 52
    ChrisS says:

    My GF and I flew back to the states from the UK last December 28th. It was just a few days after the underwear bomber failed, PLUS there had been an awful cold snap in the UK and the Chunnel had been shut down for days, which, combined with the holiday increase in travelers, made for a nightmare at the airports.

    We got through after a two-hour delay and had to re-pack when we got to the airport because they changed the carry-on rules. United lost our luggage (which did show up 20 hours later with my precious scotch). All in all, on a terribly stressful travel day, everyone we dealt with that worked for the airport was exceedingly polite.

    TSA in the states can be polite, but the creeping militarization of the process is leading to some predictable outcomes.

  53. 53
    Ash Can says:

    @Violet: What if the reaction of the airlines is to simply do away with fully refundable tickets?

  54. 54
    MikeJ says:

    @Violet: The likely outcome is the airlines stop selling refundable tickets.

  55. 55
    Annelid Gustator says:

    @Violet: Further to Ash Can, consider that they’ll just jack up their overbooking rate.

  56. 56
    Comrade Mary says:

    @stuckinred: Eeep! Yeah, that’s definitely a better choice. There was a girl in my room who had to undergo repeated surgeries for her much more severe scoliosis, and she needed the halo as well as the rods.

  57. 57
    Violet says:

    @Ash Can:
    They could do that, but the business community would be really unhappy. Business travelers are the ones who buy the most expensive tickets. Make it very hard for business travelers to change/refund tickets and there will be a lot of complaints. Business travelers make the airlines the most money and they listen to them more than leisure travelers.

    If they change the system later, the tactics can adapt. Right now, this is the system.

  58. 58
    celticdragonchick says:

    Kay, in the prvious thread, thinks it is silly to read any sexual overtones into TSA procedures.

    @kay:

    It’s silly to make this sexual.

    I’m sure the attractive women who have selected for “special screening” time and time again share your glib assuredness.

    read comment 11. Follow the link. Read the story from the airline pilot with an 18 year old daughter in tow who over heard a TSA agent at the scanner say on the radio “I’ve got a cutie coming your way”.

    Silly to make this sexual? Bullshit.

    Read some of the other stories in that thread from women who felt exploited or men who saw female coworkers exploited.

  59. 59
    Violet says:

    @MikeJ: They may. But you work with the system you have.

    @Annelid Gustator:

    Further to Ash Can, consider that they’ll just jack up their overbooking rate.

    Yes, they may do that too. But again, right now they are working on one set of assumptions. If those assumptions stop working, and there is an obvious reason why, ie, people buy refundable tickets, then write them saying it’s the stupid security that is a problem and why they canceled, then they may determine that they need to lobby Congress to fix the security issue.

    I don’t see a lot of ways to prod the airlines to do anything about the security issue. This seems to be one idea that has potential.

  60. 60
    zzyzx says:

    @Ash Can: Not if they make a lot of money off of those and businesses require them…

  61. 61
    Korea Beat says:

    “rote, bored, mechanistic and stupid adherence to ritual”

    I don’t think there can be a better 10-words-or-less description of TSA personnel. The agency simply is not hiring people capable of doing anything more, and that’s of course because it is impossible given the wastefully high levels of screening they are imposing.

  62. 62
    shortstop says:

    @geg6:

    I can go anywhere in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada that I wish by car…and I am the majority.

    Really? You’ll drive anywhere in the U.S., Mexico and Canada? I guess I should have added to my list: people who have limited responsibilities and unlimited time, who assuredly are not the majority. I take it you’re retired. (And have no interest in ever leaving North America, but that’s another story. Gosh, what does the rest of the world have to offer, anyway?)

  63. 63
  64. 64
    scav says:

    sexual? quite possibly, but there’s also the whole domination / power aspect to rape that probably comes into play along with the failed-cop syndrome. Speaking only for myself, the thought of anyone taking pleasure from the ghostly image of my particular body, well, I must remember to thank them for the complement once I recover from the fit of manic laughter.

  65. 65
    Violet says:

    @celticdragonchick:
    God, that’s CRAP. Kay really said that? I received one of those special screenings in the UK and I can tell you I felt sexually assaulted. It was random and on the jetway right before boarding. It was so invasive that for the next several hours on the plane I kept trying to wipe off the feeling of that security agent’s hands groping me. I still shudder when I think of it and do feel like I was sexually violated.

