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)


To Surrender America, I hope not

I know it is easy to pick on the TSA, but it occurred to me the other day that some of the blame should fall on us for how we chose to equip them.

The latest and greatest gadget in the TSA arsenal is the full body scanner. For those of us that have been in it, or for people like me that work in the airport, you cannot help but to think of it as the “surrender” machine.

You walk in, per instructions leaving everything out of your pockets and hands, and face the “image”

It demonstrates the required position to assume prior to the initiation of the analysis. This, pardon my active imagination, looks exactly like every picture, sketch, or painting of a POW I have ever seen.

When did this country accept that each and every person that wants to fly must “surrender”.

I am sure no one ever expected TSA to stand for;

To Surrender America.

Now please do not misunderstand me, I have no problem with the technology of the search, I have no problem with the requirement of the search, my problem lies in the fact that we (the American people) signed and paid for a contract in which the best position they could come up with to fulfill the contract was the POW pose.

I saw a gentleman going through the machine the other day with a “Bataan Survivor” hat on his head. This country has already asked too much of him to make him raise his arms in anything but to return the salute of a grateful nation.

As a matter of fact, I believe Senator John McCain, of whom I have great respect, cannot comply with this requirement due to his treatment by the inbound TSA in Vietnam of a few years ago. Of course it was a little different, they did shoot him down, perhaps TSA is To Shootdown Americans?

Isn’t it reasonable for the taxpayers of this country to expect technology we pay for be capable of performing as expected without demeaning, if not ordinary citizens, at least our heroes.

So let’s reopen the contract, require that they put a picture of the Stature of Liberty with the words “The Land of the Free” and require those of us that go through those machines to high five the Old Lady.

And for those leaving these shores let it serve as a reminder of how good we have it here in the USA.

I, for one, would go through every day and be proud

Travel Stresses

I love to travel. I am, so to speak, in the business. As a consequence of my employment I get to hear a lot about things that bother people.

Delays, mostly.

The rare, thank goodness, cancellation.

Obnoxious behavior on the part of other passengers.

But I find most of that stuff to be very minor and of little LASTING concern.

What should really bother people about traveling? One of mankind’s most evil inventions, automatic toilets.

They flush at the most inopportune moment. Either causing things to appear as if I failed to allow myself enough time to get there in the first place or becoming an unwanted and unexpected Bidet.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bidet, imagine a sudden geyser of high pressure water being shot up from the toilet bowl.

Now I am genuinely concerned about this.

Aside from the general concerns of having my butt sprayed by water splashing around a toilet bowl that may not have been cleaned since, let me check the list posted by the exit, ah yes, 1965, I am more concerned that they are not really automatic but under the control of some airport employee.

At first I suspected Bathroom attendants assisted by Skycaps.

I assumed if they were stiffed on tips they alerted some bathroom attendant to look for the cheap bastard entering a bathroom and exact revenge. Think about it, skycaps work for tips mostly. Bathroom attendants are almost invisible to the traveling public. They are often treated like a class of slave Lincoln didn’t include in the Emancipation Proclamation,

Why would anyone do that job?

I thought about it. Perhaps this is why.

On your breaks, you get to control the Auto Squirter!

Complete with Disney style digital photo of the reaction.

But then I realized, this had all the earmarks of a Federal Program.

Perhaps, Homeland Security had received information about explosive coated butts.

It is not that much of a stretch, we’ve had the sneaker bomber, the underwear bomber. Isn’t the “commando” bomber the next logical step?

How would they detect this? If one unexamined ass or perhaps “smaller object” gets by, the terrorists win.

What to do? Of course, create a new, secret bureaucracy within a bureaucracy.

Which resulted in the TSA forming a Clandestine Division known as FATASS (Federal Automatic Toilet Analysis & Squirting Service).

They initiate FATASS Plan #1 or #2 as appropriate. I would suspect Federal Automatic Toilet Analysis & Squirting Service usage being a component of the Presidential Daily Briefing.

This also explains why, whenever I see an employee shuttle with TSA employees on board, they seem to number in the thousands. Yet inside, there are five handling the security lines.

I used to wonder what the other ones were doing.

No more.

Now I know. Now I am reassured. TSA has a difficult job. I also now know that within that job they have some really tough specific assignments.

We’ve all heard the unfortunate jokes about what TSA stands for,

Thousands Standing Around

Too Stupid for Arby’s

Well now we should all rest assured, that like the hidden messages in the Bible, the Koran, the grilled cheese for sale on Ebay, the Transportation Security Administration has its own hidden message.

To Serve & Assist, no

To Save America, no

To Stop Armageddon, no

TSA, say it proud but silently. They are the other Silent Service.

To Squirt Asses.

I can sleep at night, free of fear, free of Cling Ons.

I probably shouldn’t travel for awhile.