Breast cancer survivor forced into invasive patdown by TSA, even after submitting to backscatter imaging scan

My longtime friend Scott Beale, who runs Laughing Squid, says:

My wife Lori Dorn, who has breast cancer, tells her story about a TSA agent at JFK on Friday who required her to submit to a pat down due to her breast implants, even though she had an identification card for the implants that is used to prove that the implants are an actual medical device. The TSA agent would not let Lori show her the card.

Lori's first-person account begins:

At what point does the need for security eclipse human dignity and compassion?

Yesterday I went through the imaging scanner at JFK Terminal 4 for my Virgin America flight to San Francisco. Evidently they found something, because after the scan, I was asked to step aside to have my breast area examined. I explained to the agent that I was a breast cancer patient and had a bilateral mastectomy in April and had tissue expanders put in to make way for reconstruction at a later date.

I told her that I was not comfortable with having my breasts touched and that I had a card in my wallet that explains the type of expanders, serial numbers and my doctor’s information (pictured) and asked to retrieve it. This request was denied. Instead, she called over a female supervisor who told me the exam had to take place. I was again told that I could not retrieve the card and needed to submit to a physical exam in order to be cleared. She then said, “And if we don’t clear you, you don’t fly” loud enough for other passengers to hear. And they did. And they stared at the bald woman being yelled at by a TSA Supervisor.

To my further dismay, my belongings, including my computer, were completely out of sight. I had no choice but to allow an agent to touch my breasts in front of other passengers.

Emphasis mine. What the hell, people? Read Lori's post here. There are some really good comments at Scott Beale's G+.


  1. So, you’re not allowed to get your wallet out of your pocket, and produce some kind of ID? I’m starting to be Really gratefull I have a stock-standard human body and haven’t had to have any kinds of metal implants from the various injuries I’ve picked up over the years.

  2. So I finally went through the rapeyscan on my current trip. Looks like I’m going to be getting a subsequent pat-down every time I fly, in perpetuity… because they pulled me aside to identify the ‘anomaly’ in my junkal area, my piercing. The one that doesn’t come out so easily. I literally had to explain to multiple jumpy and obviously embarrassed TSA agents that yes, I have jewelry in my penis. While they feel me up.

    “It’s a PA.”
    “A what?”
    “A Prince Albert. It’s a piercing. In my dick.”
    *mortified glances all around*

     I am now, apparently, a crotch terrorist.

    1. I havent had that problem yet & I’m kind of surprised….as a female w/ 28 piercings there are several in areas I dont want publicly groped by TSA “agents”…..several below the belt. :)

  3. The brown people all warned that the stuff happening to them was a bad sign of things to come, but nooooo, no one wanted to listen. I blame all the people who believed the Ashcroftian proclamations that these sorts of things were necessary and would all end well.

  4. My grandmother, who is in her 80s and has had replacements for both her knee and shoulder, traveled with an information card to use at security that would explain why she set off the metal detector.  TSA agents wouldn’t even look at it when she was about to pass through, then gave her a very thorough search (which included asking her to walk, stand, and move in ways that weren’t comfortable for her) because of these surgeries.  I’ve noticed a number of commenters on the TSA blog with similar stories – the setup of the TSA process automatically discriminates against people with medical anomalies that will flag their systems again… and again… and again…

    I opt-out of the scanners and get the pat-down nearly every time that I fly, and one of the first questions that they’re supposed to ask is, “Are there any areas on your body that are tender or sensitive?”  I wonder if she’d said that they were very sensitive (and heck, my normal breasts are pretty sensitive to the level of pressure that they use in the pat-down), what would’ve happened?  I always assume this would be a catch-22 – the site of a recent injury or surgery is possible to be flagged in a scan, it’s what they’ll specifically want to search, and yet it’s the thing they shouldn’t touch.  

    I understand that they want to investigate everything that comes up weird in their scans and searches, but people like Lori are going to face this humiliating treatment every time they fly.  She does have the right to a private pat-down, but I also find those very disconcerting – I worry that the whole thing could be worse behind closed doors.  

    The TSA supporters will tell people like her that flying is a privilege, and she should just stop flying if she doesn’t like it.  Or that she should just let them grope her and humiliate her regularly, in the name of safety.  I sincerely hope that she has filed a complaint with both the TSA and the ACLU – I file the latter every time I get a pat-down, regardless of whether it was particularly abusive (which it often is).  I consider the entire process to be a violation of my rights.

    1. From your and other people’s stories, and my personal experience, it seems to me that:
      1) TSA does not consistently follow its own stated procedures.   TSA is **required** to give her a private screening if she wants one, and I was not asked about any “tender areas.”

      2) Being a TSA employee has become a high stress enough job that only uncaring assholes can stand to be there very long, so either you already are one or you turn into one, or you quit.

      3)  TSA is being made to waste a lot of time (and hence, taxpayer money) on false positives due to people with medical devices, and people like myself who refuse to submit to the naked body scanners.

      Looks to me like this adds up to ineffective security procedure.

    2. I had breast cancer surgery and had to be subjected to a pat down at the airport. I wasn’t bald but what little hair I had was revealed because I had to remove my hat, of course. That was loss of dignity number one but that one I understood to some degree.  I was asked the “tenderness and sensitive” question and I told her that my left breast and a large surrounding area was very tender” and she proceeded. And it hurt. And I cried. I cried mostly, though, from the indignity of having this person touch me that way … in a way that hurt me … in a place my husband doesn’t even touch. Only me and my doctors have been touching me there. I was angry, upset, and felt very dehumanized. But they did ask the question. Why, I don’t know. I can’t see that it made any difference to how I was “handled”.

      1.  Oh, it did make a difference.  If they hadn’t asked, they would only have hurt you by accident.  As it was, they could go right for what would hurt and humiliate you the most, and thus show everyone how powerful they are.

  5. What exactly were they patting her down for?  If her temporary breast implants were really plastic explosives, is that going to be detectable to the touch by some minimally-trained TSAgent? Did they think she might be concealing boxcutters or guns in there? (Which would be useless since the advent of reinforced cockpit doors anyway.)

    My guess is that she was singled out for shitty treatment due to some half-assed profiling owing to her “strange” appearance (bald woman.)

  6. In TSA discussions, this question comes up again and again – how does a pat-down resolve an anomaly in their scans caused by an internal issue?  And yet, they want to give the pat-down to folks with joint replacements, metal plates, implants, etc. that their hands will never detect.

    When asked to explain this, Blogger Bob and other TSA spokespeople have said that an explanation would compromise security.  Convenient, huh?

  7. …Of course, this is the same jewelry that caused nary a blip when going through metal detectors for over a decade. I suppose it’s small consolation that personally, I don’t give a crap about revealing this sort of intimate detail or even the groping itself… and I always arrive way too early so the waste of time isn’t critical (see below)… while the TSA dudes were ashen at the humiliation *they* were going through. But I feel for people who’d rather keep their privates, you know, private.

    I mentioned to one of them that I figured I’d be getting a pat-down from now on, and he blithely confirmed that it was either this one or the other pat-down you get when you opt out of the scanner and go for the metal detector. There’s no way to avoid it for someone in my situation, besides not flying. Oh well. I’m already used to them being all up in my business, since I fall into another security triggering group and have rarely been on a flight where I wasn’t sidelined for extra attention: I carry a DSLR and a few extra lenses/gadgets in a camera bag that might as well have “empty me out and swab every nook and cranny” printed on it.

    Should I be bothered when, on numerous occasions where I’ve forgotten to remove a small bottle of lens cleaner from my bag, they hand it back to me despite the lack of 3:1:1 safeguards, with a mere warning to remember to check it next time? What if it was *weaponized* lens cleaner? Eh, whatever.

  8. I’m not defending the TSA’s actions here, but hyperbole isn’t helping this woman’s case. She ABSOLUTELY had a choice not to have her breasts touched – she said so herself – by electing to not fly.

    I haven’t been able to fly since 2001 because the level of searching being done to passengers and their belongings is incompatible with my beliefs in personal privacy.  Is that fair?  HELL no, nor is having to explain it to friends and family.  But the choice has been mine to not fly as a consequence, the same choice this woman has.

    1. What hyperbole, precisely? I’m not really seeing any. I see a bunch of personal stories, observations of actual events, and pointed questions.

      And opting out is fine and dandy until your job requires you to travel… perhaps then not so much. Sure, it’s still your choice, but how many people are really going to stand firm when it comes to employers, and not their family/friends?

      1. “I had no choice but to allow…”She was just told she had a choice to not fly if she didn’t submit to the additional screening.  This makes it sound like she was forced into it when she could have just walked away and decided being able to fly, right at that moment, was more important to her.

