After “routine” TSA screening, one passenger says: never again!


Editor’s Note: The following post uses anatomical terms to describe reproductive organs and may not be suitable for all audiences.

Kimberly Marcus is an educational consultant from Alfred, N.Y., who describes herself as a law-abiding citizen. Yet she says the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has treated her worse than a convicted felon, sexually assaulting her and “repeatedly touching my private areas.”

Marcus’ crime? Failing its controversial full-body scan as she recently tried to board her flight at the Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville, Tenn.

Is this another in a series of sad and troubling stories about the agency assigned to protect our transportation systems? Yes, but there’s a twist. This incident was transformative for Marcus — and maybe for me. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

“I am an average American woman, mother, teacher and college administrator,” she says. “I am a law-abiding citizen.”

What happened to her at the airport, however, should be against the law.

She explains:

I “failed” going through millimeter wave detection. I was pulled out for a very thorough pat-down.

An agent felt up my leg until she “met resistance.” Several times. The agent also felt across the front of me with her fingertips.

This routine is not at all routine or acceptable to me, and I found what would be sexual assault in other contexts to be very disturbing and upsetting.

Marcus felt she had no choice but to comply.

Once passengers are in the TSA area, there is no longer any choice, and I am aware of instances where passengers have been physically harmed or treated more aggressively for objecting to any TSA procedures.

I am sure many would say what happened to me is no big deal, just the post-9/11 price we must pay to be safe in the skies. I say there will be an even bigger price to pay for giving up our rights, freedoms and dignity, particularly 4th Amendment in this case.


For her, it was a transformative moment. With a flick of a blue-gloved hand, she turned from citizen to activist. After the pat-down ended, she stood with people like Lisa Simeone and Sommer Gentry, vowing to never rest until the government stopped these invasive searches.

“I was sexually assaulted and touched repeatedly in the private areas multiple times by the TSA agent during a routine pat-down,” she told me. “Preservation of civil rights, human rights, and foundational freedoms is very important if we are to remain intact as a nation.”

And so began her letter-writing campaign — the White House, the TSA, Congress, and anyone else who would listen to her.

“I want change to undo all the damage done to our basic human rights,” she says. “I demand that my representative government start listening to people.”

Marcus has vowed to not fly until the TSA stops what it calls “routine” pat-downs and scans.

I would quit flying, too, if I could. I opt out of the TSA scanners for a variety of reasons when I fly (read my frequently asked questions about the TSA for my reasons).

But my last pat-down stands out. It was San Antonio, Texas, several weeks ago. The agent would not make eye contact with me and he moved quickly to perform his pat-down. When he slid his fingers up my pant leg, he did it so carelessly and quickly that I doubled over in pain when he hit my testicles — or, in TSA parlance, “met resistance.”

There is no credible evidence that tapping my testicles or rubbing against Marcus’ labia is improving airport security.

None. Whatsoever.

So here’s my question: Why aren’t we standing with Marcus? What is stopping us from saying the government has no business treating us worse than criminals when we try to fly? What are we afraid of?

TSA pat-downs are:

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • Karen Cummings

    Agree completely — here’s an article I wrote way back in 2013 wondering why we’re going crazy about our 2nd Amendment rights, but not our 4th Amendment rights. https://travelersunited.org/columns/4th-amendment-vs-2nd-amendment-meekness-vs-rage/

  • Altosk

    TSA is a huge gummit agency that is now unionized.

    They aren’t going anywhere and they won’t clean up their act.
    Why? Congressmen and other important gummit officials don’t get subjected to their abuses. Nothing will change. Ever.

  • AJPeabody

    The question is irrelevant. The TSA and their foreign equivalents have so changed airports that they now are potential abettors of terrorism. We now have long serpentine lines of tightly packed travelers, all potential victims of a terrorist with a suitcase-sized bomb. The bombing in Brussels involved no airplane and occurred before any screening. In Belgium, the suitcases killed many, injured many, and closed the airport for many days.

    No screening can prevent a bomb in the line awaiting screening. Having hourlong waits to be screened by the TSA means that the TSA line is the obvious target. By the time one’s privates are either irradiated or fondled, the risk is over.

    It is irrational to continue a screening process that increases insecurity. The method of screening is of no consequence.

