Sunday, November 21, 2010

Has The Public Finally Woken Up to the Corrupt Practices of the TSA?

Outrage has been posted by both the left and the right on the new Transportation Securities Administration's standards for flights that take off within the United States. These new include a full body scan or an "enhanced" pat down which goes into regions normally considered private by most of society.

The full body scan is exactly what it sounds like. It takes an image of your entire body, and a TSA agent in a separate room views it. Some concerns have been made about the amount of radiation it gives off. And my understanding is that, for most travellers who fly infrequently, it's negligible. But for frequent travellers or anyone who works behind the security checkpoint of an airport, it could be cause for concern. The images are also more identifiable than people make them out to be. One TSA agent got angry after co-workers made fun of his genitalia after a test screening.
The "enhanced" pat downs have likely caused the most outrage, mostly because the TSA has shown that it's not able to follow it's own rules. A video I've seen frequently on CNN shows a TSA agent sliding her hand between a woman's breasts in a sideways, swiping motion. But that isn't what happened to a woman who was forced to remove her prosthetic breast (which she has because she's a breast cancer survivor). Ironically, TSA standards say you won't be asked to remove a prosthesis and that you shouldn't even voluntarily remove it.

Another case that arose is when a traveller who has to wear a urostomy bag, a survivor of bladder cancer, alleges that the TSA agent that touched the bag and broke the seal on it. The seal break caused the bag to leak, leaving the traveller with urine soaked clothing which he couldn't change out of until after boarding the flight. I imagine he didn't want to miss his flight, and it might take several minutes longer for him to change clothes due to the urostomy bag. The article ends saying that the TSA is in touch with an advocacy group for people with disabilities, hoping that they'll have policies rolled out soon to deal properly with these situations. You would hope they'd have all their ducks in a row BEFORE they roll out these enhanced screening procedures, not after.

And to top it all off, President Barack Obama seems to have some of the same advisers as Mayor Greg Ballard who seem to be intentionally destroying any credibility either politician has by pushing them in front of unpopular issues. In a politically unwise move, Obama has defended the new policies, saying it's a "tough situation". But Obama goes so far to say that these new policies are the only ones they consider to be effective to prevent another Christmas Day underwear bomber episode. Someone should remind Obama that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded the plane in Amsterdam and there was no way the TSA could've prevented it. So much for having a self-described "student of history" in the White House when he can't even remember what happened less than a year ago.

Maybe President Obama would feel differently if he had to go through these procedures and the agents were unaware of his status? Maybe he'd feel differently if his daughters, ages 12 and 9, were felt up by the TSA like this young man here or this 3 year old here.

Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) has introduced legislation that will require all federal officials to follow all laws regarding sexual contact and taking of pictures that anyone else would have to follow, and that they aren't exempt from them just because of their job. It would effectively end the practices of the enhanced pat downs and the full body scan. I am in full support of this legislation, particularly because these policies were decided by TSA bureaucrats rather than our elected officials, who we elect to make informed, educated decisions on our behalf.

Paul's legislation is House Resolution 6416. It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Most reading this likely reside within the 7th Congressional District of Indiana, so I'll list all possible ways to get in touch with Congressman André Carson and Senators Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar.

If you decide to call, make sure to ask for someone who handles legislation in the DC office. In this specific case, homeland security would be the topic.

DC Phone: (202)225-4011
E-mail: See this page.
Facebook: Personal page and Congressional Fan Page.
Youtube: Here.

DC Phone: (202)224-5623
E-mail: See this page.
Facebook: Personal page and Fan page.
Youtube: Here.

DC Phone: (202)224-4814
E-mail: See this page.
Facebook: Fan page and personal page.
Youtube: Here.
Twitter: Here.

UPDATE: And here's what happens when the TSA does,in fact, investigate an allegation. It clears the agent and says they acted appropriately.

Swift says they told her she was singled out because she was wearing a skirt. She says the search earlier this month was very rough and left her in tears.

"The female officer ran her hand up the inside of my leg to my groin and she did it so hard and so rough she lifted me off my heels," she says. "I think I yelped. I was in pain for about an hour afterwards. It just felt excessive and unnecessary."

It's worth noting Swift did not choose the enhanced pat-down, but was singled out and chosen by the TSA.

Among other sites:

While there are several posts at the LGBT site The Bilerico Project on the subject of the new search procedures (such as this one), to the best of my knowledge, no official LGBT organization has taken a position on these procedures. One of the comments in the aforementioned post links to an ACLU site that is collecting complaints based on the TSA searches which you can go to here.

For another take on the subject, Jon Easter of Indy Democrat has a post you can view here. The comments section is also worth a read.

Erick Erickson of Red State throws in his two cents here. This story concerns several of our own troops, including Indiana National Guard members who stopped in Indianapolis, Indiana's international airport to drop off the guard members.

TSA agents allegedly hate the new rules as well.

1 comment:

  1. I find it somewhat interesting these million-dollar scanners do about the same thing as one of Sony's consumer cameras did about 12 years ago. They had a big outcry over that and changed them so they weren't so sensitive. Apparently some folks have figured out how to restore the capability anyway.

    The Story

    The Proof

    Maybe we could fight back by photographing TSA agents. ;-)


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