        1. The author had already acknowledged the full choice given to her shortly before that statement, so I don’t really buy that leaving it off in a subsequent “I had no choice… (if I wanted to fly)” is hyperbole. It’s brevity.

          1. Perhaps not hyperbole then, but it’s still disingenuous. “I had no choice (besides the choice I didn’t want to make)”

          2.  Bullshit it’s disingenuous.  You just think the choice is reasonable because you made it for yourself, in YOUR circumstances.  And you DIDN’T make it when you were already at the airport, plans made, baggage in someone else’s hands, and non-refundable ticket (like almost all tickets today) purchased.

            Also, if she had said “OK, I won’t fly then,” do you really believe they’d’ve let her walk away?  With her baggage intact?  Hell no, they’d’ve held her for a Homeland Security goon squad.

          3. The TSA jackboots act as agents of the airlines. If the airlines’ agents refuse to allow you past the security point, then the airline is obligated to refund your airfare under nearly every contract of carriage I’ve looked at.

          4.  But they don’t refuse.  They give YOU the “choice,” remember?  So if you just decide not to submit to a cavity search and fisting, YOU made the choice not to fly, so you get nothing.

            This is akin to that other high-corporate-greed phenomenon, where they tell you your job is moving to the ass end of nowhere, and if you don’t move there, you quit…so you don’t get unemployment.

          5. You gave them the choice to let you through without groping, and *they* refused. They can “reserve the right to invasively search” you if you go past some imaginary line all they want, but at the end of the day, you can only reserve a right you actually already have, and absent probable cause there is no right to search you invasively like they do.

          6. Choosing between freedom of privacy and freedom to travel along with forfeiting hundreds of dollars is about as much of a “choice” as a mother gives a 3-year-old when she says, ” You have a choice: you can give me the toy or I can take it from you. Which do you want?”

          7. People keep talking about “forfeiting hundreds of dollars”… If the airline’s agents (ie, the TSA jackboots) refuse you entry, you get your fare back. It’s in most airlines contract of carriage.

            And, again, I’m simply being realistic and realizing that no politician is going to help us on this and we need to help ourselves, and the only way to do that is to hurt the airlines (who basically pay the TSA agents salaries) and let them know exactly how they can fix the problem and stop the hurt.

          8. Mr. Balling – as several people in this thread have pointed out, so long as the TSA agents offer you the option of taking the patdown and getting on the airline, they have not technically refused you entry. They have simply made your entry conditional… YOU are choosing to leave – if they allow it without their ridiculous threats of arrests and lawsuits. So I’d very much like to see the contract of carriage that would force the airlines to give you your money back if you refused the patdown. Or an example of a case where they did.

          9. See earlier in the thread where I pointed out a quite famous and publicized case where it happened.

            The airlines (via their agents the TSA) can only reserve a conditional right that they already had, and they don’t have a pre-existing right to give you an invasive search, absent probable cause. Thus, you are the one giving them the choice “let me fly without giving up my rights, or give me a refund”.

            There’s been a couple documented cases already (that one I linked to was just an example) where the people who’ve point-blank refused have had their airfare refunded.

          10. I think you`ll find that the tax payer pays for the TSA:)

            …a routine Senate hearing on aviation security took on the atmosphere
            of a courthouse trial in which a tough prosecutor grilled an
            uncooperative witness.McCaskill… kept pressing until Gilligan conceded a key point – that
            U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for extra security while airlines
            take advantage of lower labor costs at foreign repair stations.

            taken from

          11. It’s taxpayer-subsidized, but pedantically, the TSA has said on a number of occasions that they work for the airlines. 

            Right up until the gov’t decided it liked only having one set of jackbooted thugs running around, airports didn’t need to hire the TSA at all, they could find other competing security services which might provide the same security for a better price. That only recently changed, and now the airports are required to contract out that function to the TSA.


          12. It is not disingenuous. Saying that people must give up the right to travel in a reasonable fashion to avoid UNreasonable government invasion into their lives is what is disingenuous. In my country, we have a Constitution that is supposed to protect us from a totalitarian government. What country do you want to live in? 

        2. Actually, at that point, she could not have just walked away. As far as I know, you are subject to arrest and/or a fine if you get up to airport security and then leave without finishing the screening.

          1. In theory, that’s true, but I’m not aware of any court actually having passed a verdict in such a case yet. Every case I’ve heard of, the TSA has *threatened* the refuser with arrest and a fine, and insists they will open an investigation into that individual, but I’m not aware of anyone who they *actually* tried to levy a fine or impose a jail sentence on.

        3. Except that once you begin the TSA screening process, you can’t decide to discontinue it.  They will arrest or ticket you, and the offense comes with a very large fine.

          1. Can you cite anyone who’s *actually* been fined or jailed? All the news stories I’ve seen about people refusing at the checkpoint have been *threatened* with such, but I’m not aware of anyone that’s actually been fined or jailed.

            Because, personally, this is something I’d *love* to see get put in front of 12 jurors, and I don’t think it’s actually happened yet.

        4. like she was going to drive or bus from JFK to SF?? do you think she’d get the high price of her airline ticket refunded because she didnt want to be felt up by minimally trained tsa-“agents”?  no, your answer of just deciding then & there not to fly is not acceptable. she has medical certification starting her condition. as for hyperbole: 1 guy (just 1!!) planted bombs in his shoes now we all have to remove them to board a plane…think the hyperbole has been on the part of the paranoid, not those of us concerned about the invasive tactics used in the name of “safety”.

    2. While that may be technically true, do we really want to live in a world where this is the cost of traveling?  (Because, let’s face it, in today’s world, to travel any reasonable distance pretty much means either flying or not going at all.)

      If the cost of travel means such a fundamental invasion of personal privacy every time, then something is seriously wrong, and I hope we can do much better.  And *that’s* what people are upset about.

    3. I just won’t fly in the US. I drive through, across the US, but never fly. No patdowns on interstates as of yet.

    4. Not flying is not a legitimate choice to force on people. 
      Freedom of movement is a Constitutional right. Unreasonably burdensome restrictions on that freedom are violation of guaranteed rights. 
      Flying is NOT just a privilege. 
      Do you think the federal government should be able to require this kind of invasive searching to travel on interstate highways? If not, why not? You’re being inconsistent. 
      Do you really think that “freedom of movement” should only apply to walking? If so, then the modern world has essentially destroyed that right.
      People who use the “privilege, not a right” argument are begging to live in a totalitarian state. Bad idea.

    5. That is an absolute cop-out. You are enabling the system by stepping away – removing yourself from the situation. You are not a victim, you are a bystander. This woman in this story TRIES to tell them. But they dont listen, nor care. If ANYTHING – TSA should have pulled her aside in another room. OR even simply away form the crowd. if the MUST have these scanners – they need to have tent-like screening areas for these situations. AFTER they screen the bags for the people they want to pat. Sure – it will take time. But it doesnt mean it has to be done in front of everyone. Personally – pre body scanners I had flown with my wig. It had clips and bobby pins everywhere. I cannot take them out, the clips. I had a woman slipping her hands all over my wig and knocking it out of place and style in front of ppl. I didnt like it, and had to go in the bathroom awhile to fix myself and hope people forget what they saw. It wasnt the worst thing, and I told myself I would rather have that – than have someone slip through and I die. But I didnt have them rub my crotch, or breast. Or unclothe my child. If they HAVE to stay – they need to have more privacy – or show us the results of things found that would have harmed others that would warrant them to stay. otherwise, get rid of them.

  9. Yeah, Alvis, because you choose to sit down and shut up, you think she should too.  We get it.  Pardon me if I’m less than sympathetic to your position. And all those people in Syria?  They have a choice not to participate in demonstrations.  And the ones who didn’t, and had their houses shot up because other people did?  They chose to live in areas where people might protest someday.

    Fuck the TSA and all their supporters and defenders. With a big stick coated in habanero oil.

    They’re the ones who should be shipped off to Gitmo, along with Tony Baloney and the other Barney Fifes of the world.

    I also have an implant, a titanium joint replacement. I hold the card for it in my hand when I walk through the metal detector.  They generally don’t look at it.

  10. I have done anything BUT shut up about this issue, thank you.

    If a store opens that gives out free cookies if you let them shit in your mouth first, am I being ineffectual and passive by standing outside saying “that’s wrong as hell, you guys shouldn’t be letting the store treat you like that”? 