  • AAGK

    This is why. I have failed the regular machine and been pat down many times. It is not invasive, done by a female, takes 20 seconds but they do actually pat you down- otherwise there would be no point. They do check under your bra, they do pat up and down your legs and behind. It is not sexual at all. While I have heard of abuse, and in those instances it was supported by airport videos, I have heard nothing sexual or inappropriate here. For a well adjusted person, it is simple process and if any touch feels wrong, you immediately break contact with agent- not comply. This is the kind of complaint that gets people fired instantly and I see she identified the small airport, so I hope this is true and not about to ruin the life of an innocent person doing their job.

  • JewelEyed

    I feel really bad for Chris. A TSA agent should never injure you during a patdown. Ever.

  • JewelEyed

    I can’t say I’ve ever had this happen to me, though I’ve only failed the scanner twice. Once was a fold in the pantleg of my flare jeans, which was resolved in seconds by checking my leg near the ankle. The other was a necklace that I forgot to take off. The female agent was about to search me, but the older, male agent said that it was obviously the necklace because it was sitting exposed, over the neckline of my clothes and told me to go on. However, I also pack my bra and my real shoes in my carry-on and wear a shelf bra top and a pair of flip flops or ballet flats through security. I wear a belt because I really need one, but other than that and my hoodie, they’re the only items of clothes I have to take off because of metal. I’m not sure what tripped the alarm in the LW’s case, but I’m very sorry if what she went through made her feel unsafe. I’m also sorry that you were injured during your search, Chris. That should never happen.

  • Regina Litman

    What’s Kabuki? Please answer here rather than with a defining link or, even worse, a suggestion that I should go Google it. Others may be wondering it, too, so it would be good to have this in one place.

    Also, who are Lisa Simeone and Sommer Gentry? Usually, you’re good about making references to other cases clickable links so that we’d know their stories, too.

    Thanks in advance for any answers anyone can give me here.

  • LFH0

    I think that there are two primary reasons for this nonsense. First, a majority of people place timeliness of travel ahead of privacy invasion. They would rather comply with these demands than to refuse acquiescence and possibly “miss” a flight or threaten the air carriers with the use of non-air carriage. Second, a substantial number of people, if not a majority, drink the Kool-Aid. Between these two bases, the TSA has a lock on their invasiveness.

  • Reporter1

    I’m really not sure why you couldn’t look it up yourself. Kind of weird. But Kabuki is “traditional Japanese popular drama with singing and dancing performed in a highly stylized manner.”

  • MarkKelling

    OK, I read your FAQ pointed to where you claim to have your reasons for opting out. I see many excellent tips for dealing with the TSA and the stress they cause, but nothing in there says this is why you yourself personally prefer the pat down to going through the scanner.

  • Amy Alkon

    Here’s my 2012 article about what was done to me — how a TSA worker was not satisfied with violating my Fourth Amendment rights but had to go after my First Amendment rights also. (First Amendment lawyer Marc J. Randazza make her attempt to get $500K out of me go away with his pro bono defense.) I’m part of the crowd at TSA Newsblog with Lisa Simeone and Sommer Gentry. Sadly, too many Americans do nothing and say nothing, which is why this charade of “security” continues: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/tsa-335352-agent-rights.html

  • Amy Alkon

    Sommer and Lisa are my colleagues at TSA News Blog — and fierce fighters against the rights violations of the TSA: http://tsanewsblog.com

  • Rebecca

    There is a well I known study about authority, where participants thought they were giving test subjects increasingly painful electric shocks when they answered questions incorrectly. With someone there to goad them and give them unchecked authority, participants overwhelmingly gave stronger and stronger shocks, despite hearing cries of pain and clear warnings that they would injure the test subjects.

    This is exactly what’s happened with these TSA agents. Their superiors inflate their importance and authority. In this type of culture, study after study has shown the agents will subject people to increasingly invasive, violent and unnecessary searches. The TSA agents will do things and say things they wouldn’t ordinarily do, in their private lives, as part of a group in uniform. Sadly, human nature makes this pretty much unstoppable. Unless we don’t allow it in the first place.

