Well, the last couple of days have been pretty interesting. We're getting a lot of flak, but many, many more questions. One of our officers, a late-20's petite woman with two kids, was helping passengers load their items onto the x-ray belt today. A large gentleman, traveling alone, walked up to her and immediately started criticizing everything the TSA is doing. When she tried to explain our procedures, he called her a Nazi. When she said she didn't like that term, he called her a whore. When she attempted to load his shoes onto the x-ray belt, he grabbed them out of her hands and threw them into the x-ray tunnel. This woman is one of the sweetest people I've ever met and she went home today bawling her eyes out. I was standing at the walk-through metal detector yesterday and a little old lady came through with her whole body shaking, then stopped, spread her arms and said "I've been watching the news... what are you going to do to me?" with this horrible, terrified look on her face. I told her we weren't the Gestapo, not to believe everything she sees on the news, and to have a nice flight.
So you will perhaps forgive me if I'm galactically pissed off right this second.
Deacon, you say that I'm showing a level of conviction not seen in the "real world." There are two guys on this forum who believe so strongly that TSA should be dissolved that they would rather a plane a month be destroyed by a terrorist attack than have us stick around. Cid says that we shouldn't give terrorists a passing thought, that we should continue to live our lives like they don't exist. CS22 is willing to brave arrest to support his convictions, and you yourself say you intend to walk through the metal detector and push your way through our officers because you don't think our procedures are legal. Don't you dare
tell me that conviction on my level doesn't exist in the real world just because I disagree with you, especially with four other people making their own strong convictions known right here. Disagree if you want; that's what this forum is for, but don't tell me that my point of view is pie-in-the-sky so that you don't have to engage it on an authentic level. That's just intellectual cowardice.
Well, I feel much better.
As to the guerrilla marketing comment, I really don't see Real Life Comics as a prime target for the US Government to try to subvert people to their New World Order Agenda. I am indeed who I say I am and I do indeed believe what I say I do. I am also not the only one who believes what I do, even at my own airport. If you can't accept that someone could think this way, then I can't really do anything for you.
As to TSA operating outside normal legal and constitutional restrictions, we don't. Most government law enforcement agencies have the authority to do so in the case of terrorism, and we can debate the merit of that in another thread. However, as I have previously stated, TSA is not a law-enforcement agency. As to having your rights infringed upon if you have a choice of "go through TSA's procedures or don't fly," you don't have a constitutional right to fly. When you purchase a plane ticket, you acquire a right that is more of a license or a permission to board the airline's aircraft. That right is subject to following rules and procedures required by the airline for their passengers. You are required by the airline to go through screening. I am not
going to try to explain this again. If you don't think that the airline's policies (whether they were mandated/proposed by the federal government or not), you can show your protest by writing in and telling them to de-federalize (which means ceasing to accept government subsidies and losing federal employee backing like federal air traffic controllers, local and/or state LEOs on the premises, and yes, the TSA), or you can fly general aviation, which is not subject to TSA policy. I did some looking and yes, especially if you want to go overseas, general aviation is more expensive. Deal with it. Standing up for your convictions has a cost; I'm seeing it on my end just like you're seeing it on yours.
The reason that TSA officers are rarely (though they have been) prosecuted for assault is because the vast majority of the time this stuff shows up on the news it's someone exaggerating and looking for 15 minutes of fame and when they find out that there's CCTV footage they back off. If there is a genuine assault and no one is prosecuted, then it's because no one pressed charges. This goes both ways. It is not at all uncommon for a TSO to be physically assaulted in the course of their job; we rarely press charges because it's just not worth the hassle- especially considering how the press feels about us to start with. I for one am not up to having my family and my co-workers incessantly harassed by Anderson Cooper just because a guy gave me a belt or a shove when I tried to screen him. As to your two examples, TSA policy does not allow touching without consent, but TSOs don't have to ask for your direct consent before screening you, because you've already given implied consent by entering the checkpoint. See the court case I posted. As to detaining people, TSA is only allowed to detain someone for the reasonable amount of time it would take for LEOs to be contacted and for them to arrive. Even in that case, as I said before, we are not allowed to physically detain anyone- if someone runs, the most we can do is maintain visual contact so we can direct the LEOs.
