Are TSA agents heroes?

Two TSA agents who reportedly thwarted a passenger kidnapping in Miami recently are being hailed as heroes by the mainstream media.

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It’s an irresistible man-bites-dog story for a slow news day: The “sharp-eyed” screeners saw a suspicious-looking passenger traveling alongside two men and, thanks to their terror training, knew what they had to do.

“When she came closer I realized she was black and blue on both sides of her face, her forehead,” one of the screeners told a TV station (see video, above). “I noticed her shoulder looked like she had a big rug burn.”

The TSA agents pulled the passengers out of line and reported them to law enforcement authorities. As it turns out, they’d stumbled into something of a love triangle. The woman, men, and two other female passengers were on vacation in Miami and one of the women accused the passenger of sleeping with her boyfriend.

The passenger reportedly was beaten, forced to withdraw money from an ATM and threatened.

“I believe we saved her life that day,” one of the agents said.

That may be true, but TSA apologists, aided by a bored establishment media, are leveraging this incident to justify the billions spent on airport security every year. They shouldn’t be allowed to.

No one’s saying the agents didn’t do good work, and they may have even saved this passenger’s life. But credit their terrorist training? Call them heroes?

Sorry, no can do.

When a screener selflessly throws himself over a terrorist bomb in order to save the lives of others, that’s when I’ll use the word “hero.” When an agent wrests a loaded firearm from the hands of a criminal who is about to mow down a crowd of passengers, I’ll have no problem using the “H” word.

Those of you who just wish critics like me would stop being so critical of the agency assigned to protect America’s transportation systems are probably wondering: What would make me give the TSA an “attaboy”?

Stop a terrorist or two. I might be willing to call an agent a hero if he actually prevented a bona fide holy warrior from blowing up a plane. But to date, the TSA hasn’t stopped a single terrorist, at least that we know of. And you know they’d be broadcasting that news if it ever happened. Bonus points for drama on this one — if it involves a Hollywood ending in which someone’s shot, incinerated or there’s a high-speed car chase, the TSA will get a big thumbs-up from yours truly.

Take a stand. Real heroes have principles, and that’s what leads to their heroics. Wouldn’t it have been something if large segments of the TSA workforce had refused to comply with Washington’s order to either scan or frisk their passengers two years ago? Or that they balked at the new “enhanced” pat-down procedures implemented from above, on the grounds that they violated the Fourth Amendment? People like that would be worthy of the label “heroes,” in my book.

Go the extra mile. When I see an agent exercising common courtesy, I’m impressed. I remember traveling with my seven-year-old son a few months ago, and I was dragging several bags out to the airport arrivals area while making sure my son stayed out of trouble at the same time (not an easy task). An off-duty agent opened the door for me and helped me carry one of my suitcases to the curb. Heroic? Maybe not, but I still offer a grateful “attaboy” for going above and beyond the call of duty. Also, agents like that me think twice before writing a hit piece about the TSA.

It’s fascinating to see how the agency’s supporters are willing to pin their arguments on any news, including this foiled kidnapping attempt, even when there’s little evidence to suggest that an alert passenger, flight attendant or airport janitor couldn’t have also rescued this passenger.

But it might be worse. We could be justifying the existence of an oversize federal agency by an absence of heroics. Which is to say, hanging a “mission accomplished” banner simply because no terrorist has successfully blown up a plane over the United States in the last decade.

That kind of false logic may be worse than the false heroics that were reported last week.

24 thoughts on “Are TSA agents heroes?

  1. This wasn’t a kidnapping that was thwarted. It was drunk, classless people from Jersey acting like drunk, classless people from Jersey. They were probably trying to get media attention to start their own reality show…or something.

    When TSA catches a real crook, not just some drunks who go into a love triangle spat, then I’ll be impressed.


    1. Raven, why single out Jersey? There are people like that everywhere.
      That’s not the question! Let’s focus on the actions. It may not have been a terrorist,but it was a human being. No matter what the circumstances, this lady was removed from a bad situation that could have become worse. In an airport, there are thousands of people, but it was only a couple of TSA employees did anything! Did the airlines, passengers, airport employees, or Law enforcement step up and ask this lady if she was ok? Heroes, no they were doing their job correctly by being alert and focused. That deserves a hand shake and a thank you.