  • There’s another side to this question: nobody likes the TSA patdown, but if people weren’t so irrationally afraid of using the body scanners, there would be much less need for the secondary search. That wouldn’t have helped in this case, though.

    Yes, my fix for the problem would be to subject ALL travelers to the TSA. No exemptions for Congress and officials.

  • AAGK

    I skipped ahead to my comment and didn’t read the other part of the article. Oops. Of course no one should be injured. Anyone who hurts a passenger must be disciplined, terminated and/or retrained. The TSA wants our respect and we can have high standards for their professionalism as well.

  • John Keahey

    We read, over and over, your rants about TSA, Chris. But not once have I read how you think the system should be changed. Could you please clue your readers in on how you would improve the system?

  • Travelnut

    You’re too nice.

  • Reporter1

    LOL, thanks

  • Travelnut

    Chris, so sorry that happened to you. I will say that I live in San Antonio (and why did we not meet for lunch? LOL); I fly out of SAT a few times a year, not exactly a frequent flier but I have never experienced our TSA employees to be anything but nice. I think this was an unfortunate one-off. I hope you said something.

  • MF

    Alt – true that, ah feel yer snark, and share your cynicism. Perhaps the TSA represents just the another step of turning ‘merica into the blatant police state that it is already becoming? The TSA has the authority to screen other modes of transportation, like trains & cars, as well as other venues like football games. Just wait for another bout of terrorism & they will become ubiquitous.

  • MF

    Chris as a member of the testosterone clan, ‘ah feel your pain’. This is assault under color of authority, and you are well aware that a complaint would just result in more double-speak whitewash. Perhaps your experience was punitive in nature, based on your comments about the TSA as a journalist? I wonder what a F.O.I. request to the TSA on you would turn up?

  • llandyw

    I have had pat-downs before. Injury of left arm made it so I couldn’t place it in the position required for the scanner. This was explained to one of their personnel well before I reached the scanner or had my suitcase/laptop enter the machine.

    It was only a few extra seconds for someone to be there to do a hand swab and verify it after I passed through the metal detector. I don’t think more than 1 extra person passed through the scanner.

    The pat-down was prior to that one, but I had not a single issue with any of those working there. Only waited a few minutes for someone to handle it.

  • C Schwartz

    If someone objects to routine pat downs and scans, what do they propose? I travel extensively, and have had to have pat downs and have never had anything inappropriate. I have also been patted down in Germany, Israel, and Turkey. No one should be hurt during a screening.

  • AMA

    I’ve had plenty of pat-downs, and none of them were hostile or offensive (I’m a petite woman, if that makes any difference.) The issue is, neither the scanners nor the pat-downs do a damned bit of good. They miss guns, knives, bottles of liquids, and other weapons ALL THE TIME. My friend flew from LAX to the USVI to meet me. When she was unpacking in our room, she started laughing and pulled out a 12-inch hunting knife from her carry-on bag from her last camping trip. The TSA are idiots and should be disbanded. We should hire the Israelis to take over our security.

  • ChelseaGirl

    I often request a pat down because I have had so many x-rays in my life that I don’t want to be exposed to any more than I have to. Yes, they do touch around your breasts and between your thighs, because they have to. The agent has always told me exactly what she is going to do before she does it, and I have never felt violated. It’s just a job and I’m sure most of them aren’t getting a thrill from it. Of course, the agent who hurt you was obviously very careless and that is truly awful. But I don’t think that represents the typical experience.

  • RightNow9435

    I have also stopped flying, due to a # of factors(in nearly all cases, cheaper to drive, too many fees), but the major one is all the issues with the TSA.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    Here’s why. In a nutshell, the 4th amendment has no business constituency or built-in cohesive group.
    1) The first amendment has the Press (which kowtows to the TSA and ignores the 4th amendment….unless the press is illegally searched such as what happened to the NY Times office).
    2) The 2nd amendment has the gun lobbyists…but it is also a natural citizen constituency since we have many hunters (although declining) in our nation.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    Actually, many in Congress are subjected to the TSA. Rand Paul missed a flight because of the TSA, Senator Murkowski acts like she has Stockholm’s Syndrome as she originally equated it to a “love pat” but then a year ago admitted it might seem inappropriate.

    Overall, no one in Congress will do anything about the TSA…..