    I can only imagine what survivors of sexual abuse or rape would feel like if they have to endure it. It was truly, truly awful.

    Now imagine pilots or flight attendants who are abuse survivors. Now imagine them being felt up like that…right before they go to work. Now imagine yourself on that plane with the pilot trying to deal with the trauma after being groped. WTF kind of security is that? It puts passengers at risk.

  66. 66
    shortstop says:

    @Violet:

    Now imagine pilots or flight attendants who are abuse survivors. Now imagine them being felt up like that…right before they go to work. Now imagine yourself on that plane with the pilot trying to deal with the trauma after being groped. WTF kind of security is that? It puts passengers at risk.

    Given that flight crews always seem to breeze through security with minimal interruption, I very much doubt that they’re being subjected to the gropings — do we know otherwise?

    Totally agree that the patdowns have a sexual aspect to them, but scav nails it a little better, I think, in calling it a power/domination thing.

  67. 67
    A Duck says:

    Korea Beat: Same thing could be said about the Catholic Church.

    Violet: I like the cut of your jib. Good use of guerilla tactics and strategy. You should change your name to ‘Comandante Violeta’.

  68. 68
    The Moar You Know says:

    One my day at the airport, I saw this happen on 3 different flights. It’s not as if they took a select group of ‘Murkins, they took each and every one on all three flights and gave them “the bidness”.

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: Frankfurt, Germany, 1997. I had to laugh my ass off when I hit the gate.

    They had three lines to get into the country. One for native Germans, one for what would become EU nationals, and one for black/brown people.

    Lines one and two were getting the wave-thru treatment.

    Not line three. And the best part?

    Americans had to stand in line with the darkies and get worked over as hard as the guys straight from Africa were – and the Germans weren’t nice about it. I had the time of my life watching the redneck hick that I’d gone over there with realize, slowly, just what line he’d been put in and why – guess what, padner, Americans aren’t loved everywhere. Deal with it.

    He was pissed about it the entire trip.

    Frankfurt, BTW, has been using some sort of backscatter/mobile MRI since at least the mid 1990s (when I first went there). There is no such thing as “opt-out”, they go through your bags with what can only be terms “German thoroughness” and there are people there with MP5 machine pistols to make sure that you don’t try any shit. But they never, ever lay a hand on you. I don’t think they’d even consider it.

    And you don’t have to take your shoes off, either.

  69. 69
    Violet says:

    @shortstop:

    Given that flight crews always seem to breeze through security with minimal interruption, I very much doubt that they’re being subjected to the gropings—do we know otherwise?

    Since the enhanced screenings started, the pilots and flight crews are being subjected to them. This is a big issue with the pilots unions and in fact was addressed by Napolitano yesterday. This issue of sexual molestation of flight attendants/pilots who are abuse survivors is not something I made up, but something they themselves are concerned about because some of their own have had bad experiences.

  70. 70
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Violet:

    I am so sorry that happened to you.

    Damn. :(

  71. 71
    Violet says:

    @shortstop:

    Totally agree that the patdowns have a sexual aspect to them, but scav nails it a little better, I think, in calling it a power/domination thing.

    It’s both. The patdowns are power/domination and can be extremely traumatic for abuse/rape survivors. The nude-o-meters are sexual, as they take naked photos of you and the TSA agents have been observed alerting their fellow agents when a “hottie” is approaching so she can be routed to the naked photo taker. Plus observers have noted that attractive individuals, particularly women, have a higher than average chance of being routed to the nude-o-meter than unattractive ones.

    So it’s both depending on what you’re talking about.

  72. 72
    celticdragonchick says:

    @shortstop:

    Yes, flight crews are starting to get it also.

    Considering the power a pilot has over an airplane and the passengers…wtf good is a frisking/groping and a trip through the nude scanner??!

  73. 73
    The Moar You Know says:

    Given that flight crews always seem to breeze through security with minimal interruption, I very much doubt that they’re being subjected to the gropings—do we know otherwise?

    @shortstop: My father’s a senior pilot with US Air. They are subject to the same measures everyone else is, but it is usually done elsewhere.

    So yeah, they get their junk handled too. And they are NOT happy about it.

