Logo for campaign to halt air travel
Editor’s Note: Some of the links in this report lead to graphic images that have been taken from current airport security scanning procedures. Use caution in viewing the links.
Dozens of real-life horror stories have poured into WND in the 24 hours since a special hotline e-mail was set up to allow people to report their close encounters of the TSA kind, including a 70-year-old whose fudge “contraband” was discovered, a Los Angeles passenger who was “groped” four times and a man who was the target of a TSA screaming fit when he chose to opt-out of the “porno scan.”
Just a day earlier, WND reported on the growing movement by activists and citizens to push back against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s plans for “enhanced” screening at airport checkpoints.
The options now are to have a full-body scan that essentially produces a nude image of the passenger or opt out of that procedure and endure a full-hands-on body pat-down that includes private parts.
The procedures have been the focus of warnings even by the networks:
A passenger named Barbara wrote to WND: “Coming directly from a 2-week hospital stay, arriving in a wheelchair, unable to walk or stand, and just less than 2 hours out of the hospital, I was met by the ‘security’ folks who seemed angered that I couldn’t walk through their scan. Instead, in front of everyone, I was groped like a rapist might attack a victim. The probing certainly did not help alleviate the intense pain I had when I arrived at the airport. Shameful and inconsiderate behavior, totally inexcusable!
I am an 84-year-old white female, 4’10″, 110 lbs. and don’t look like a terrorist or a terrorist’s companion !!!!!! What happened to common sense???”
Another passenger, David, told WND he traveled to attend a sister’s funeral in Los Angeles and found the security procedures at LAX “like a racist homosexual grope fest.”
“This screener made me turn all my pockets inside out, patted me down four times, being particularly attentive to my crotch and butt. I asked him if he just wanted me to strip down naked and he said go ahead. My wife then approached a nearby sheriff, who brought these violations of my privacy, and person, to a halt,” said the passenger, who described himself as a “middle class white guy.”
“Oh yeah, it took him half an hour to maul me, misplaced my boarding pass, and almost made me miss my flight. Security is one thing, but a license to molest people is another,” he said.
Another writer, Roger, took the issue directly to its heart.
“If and when we have to travel by air tell them (airlines) we will not go through any new body scan, nor be groped. If they attempt to grope I will cancel the flight and sue them!”
Another woman wrote of being held up at an Alabama airport by computer failure en route to the funeral of a family friend. In her words:
Finally, a Delta agent checked again for me and said, “Yes, there is a flight I can put you on, but it leaves in 5 minutes, here is your ticket and boarding pass, RUN.” So I did and [he] came with me. He told the situation to the first TSA agent and there weren’t many people in that line, so I moved quickly up to the security check. A man, was scanning my OVERNIGHT bag (no big luggage at all) and my purse and motioning me through. A big stern-looking African American woman stopped him and said that she needed to pat me down, wan[d] me, go through my luggage, etc. The other TSA man told her that my flight was about to leave and that he knew that my purse and bag were fine. I was wearing open flip-flops, a cotton skirt and a t-shirt. I am as American looking as apple-pie! Then my nightmare started. She had me spread my legs and she SLOWLY frisked me. Then I said, “Can I go now, my flight is so important to me, I’m attending a funeral?” That made her furious. She informed me that I was NOT co-operating with her and that she was IN CHARGE, and that crying (I was sobbing) would not do me any good at all with her. The other TSA officer begged her to let me catch my flight, … she blew him off.
The result was that the woman, Lana, missed her flight and the funeral.
Margaret, who endured a “pat-down” in Chicago, wrote, “This entire thing is bull—-; assault and battery by a goon, or naked pictures. That’s now the choice? What has happened to this country?”
TSA officials responded to a WND e-mail requesting comment, but for the second straight day, declined to answer any questions about their procedures, the public’s reaction to it or how they are dealing with complaints.
Another passenger, Mark, told WND that nothing will happen “until the American people are willing to be in the faces of the Washington establishment, 24/7, for days at a time; until they run into protests and protesters everywhere they turn.”
It was “Frances” who was caught with fudge.
Her trip was out of Minneapolis.
“All seemed to be fine. But the TSA employee asked me to step aside to the table. She needed to see what was in the carry-on. I knew there couldn’t be anything suspicious in the bag, so I thought this was just a ‘random’ thing. (And we all know how many terrorists have been caught by ‘random’ screenings). But, no, it wasn’t random at all. The screener at the belt saw something in the bag he ‘didn’t like,’” she told WND.
