TSA and Body Cavity Searches: A Look Inside in the Name of Safety

I recently heard a story of a female Irish citizen, married to an American, who claimed she was subjected to a strip search in the presence of several male and female TSA agents. She claimed that they used a camera to do a body cavity search.

https://izismile.com/2010/12/02/funny_tsa_comics_29_pics.htmlMy first reaction was bullshit, no way TSA agents would be using body cavity probes in an airport environment.

Wrong. Sort of. I’m not sure what happened during the search as for technology, but the TSA can do full strip searches, and the guidelines are a nightmare. Nowhere on the TSA site refers to using cameras in body cavity searches. However, one part of the policy is clear.  The search must be conducted in the presence of TSA agents of the same sex and the person subject to the search has the right to ask a companion to be with them to observe the process.  If the story is accurate, somebody in TSA screwed up.

But my guess is they don’t care.

This woman also claimed, after she explained she was married to an American and held a valid permanent resident green card, the TSA agent told her, “get used to it if you’re traveling here on a green card.”

That I do believe. Having both worked for an airline, and as one who travels frequently, the caliber of TSA agents in my experience, on the whole, is less than optimum. While it may not be a fair characterization of all TSA agents, in general, they are mall cops with a better pension plan.

The attitude toward intolerance of people from other countries and inconsiderate behavior coming out of Washington clearly plays a part in encouraging TSA agents to act in such a belligerent manner.

The change over the past year is dramatic.

Now, having been a police officer for 20 years, I heard wild and incredible (in the original meaning of not credible) stories of atrocious things done by cops.  It was clear they were made up, exaggerated fantasies of someone pissed off they got arrested or received a summons.

Not that some cops don’t engage in some egregious behavior, but it is easy to detect the bullshit stories.

So again, my first reaction to the body cavity search at an airport was one of disbelief.

A slight bit of research on the TSA site and other resources and I was proven wrong. To say I was stunned that TSA agents would be doing internal body cavity searches is an understatement. But the data out there, both anecdotal and reported in the media, is stunning.

Like most government agencies, the TSA website is as clear as mud. I couldn’t find a clear and well-articulated policy on the how and why of the TSA search policy. It leaves one to suspect their internal policy is not any better.

Body cavity searches approach the level of a medical examination. To think TSA agents can be trained to do such procedures is ludicrous. I’ve never encountered a TSA agent where I thought, “this person is wasting their talents here. They should go to medical school.”

Never mind medical school, some of these people wouldn’t be accepted as cadavers.

Now I know I will hear from agents, their friends, or family members about how dedicated and wonderful some TSA agents are. I agree, most are. The problem is, with the level of qualification to become a TSA agent, the position attracts some more enamored of the perceived power invested in the position than out of a sense of purpose, which casts a dark shadow on the good agents.

What the TSA needs is a better appreciation of how the public perceives them. They have no clue.

When most people are queued up at a security checkpoint they don’t see a level of protection for their safety; they see a roadblock to travel. An inconvenience to their getting to the plane.

For most people in line at a TSA checkpoint, the agents and screening process is the equivalent of a marked police car parked on the side of the road slowing traffic and making their commute even longer.

Combine this feeling with a TSA agent who thinks he is the Guardian of the Universe, snarling commands at the great unwashed masses, and you have an agency that serves an important function thought of as bullies and incompetent fools.

Add in the possibility they can take you into a back room and probe areas usually reserved for the most intimate of encounters and resentment will only grow. Until they work on their reputation and mold these agents to be mindful of the public perception, whatever they do, no matter how critical it is to safety, will be met with incredulity and ridicule.

funny_tsa_comics_640_08“You want to look where?  I don’t freakin’ think so…”

I don’t know about you, but that is the LAST place I’m hiding anything.

 

 

(Cartoons copyright by https://izismile.com/2010/12/02/funny_tsa_comics_29_pics-8.html)

 

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