  74. 74
    aimai says:

    Its so incredibly dumb and illogical. Logically actual terrorists are .00001 percent of the people who actually fly every day. Every single other person is a false positive/non terrorist. Its one thing to institute screening procedures to prevent this vanishingly small number of attempts on blowing up planes. But any screening procedure that doesn’t grasp that literally every single person that most TSA screeners see during each day is innocent is a total failure. What’s the point of asking hostile questions of people for carrying toothpaste, or face powder, or travelling in wheelchairs and being eighty. There’s a million to one chance that that person is actually a terrorist. If we have to do this at all–and we don’t–the “spirit of the blitz” is what we want in which the TSA agents and the passengers are united in making this the least unpleasant that it can be. Groping everyone is completely unnecessary and to the extent that you have to institute a randomized system *groping them hostilely* is absurd and counterproductive. Pull every tenth person out of line one day, every eigth person out of line the next, and give them a cup of tea and a chat and see if they get nervous. That’s all you have to do.

    aimai

  75. 75
    Chris says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Like a Republican not having health insurance… yes, there’s a shit ton of schadenfreude involved every now and then when they have to go through the things they force on everyone else daily.

    Of course, that doesn’t change their minds – they don’t have the empathy required for that to happen. It just makes them bitch louder about how horrifically unfair it is to be treated like these people. And as PJM indicates, sympathy for them just comes pouring from every conservative around.

  76. 76
    Violet says:

    @celticdragonchick:
    Thanks. It was pretty awful. I wrote about it here earlier this year in a thread talking about airline security. Being that it was in the UK, I didn’t know what my rights were and I just wanted to be on the plane and go home. So I endured it. But I had to strip out of my outer wear, so was standing on the freezing cold jetway in December in nothing more than an undershirt and my jeans. I even had to take off my socks. It was really awful. My travel companion also got selected for the screening, but they finished that screening a full five minutes or so before mine. My was incredibly invasive and awful.

    Having experienced it, I truly worry for those who are abuse survivors. I can’t imagine what it would do to them.

  77. 77
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Two years ago a TSA worker on a power trip obsconded with a tiny “snow globe” toy I’d bought for my 6-year-old niece, even though the liquid was well within the allowable limit.

    What, you’re complaining about the gallant TSAdrones that protect you against the overwhelming threat of snow-globe-wielding terrists?

    Why, if they let one through, who KNOWS what might happen?!?

    “Take this plane to Havana, or I shake this up and Rudolph dies in a blizzard! Bwahahaha!”

    Has there been any snow-globe terrists? No? See: IT’S WORKING.

    (this post brought to you by BushSim 0.1, running on a TRS80 with some loose chips. YMMV.)

  78. 78
    Chris says:

    @aimai:

    Well, that, and the fact that if you’re a terrorist about to kill yourself in order to blow up an airplane, the chances that you’ll be deterred by a couple pussies in a uniform are slim to none.

  79. 79
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Violet:

    Having experienced it, I truly worry for those who are abuse survivors. I can’t imagine what it would do to them.

    Panic attack followed by lengthy conversations with hostile law enforcment and then being banned from ever flying again would be my guess.

    As somebody noted yesterday…when did we start living in a William Gibson cyberpunk dystopia story?

  80. 80
    shortstop says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Frankfurt, BTW, has been using some sort of backscatter/mobile MRI since at least the mid 1990s (when I first went there). There is no such thing as “opt-out”, they go through your bags with what can only be terms “German thoroughness” and there are people there with MP5 machine pistols to make sure that you don’t try any shit. But they never, ever lay a hand on you. I don’t think they’d even consider it. And you don’t have to take your shoes off, either.

    I flew into/out of Frankfurt two weeks after 9/11 and was very, very interested to observe the security procedures there; y’all will recall that everyone in the U.S. was a little bit jumpy around that time, and getting out of O’Hare that week was like watching a Keystone Kops movie with the characters in TSA uniforms. I don’t remember the mobile MRI at Frankfurt, but I do remember being stopped at at least 10 checkpoints and closely questioned, and my bag being searched as thoroughly as you say–twice, if I remember correctly. At the time I was amazed at the professionalism and courtesy of the security staff. I still am. And no one there, as you say, ever touched me.

    The black/brown people line is unbelievably uncool. I assume they’re not doing that anymore? They weren’t in 2001, at least.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had to take my shoes off anywhere but the U.S.

  81. 81
    shortstop says:

    Ah, thanks for the info on flight crews having to endure this crap, y’all.