    Instead, somehow, those who keep going in are in the right?  “Yeah, I don’t like how they shit in your mouth, but I’m used to having access to cookies, and it would inconvenience me if I couldn’t have them all the time, so I’ll just put up with it.  I might protest a little and blog about it afterwards, but I’ll be back for more cookies soon.”

    1. We’re not talking about free cookies here. We’re talking about the freedom to travel from one place to another in a reasonable amount of time. 

      How about if a new government agency informed you that if you want to live where you live now, you have to let them film you in every room of your house all the time, including the bathroom and bedroom? 

      You have a choice.  You could move out of the Panoptikon District, or submit to their surveillance.

      The thing is, it’s a bullshit choice.  So is the choice offered to this woman at the airport.

    1. It certainly seems more important that cookies, doesn’t it?  That’s why the TSA is winning. Truthfully, no one -needs- either.  Gotta get that jet-travel-monkey off your back.

      Actually, a jet monkey on your back sounds pretty awesome…

      1. You’re accusing others of hyperbole … while simultaneously drawing an analogy between cookies and flying on an airplane.  Wow.

    2. We managed for many centuries without flying, just like we did without cookies.

      The analogy wasn’t 1:1, but it makes the point none the less.

      I do, however, agree that the TSA is a bunch of hired goons put in place to show your population who’s boss; so in the interest of avoiding tyranny I think it;s best to challenge them at every opportunity.

      1. That might be true, Nathan. But we also managed for centuries without mobile phones, internet, medicine, heating, air conditioning, internal combustion, electric lights,  etc. However, we are no longer an agrarian society where travelling for months is normal. Therefore we managed without before isn’t a fair argument.

        And yes, too many of the TSA are a bunch of goons and bullies.

  11. “IF” she did not have a card with all of that detail, then yes, TSA should have done what they did, but maybe a little more discretely.

    The fact they ignored this card is not beyond belief, it is the TSA right? However, I hope this gets the media attention it deserves, it was totally uncalled for.

    1. “”IF” she did not have a card with all of that detail, then yes, TSA should have done what they did, but maybe a little more discretely.”

      I asked my doc about getting a card or letter about my amazing new titanium ankle bone. He says he doesn’t give them out anymore because “They never believe them anyway. A terrorist could get a card.”

  12. You can always choose not to fly?  You can choose not to live and work (or visit) a country that is large, and which has its largest economic centers on two coasts 3,000 miles apart where flying is the only practical means to deal with that issue?    That’s not a choice, that’s geography, and even if you think it is a choice, many people decided to have careers which involve travel to both coasts, and to have friends on both coasts (if you really choose where you friends live) long before the TSA existed.

    It’s disturbing to see that line of how she has a choice echoed back.  Under that logic, every nasty thing the government orders us to do is a choice.  You can choose to get into the police car or you can choose to have us hogtie you and throw you in — it’s your choice!

  13. Clearly my message isn’t being well received, so I’ll recuse myself.

    Bottom line: if you think the TSA is in the wrong, and you still fly in spite of it, you’re part of the problem, as much as the TSA.  Your continued presence tells them that their actions are not unreasonable enough to require change.

    1. It won’t help to stop flying.  I thought you were saying you did that as a personal choice.  If you think you’re influencing anything at all by that choice, you’re wrong.

      There’s a reason the TSA is nicknamed the Transportation Suppression Agency.  They’re a tool being used to keep ordinary middle-class people from flying. 

      The people with the “Trusted Traveler” cards don’t have to go through this bullshit.  Any of them could blow up a plane any time, which really proves that this isn’t about security.

      YOU, Alvis, are part of the problem.  You’re doing exactly what they want.

  14. We were once called “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”.  This kind of police state practice would better describe “The Land of the Intimidated and the Home of Cowards”.  The rights we thought were guaranteed by the Bill of Rights were adopted with the full understanding that rights  of the people entail some element of risk. Those who are empty-headed or worse adopt a police state approach that destroys freedom. In fact, despite the huge cost in money and time that is imposed by those procedures, practically all of it is security theater and there is no indication that the average person or the Country is made any more secure.

    Of course, we should guard against terrorists and crazy people, but we should not do so by sacrificing the freedom of all.  When the security of the individual is ignored, the security of all is vastly diminished.  Many of us grew up thinking there was great meaning to phrases such as “Give me Liberty or Give Me Death”.  Fear of the unknown has trashed those great proclamations.

    Notably, the places and facilities most frequented by the most people receive little, if any security. Almost all security is devoted to those places where the average person may come in contact with the wealthy and the powerful. Airports and public buildings.

  15. At one point I thought all the poking and prodding and backward portrayal of TSA and Homeland Security was just picking an easy target created for all the wrong reasons… 


  16. Look while I agree it was not good.  Anyone can have a card in there wallet and have it made up. they are not going to call dr’s etc.  So although in theory the card is good.  Anyone can reproduce it.  You can also ask to be brought out back when you are patted down.    Now this is a case of under trained TSA.  You can ask to be brought to a room and they are supposed to bring your luggage to you.    You have to ask most times though.  I have a husband with a artificial limb and he has the same problems and concerns.  And we looked into a card or something..  But if people can make money how hard would it be to make a fake card or letter or not?

    1. “they are not going to call dr’s etc.”  Why not? It would be more effective than patting them down. I mean in theory they are concerned about safety not how best to make people jump though hoops.

      1. Ok who is to say that is a real DR?  Anyone can get a Dr degree.  SO lets add reserching and checking the Dr credentials and also making sure the number they call belongs to the actual dr not a fake..

  17. I’ve had a TSA agent tell me that the “new” metal detectors aren’t set off by titanium joint replacements. 

    Can’t you make a gun out of titanium?

    1. Yes but certain components like the barrle have to be made out of regular steel since titanium is too soft.

    2. Last time I checked, the Cyberleg rifle/shotgun holster feature was only available in Cyberpunk or Shadowrun. Now, those popup mini-missile launchers…THAT’s what they should be looking out for. 

  18. Look my friends, the reason why the TSA is filled with bozos like this is because its a *deadend* job. No one respect the TSA. No one wants to pay them a decent wage. There is no real room for advancement. To top it all of, if something goes wrong, they’ll be the ones held personally responsible for a catastrophe. In other words, its a shitty job that doesn’t attract the best kind of people *because* we, the public, don’t want to pay what would cost to find, hire, and train the right people. We end up with people like this because working for the TSA is scorned and frowned upon. If you want a better TSA (and we do need some form of security) you better be prepared to pay for it and respect the people that do it. My feeling is that none of you are willing to pay for that because the American people are cheap bastards unwilling to put their money where their mouth is. 

    1. If you want a better TSA (and we do need some form of security) you better be prepared to pay for it and respect the people that do it. My feeling is that none of you are willing to pay for that because the American people are cheap bastards unwilling to put their money where their mouth is.

      I don’t want a “better” TSA.  I don’t want a TSA.  I am not a fucking coward.  I can accept a 1 in a few million chance that a terrorist might get me before I beat the shit out of him.  I ski.  I hike. I do things that carry mild risks.  I fucking bike in Boston.  Seriously… I bike in Boston and ENJOY the experience.  Do you think someone who bikes through Boston for fun where the chances of getting struck dead is vastly higher than getting killed by a terrorist is going to piss themselves over the absurdly rare chance that a terrorist blows up my airplane?

      The solution is not to get a better TSA.  The solution is to stop being a bunch of fucking cowards and accept that yes, there is an absurdly slim chance that you might die to a terrorist instead of eating yourself to death.  If you are really afraid of death, eat less food.  Stop wasting my god damn money and time on your infantile cowards fears of airline terrorism.  Get a control of your bladder and stop being a coward.  

      If you have to be a coward, at least do it quietly.  Stop voting for assholes who keep giving the TSA more money and mandates to molest everyone that gets within reach of their grubby little hands.  It is sad and pathetic when people give voice to their cowardice and public and consider it patriotic or some bullshit like that.

      1. Hear, hear!  I don’t bicycle in Boston, but I DO ride a motorcycle.  Hardly a day goes by that someone in a car doesn’t try to kill me, yet I still ride for pleasure.  And I, too, want NO TSA, not a “better TSA.”  I wish I could put it as well as you did.

        1. Let me ask you something, what about the passengers who do want security? Should your desires override theirs? If so, why?

          1. It could be left up to the airlines/airports. Certain carriers could use certain security procedures, and other competing airports could use different ones, and other carriers could use different procedures, and let the free market sort it out.

            It might require some juggling of how security checkpoints and gates work (ie, all of a carrier’s gates might have to be segregated to the same part of the airport so it could be isolated from other carriers with different security policies), but it could work, I think.

