Where do TSA agents learn their bad manners?

If you’ve ever been browbeaten, barked at or belittled by a TSA agent — and let’s be honest, who among us hasn’t? — then you’ve got a friend in Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.).

The Senate majority leader last week made the equivalent of a 911 call to Miss Manners, suggesting airport security workers “smile” and “say hello” instead of indulging their drill sergeant fantasies.

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“People who work for our government have to be able to do it with a smile on their face,” he said.

Reid plans to ask Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to tell airport security workers to be nicer — specifically, to international travelers, who often spend hundreds of dollars on visas and feel a little ripped off when they get to the Land of the Free and discover it’s actually the Land of the Rude TSA Agents.

And while Miss Manners is at it, she might try to fix a few more problems with the agency assigned to protect America’s transportation systems.

Like the TSA screener who poured hot coffee on a pilot after an argument. No kidding.

The incident happened early last week at JFK Airport, a place not exactly known as a hotbed of etiquette, when American Airlines pilot Steven Trivett reportedly asked a group of TSA agents who were arguing outside a terminal to tone things down.

But his request that they “conduct themselves more professionally in uniform and not use profanity or the n-word,” didn’t go over well.

One screener, apparently not used to being challenged by anyone at the airport, told him to “mind his own business” and then unleashed a barrage of profanity. In the ensuing altercation, TSA agent Lateisha El, reportedly pushed Trivett and tossed a “full cup” of hot coffee on him, according to police.

El was arrested and charged with harassment and misdemeanor-assault. Trivett wasn’t seriously injured.

Complaints about the TSA’s manners are common, and they date back to the agency’s inception. The earliest mention of a rude TSA agent can be traced back to early 2002, when a Washington Post reporter noted that confrontations between flight crews and the then-fledgling agency were on the rise.

“The problem is that flight crews do not like taking directions from low-paid guards and object to the idea that they must receive the same scrutiny as passengers,” the reporter wrote, apparently buying the TSA’s spin on the the new problem.

Ten years and countless incidents later, the American public isn’t quite as trusting. Just last month in a Congressional hearing, representatives griped about ineffective and rude agents.

“We’re not cattle,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., adding that “barking orders” undermines the good work of the Transportation Security Administration, according to one report.

The TSA’s bad manners were also called into question by Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, who last week introduced a bill that would stop the agency from enabling another rude checkpoint behavior: cutting in line.

The Air Passenger Fairness Act of 2012 would “promote fairness for all air travel passengers” by barring airlines and airport operators from using express security lines that allow for certain groups of air passengers to cut to the front of the TSA security screening line at the airport, according to Nelson.

“This bill is about fairness,” he said. “Regardless of whether you have a first-class ticket or have reached a certain frequent flier status, the purpose of the airport security screening line is to ensure traveler safety. Allowing a select few to cut in front of those who are waiting patiently, just in order to provide a perk, has nothing to do with safety.”

I’ve had run-ins with rude TSA agents, too — always at arm’s length. I’ve seen other passengers get yelled at, gestured at, herded, prodded, and ordered around as if they were children, or at the very least, developmentally-delayed adults (“Take everything out of your pockets!”).

Fortunately, they’ve never done it to me. Maybe it’s because I always try to read agents’ name tags, make eye contact with them, and greet them by name: “Good morning, Bob.” After that, they tend to behave. Or maybe they just recognize me and don’t want to end up in this column.

Why are some TSA agents rude? Part of the reason is that they have a thankless job, screening thousands of passengers a day in ways they probably would rather not. That’s often reflected in their attitude.

In a commentary back in 2008, Walter Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University, suggested air travelers are partially to blame for agents’ obnoxious actions.

“Americans have been far too compliant,” he wrote. “And that has given the TSA carte blanche to treat travelers any way they wish.”

But at the end of the day, the TSA’s workforce and the managers who give them permission to act like little Napoleons are responsible for their own actions. And they must answer for them.

For those of you reading this who say it’s unpatriotic to question the actions of an agency that stands guard against terrorism, let me ask you the following question: What if a real law enforcement agency or a branch of the military treated the civilian population like this? Would that be OK?

Of course not.

Even the Georgia State Patrol officer who pulled me over on Interstate 95 just outside of Savannah a few weeks ago said, “Good morning, sir,” before writing me up for doing 76 miles an hour in a 65 zone.

It’s hardly unreasonable to ask TSA agents to smile and say hello instead of pretending they’re the prison guards, and we’re the inmates.