  82. 82
    scav says:

    @Violet: Hope I implied that is can be both, but in all honesty, the x-ray fetish crowd was an exceedingly small part of the letters to Penthouse crew. Some of the hottie-calling might also be typical jerk-level shit breaking up what can only be a mind-numbingly dull job. This may be theater, it’s probably 99% useless but I’m getting tinges of late-Victorian hyperventilation at times which, I’m sorry, pisses me off a bit coming for a nation that seems perfectly willing to insist that devout Muslim women abandon the hijab no matter how they feel about it. I know that’s not necessarily this crowd, no more than this isn’t the lot that finds it a-ok to waterboard others for national security but not have their own bums prodded, but the aggravation bleeds though. Sorry.

  83. 83
    celticdragonchick says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    You can laugh about how the Germans fucked over American tourists…but Europeans get screwed over just as harshly here (like the woman from Iceland a couple of years back who was manacled and detained without access to her embassy, food, water or sleep for two days and then dragged back to the aiport in chains to be flown back to Iceland…for over-staying a tourist visa 10 years proviously. The PM of Iceland demanded an apology. Didn’t get one. The comments from law and order ‘Murkans were disgusting beyond belief…and many have no concern at all for Americans who get worked over on an overseas trip)

    I don’t think there is anything to laugh about at all.

  84. 84
    JRinWV says:

    Once when flying out of CRW (Charleston, WV) on a vacation trip, my wife accidently had left a pocketknife in her purse. The TSA guy could see it on the x-ray, but couldn’t find it physically, even after emptying the bag onto the table.

    After M told him to try this odd pocket, he pulled out a Case XX, and the policeman sitting nearby asked my wife if the knife was a hierloom. She said it had been her father’s. He told her he would put it in the airport police office, where she could pick it up when we returned.

    The airport police are not TSA, they’re retired real cops.

    When we got home I picked up the checked bags, and she went to the police office, where there was a cork board with dozens of envelopes with “unauthorized” personal effects, with names on them.

    Next time we fly, I’m gonna wear a fishnet shirt and a thong and flipflops and dare them to search the thong… put jeans and a tee in the carry-on, if that’s authorized.

  85. 85
    geg6 says:

    @shortstop:

    Well, I’m going to assume you have a reading disability because I mentioned that I used to travel by air quite a bit recreationally. And no, I’m not retired but do get a nice vacation benefit from my employer. Just off the top of my head, I can think of car trips I’ve made from here in Pittsburgh to:

    California (all over the state, back in my childhood with my parents)
    West Palm Beach (numerous times since my sister lived in FL for 12 years)
    Miama/Ft. Lauderdale
    Key Largo/Islamorada/Key West
    The Outer Banks (more than once)
    Chicago (more than once)
    Detroit (more than once)
    New York (various parts of the state, including NYC)
    Indianapolis (more than once)
    Houston (when the sister who lived in FL moved to TX; also drove there and back when she moved back to Pittsburgh)
    Arizona (with my godparents when they moved there a few years ago)
    Chattanooga
    Atlanta
    Savannah
    Williamsburg
    Virginia Beach
    Washington, DC
    Stowe, VT
    San Diego (to see my best friend and to do a Route 66 tour along the way)
    Toronto (more than once)
    Anchorage (across the US to Montana and then through Canada to the AlCan to Alaska)

    And this is just a partial list, compiled without even really thinking about it.

    And I hate to tell you, but whether you believe it or not, I am the majority. You seem to think the majority of Americans fly regularly and that there is some sort of oddity in taking auto trips rather than flying. And that one only drives if one is retired and has no job, apparently. FYI, I work at least 50-60 hours per week and still I miraculously am able to drive wherever I wish in the US and Canada when I wish to during the limited time I have for vacations. Just as the vast majority of Americans do.

  86. 86
    Mattminus says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    I think it’s more complicated than saying it is sexual or isn’t. I had the pleasure of going through both the nudie porno scanner and the grope session in ATL this Friday.

    I’m assuming that no one has a thing for guys with pipe cleaner arms and big bellys, so I don’t think that I was selected because someone wanted a look. In my case, I did get a little argumentative about the tone and absurdity of the instructions I was given, so I’m sure that I got the grope search as a punishment.

    The search was VERY invasive. It was certainly not a nightclub pat down. There was a point where the agent was literally holding my member through my pants. Not a brush, but actually holding it. While it was uncomfortable, I didn’t feel like I was being sexually abused. I strongly suspect this was more of a display of dominance.