      2. So basically you want to get rid of all airport security whatsoever. Just roll into the airport and get on your plane with absolutely no screening. Honestly, that’s a great idea and this is how it used to be. Of course, I don’t think that wish really melds well with the reality of the situation.

        Highjackings do happen. Terrorism also happens. Now, while you are perfectly comfortable with the idea of possibly dying in a highjacking because there was no security many other people are not. You do have a valid stance from a libertarian perspective on the matter – Why should the fears of other people have an impact on *my* life. Of course, the flip side is why should *your* cavalier attitude have an impact on the lives of others? Being that plane travel is generally not a solo excursion you are required to blend the desires of many people into a cohesive whole. This means that some level of security will happen on commercial flights.

        Personally, I believe that  some level of security in order to deal with these problems is appropriate. The problem with the security situation we currently have with the TSA is that the security provided is ineffective, overbearing, and reactionary. It is, as Bruce Scheiner puts it, security theater rather than true security. It’s not so much that there is security it’s just that the what is in place is stupid. This goes back to my original point – if you want effective security that isn’t stupid you have to be willing to pay for it. Of course, being that we live in a WalMart world I don’t see that happening.

        Also, it’s good to hear that you bike. I was a bike messenger for a couple years in Philadelphia. That’s a good city to mess in – got hit a few times but that was part of the enjoyment of the job. The risk was a rush. In any case, I’m perfectly aware of the risks associated with air travel and understand that the possibility of dying in a terrorist related highjacking is very low. Of course, the problem is that we don’t have a control set. It could be that without security the chances would be greater. We could do some control tests but it would be unethical to put people in harms way for an experiment. However, we can look at pre- and post- screening incidents in the US for some idea. In 1972 there were 13 incidents resulting in 24 deaths. The next year screening went into place resulting in a total of 3 incidents and 4 deaths. Admittedly, 1972 was a anomaly in those terms – 1971 saw 4 incidents and 5 deaths. What is interesting is that starting in 1968 you saw a significant rise in the number of incidents (previously it was around 1 every other year). While security operations haven’t been able to bring it back to that level it does seem to be returning to that point.

        The point of the previous is that it obvious that there is a risk and it can be argued that security procedures have reduced that risk. While we can’t really know what impact screening has had in terms of prevented incidents it does seem that it has prevented some. Which is a long way of saying that the current risk is absurdly low but without security the risk would be higher. However, my argument isn’t that we should do away with security entirely (as you seem to want to do) but that the security system needs to be reformed, at significant expense, in order to provide real security without idiocy like the above.

        1. So basically you want to get rid of all airport security whatsoever. Just roll into the airport and get on your plane with absolutely no screening. Honestly, that’s a great idea and this is how it used to be. Of course, I don’t think that wish really melds well with the reality of the situation.

          No, I said roll with 2001, Sept 10 levels of security… you know, the security level right before we pissed ourselves in terror.  You screen out the obvious and set the bar such that even if you are well funded and well planned, the best you can really hope to get onto an airplane with reasonable certainty are box cutters, not AK47s.  A metal detector and an X-ray for your bags is a reasonable amount of security.  Toss in a reinforced cockpit door and citizens with a healthy dislike of being hijacked, and you have security levels that are exactly the same as they are now, minus all the costs and freedom fondles.

          If the best terrorist can arm themselves with is knives, we have learned on multiple occasions that, so long as the citizens realize that twiddling their thumbs is the wrong answer, the terrorist are fucked.  9/11 only worked because citizens were told to NEVER resist a hijacking.  Once we banished that idea and made it so that breaking into the cockpit takes more than a few seconds, taking over and airplane basically became impossible.  Hell, I don’t think  you could even crash an airplane because the passengers will murder you long before you can break into the cockpit to crash the airplane, and even if they don’t the pilot will murder you by throwing the airplane into maneuvers that will wound or kill anyone who is not strapped in.

          Of course, the flip side is why should *your* cavalier attitude have an impact on the lives of others? Being that plane travel is generally not a solo excursion you are required to blend the desires of many people into a cohesive whole. This means that some level of security will happen on commercial flights.

          If I asked my fellow citizens to endure the risk levels equal to commuting on a motorcycle for the sake of my liberty, they would not be total cowards for telling me to fuck off.  Commuting on a motorcycle, over time, does present a mild danger of death.  If I told my fellow citizens to endure the risk of being eaten by a shark, and they promptly pissed themselves in terror and demanded that we spend a few hundred billion dollars and strip Americans of their liberty to keep them safe from sharks, I would rightfully be pissed at the cowardice of my fellow citizens.  This is what we have done.  

          A potential of death that ranks at around the level of shark attacks and lightening strikes has caused the citizenry to void their bowels, surrender their liberty and mine, their money and mine, and has bought them nothing in return.  Even if we could end the scourge of shark attacks and lightening strikes forever, I still wouldn’t be willing to add a few hundred billion in debt to this nation and force everyone to get a freedom fondle a few times a year.  I would point out that my fellow citizens are a bunch of fucking cowards, and be pissed about it.  Anyone who isn’t a complete fucking coward would feel the same.  

          A 1 in a few million chance that a terrorist might strike you dead is not a reason to act like a fucking coward and surrender your, and more importantly, MY liberty and money.  If death REALLY scares you that much, STOP EATING SO MUCH FUCKING FOOD!  Seriously, nothing is more disgusting than an American mewing and pleading for the government to take their money and liberty to keep them from dying to the absurdly rare terrorist attack while they wedge another Big Mac up their fat asses while sprawling their rolls of blubber out in front of the TV for 5 hours a day.  When eating themselves to death stops being the leading cause of death, Americans can start bitching and moaning about more obscure forms of death, like shark attacks, lightening strikes, and airplane terrorism.  Until, Americans who put up with this shit and vote for politicians who allows this continued policy of cowardice are just a bunch of cowards themselves.

      3. Hear, hear. I too recently went through the “rapeyscan” while I was flying home with my siblings. None of my siblings did. Only me. Why? Because I am a thin, tan, dark haired person who happened to be wearing shorts with larger-than-average pockets. What the hell, TSA? Stereotype, much? Know who else stereotyped a bunch of people into a little group that they eventually massacred? The Nazis, that’s who. 

        So, Americans, if you liked the good old days when we WERE ACTUALLY “The Land of the FREE and the Home of the BRAVE”, I suggest you get off your lazy bums, vote the morons who created the TSA out of office, grow a pair of whatever you may be lacking, and get on the plane, because the TSA really doesn’t do much except be a bunch of “security officers”. 

        More like “security blankets”, to make cowards feel better.

  19. I think that since stories such as this are becoming increasingly frequent, and since apparently 1% of Americans are currently in prison, that perhaps Americans should consider removing the line ‘The land of the free’ from their national anthem.

  20. I want two levels of security at airports and two types of airlines.  One wing of the airport will have pretty much no security.  Maybe a quick metal detector and x-ray machine for the bags, but all done at a low level with no random freedom fondles.  You are just looking for someone smuggling in a shot gun or a big bomb.  You can bring a drink through security.  You don’t need to take off your shoes.  The cost of this minimal security will be included in the price of tickets and receive no tax payer subsidies.  

    The other wing of the airport will be for cowards.  People who are afraid of terrorist can get a full freedom fondle and prOn scan.  The agents can random hand out extra gropings, no liquids, no shoes, and whatever asshole policies they think up to keep cowards feeling safe.  The cost of this extra security to make cowards not afraid of flying will be included in the price of tickets and receive no tax payer subsidies.

    The two wings of the airport will be kept separate, so if you take the cowards terminal, only cowards will be flying with you, so your plan will be ‘safe’.  

    Ok.  Now as the right is so fond of suggesting, let people vote with their wallets.  Cowards get to pay a big extra premium to feel safe and get their freedom fondles, the rest of US can quickly get through security with a bottle of wine and pay a fraction of the cost.

    Everyone wins.  I imagine if presented with the choice, a lot of people would look into their pants and find a pair of balls or ovaries they never knew they had.  I would like to think that when they see what the cost of being a coward is, most people would be like “this is dumb”.

  21. What the fuck USA?  Assassinating citizens, pepper spraying peaceful protesters, and now civil liberties violations in the name of national security?

    1. You haven’t been paying attention, have you?  This started in 2001 and has been getting steadily worse since then.

  22. I am the subject of this post and feel that I need to clarify.  I am as concerned about security as most people and did not expect a free pass.  What I did expect was to be treated in a respectful manner when I explained my situation – something most people expect.  

    Whether or not I had to submit to a pat down doesn’t excuse the agent or the supervisor for treating me in such a manner.  I was yelled at, refused something that was my right and treated like a criminal.  Just because I wanted to fly across the country to see people whom I love.  