  • TestJeff Pierce

    You are one of the people who is OK with people in wheelchairs being touched on their sexual organs. Thanks, the county of Homeland needs supporters like you.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    Many people are happy to assume a felon position and surrender with their arms up and legs spread. Some of us think this might be unconstitutional as the TSA scanners are inch-by-inch examination of our bodies through clothing….and unlike metal detectors which you can say at least are 90%+ accurate in finding metal, the scanners do not IDENTIFY what they think they found….out of every scan ever performed in the US, which is 450 million a year or more at this point…the scanner ‘alarms’ have found ZERO instances of plastic explosives….the sole justification used by the TSA to push unconstitutional searches on Americans.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    There is no exemption for most of Congress, FYI. And, in this case, the traveler assumed the ‘surrender position’ and was flagged with a false alarm, which leads to touching private parts through clothing. Not a great American value….

  • TestJeff Pierce

    I am happy to answer your question. Simply return to 2002 screening which no one complained about…..metal detectors (and wands) for primary screening, shoes on, reasonable liquids allowed. Simple.

    There have been no differences in security effectiveness for airline passengers since before the scope and grope in 2010 and after.

    The real reason is that true airline passengers on American domestic flights with working non-metallic bombs are basically non-existent. The risk is too low to measure. Any true terrorist (which don’t really exist at measurable numbers) would likely find a way to penetrate today’s security anyway, since the TSA fails up to 95% of its active testing.

    2002 Screening…that is the answer.

    Lines would be halfed or more, and more lanes could be used.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    If you read the article again, you might notice that pat downs – when done to TSA regulations – require passengers to have their penises, testicles, and female breasts touched by the hands of TSA clerks, through clothing.

    We send people to jail for this in all other circumstances.

    You may prefer sexual organ touching, but free countries generally don’t put at that at the top of their values.

  • I would raise “HOLY HE**” were I to get one of those treatments in my flying experience. No excuse for any of that!!!! I had breast cancer surgery and tell them what they are “feeling” is made out of rubber. Some of those people go too far!!!!

  • Steven Reed Sr.

    Yep found out about their searches at Stadiums once when I went to Arrowhead to watch the Cheifs play the Vikes, car was searched on way into the lot and we were patted down on the way into the Stadium, men and women all wearing TSA shirts and jackets, they are not law enforcement so why do we put up with their crap?

  • I had breast surgery yeas ago and have no breasts. I tell them up front I wear pros-
    theses so they don’t wonder why I “feel different” than others. Usually works! I do
    embarrass them with my comment — not whispered!!!!

  • MarieTD

    I had the intimate pat down at Heathrow. I was made to feel like just a piece of meat. I’m in my Seventies. I’m in full agreement with those who say these examinations go way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable. It was done by two females, who refused to talk to me or answer any of my questions. It took over five minutes, most of which was wasted in their questioning each other on why they couldn’t figure out why I was setting off their wand alarms.

  • KarlaKatz

    The 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. The Founders were practically verbose about the right of the citizenry to protect itself from the possibility that government would one day become tyrannical.

  • moonshin

    i fail the metal detectors all the time due to an implant. several years ago i got a pat down in new orleans that was one for the record books. it took 15 minutes of teh agent running his gloved hands over my arms so forcefully that he was pulling my arm hair out. after 15 minuted my arms got tired an i lowered them. he yelled at me that he hadnt told me to lower them.
    he was using me as a test subject to train a new officer. I complained to the TSA in writing but of course never heard back.

    since that incident i refuse to fly into new orleans and drive instead.

  • Judge Jury

    Sounds like a cushy job for an ex-con.

  • Jim Daniel

    “I almost never fly so I don’t care” falls right in with comments such as “I’m not Jewish so I don’t care what the Nazis do.”

    We as a people must stand up to arbitrary and abusive tyranny.

    We as people must start to ask why the TSA has purchased large numbers of weapons and large amounts of ammunition.

    Discussions of the 2nd and 4th amendment notwithstanding, there needs to be a 28th amendment that precludes Congress form passing laws to which they are not subject. Members of Congress simply make a phone call and walk right past the TSA. “WE ARE OMNIPOTENT, WE ARE THE RULING CLASS.”