      1. @Wilson: Since she only got to the screeners, the airport employees and passengers would not have been aware of her. I would hope that the gate agents or the flight attendants (as opposed to people milling about in the terminal) who would have a chance to see her close up would have done something. Even the “old” baggage scanners can see if someone’s in trouble – no need to the over-reaction theater we have now. However, I do agree that a thank you to the screeners, like anyone else, is appropriate

      2. I singled out Jersey because EWR is Hell’s Outhouse to the the biggest hellhole (that being CDG).

        Anyway, EWR smells like feet and every gate agent/counter agent/shuttle driver/employee in that place is the rudest POS I’ve ever encountered!!

  2. Hey Elliott, lets talk again. I’ve finished my depositions against TSA, and it only gets better. It’s time to blow these folks out of the water!!! I will send you a private message from my email. Have a great day, and thanks for telling it like it really is!!!

  3. In this case, the TSA agents actually did something useful. Give some credit. I would say it wasn’t a traditional kidnapping as the group had traveled together…but still was an issue for the victim.

    Perhaps the TSA will find the people who perform unwanted, criminal touching of genitals at the airport….they are usually near people with wheelchairs.

  4. I fully expect TSA to thump their chest over any perceived ‘heroism’ on their part. After all, they mostly spend their days terrorizing innocent people all over the country by subjecting them to groping and pornoscanning.

    But the MSM is the real problem in this story, as they are the ones going out of the way to assist the TSA propaganda machine.

  5. Anybody working for TSA who has any heart, conscience, or brain will probably end up leaving the organization, either leaving out of disgust or getting canned, because they lack the thuggish robotic qualities that make them good minions of the sociopaths running the agency.

  6. This entire story was hard to swallow from the beginning. The woman who was “abducted” traveled with her “captors’ down to Miami. They were all on vacation there together as a group of friends. Yeah, things apparently went wrong while they were there, but it was laughable to me when I read that TSA agents had somehow saved her life when they were flying home. The entire thing smelled like something an over-eager publicist jumped on and tried to spin. When people are already frustrated with TSA over so many things, shoving a story like this down our throats was a poor decision.

    I travel about twice a month and the biggest complaint from me is that I never know what to expect. Some agents are incredibly helpful and friendly, even when passengers are grumpy and rude. Other agents are beyond rude and condescending. The rules are different at every airport. Some agents take extra time to smile and talk to your kids, while others treat them as a nuisance. There is zero consistency in procedure or behavior. If TSA wants good, positive publicity, they don’t need stories that attempt to depict them as heroes. They need actions that demonstrate that they care about what they are doing.

  7. I voted no. One or two good apples don’t suddenly make the rest of the rotten barrel ripe and delicious. The TSA does not protect us from terrorists. They are the absolute last line of defense for terrorist activity. They were merely doing the job they are expected to do during the Miami incident. That does not make them heroes, a word that I think is over-used in our society anyway. The actual “heroes” are the law enforcement agents who work outside the airports, tracking money, monitoring terrorist web sites, and doing the hard dectective work that has been proven to stop terrorist plots. And I don’t see their bosses on the news, trumpeting their successes. Although perhaps if they did, people would have a better understanding why so much of what the TSA does at the airports is wrong, pointless, and a voilation of Constitutional rights.

  8. There is a TSA screener charged with a crime or misconduct at least once
    a week.

    In the past two months 35 TSA workers fired or arrested and 66 more
    disciplined for misconduct. Two more were arrested in the past week for theft
    from passengers and assault with a handgun. A known pedophile, Thomas Harkins, was exposed two months ago but remains employed as a TSA Supervisor in Philadelphia and allowed to grope children at the checkpoint.

    There were a total of 94 TSA workers arrested in the last 20 months including
    12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 26 for theft, ten for smuggling contraband
    through security and one for murder.

    The most recent were a drunken lead TSO, Milagros Casanas, arrested for beating a woman and trying to steal her cell phone in Key West this week and Robert Don Jensen was charged last week with felony terrorizing, assault, and ingestion of a controlled substance.