    To say that I had a choice is wrong – not making the trip was not an option for me. The issue was about respect and dignity.  Neither of which was shown.

    1. I’m sorry, but unless you’re under some sort of subpoenaed mandate[1], then, yes, the flight WAS an option for you. You could choose a different line of work, or choose a different schedule, or choose to fly charter. Now, you may not like those options, they may not palatable to you, and/or they may have a significant impact on your standard of living or happiness, but you DID have the option of not flying.

      [1] And even then, there’s wiggle.

      1. I’m sorry, but your condescension is sickening.   Of course she could have turned around and left, losing the money spent for airline tickets, hotel reservations, various expenses, etc.  That is understood.  What you fail to understand is that there is something fundamentally wrong with a government agency that coerces citizens into having their breasts and genitals examined in full view of the public.   It’s unnecessary, and could have been handled in many better ways.

        1. She’d have gotten her airline fare back. That’s pretty much a given, it’s just a matter of fighting for it.

          And like I told someone else : don’t pretend to assume my opinion. I don’t “fail to understand” that the TSA is a bunch of jackbooted thugs, and the whole agency is the New Hip Place for GED-wielding high-school bullies to go get a job where they’re given way too much power. I’ve been saying that pretty much since the day the agency was formed. 

          I’m simply saying that as long as people keep putting up with it, and keep convincing themselves “I have to fly”, nothing’s going to change, because none of the people with any power to change it have any reason to do so (and in fact, some of the parties have very deeply seated counter-interests to any such change).

          Your only chance is to convince the airlines that they’re going to lose even more money than they already are, AND that they’re losing that money specifically because of the TSA, and not because of the economy. 

          1. She’d have gotten her airline fare back. That’s pretty much a given, it’s just a matter of fighting for it.

            Please produce some evidence or stop making the claim.

          2. Oh, seriously?!?  You’re citing FOX NEWS as a source, and you expect to be taken seriously?  The network that that has sued for the right to outright LIE on the air, and won?  The people who don’t even bother to make their pie charts of invented “data” add up to 100%?

            Do you really expect anyone to take that seriously as evidence for your point?  Don’t you realize that the fact that you think Faux News is credible undermines the credibility of anything you say to anyone on here from now until everyone forgets that you’re the guy who thought Fox Noise was a credible source?

            The fact that you have ignored other people repeatedly explaining that you can’t actually refuse a TSA screening without fear of arrest should have clued me in to the fact that you’re largely a write-only device.

          3. That was the first link I found that story. It was well-covered by damned near every online news agency, he recorded the entire encounter on his iPhone, uploaded the video to the net, etc., etc. Feel free to go watch it.

            Also, please feel free to educate yourself on the difference between “Fox News” (a national cable network station with a documented bias), and FOX5, a local San Diego OTA broadcast station which happens to be a Fox Network (not Fox News) affiliate. And note that it’s a local news piece to them, not something that was fed to them from some mythical “Evil Fox News Consortium Wire Feed”.

            I’m not ignoring those people who talk about “fear of arrest”, I’m noting that the TSA likes to wield that stick around, but with all the anti-TSA sentiment and scandals, I’ve yet to see a single news story about someone who ACTUALLY got arrested for refusal, nor for anyone who ACTUALLY was forced to pay a fine for said refusal.

          4. The threat of arrest is enough.  You’re expecting average people to be heroic.  That’s not reasonable, and it’s not the kind of society we want to live in. 

            As for “feel free to educate yourself,” you can feel free to do any number of things with that invitation, many of them involving folding it until it’s all corners.

          5. Derek Balling,

            You’ve vastly exceeded your quota on saying the same thing.  If you have anything new to add, feel free.

      2. Let’s see . . . we have the option of not flying, not going into public buildings, not using the telephone, not walking on public streets, not going to sports arenas or other places of worship, not riding public transportation, not visiting the stock exchange, not being able to put mail in a postbox, not traveling internationally, not driving a car or a boat or maybe even a bicycle.

        The next time a cop tells you to do or not do something, tell him that you do not accept his badge as proof that he is who he claims to be, since badges can easily be reproduced. How far will that get you?

        The point that is being missed is that society, particularly a free society, does not work as it should unless there is a presumption of regularity in the conduct of citizens when they are in public.  Those who think they are smart guardians of security, by introducing a presumption of irregularity, are clearly endorsing a police state.  That is what a police state is all about. That is what most of us were brought up to condemn in the fascist and communist and other dictatorial countries.

        That kind of governmental environment is often administered, at the base level, by stupid or arrogant or brutal people, and at the leadership level, by political cowards or authoritarians. If you are favor of the police state, wear a button saying so. That would be more honest than telling the rest of us that we have the choice of going into long term hibernation if we do not wish to participate in the degradation of our liberty.  The person who, appropriately enough, calls himself “deballing”, seem to think that his “stay home” advice is more appropriate than sounding the alarm.   What nonsense!!

        1. First off, if you want to get into ad hominem attacks by spinning yourself a double-entrendre using my friggin’ last name, you can officially sod off.

          Second, you’re melding into one giant conglomeration the widely varying aspects of private property (sports arenas, places of worship, the stock exchanges, some public transit), places which are public property (post offices, some public transit), and privately-operated services, for which there’s Federally or State approved tariffs (phone service). Private property owners can set whatever crazy-ass rules they want for their property. Of course, you’re not actually obligated to go along with those rules, but they’re well within their grounds to tell you to get off their private property if you don’t want to play by their rules.

          Third, don’t put words in my mouth. I never said there shouldn’t be a sounding of an alarm about the jackbooted thugs of the TSA. I’m simply saying that nothing will change while people keep actually flying. 

          At the end of the day, the TSA knows they have you by the balls, because you keep flying. The politicians aren’t going to want to be the ones who were ‘soft on airport security’ the next time there’s a terrorist event, so don’t even kid yourself that they’re going to come riding in on a white horse to save you. The airlines are frankly in duck and cover mode, and they’re not going to pick any fights unless they have to. 

          So you have to make them have to. You have to hurt their bottom line, and let them know it’s the jackbooted thugs in blue shirts that are the reason you’re staying home. 

          And if you just “stay home” and quietly don’t fly, they don’t know that. They just assume you chose not to fly because the economy sucks. It’s a perfectly reasonable and valid assumption for them to make.

          So what needs to happen is that people need to have given the airlines money, get turned away at the security checkpoint by the agents of the airline (which legally the TSA is in this case), and get their fare refunded to them. The more often that happens, the more clear it is to the airlines why people aren’t flying and why they’re losing money.

          Yes, this is going to be inconvenient to do. Doing The Right Thing is very rarely also easy and convenient.

          1. Yeah. Easy for you to say. There isn’t 2000 miles of salt water between you and the nearest major land mass. If the mainland half of my family wants to see us, they HAVE to fly. If I want to go anywhere that isn’t Hawaii, I HAVE to fly. 

            If I want food or other basic necessities… THEY have to fly. 

          2. No, you don’t “have to fly”. You’re just convinced you have to.

            Look, for thousands of years — in fact the vast majority of human civilization — flying from place to place wasn’t even an option. Hell, it was considered magical, impossible, and if someone told you it was possible, they might very well get burned as a witch.

            Is it *less convenient* for you to go someplace via boat? Oh, almost assuredly. Maybe you don’t get to have a quick, easy jaunt to see the family. Maybe it takes a little more vacation time to cover your travel-by-sea time as opposed to a multi-hour flight. But it *CAN* be done.

            But so long as you continue to labor under the delusion that you HAVE to fly, you’re never going to get the problem fixed. Because the only way it’ll get fixed is if we actually stop flying.

          3. Anything can be done if you have enough money. I used to drive all the time rather than fly because it was cheaper and I had the time. Now that’s not the case.

            Plus, most Americans aren’t afforded enough vacation time to drive or take a boat somewhere far.

            It’s not a mere inconvenience. American society now revolves around the fact that we have the ability to fly. If I could get more than a week off at a time, I’d go by land. If we had a functional rail system, I’d take a train. If 60 mpg or completely electric cars were the norm, and gas stations were charging stations, then I’d drive.

            Next I suppose you’ll tell me I have a choice in where I work, how much I earn, what kind of car I have, the cost and type of energy that’s available, and what sort of transportation infrastructure the nation and the world has.

            The only way the flying issue will get fixed is if we fix these other things so that we actually do have a choice.