  • AAGK

    That is a nightmare. I definitely would not want to be a test subject, unless they are testing first class lie flat seats:)

  • Peter

    Sorry to hear about your experience Chris.

    Reminds me of the 2012 story where a man claimed he was deliberately hit in the groin as punishment by a TSA agent. What kind of country have we become when you can be assaulted by a Federal agent with no recourse?

  • anc1entmar1ner

    Always opt out of the naked scanners and send complaints to TSA, your congressperson, each of your senators and the White House. Include the airport administration if you can find a contact. If everyone would opt out of the scanners we could make them go away.

  • James

    Actually, the second amendment is more to provide whites with a defense against a slave uprising.

  • JimLoomis

    I have long since found a solution that works for me and, in fact, makes travel actually enjoyable, even cross-country: Amtrak.:

  • Peter

    Is anyone else troubled by the TSA’s 95% failure rate, yet they continue hurting and abusing innocent travellers. Can the TSA name a single threat that they stopped with a pat down? One?

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/investigation-breaches-us-airports-allowed-weapons-through-n367851

  • James

    Some people have issues with search engines.

  • KarlaKatz

    that’s the best laugh I’ve had in years! Thanks! I needed a good one today.

  • Carchar

    Roporter1 answered your question correctly. I’m just not sure why those who post, saying that what TSA does is Kabuki Theater, need to downgrade and insult Kabuki.

  • James

    I believe you are thinking of the Milgram Experiment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

    Another example is the Stanford Prison Experiment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

  • James

    I’ve cut back significantly, and almost always drive if it is less than 600 miles. The exceptions being when it is required for work.

  • James

    The is the real TSA problem: They are “fighting the last war.”

    Terrorists take over planes with box-cutters/knives: All sharp objects banned.
    Terrorist attempts a bombing with weapon under clothes: “Naked” body scanners.
    Terrorist attempts bombing with bomb hidden in shoe: Everybody takes off their shoes.

    Terrorist tries something new: Rights restricted.

    This is why I note that the terrorists have won.

  • James

    Actually, there is a constituency against the 4th Amendment — companies like Rapiscan (who make the scanners) which hired Micheal Chertoff, the homeland security secretary under Bush.

  • pauletteb

    Oh, please! I have NEVER been treated rudely by any TSA agent (probably jinxing myself), and they were extremely helpful when I was wearing a boot because of a broken foot. I asked . . . politely . . . if I needed to remove the boot, and the agent said no, they would just swab it. Besides, the woman says she “failed” the initial scan. Why? In my opinion, she totally overreacted.

  • pauletteb

    AAGK said no such thing!

  • cscasi

    Security at many of the ball games are not law enforcement, so do you put up with them? Probably, because they serve a purpose, just as does the TSA. I hate standing in long lines and going through detectors and/or pat downs, but in today’s world, it seems to have become more the norm; all in the name of public safety. Not saying rightly or wrongly, just a fact of life. And in any large company (i.e. TSA) there are great, people, good people, not so good people and terrible people working for it.

  • cscasi

    Did you ever figure out what was setting off their wands? In lieu of these pat downs most times done when you set off an alarm, what would you suggest be done to ensure you are not carrying something harmful concealed upon your person?

  • Peter

    Like many people, until it happens to you, you will not believe it’s a problem. Security theatre doesn’t protect us, it is designed to make the sheep “feel” safe.

    How does having TSA lines of 2-3 hours, with hundreds or thousands of people tightly packed in unsecure areas makes us “safer”? People who understand risk and security know it is just creating a very appealing soft target.

  • cscasi

    I cannot vote either way for the above poll. I cannot say 100% that it is “an effective way to protect us from terrorism”, because I know that nothing is 100% foolproof. Neither can I vote that it is a “Pure security circus, if not sexual assault” even though sometimes I am not happy with the time it takes not how things seem to be going, I have never felt like it was a “sexual assault” when I received a pat down because I set off an alarm.
    It is a sad fact of life that we find ourselves in these situations. None of us asked for the ever increasing terrorism we are seeing in the world. But, whenever terrorism happens in the sky, or on the ground, there is always such a hue and cry about why this happened and why somebody or some entity did not prevent it. Unfortunately, here we find ourselves. Most do not like what we face these days, but many put up with it in order to get on with their lives. Still, we have not come up with a better mousetrap, yet!
    I have learned in life, nothing is perfect and sometimes the “cure” seems worse than doing nothing at all. So, in all seriousness, I would ask all of you, what do you suggest as a better way or ways to make “security” function better; because you know it is not going away any time soon.