  87. 87
    BethanyAnne says:

    I think of this comic when I see TSA stories anymore :)

    http://xkcd.com/779/

  88. 88
    shortstop says:

    @geg6:

    You seem to think the majority of Americans fly regularly and that there is some sort of oddity in taking auto trips rather than flying.

    What was that about a reading disability? What I actually wrote, geg6, was that, no, the majority of Americans do not have the disposable time to “go anywhere in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada that [they] wish by car.” And they don’t.

    I notice that you’re avoiding my point about the problems that “Just drive!” presents to people who are actually interested in leaving North America for business or personal reasons. I get that you don’t see any reason to travel to countries beyond Canada and Mexico, or at least no reason that’s more compelling than your desire not to fly.

    But if you go back to the beginning of this interaction, I was protesting the glibness with which folks are suggesting that boycotting the airlines is a general solution just because they themselves don’t need or want to fly. You don’t travel frequently (sorry, but if you’re not retired, you have limited vacation time and you’re willing to spend it driving across any of three very large countries, the fact is that you don’t travel that much) and you can live your life just fine without planes. My original comment was that anyone who suggests boycotting flying “either never goes anywhere anyway or has a life/location in which he/she doesn’t need to get anywhere that’s not driveable.” The first part is not true for you; you do go some places within a prescribed area. Anything incorrect about the second part?

  89. 89
    evinfuilt says:

    @El Cid:
    Well I plan to have a secret love child, and plant a bomb inside it while its still young. That way in 80 years when its old, and in a wheelchair I can let my diabolical plan of turning terror-babies into Grandma-bombs come to fruition.

  90. 90
    JillS says:

    My husband, a newly minted citizen of the US, has been muttering and brooding about this all week. The frustration of course, is as a person of foreign origin he feels that when we travel (and it has happened) he is singled out and treated as though guilty until proven innocent. He now feels trapped in this country, all the while trying to figure out how to expose our son to the larger world.

    The muttering continues…

  91. 91
    Stefan says:

    The black/brown people line is unbelievably uncool. I assume they’re not doing that anymore? They weren’t in 2001, at least.

    It’s not a “black/brown people” line. It’s a line for non-EU citizens, which will be people from Asia, Africa, and North and South America, so by default many people on that line will be darker-skinned. But if you’re, say, a black man with a French passport, you get on the EU line.

  92. 92
    Al Dente says:

    The launch of TSA’s Program to Examine Random Voyagers (PERV) has attracted some pretty slimy charachters to work airport security – SHOCKING details at:

    http://spnheadlines.blogspot.c.....ty_19.html

    Peace! :-)

  93. 93
    Mark says:

    Don’t just “opt out” of naked scanners only to be sexually molested/assaulted, instead. Boycott Flying COMPLETELY, until sanity returns! Please join us: http://www.facebook.com/pages/.....1010710392

  94. 94
    myfarelady says:

    After viewing this recent video of a TSA pat down at LAX, my “choice” is for the body scanner–hands down!

  95. 95
    Madge says:

    Just remember while so many of you have sweet things to say about the TSA experience, only about 10% go through the full grope down. Remember however, when you don’t stand up for that “other” person, eventually that “other” person will be you! Really mothers, are you ok with your children being molested just so they can take an airplane ride? If it’s not life or death, I simple don’t understand.

    This is all about control and everyone knows this. Divide and conquer through race, gender, religion, hatred, than control through massive fear. Pathetic! Wake up sheeple!

  96. 96
    Bryan Cockel says:

    Is it just me, or don’t the Feds understand that throwing a monkey wrench into the American economy, as this current TSA round has done, IS THE OBJECT OF THE EFFORT. THEY don’t give a damn about a printer cartridge bomb…. it’s the DAMAGE TO THE ECONONOMY DUE TO THE PREDICTABLE TSA BACKLASH THAT IS DOING THE DAMAGE. The TSA, like all federal bureaucracies, now has its own kingdom, which it will defend and expand as opportunities arise…. THEY win with our predictable stupid….
    Bryan

  97. 97
    Al Brogdon says:

    Check out my tribute to TSA on YouTube — copy and paste the URL below into your browser window. Please send a link to this YouTube slide show to all your friends. The time has come that people all over the United States of America should contact their representatives in congress and tell them (as Peter Finch’s Howard Beale character so famously said in the movie “Network”), “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paWeWvV8Xqk

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