      3. That’s an illegitimate “option” – see the above comments by many people that thoroughly refute your position that people should give up freedom to avoid government-mandated abuse. 
        You have the “choice” to never walk out your front door if you don’t want to be strip-searched while walking public sidewalks. Would you agree with a world like that? Please start thinking clearly.

    2. First of all, Lori, my sympathies.  The road from diagnosis to reconstruction is a very long and stressful one.  I’m saddened that a representative of the TSA made it worse by violating your privacy and embarrassing you in public.  Yes, the exam could have been handled with more delicacy and kindness, but she chose to be a bitch about it.  She had options and didn’t use them.

      I was flying from Colorado to Washington state.  I was just finishing up chemo, flying without a hair on my head.  I’m in the habit of wearing pullovers and don’t always wear something else underneath, even in winter.  The TSA agent told me to take it off.  I explained that I had nothing on underneath, (nor was I wearing a hat or scarf).  Another female agent was called over to do a pat down.  She was quick and thorough about it.  Everything about that woman’s face and body language told me she hated having to do that to me, but it was her job.  I took no offense and was grateful to see it wasn’t personal or mean-spirited. 

      But I didn’t fly with expanders in my chest.  I shudder to think of even some of the more than 250,000 women in this country being diagnosed with breast cancer every year, going through a cruel examine, while trying to get to the end of a very bad episode in their lives.  Surviving and reconstruction is supposed to be part of the ‘up-side’, the light at the end of the tunnel. The TSA is building a reputation more terrifying than the terrorists themselves in the eyes of the flying public.

  23. Not to support this sort of behavior, but based on the photo at the top of this post, I could make counterfeit breast implant cards without much effort. Are these really supposed to be officially recognized in some way? Why would the TSA (who obviously does not inherently trust you) trust a cheesy looking plastic card like that? How would they even know that card corresponds to the item being scanned?

    Believe me, if I could secure a weapon capable of bringing down an aircraft in flight, I could get a plastic card printed.

    1. Uh, ok. I accept the premise that without some kind of standard, tamperproof credential, the TSA can’t ascertain the veracity of the claim that the subject has an implanted/approved medical device.

      So, riddle me this: what additional information does the TSA agent learn through a pat-down of Lori’s breasts? Do you believe that TSA agents are capable of discerning between breast tissue expanders and, say, an implanted explosive? If you believe this is possible (because the devices can be felt below the tissue), what about cases like joint implants (which can’t be felt up through a pat-down)? And, pardon me while I go into “movie plot terrorist” mode, how do you avoid the situation of the pat-down actually activating any present explosive device? (After all the TSA checkpoint is a good place to attack – a lot of people, standing around, prior to the “secured area”).

      The fundamental premise of the pat-down is flawed. It is security theater of the first order.

  24. Solution! Do not fly to or live in the states. Clearly the whole place is crawling with crazy pervs and just right out crazy people. :D

  25. One advantage of the USA getting proper single-payer health care is that someone with a health issue could swipe their health card at checkpoints and have incontrovertible proof of what they claim. 

    But no, that would be socialism.


    El Al profiles BEHAVIOR. They don’t do any of this invasive nonsense – highly trained people simply *talk* to the passengers, looking for key behavioral cues that something’s wrong. Makes sense to me! Google “Isaac Yeffet” – a former director of security for El Al – to see what he thinks of the TSA.

    1. They do profile behaviour but they use that in conjunction with a hell of a lot of intelligence that they gather on everyone who flies. It *is* intrusive but not physically so. The US did have a plan to implement something like this via the Total Information Awareness project. That was shot down by privacy rights advocates. Anyway, something to keep in mind about Israel is that they have 2 or 3 international airports and maybe 10 domestic ones. The US has a hell of a lot more airports. The question is, of course, would the Israeli method scale and would the flying public be willing to pay what it would cost (it’s thought to cost $75 per passenger/flight to the Israelis versus $10 per passenger/flight in the US. So would the average passenger be willing to pay another $65 per ticket or would they just stick with what we have now? My guess is that most people would go with the ‘cheap’ option.

  26. When we tried to stop this sort of thing in Texas, the Department of Justice threatened to shut down air traffic in our state. 

    1. It would have been interesting to see the state- and municipally-operated airports in Texas just send outbound planes anyway and dare the FAA to stop them from leaving Texas airspace.

      I really am somewhat convinced Texas will be the trendsetter within the next 25 years and just go back to being “The Republic of Texas”, and tell the rest of us suckers to piss off. 

  27. What is most utterly infuriating about all these civil-rights-eroding, dignity-shredding ‘security’ measures is that they’re not security measures at all (two words: “body cavities”), they’re CYA moves by soundbite-over-substance politicians.  At the cost of our freedoms, these unprincipled officials are inoculating themselves against charges that they didn’t “do something” to “keep America safe.”

    These days, it is incredibly depressing to be an American traveling internationally, because you see how much more sane and reasonable airport security is in most every other country.  

    1. I agree with this. However, I do recall being patted down by security in an airport in The Netherlands. They were very thorough – none of this back of the hands stuff not touching your junk stuff. They meant it. See they actually cared about security and decided to do it right instead of this theater we have here.

  28. What is happening, is that the activities of the terrorist and idiots are causing the security services around the world to trust nothing.  If you said, I have a card that says the large bag on my back is full of equipment that provides a full time artificial kidney, and it’s not a bomb, would you expect any respectable security agent to just accept your word at that?

    It’s silly that anyone expects security to accept “documentation or words” as demonstrable proof of anything, when the lives of others are subject to their judgement.

    Sorry to say, but anyone with scan indications of anomalies will be checked with touch based inspections of the anomalous areas.  It may not be the same treatment others get, but you are not like others, and thus since there is a difference, it will be dealt with.

    I’m sorry for those who have suffered cancer and other issues that have altered you body.  That is unfortunately a fact that we all have to deal with at this point.  If you want to be safe, at this point, you are going to have to deal with the fact that there is not a definitive way for anyone to “know” that you are “safe”.  You can get a card, have an RFID embedded under you skin or something else.  But, as soon as you walk away from the scanner, you can do something to invalidate that nature of your previous scan and any determination of safety.

    To put it another way, any exceptional treatment that you might feel you need, if standardized or structured to limit examination of proof of security, can be exploited by someone else to make for a disastrous situation.

  29. Dear Derek:

    I suppose, by your reasoning, people who didn’t like those “whites only” restrooms didn’t HAVE to eat at those establishments, Rosa Parks didn’t HAVE to ride the bus, and black people in Alabama didn’t HAVE to go to college in their home state. We could have avoided that whole Civil Rights mess if only those people had realized they had a choice.

    Another choice would be to call bullshit what it is and demand a change.

    1. Well, the libertarian in me WOULD say that private companies should be allowed to make up whatever rules they want for the use of their private property. I’d hope they wouldn’t be racist d-bags about it, but I’d defend their *right* to do so.

      That’s not to say that LAWS stipulating discrimination should be legal, only that private parties practicing discrimination should be legal (and we should all boycott the bastards for doing so).

      But I don’t want to go too much deeper into that, as that will slew this thread WAYYYY off-topic.

      1. In that case, shouldn’t the libertarian in you also be against government supported pat downs of breast implants and genital piercings?

          1. No Derek, you could just stop advocating so strongly for cowardice.  The woman was pissed that bunch of cowards mewed and whined to the government to protect them from the scary scary terrorist, and as a result she has to get an extra special freedom fondle.  Boycotting the airlines is frankly, a fucking stupid solution.  If I tell my boss that I can’t go on a business trip (which is the vast majority of air travel) because  I don’t want to put up with the security a bunch of cowards set up to sooth their pathetic and irrational fear of a one in a few million chance of a terrorist attack  successfully happening, he is going to tell me to find a new job.

            Now, I do care about the sad and pathetic cowardice in the American people that has led to this state of affairs, but I don’t care enough forsake traveling to see friends and family and go on unemployment.  

            No, the far better solution is for jerks like you to stop defending freedom fondles, stop voting for asshole politicians who support the policy of cowards, and to call out cowards as cowards when we see them.  None of this “it is what we have to do to be safe” bullshit.  If you need to molest and prOn scan everyone getting onto an airplane to prevent the absurdly rare possibility of a terrorist getting onto on airplane and, instead of getting his ass kicked or blowing off his own junk, actually managing to bring down and airplane, the problem is you, not the security.  You are a coward who should removing yourself from the population of the traveling public, not the non-cowards who don’t want to get molested to sooth your terror.