    A sampling of the other fine TSA folks searching your child at the airport:

    TSA agent Jose E. Salgado among 55 caught in child pornography arrests
    The Boston Herald – Christine McConville – Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    TSA agent Paul David Rains charged in online child-predator sting
    Orlando Sentinel – Arelis R. Hernandez- December 15, 2011

    Harold Rodman, TSA worker, arrested for sexual assault
    WJLA News – Gail Pennybacker – November 21, 2011

    Orlando airport (MCO) TSA employee Paul David Rains faces child
    pornography charges
    Orlando Sentinel – Jeff Weiner – November 1, 2011

    TSA Manager Bryant Jermaine Livingston Arrested for Running Prostitution
    MyFoxDC – John Henrehan – March 28, 2012

    Md. TSA Agent Michael Scott Wilson Charged With Child Pornography
    ABC2News –
    Joce Sterman – March 18, 2012

    Nashville TSA Agent Clifton Lyles Charged With Statutory Rape
    WTVF – Staff – September 20, 2011

    TSA employee Andrew W. Cheever faces child pornography charge
    MyFoxBoston – Staff – September 2, 2011

    TSA Screener David Ralph Anderson Charged with Lewdness and Child
    Elko Daily Free Press -Jared DuBach – August 26, 2011

    TSA Screener Randall Scott King arrested for kidnapping and attempted rape of 14 year old in ATL
    Lagrangenews – Staff Reports – November 23, 2010

    PHL TSA Screener Thomas Gordon Jr Charged with Child Pornography
    Fox Nation – John Shiffman – The Inquirer – April 23, 2011

    Orlando TSA agent Charles Henry Bennett Arrested For Attempting To Make
    15 year old Girl His ‘Sex Slave’
    The Huffington Post – Staff – May 25, 2011

    TSA Agent Dwayne Valerio Arrested for Rape of Juvenile in Londonderry NH
    Eagle Tribune – Jillian Jorgensen – April 2, 2011

    Logan TSA employee Sean Shanahan accused of raping 14-year-old girl
    WHDHTV – Staff – March 9, 2011

    Disgraced Catholic priest who was defrocked after ‘sexually abusing two young girls’ now works as a TSA airport screener
    CBS3 Philadelphia – Ben Simmoneau – May 24, 2012

    1. According to TSA Deputy Administrator John Halinsky, these crimes, arrests, and firings make TSA just plain ole Americans like all the rest of us.

  9. These TSA employees should be congratulated for seeing the obvious. Honestly – anyone who is actually paying attention in a quasi-LEO role SHOULD have asked the questions asked here- the behavior was too suspicious .. . .

    Heroes? No. Doing their job – yes. And that may be enough for a commendation . . . which is sad.

  10. Several years ago, I worked security at an NFL stadium. In addition to telling people to take off their hat as they entered through the gates, we were trained in some specific clues to look for in spotting a would be terrorist. A beat up woman was not one of those signs.

    That being said, do the agents deserve some credit for spotting what they did? I would vote yes. However, the TSA using this example as a PR campaign to self justify their existence is not appropriate.

  11. Those police officers who responded to the shooting at the Sikh Temple earlier today? Those individuals are real heroes.

  12. I still don’t get what happened. The woman who was allegedly the victim of a kidnapping and her “captors” were going through screening, meaning they did not have weapons on them. What stopped her from approaching the nearest authority figure to say: “I need help. These people have assaulted me”? Why did someone need to “spot” her?

  13. Are things so bad in this country that when somebody does their job, they are hailed as heroes? Typical media hype.

  14. TSA is basically a three ring circus. Whenever an incident like this happens, they have to play it to the hilt, to try to regain some credibility. Right now, it’s the main headline on their propaganda Blog, but, have no fear. It won’t last.

  15. I’m glad they helped her. It was nice of them. It was human. It was what anyone should have done. It was basic human reaction. I’m glad to know there are a couple of TSA agents who are actually caring humans. Anyone else could have done the same thing, though – another passenger, a flight attendent, an airport worker. This was not the responsibility of the TSA and it doesn’t give them job security.

  16. I didn’t know that Hannity wrote columns for you. ‘Mainstream media’? Your bias showed from the get go on this one!

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