(Photo: benchilada/Flickr)

150 thoughts on “Where do TSA agents learn their bad manners?

  1. Good for Senator Nelson!  Some animals are *not* more equal, after all.  Although we *do* allow ourselves to be treated like cattle.

    I’ll have to say that I’ve only met one TSO at Eppley (Omaha’s airport) over the last decade that wasn’t polite.  Kudos to them for doing their job with courtesy.

    I think Chris should have a poll for most ill-mannered airport (sticking only to TSA operations for this particular discussion).  That would be entertaining.  I’ve got my vote ready . . .

    1. I love the idea of voting for the airport with the worst TSA gang.  Several of these airports have such ill-mannered and thuggish TSA crews that I just won’t buy tickets for that airport anymore.  The first airport to make my do-not-fly list was BOS, but LAX and MHT are also horrid. 

      I have to save my angriest words, though, for the TSA’s special sex-predator-hiring-program airport IAD.  Come on, TSA, just how many rapists and pimps can you hire to work at IAD and still claim it “in no way reflects the great job our employees do at putting their hands down your pants in a respectful and sensitive manner”?

  2. Frequent fliers and 1st/Bus class passengers have PAID for speedier access to security lines.  I have no problem with that.
    As for rude TSA agents, of course they need to view us as customers rather than cattle.  A few days of customer service training should be mandatory.
    And we passengers can also do our part — I know you’re in a rush and unpacking stuff and in a long line and taking your computer out and unlacing your shoes and your plane boards in three minutes.  But a simple, “good morning” goes a long way on BOTH sides.  I’ve seen my share of unbelievable rude passengers.
    Also realize that they’re just working Americans like anybody else and, yes, that guy in front of you is the 835th passenger today that forgot to take their cell phone out of their pocket before going through the scanner.
    Remember what your parents taught you, “Treat others how you would like to be treated.” That’s something that the serial TSA-haters might want to keep in mind.

    1. Actually, they paid for better seats / service on the plane and other services related to the airline with which they have a ticket. They did NOT pay for anything related to security. Want to breeze through security? Become a diplomat. Otherwise, get your butt to the back of the line.

      1. The person flying the lowest price ticket paid the same amount for security as the person paying the highest price for the ticket.  I agree that there should not be a special line for people to who paid for “higher” price tickets.

      2. Diplomats and elected officials should be subjected to the same treatment the rest of us are.

        It might get some things changed!

      3. The special line was also created because business flyers tend to fly a bit more than the leisure traveler and, therefore, knows to take everything out of his/her pocket,etc., thus expediting the line. And, I’m a leisure traveler who tries to fly as little as possible and, just because I know how I’m supposed to go through the line, there are still those who do not. And, personally, I’ve been saying for years that the flying public is better able to “police” their fellow travelers than the TSA will ever be – the latest example being the pilot who had to be subdued by the passengers on the plane. Therefore, do away with the absolutely unnecessary TSA and no one will need a special line.

        1. If I thought this worked in real life (a fast line for fast ppl), I’d be ALL for it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. You have the woman with five shopping bags who is totally clueless along with the well-dressed gentleman who has 1,000 electronic gadgets. Just because someone sits in first / business, unfortunately doesn’t mean they travel a lot. It just means they have money. And money does NOT equal intelligence. I’ve also noticed (not to be stereotypical or anything) that a significant portion of biz/first passengers tend to be foreigners who 1) may not understand barked orders in English or 2) are not used to as strict security in their own country as in the US, ie. they take longer than the average person.

          Now if only they’d have a line for people with proven high IQs, I’d be ALL over THAT!

          1. The only place I’ve ever seen the “black diamond” lanes (for habitués of Security Theater) work is SNA… but the lines aren’t typically awful at SNA anyway.

    2. Firstly, I will add my $0.02 to those below; “Privileged travelers” most certainly did NOT pay for a speedier or more convenient TSA/security process; they paid the airline for comfort and other perks. The whole idea of elite fliers being able to forego certain aspects of the security process exposes those processes for what they are, a sham.

      Secondly, I agree with you that working with the public these days has got to be one of the most frustrating, nerve-grinding ways to make a living. But guess what, that’s what’s great about this country; if you don’t like your job, or you can’t handle the stress, you can quit and go into a profession more suited to your skills. When I was staring out in the workforce, all those many years ago, my boss drilled the mantra into my head, “The customer is always right.” Even then, I knew that was BS. But the point was, act like it’s true. You are representing the employer. Act like it.