  • John Grier

    TSA have not stopped one terrorist. Profiling would be much more efficient.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    If planes crashing into buildings is the concern, the steel cockpit door protects against any non-pilot.

    If explosives (or weapons) killing people is the justification for TSA, why doesn’t TSA also protect our trains, intercity and local buses, subway systems, sports stadium, shopping malls, theaters, cinemas, coffee shops, supermarkets, etc.

    Terrorists can attack any of those places more easily than airplanes. Once the concern over planes being guided missiles (as on 9/11) is overcome, any security more than a metal detector that creates long lines just creates a more attractive target as in Brussels, but doesn’t make anyone safer by a single iota.

    TSA should be replaced with simple metal detectors to prevent the easiest and craziest terrorists (with bag scanning). For the rest, freedom requires tradeoffs. One is a risk above zero, but that risk can happen anywhere.

    Also, if 1.73 million people fly each day, and each person is delayed an average of 30 minutes by TSA or delays due to TSA (and the average person lives 90 years), then the equivalent of one entire human life is wasted by TSA every day, or 365 human lives are wasted every year.

  • James

    Yes, that purpose is to enhance sales of drinks, etc, inside the ball park since you are not allowed to bring in even a bottle of water.

  • AAGK

    Agreed. Some of the posts in this thread have bordered on uncivilized.

  • AAGK

    Maybe this should be followed up by a post on a Walt Disney:). I should have heeded the warning. This topic seems to have brought out some unpleasantness.

  • Tricia K

    As someone who has not one but four artificial joints, I dread airports that don’t have whole body scanners. I put off getting pre-check until MSP finally had the scanners for the pre-check line. When I have to use a metal detector, I tell them ahead of time that I am going to set it off and why. Doesn’t matter. When you “fail” a preliminary screening, you get a much more aggressive pat down than you would if you just asked for a pat down in the first place. While I wouldn’t personally call it sexual abuse, mine have been pretty aggressive, with a firm hand up into my female parts and for some reason, an inspection of my underwear needs to be part of it as well. They are supposed to just roll your waistband down and make sure but several times they have pulled my waistband back and looked down into my pants. Good thing I had nice underwear on (I was so upset after one particular screening that my husband took me to the Delta lounge to get a shot of whiskey at 9 in the morning). They are usually pretty good about using the back of their hand for the bra areas and I appreciate it but there has to be a more humane way to handle this, especially when you set the scanner off due to a medical device. I dreaded flying to Europe for the first time a few years ago because I knew they didn’t use the scanner and I could have language issues as well. They couldn’t have been nicer. They were exceptionally kind in Rome and Dublin (where one agent carefully explained everything, asked where she needed to be extra gentle and even apologized for the intrusion. Not once did I feel a hand up in inappropriate places. Most of our current TSA screenings are much like the Emporer’s New Clothes. There are still far too many airport employees and cargo that doesn’t face any screening. While we are focusing everything on grandmothers in depends and people with artificial joints, real risks continue. And I will never understand why we pay so little to people who are supposed to be on the front line of our nation’s security. You definitely get what you pay for.

  • Tricia K

    While I don’t agree with calling it sexual abuse, I’ve been groped pretty aggressively and it has never been the quick little pat down you have experienced. I have bilateral knee replacements as well as bilateral jaw replacements. I will set off the metal detector each and every time I go through and there is nothing I can do to change that. Doctors used to give patients like me a card to carry that verified the medical device. Some even had actual X-rays on the back, but they don’t issue the cards anymore because the TSA won’t even look at them.

  • Tricia K

    As a somewhat bionic woman (four titanium joints) I appreciate your efforts. I had one screening where I was really glad I had on pants and not a skirt. Another time, I travelled with my daughter after she had major knee surgery. We didn’t know we could ask for a wheelchair before security. She had a big brace and was not allowed any weight on her leg. They had her standing for 5-10 minutes and still hadn’t done their screening. I asked them for a chair and they ignored me. When I tried to move her to a bench, they threatened me. I was begging for a chair for her and they got in my face, pushed me back told me to go get her something to eat. By this point, my daughter was sobbing out of pain and fear that I was going to get arrested. I have never once protested about my own pat downs out of fear of retribution.