I like your generalizations of us. I looked around the screening checkpoint today when we had some extra people up and took stock. We had three ex-military (one retirement age), a former cop from Oakland, CA, a former cop from Rhode Island, a former corrections officer, and three people without prior government employment experience. Everyone on the checkpoint but myself had a college degree. The two besides myself without previous gov't experience were immigrants (one from Colombia and one from El Salvador) who busted their asses to get to this country, get their degrees, and get jobs that (as they both have put it to me) let them serve the country that gave them a better life. Between the nine of us we could interpret for passengers who spoke English, Spanish, Portugese, Vietnamese, and Japanese. Now, admittedly, this is probably not a representative sample of all TSOs all over the country, but I also doubt that your generalizations are accurate. I've flown through a dozen airports in this country. My wife has several joint replacements (rheumatoid arthritis) and the worst she's ever said to me is that she was kept waiting for too long when she was sent to secondary screening.
The police officers that would arrest you would most likely be local LEOs. They are the most commonly-used type for commercial airports. As to the charges, circumventing airport security is a criminal charge in and of itself, both in commercial and general aviation, and the fines are pretty stiff. Depending on what you were carrying (gun, knife, etc), you would be charged with either attempting to carry a prohibited item onto a plane or attempted assault, depending on what you did after you got through. Depending on how you got through (whether you punched or shoved some people, for example), you would be charged with assault. There would also likely be a trespassing charge. Then there would be civil suits from any airline that had a flight delayed because of the checkpoint being shut down, if you were considered enough of a threat to warrant such a thing. Those suits could be for any amount; it just depends on how long it takes to find you and re-secure the area. I'm not sure which of the aforementioned charges would be state, local, and federal, but there would likely be a mix of them. And the LEOs are there to protect you from assault. If you are assaulted, call them.
Minx, I 100% understand your feelings. You can't know for sure if the person screening your daughter is a pervert. However, that same logic could apply to a police officer, or a doctor, or anyone else who might come into contact with her. And before someone points it out, I know- doctor and TSO are two totally different jobs. That says nothing about the mental state of the person doing the job. The best advice I can give you is, indeed, to say that the people screening her are looking for bad guys, and that those bad guys could look like any one of us, and that those bad guys are bad enough that they would be willing to sacrifice their own children to do what they want to do. That's kind of a horrible thing to tell a child, but it's the truth, and therefore it's the best I can come up with. As an aside, if your daughter is past the age of infancy, the same-gender screening rule should apply to her. Like you said, you don't know if that's a comfort, but another thing to do is to engage the TSO performing the screening in conversation. We are required to tell you exactly what we are going to do, and if you don't get the explanation, ask for it. You can also request that a supervisor be present when your child is being screened. And if you have a suspicion that the procedure is not being performed with only official and professional intentions, report it. I'm of the opinion that any bastard who molests a child should rot in jail, but someone abusing a position of public trust to do it... that's even worse.
As for wearing a bomb vest into a security checkpoint and blowing it there... well, nothing TSA does. That's outside our jurisdiction. Take it up with law enforcement if you think they're not doing enough.
And CS22, I heard those stories on the news. The officer (and Deacon, if you hate that term, I think the colloquial term is "screener") who busted the urine bag did not follow procedure at all. If the story about removing the artificial breast is true, that screener also didn't follow our procedures. We are not supposed to require anyone to remove medical devices. As I have said before, there have been bombs placed in fake breasts. The Chechen separatist women who attacked the Metro station in Moscow this year used them. However, our procedures allow us to screen for that kind of thing without requiring people to remove those devices. And it sounds to me like the officer dealing with the urine bag just didn't listen, when listening is kind of our job. We've received briefings on the urine bag case, and though nothing has been said to us about it, I'd bet that both of the above mentioned officers will lose their jobs.
I finally found the court case I looked up shortly after taking the job. This case and its associated references clarify to me the constitutionality of TSA's procedures. http://openjurist.org/410/f3d/612/unite ... -v-marquez
The initial case in the references (United States vs. Davis, from 1973), establishes the precedent for implied consent concerning airport searches.