            The TSA is an embarrassment to America.  There is no greater symbol of American cowardice than the TSA.  Anyone who would defend those dicks is a coward themselves.  Frankly, I am a bit pissed that we don’t go calling out cowards who can’t keep their bladders in check and pretend like it is some patriotic right of passage to get your freedom fondle, as if acting like a craven piece of shit afraid of the absurdly small threat of airline terrorism is some how “patriotic”.  It isn’t patriotic.  It is sad and pathetic.

          2. Dude, are you even reading what I’m saying? I’m not defending the TSA at all. If today were suddenly a dictatorship and I was in charge, I’d bring every single TSA agent up on charges of sexual assault.

            What I’m saying is that this is a situation where two groups of people are to blame. The TSA is to blame, obviously, because they are the ones perpetrating the acts. 

            The flying populace is also to blame though, because while we all complain about it, none of us are willing to actually stand up and say “No, I won’t do it.”…. “No, I dare you to bring this to twelve angry jurors and try to force me to pay a fine for protecting my 4th Amendment rights.”

            We’ll all organize nationwide boycotts of a friggin’ retailer, or fast-food joint, or whatever, because of the most minor perceived slight (“That commercial might theoretically offend $MINORITY! BOYCOTT!!!”), but when we have an agency that is systematically offending *everyone*, we all turn into little sheep and refuse to stand up to it.

          3. To be fair, Derek’s (final) argument was that Lori should have turned around and got her money back. He wasn’t defending the TSA. However, he did start out saying very condescendingly that she had a choice to not fly. Bad Derek.

      2. The libertarian in you should also remember that  you or your company’s rights end when they start to infringe on another.

        1. Absolutely true.

          But you’ve got no constitutional “right” to use someone else’s private property. So any time you use someone else’s private property, you do so at their pleasure, under their rules.

  30. Jesus H. Christ- none of this is actually making us safer. As far as I can recall, locking the cockpit doors is the ONLY measure that has made flying safer and would have stopped 9/11. 

    Has anything been thwarted by the TSA? I can’t recall anything they have stopped. I can recall where they miss shit and people bring a knife or gun on board (not that it is a big fucking deal to carry a knife on board.) Any terror plots have been stopped by the FBI.

    All the TSA has done is create s shortage of experienced mall cops.

    1. plus remember the shoe & underwear bombers both made it on to planes in spite of TSA & the heightened security measures. really, all these measures (except reinforcing & locking cockpit doors) have done very little to improve safety or stop would-be terrorists.

  31. cmon people,  think about the CHILDREN!   this is for SAFETY!   You have to SUBMIT!   Your submission and waiving of your rights will make the US a safer place….

    or?  will prove the terrorists won, and we have given up all freedom and liberty.

    I wish I knew how to change this.  I think the kids on Wall Street are trying,  but?  i fear it will all wash away soon.   Money and Power always seem to win.

  32. We just flew out of San Jose last week and an older lady was invited through the metal detector instead of the back scatter. The TSA agent yelled to another one “It’s ok, let her through. She has implants!”

    The TSA agent yelled it loud enough that anyone around could have heard. 

  33. Here’s the point of taking them up on their offer not to fly if you don’t want the inspection: It hits the airlines in the wallet. If enough people refund their tickets due to security inspection intrusions, and enough people refuse to engage in future air travel, they’ll put pressure on the government to dial it back because it’s hurting their revenue stream.

    1. Well perhaps people with implants should all book up an entire airplane except for 1 seat. Then everyone turns around. Except for that 1 person. How cool would that be?

  34. Hmm, seems like a situation where the TSA can’t win, but decides to be dicks about it anyway.  I think that anyone committed to to bring dangerous/harmful/restricted goods on an airplane will be ingenious enough to do so.  There was a story a few years ago about a man who got on a plane and then put on a costume (including prosthetic face mask to give him the appearance of an elderly man) and then got off the plane, clearing customs, with a different ID.  TSA didn’t catch that.  

    I think that the TSA agents are in a thankless job with people who are rude and disrespectful to them, and in return they are rude and disrespectful back, perpetuating the cycle. They have an important job to do, and some of them are a**holes about it.  I got detained in Heathrow because I was travelling from Australia with a Canadian passport and they didn’t understand why I didn’t have a visa (it’s electronic).In my opinion, this woman was needlessly humiliated and the entire situation could have been handled in a better manner while still following safety protocol – let the woman show her ID card, take her into a private screening area (with her belongings), etc.

  35. I’ve heard there’s this guy who has a lot of power over governmental departments, so much power he can change policy simply by saying a few words. I also understand there is an election coming up in a little more over a year. 

    I bet this guy would be a lot more popular if most of this airport madness stopped. Sure, Fox would spin it negative, but this guy doesn’t have to worry about that demographic.

    We can’t be the land of the free without also being the home of the brave.

    1. You do understand that the President doesn’t have a magic wand, right? You also understand that he isn’t a dictator, right? In order to change fundamental operation of the TSA you would need legislation. So it’s not one guy – it’s 536 people you’d need to convince.

      1. You do understand that the President doesn’t have a magic wand, right? You also understand that he isn’t a dictator, right?

        If he can order summary executions in foreign countries, he can damn well fix the TSA.

        1. Antinous, with affection and respect, how do you figure?  Summary executions, while you and I both know they’re illegal, are a single order.  Fixing the TSA would take a long time, and efforts by hundreds if not thousands of people to figure out where the problems are coming from and how to reorganize the agency to fix them.

          He could, however, ABOLISH the TSA.  That’s the outcome I’d prefer.  Actually I’m not sure he even has that power.

  36. @Dereck:disqus Balling (previously self-monikered “deballing”]

    The way you express your position seems to have changed.  It seemed that you were criticizing the lady referred to in the blog note BECAUSE she and other were complaining about her treatment. You said she had the choice of staying home.  Now you say that you are criticize her for enduring the TSA rudeness and indignity. She should have declined the search, cancelled her flight and gotten her money back.  In short, she should have created a scene, on the record.

    I wonder how many times you have followed the advice you give her.

    The fact is that most people, understandably, do not have the courage, resources to do that sort of thing, and their personal and work commitments probably do not allow them the flexibility to simply cancel trips. Moreover, the airlines have already reduced their fares and flight schedules to make up for the existing, more passive,  loss of passengers.

    Boycott is certainly a legitimate option for some.  However, for the many, including those who do not fly, but who have a vested and patriotic interest in the liberty index of their County, writing to blogs such as this, and to newspapers and to their elected leaders and expressing their convictions in the voting booth, are the most likely effective ways of bring about change.

    An additional factor, often omitted from discussions of this subject, is the impact that the present system has upon the formation of children who witness their parents being frisked and who are, themselves, searched notwithstanding the fact that their parents vouch for them. Conditioning children in this way impacts their own sense of security and dignity, and conditions them to the environment of a police state. Those chickens will come home to roost in future decades.

    Also, you might have included the headline of the 2010 Fox article you cite:
    “Man faces $11K fine for refusing TSA screening
    Tyner records confrontation with TSA on cell phone”,0,7222070.sto

    1. (I was actually previously monikered “dballing”, my first initial and my last name, which you decided to make a neat little double-entendre with. So until you want to choose to apologize, I’m effectively done interacting with you).

      Except to say this. The article says “man faces fine”, but to my knowledge, that fine has not yet ever been levied, even a year later. They want to threaten you with it, but they’re deathly afraid of taking it before a jury and having their authority to do so stripped as a matter of precedent.

      1. Hey Derek, the TSA may not have brought it in front of a jury, but should they even be allowed to threaten? Isn’t it bad enough that they can threaten — for the poor guy at the wrong end of their threat, there’s always the fear that they will actually go through with it. For most people the possibility that they might end up in jail or with a heavy fine is just too risky. The law isn’t always fair, you know.

        1. Sure. They can threaten it. Until citizens challenge it by forcing it to go to a jury, it IS still a law on the books.

          The question is just whether any jury would *ever* award the gov’t the fine.

          It’s a civil fine, though, not a criminal one, so my understanding is that the only way there would be jail time is if the jury found for Los Federales and you subsequently refused to pay the fine.

    2. “The way you express your position seems to have changed.”

      That’s why he’s an effective troll. Notice he’s not defending anything or proposing any solutions, he’s just, you know, casually pointing out that Lori was somehow in the wrong and he’s just right about everything. He’s insulting a cancer survivor for the lulz.

      To argue that anyone could just escape that situation without consequences is just plain idiotic and I’m frankly disappointed BB commenteers gave him consideration instead of resorting to clever ad hominems. Derek, you are a smelly jerk.

      1. I have proposed solutions – stand up to the TSA, refuse to fly, let the airlines know that the TSA is the reason why they’re losing money. That’s the only way you’re going to make any effective change, because your politicians aren’t going to help you out on this one. There’s absolutely no upside to it for them.