  • Tricia K

    A good example of the first is on an episode of Law and Order SVU with Robin Williams that came out a few years before he died.

  • Tricia K

    I think it’s fair to criticize the large majority who say “anything to keep us safe” and don’t ever ask for proof that it does. As for me and millions of others who have joint implants or medical devices, this is something we have to deal with every time we fly and our circumstances are unlikely to change. I’ve been very upset with pat downs I’ve received that were too aggressive, even before we got to the genitals. I don’t say anything because I fear retribution. Driving isn’t a good option either because of the time and distance, not to mention knee pain.

  • AAGK

    This should never happen. I never want to be touched by a stranger. If a pat down is longer than 10 seconds and is aggressive, painful or something else weird, that employee should be suspended immediately, the tapes must be reviewed and a supervisor notified, along with a complaint. It is our duty to do this and protect others.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Have you ever actually complained? I have. And I was the one who was screamed at, interrogated, threatened with ejection, and then had to be thoroughly groped all over again.

    Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. Do some research. There are literally thousands of credible reports of horrific abuses during TSA “pat-downs”.

  • LeeAnneClark

    “Unpleasantness”? If you’d been sexually assaulted at the airport, as so many of us have, you might choose a different term.

    My assault was not just “unpleasant”. It was horrific, disgusting, and traumatizing.

  • AAGK

    I hope you called the police and had this person arrested. This sounds traumatic.

  • LeeAnneClark

    The police were THERE! The watched the whole thing! The airport police are not there to protect he passengers. They are there to support the TSA. And yes, it WAS traumatic. But I had no choice but to submit to it, as I really needed to get on that plane. And I wasn’t getting on it unless I allowed this brutal woman to touch my genitals.

  • AAGK

    James is right to an extent. The 2nd amendment did come from a fear of uprisings. Not necessarily by slaves, however, simply armed mobs. Karla is wrong re: the origins.

  • AAGK

    I agree.

  • KarlaKatz

    @AAGK:disqus … Pretty obvious your sources are Wiki-driven. I prefer to garner information directly from the contemporaneous diaries and notes of those who actually wrote the Constitution, and its Amendments therein.

  • AAGK

    It is called school. I don’t know what wiki driven means.

  • AAGK

    Quite the photo, btw.

  • KarlaKatz

    ;)…. mother hates it! TSA gals take their good old time, giving me the old “pat down” routine… Even when I wear an old ballcap, snarky tennies, and cracked sunglasses. :-)

  • Susan Richart

    20 seconds? I think not for many people for whom a “pat down” becomes a prolonged ordeal.

    As for “For a well adjusted person, it is simple process and if any touch feels
    wrong, you immediately break contact with agent- not comply.” I suggest that you try to break contact with a screener and see what happens to you.

    “Fired instantly”? In what world do you live?

    And as for your “well adjusted person” comment, that is totally demeaning and a slap in the face to all the thousands of people who are totally uncomfortable being touch in any many by a stranger.

  • AAGK

    It is not supposed to be a “prolonged ordeal.” That was my point in the first instance. If it goes longer than that then you need to stop the search, and request a different agent. (I am not certain about the time I used but as soon as it feels too long). This is sound advice.

  • AAGK

    If an agent tries to physically restrain you when you try to break away, that is an assault. You do not need to submit. Fears of missing the flight should not fool you into a false sense of urgency. This does not mean that complying to illegal/irresponsible touching makes it any less offensive. Of course you should report it after the fact, however, the best course of action is to try and avoid it completely. I am sorry my post triggered so many folks and I am sympathetic. You have voices and use them here. Use them at the airport. Who cares if you miss the flight. Call 911 if you are scared.

  • AAGK

    Replace fired instantly with removed from their job until the matter is sorted. I live in NYC and assure you that I know.

  • C Schwartz

    Have you ever been screened in Israel? I went through secondary screening — but unlike some I was subject to a strip search.

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