      Hmmm….maybe we’re onto something there. These rude, arrogant employees truly do represent their employer.

      1. Elite travelers do NOT bypass any aspect of the security process.  They just get an express pass to the front of the line. But depending on the airport and the overall volume of travelers, the express lanes can sometimes take longer than the regular line.  IAH is one of the worst for the so called Elites.

        1. I disagree. For the program I’ve heard about (PreCheck), elite fliers get to leave their shoes and light jackets on, and get to leave their laptops in the cases. If there’s a good reason to have us peons remove these items, then there’s a good reason to have EVERYONE remove these items.

          1. Pre chek is a TSA program that airlines offered to its Elite passengers in the testing phase, similar to GLOBAL ENTRY. Elite passengers going through an express line still get the same security measures.

          2. You’re referring to PreCheck, which is not the same thing as the elite security line that Ben Nelson’s bill would apply to.  PreCheck is offered by TSA and does change the security process.  Elite security lines don’t change the process but allow some people priveleged access to the front of the line.  Nelson’s bill only applies to the line-cutting.

          3. Or, like it is at IAH…it’s just a separate “area” near the elite check-in. Some times the “regular” lines are actually shorter.

          4. Anyone can sign up for the program to be pre-screened.  It isn’t limited to elite fliers.

          5. In the case of PreCheck, those people have undergone some amount of background check and have been determined to be low-risk travelers. They get a modified security screening, much the same way that you can apply for the SENTRI program to access the low-risk lines northbound at the Mexican border.

            What the bill is about is the two-line system, where the peons go in one line and the elite fliers go in another, but end up at the same Security Theatre booths.

    3. I strongly disagree with you, on two points:

      1. The whole “they’re just doing their job” excuse lost all credibility at Nuremberg. I don’t care if it’s their job – they are sexually assaulting, humiliating and tormenting innocent people for no purpose whatsoever.  Claiming “they’re just working Americans like anyone else” is total BS:  hey, I work, but my job doesn’t require that I rub my hands on the genitals of strangers, groom children for pedophiles, treat innocent people like they are criminals, or rudely bark orders at people who’ve done nothing wrong.  If I had a job where I was asked to do that, I would tell my employers to take their job and shove it, and go find one that didn’t require that I do things to strangers that would invariably be a crime in any other setting.

      2.  I’ll echo the others:  paying more for your flight should NOT entitle you to special treatment through a government check point paid for with ALL of our tax dollars. 

      1. Comparing American TSA workers to the Nazi’s who murdered millions is incredibly insulting to everyone who lost a loved one or ancestor to the horrors of the holocaust.

        Talk about losing all credibility (and civility)!  You really need to get a handle on reality and perspective. 

        Perhaps an apology for your unbelievably insensitive analogy would be in order on this Easter day (although I suspect instead you’ll try to somehow justify it!)

        1. She’s not comparing the TSA to Nazis in their beliefs or treatment of people.  She is comparing their lame excuses for immoral behavior to the lame excuses for the immoral behavior of the Nazis.  

          The Nazis’ actions were much worse, of course, and the punishments that were doled out after Nuremburg were deservedly much more harsh than the punishments the TSA deserves. 

          Nonetheless, both groups have acted immorally, and both are deserving of punishment. “Just doing my job,” is not a valid excuse in either situation.   There are similarities between the groups, but there are also differences, particularly in the severity of their crimes and punishments.

        2. I most certainly will not apologize, as I’ve done nothing to apologize for. The comparison is valid, and should be recognized as valid by anyone who has the slightest modicum of decency.

          The fact that you consider my comment to be “unbelievably insensitive”, while supporting the horrifically insensitive (to say the least) behavior of the TSA, says about all that needs to be said about you.

          There is no need for me to justify my comment.  It is what it is.  Truth is truth, in spite of the delusional souls who can’t see it.  Anyone who commits abusive crimes against innocents under the color of authority has earned their comparison to the Nazis.  It is just a sick shame that too many Americans can’t see it, and allow themselves to be abused, justifying the abuse with the batshit-crazy idea that it’s somehow making them safer.  It would be laughable, if it wasn’t so pathetic.

          You just go right on bleating like the good little sheep you are.  Those of us with a sense of justice, with an actual understanding of right and wrong, will continue to fight the abuse.

          1. Frankly, LeeAnne, I think you’re the one who is owed the apology for being accused of reactionary hysteria when liberty is being murdered right in front of the American people’s faces, every day, by blue-uniformed TSA clerks at airports.