        Unlike some other folks, I keep my replies relevant to the thing I’m replying to. So when someone says “I have to fly”, I replied only inasmuch as to whether or not someone needs to fly. When the conversation later turns to the overarching problem, then we talk about that. That’s how a conversation generally works.And since you resort to attacking me personally instead of the positions I’ve actually taken, you fall into the list of “people not worth paying any further attention to”.

  37. I’m becoming used to reading about the sad behaviour of the TSA. Fortunately I don’t travel to the US too often, so I rarely have to put up with them first hand. But what’s the follow-up on these stories? Does anything ever happen to the screeners involved? It’s nice and all that we blow off a bit of steam in elegantly written rants, but unless there is some impact on the TSA, then we’re not helping. It has to be something a bit more than harming the TSA’s image – I can’t imaging that actually getting any worse, either in terms of their callous treatment of passengers, or their inability to detect any real threat. Does anyone ever lose their job, get demoted, etc? I’m looking for something on the TSA’s own record to show they’re doing a poor job.

    1. I know a TSA screener. She has told me about cases where passengers complained about whoever screened them – in essentially all those cases, the screeners are given a pat on the back for doing their job in the face of “unruly” passengers.

  38. Surely some form of id card, issued under the auspices of the TSA, which described the anomaly, would go some way to reducing repeats of this performance?

  39. If the TSA doesn’t accept the card then we need a new solution. Fingerprints, retina scan, something attached to passport or DL barcode, whatever, etc. with the data about the patient.

    1. As Karen stated, these cards are not official. Anyone can have a card made and they are generally not recognized by any security officials.
      How do I know? I have three limb implants and fly a lot.
      The real issue is not the card but TSA itself: its policies, level of quality, cost, etc that subjected this poor woman to the groping ( err pat down).

  40.  Not being a USian, I cannot be certain but I am pretty sure you guys have the equivalent of a “Disability Discrimination Act”

    Surely any targetting of people with various medical implants is a direct breach of this act and both individual and class actions ought to be pursuable against the TSA.  Every time they target someone who may be “medically compromised”, based solely on their medical status, they must be breaking the law, no?

    (And why, despite the site recognising my id and telling me I am logged in, does it also tell me there is a problem and that I MUST accept third party cookies before I will actually be logged in, and why once I HAVE accepted such cookies does there appear to be no way to actually re-log in unless one has the wit to realise the page might need refreshing? Using disqus sucks. I chose to “join” BB so I could comment, not let some third party stick cookies all over my machine and track me. )

  41. 1) It is within my means to honestly say that I will NEVER fly again.  Period.  And all the major airlines can stick that loss of revenue up their collective asses for the rapescanners to find.

    2) As traitors to the human condition, all TSA agents should be greeted with a hearty “Burn in Hell”.   I pray for the eternal defilement of their immortal souls.

  42. Don`t you have senators or someone you can write to and complain to?
    In the UK we have to make complaints to the PM or or local MP

    Don`t you have e-petitions you can sign up to or start?
    In the UK we have an e-petition site on the Number 10 website,and when it reaches a certain number,MP`s have to debate it in the Commons,so it at least gets an airing,and they know what we are getting annoyed about.

    I can`t think of anything else to do to get things changed,unless people peaceably assemble at an airport and make their feelings known with T-shirts and banners and posters etc

  43. i’m a radiologist and i’m really mad about theses backscatter scanners …..

    the principle is to emit low energy X ray, reflected by the skin to make an image of you naked.

    low energy x rays are the most dangerous for the body because the dose is only absorbed by the skin.
    even if the total dose is quite low, the fact that only the skin absorb it (instead of the whole body) make this dose HIGHLY dangerous.

    i can’t even make a diagnosis on my day to day practice if my computer is not FDA approved … and these scanners are pululating without any control

  44. These stories are so amazing to me.  I get the feeling it is not the TSA per say but rather individual agents or groups of agents. I travel with a full on leg brace that reaches from my upper thigh to lower shin due to a botched knee operation. (Worn UNDER my clothes) I have a metal pin in my knee as well. Before going through the metal detectors, I tell the agent I will set it off, I have a titanium brace on my leg, and I proceed to tap the top end of the brace through my pants. They usually just nod, and wave me through. At the other end, I usually have to be “pat down” which has yet been inappropriate. However, I know I will set off the detectors, and am Ready for the required pat down. I have never had to remove or lift any clothing for a closer inspection of the brace either. It just amazes me how things are different from one airport, hell even one line to another. Just this year, I have been through TSA at LAX, SFO, RUD, Dulles, JFK, Chicago, MCI, ST Louis, Atlanta, Miami and Orlando.

  45. Tell you what….this TSA stuff only happens in the US. Other countries, my travel has been mostly in western europe, is totally different. and they have been through a hell of a lot more war and terrorism than the US. Our govt is just twisted and corrupt and against us now. I am irritated and mostly road trip. But…when I choose to fly, I follow the stupid little rules. And I know in Europe, they show more sense and courtesy. Thanks for the illusion of safety. I know it is just an illusion.

  46. The thing I can’t wrap my head around is the reason for the pat down.
    OK, OK, let’s say the TSA saw on the porno scanner what they think may be explosives under a womans breast. So, being alert and faithful agents of the TSA they decide to manipulate hers breasts in order to determine if the implant material is an explosive.
    Do TSA agents receive training in the tactile differences between commonly used breast implant materials and explosives? I mean, could they even be able to tell if the implant was real or explosive just by touch? I doubt it. And, if not, why would they want to manipulate the breasts of this woman knowing that it couldn’t possibly lead to any further information? Perhaps the ultimate goal was to intimidate other passengers and provide some security kabuki. Perhaps they are simply out of control.

  47. America gets funnier by the day*.

    *If you’re not American, or suffering under the bullshit of American Freedom 2.0.

    PS: I’m sorry to hear about Lori’s treatment by the morons who work for the TSA, I just can’t believe we’re up to case number 98234986239856235 of stupid-shit-done-by-TSA and yet the jaw-dropping cruelty and blind stupidity rolls on without challenge or mainstream commentary.

  48. TSA Announces Purchase of New Document Assessment Technology

    Press Release

    October 3, 2011

    TSA Press Affairs
    (571) 227-2829

    Photo of an airport terminal.WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced it will purchase and pilot new technologies designed to provide TSA greater ability to identify altered or fraudulent passenger identification credentials and boarding passes in order to further enhance travel safety. TSA plans to test the technology at select airports in early 2012.

    “This technology will automatically verify passenger identification documents and boarding passes to further enhance security,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “This technology will help facilitate risk-based security, while making the process more effective and efficient.”

    This technology, known as Credential Authentication Technology – Boarding Pass Scanning Systems (CAT-BPSS), will eventually replace the current procedure used by security officers to verify fraudulent or altered documents. It will be incorporated into TSA’s risk-based pilot that is slated to begin at four airports in the near future. This aligns with TSA’s latest efforts to enhance the passenger screening experience by moving toward a more risk-based, intelligence-driven counterterrorism agency.

    The approximately $3.2 million award includes the purchase of 30 systems from three different vendors. TSA began testing travel document authentication technology at the TSA Systems Integration Facility (TSIF) in July 2011. TSA continually tests the latest technologies available in an effort to stay ahead of evolving threats and improve the passenger screening experience.

    For more information about TSA and other technologies visit

  49. I am disabled, and often experience issues like confusion and memory loss.  I am also all but broke, and in real danger of becoming homeless.  Fortunately, I have a friend who’s willing to take me in and put a roof over my head.  Unfortunately, she lives over a thousand miles away.

    I can’t take Greyhound or Amtrak, because they will not allow me to bring my pet – who is the closest thing to family that I have.  I might try driving there – if I had a vehicle – and hope that I don’t experience a random ‘issue’ that causes the injuries or deaths of other, innocent drivers.

    Or I can fly, and be sexually molested.

    Which would you suggest?

  50. …And why, for that matter, are so many people willing to accept a policy that mandates the sexual molestation of children?

  51. listen people …when the hell are you going to tell these people, NO YOU CAN’T TOUCH MY JUNK….why is it that we have become sheep and to do what ever the shepherds tell ya, myself, i ain’t never going to set foot in a plane ever again and why not, i’m asked. well, for one, no one is touch’in my junk, i’m a many generation american my people came over before the revolution i’m am not or ever been arrested for any thing and i’m not a terrorist… people start telling these assholes we ain’t going to take this shit no more……tell them prove your not a damn sheep, they do this cause no one tells them, no you can’t.

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