“My trip had been to Wisconsin. While there I had purchased eight pounds of fudge at a fudge shop. It was packaged in eight-one pound boxes. The boxes fit snugly in the bottom of the carry-on. … The TSA employee asked me to empty the contents on to the table and open up each and every one of the boxes. I tried to tell her it was just fudge. But, she was the almighty TSA, not to be denied. They have all that power and, OH, how they love to use it. She then called yet another TSA person over to examine the ‘contraband.’ By this time I’m sure she realized it was just what I said it was – fudge. But she had to justify herself. I was expecting a SWAT team, with automatic weapons to swoop down on me at any time. (I’m not sure, but I thought I heard the strains of ‘Valkyrie’ in the background.) Also, by this time, the aroma of fudge could be smelled throughout the terminal. Finally, they all agreed it was just fudge,” she said.
One reader suggested that it be mandatory for members of Congress and the administration to go through the screening, while another wondered why, if the scanned images are so innocuous, people aren’t allowed to see themselves.
“It’s such an easy way to alleviate the public’s concerns yet the TSA does not offer it. Why don’t they just post the full size and resolution images and make me eat my words? Also no one seems to be answering my question regarding the ability for the TSA to store images on a USB flash drive via the required USB ports in ‘airport mode.’ So many easy ways to shut us up but the TSA refuses to do so,” he wrote.
George Donnelly, who with James Babb has launched the “We Won’t Fly” website delivering a message directly to airlines, told WND the customer revolt is taking off faster than he could imagine.
“Dozens of e-mails, personal stories, tons of comments all over the web,” are how he described his day’s response. He said there’s a team of consumers working on an ad to be placed in the New York Times, and a series of “educational events,” or protests, that are being developed for major airports across the country.
His website says, “We do not consent to strip searches, virtual or otherwise. We do not wish to be guinea pigs for new, and possibly dangerous, technology. We are not criminals. We are your customers. We will not beg the government anymore. We will simply stop flying until the porno-scanners are history.
“We will not be abused simply for the privilege of purchasing your services. We demand the airlines make their maximum lobbying effort in support of our, your customers’, rights and liberties. We are eager to fly again, but only when this invasive threat has been contained.”
One sarcastic proposal was for an educational book for children, with the title “My first Cavity Search: Helping your child understand why he may pose a threat to National Security.”
It features two TSA agents wearing plastic gloves, with one holding a flashlight and a probe.
One computer technology expert who contacted WND said he wondered about the “training” processes used to prepare TSA workers to scream at people for opting out of the full-body scan, as well as the ways of teaching such coercive procedures.
“They would have to deal with the screeners, training them to be desensitized to what they’re actually doing,” he suggested.
Even on the TSA’s own blog, the federal agency was receiving little compassion.
“HappyToHelp” quoted an earlier commenter: “When I take my child to the doctor, I don’t leave him alone with the doctor and hope that he isn’t a perv. I’m there with him to monitor the situation so nothing can happen. If it’s me, I can make a scene on the spot, have legal resource and can sue my doctor. It greatly mitigates the risk.”
But, “HappyToHelp” noted on the TSA blog, “We don’t have that option with TSA. There’s no accountability, and I can’t see the person who’s viewing me or my kid. They’re not in view so I can’t see what they’re doing. TSA has shown itself not to be trustworthy. So if I monitor my doctors, and I generally trust them, why SHOULDN’T we monitor TSA, who we CAN’T trust.”
One organization already is promoting a National Opt-Out Day and is encouraging every passenger on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to opt out of the full-body scanning.
“No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent,” the site said.
There also are dozens of other campaigns and efforts being organized through which passengers are encouraged to resist the TSA policy.
All-Africa reported that agents in Nigeria were amusing themselves by watching the nude images of female passengers, and in Miami, a screener who himself went through the screening attacked a colleague after he was ribbed by others who saw his body parts on a scanner.
The scanning already has generated opposition in Congress. There, the U.S. House voted 310-118 in support of an amendment from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to prohibit whole-body imaging as a primary screening. However, senators let the plan die.
WND previously has reported that such imaging also is taking place on U.S. roads and highways.