      2. Lol…. I’m a teacher, and I’ve often thought, what if we had to pat down all the kids before they entered school each day?  After all, there have been far more school shootings than terrorist attacks on airplanes.  

        Believe me, I do NOT want to do this or see anyone else do this to the kids (the thought of it makes me slightly sick to my stomach), but if I did have to do these horrible kinds of searches at school, it would undermine my ability to teach in the worst way, and I would probably quit my job.  Not only that, but there’s NO WAY anybody would stand for this.  

        Why are airplane attacks so very much different from school shootings?  Because DHS is making a mountain out of a molehill.  They have perpetuated the fear or terrorism because they know they can use fear to control us.

      3. You’re a weak, unhappy person LeeAnne. Thank God you don’t work for TSA. You would be one of those who let prohibited items get passed you, and God forbid a bomb.
        You seem to forget how so many in this country blamed security for not doing their jobs, which in turn they believed it was security’s fault for 911.

        So what’s it gonna be, have security to protect and prevent, or just let those terrorist have free will to do whatever they want?

        1. Don’t look behind you, sadie! There’s a terrorist hiding in your shadow!

          TSA does not provide security. They do not protect and they do not prevent.

          They are security theater. And if security theater helps you get through the day, then you’re part of the problem.

        2. You’re a heartless, immoral person, sadie50.  Your sexual abuse of children and adults has certainly caused at least some of them immense pain.  Wearing a blue shirt and “just following orders” doesn’t exempt you from responsibility for the disgusting acts we’ve all witnessed from every screener – fondling the sex organs of innocent people, irradiating vulnerable populations, creating and transmitting nude images of passengers.  You are a molester and a pornographer, sadie50.  I sincerely believe you deserve to suffer for what you’ve done.

          1.  Sommer is not alone in her beliefs.

            Personally I’d like to see every TSC (that’s Transportation Security CLERK, because they are definitely not “agents” and most certainly NOT OFFICERS) who ever performed a gropedown on anyone under the age of 18 sent to federal maximum-security prison, tattooed across the forehead with the words “CHILD MOLESTER” and placed in general population with the other hardened criminals.

        3. You’re seriously of the opinion that not being able to molest and assault people sexually means we can’t have smart security that keeps us safe in flight?  Is that a joke?  You spouting out “911” at every cornner is not a justification for such horrid actions on your part, and your attitutde is just as horrid.  Who the H are YOU to tell ANYONE they are “weak, unhappy” people?  Talk about a nobody with power, you’d be the WORST of abusers with that hateful and simple-minded atttitude.

        4.  False dichotomy, and one only an idiot would seriously present.

          The correct answer is to have actual, effective security that is invisible and catches terrorists before they even reach the airport. This means intelligence gathering, information sharing, and proactive, transparent processes that cannot be foiled by slightly modifying methods.

          However, given the choice between having security (theater) to protect and prevent versus giving terrorists “free will” (I believe “free rein” is the expression you sought) to do what they want, I’d rather let the terrorists right on through.  Passengers have stopped every attempted hijacking since 9/11 even when security utterly failed to catch the would-be bombers.

          We don’t need TSA and its clerks-not-agents-not-officers because we’re quite able to look after our own well being.

          More importantly, however, is the fact that the US was intended to be, first and foremost, a free country and not a safe one.  In America, safety is nice so long as it does not run afoul of the Constitutional rights of The People.  Once it does, however, liberty must always be preferred over security.

          The best solution to the TSA rudeness problem is the same as the solution to the problem of the continued existence and operation of the TSA (to be clear, this is to say that the mere fact that TSA still exists at all IS A PROBLEM) – abolish the agency and fire everyone who works for it.

          Then, when a terrorist gets onto a plane and tries to blow it up, we’ll see that eliminating security isn’t a problem because once again, the other passengers will beat that terrorist to within an inch of his/her life, and probably shove the detonator somewhere it’ll take more than a body scan to find it.

        5. Having never met me, knowing nothing about me or my life, I find it bizarre and unexplainable how you can state that I’m “weak, unhappy”. 

          Once again, that says pretty much all that needs to be said about your grasp of reality, which is questionable at best.  You are making crap up, dear.  Stop making up crap about ME.  Now.

    4. The only privilege on the ground that I would grant these three groups is faster check-in at the airline counter. 

    5. Wrong, they paid for better seats and service on the plane.  The TSA security fee is the same for everyone, so there should not be any special lines for first/business class passengers to get through security more quickly.  It is patently unfair and elitist.

  3. I couldn’t vote.  I think there are some VERY rude and power-crazed TSOs out there, but I have to believe they’re a minority.  The poll makes it sound like ALL TSOs are that way.

    And TSA didn’t invent rudeness.  I got into a dust-up with a cashier at Mickey-D’s once over my change.  This cashier actually had the rocks to threaten to have me banned from that McDonalds.

    1.  I’ve flown a fair amount in the last two year (maybe 30 trips or so through security) and I would say, for the most part, TSA agents ARE rude.  At the very least, they are unhelpful and inattentive to you as a person until they decide to harass you (which happens to some extent maybe about 50% of the time with me, since I travel with alone with a baby and that seems to draw their ire…). At worst, the can be downright nasty.  The guys who run the security lines here in Japan are straight up sweethearts compared.  They don’t harass you about baby food, formula, or anything like that.  It’s for a baby?  Go ahead, ma’am (well… they don’t say ma’am, but you get the idea).  Although… I was oddly singled out when I was pregnant for a strange pat down here in Japan (after security actually… it was when I getting on the plane).  Just on my stomach, lol.  And I’m sure it’s because I was American… the Japanese waltzed right by.  But back the TSA… yeah… they are horrible for the most part.  I’ve had some helpful ones (REALLY helpful… like “here, let me actually help you fold up that stroller and carseat and put in on the belt for you and let me help you get it off, and get the baby situated… Yes, ma’am… I’m a parent, too and I know how hard getting through security with a baby is”).  I never ask for help from them, because it’s my job to get through security but the help when I’ve gotten it is appreciated.  But it’s rare to find a helpful one.  I have getting through security down to a science at this point, including letting others go in front of me to keep the line moving, and they still treat me like crap half the time.

  4. The agency’s irresponsibility and arrogance accounts for much of the rudeness of the screeners. They have been allowed to mistreat passengers for the last two years and have not paid any penalties for it. They strip searched three women in JFK a few months ago and their penalty was “additional training”. They have groped thousands of people and nothing has happened. They ripped the blouse off of a woman in Texas last year exposing her breasts. laughed about it and still stayed on the job.

    There have been 84 screeners arrested for serious crimes in that last 16 months including nearly a dozen for child sex crimes and TSA ignores it. The ritually humiliate women going through security including sending them through the scanners that still lack any privacy software multiple times so the can see the woman’s naked image.

    The agency is just an illusion of security and does nothing to protect air travel. It is merely a jobs program for the otherwise unemployable.

    1. The last two years? I think it’s safe to say that TSA has been allowed to mistreat passengers from the agency’s inception.

      They’ve just pushed the envelope a lot more lately because of all the previous crap they’ve gotten away with.

      1.  Absolutely agree. They were abusive from day one but had some restraints.

        It has now reached previously unimaginable proportions with them being given carte blanche to do whatever they want, which they have demonstrated is pretty much any abuse  they can think of.

  5. I agree with Senator Ben Nelson that special perks for frequent fliers or high-paying passengers at TSA inspection points should not exist. Regardless of ticket cost, we all pay the same amount on each ticket for a tax called the 9/11 fee. As long as we are taxed equally, we should be treated equally. Thank you Senator Nelson for filing a bill to end the special perk given to an elite class of airline customers.

    1. Then does that mean, by your logic, that those who pay higher income taxes will get “perks” that lower income tax payers do not get? I didn’t think so.

      1. I think that you misunderstood what I said. I am NOT in favor of extra TSA perks for frequent fliers or first class passengers. We should all be treated equally when we go through security. If the airlines want to reward their best passengers once they have cleared the TSA area, I have no problem with them doing so.

  6. One of the worst cases of rudeness by TSA agents I’ve witnessed involved a pre-op transsexual who was selected for private screening. The female agent who was with her came out of the booth shouting, “She got boy parts! She a man!! A man!!! I touched a man!”  All the while the other agents laughed and joked about it.

    This week at IAH I had to listen to two agents–one running the x-ray and the other waving people through the scanner–talking about their weekend exploits. One openly admitted to “scoring some weed.” 

    Classy, TSA. Classy.

    ETA: Still haven’t heard back on my inquiry as to why children are directed around the pornoscanners but pregnant women are not.

    1. @Raven_Altosk I do remember clearly your reporting on this dastardly incident before.  I am still appalled.  What is it going to take to rein in these public employees?  When will we stand up and say that this has gone far enough?

  7. I fly out of MSP regularly and the TSO’s are far more likely to be polite than impolite.  I have never been hassled for choosing to opt-out, and neither have I been hassled for choosing to stay on the little yellow footprints instead of going into the private room.  There’s a fair amount of “Minnesota Nice” on display.  DCA is better than it used to be – not great, but I can remember them being more aggressive in years past.  Maybe it’s because they are so close to HQ and so many policy makers, they’ve learned to hold their tongue.

    I seriously doubt they give any of the TSO’s customer service training.  And even a really even-tempered person is going to get frustrated and aggressive after the 100th person has screamed at them in the first few hours of their shift (whether earned or not).

    I am not saying we should quietly concede that what TSA does is necessary.  But yelling at a TSO won’t change policy – that has to happen higher up.  All screaming does is escalate an already difficult situation.  As someone who went through some aggressive pat-downs in the first few years after 9/11?  I have learned how to dress and pack carefully, and to speak nicely to TSO’s.  They are subsequently nicer to me and I have avoided being pantsed again.

    You have to remember – these are decently-paying entry-level jobs with few qualifications needed in a crap economy – you’re not necessarily going to get the cream of the crop.  Either TSA needs to raise its’ hiring standards or concede their security theater nature.  I don’t see either happening anytime soon.

  8. Based on the $8.1 Billion TSA budget and 712 million screenings, each one costs $11.38. Since the security fee is only $2.50 the other $8.88 is taxpayer funded whether they fly or not. This works out to a taxpayer burden of $43.86 per household to fund the cost of TSA not paid for by the airlines or fees.

    So those of us who have stopped or heavily reduced our air travel are forced to pay for TSA despite being driven away from flying by them.

    Since this security circus is free to the airlines, subsidizing the industry with free security to the tune of $4.8B per year, they will continue to accept all of the security antics that TSA dreams up. After all, it’s free!

    Currently there is no pressure to make TSA efficient or effective and the bottomless taxpayer pocket will allow TSA to continue to expand ad nauseum.

    If those who still fly want all of this intrusive security them make them pay for it and leave the rest of us alone.


  9. It’s a symptom of our society where two things are happening.

    First there’s a general acceptance of tendency to ignore foul language.  Listen to our young people talk among themselves, it’s Bitch this and M-F that in a stream that would have made my dad, an actual sailor in WW II, blush.

    Second, there’s the push to make us accepting of treatment we’d never have dreamed of allowing fifteen years ago, desensitizing us to the intrusions and taking as fact the power of these people.

    We’re allowing our Government to treat us as if we are all guilty
    criminals, because it’s for our own protection from the evil terrorists.

    We all assume they have our best interest as a basic premise, but if you look back in history, the German Nazis used this precise tactic to get people onto cattle cars and off to concentration camps.  They simply told them, “The Russians are coming, and we want you to be safe, so submit your family, board the cars quickly & quietly.”  Once the doors closed and locked, it was too late.

    TSA has become like the BORG, “Resistance is Futile.”

    1. I TOTALLY agree with your first two points – lack of civility in our society and the submission to ill-treatment of our persons by the powers that be.

      Will have to research the Nazi quotation as I have never heard it stated quite like this before. 

      1. Bet you didn’t know that beyond the Yellow arm bands, there were other colors:  Black, Brown, Blue, Green and Pink for people such as scholars, church leaders (especially Jehovah’s Witnesses) and Pink was for SUSPECTED Child Molesters, Rapists, and Homosexuals.

        Interesting book just came out: How Do You Kill 11 Million People by Andy Andrews. Especially interesting to me since my grandmothers siblings did NOT survive.

  10. Anybody who voted “no” in this poll must not have visited an airport in the last 10 years. The rudeness of many TSA employees is nothing short of legendary. The phrase “little Napoleons” is very appropriate. The fact that Obama has done absolutely nothing to rein them in is a big reason I won’t vote for him again.

    1. Or they’re TSOs. Believe me, TSOs read this blog.  I would venture to guess most of those who voted “no” is employed by the TSA.

    2.  i voted no. i’m not a TSO. in fact, i work for an airline, and can’t stand them…. NOT because they’re rude, but because they don’t use their brains. stupidity rules TSA, not rudeness, at least from what i’ve seen in my decade plus of employment.

  11. I think they give them training to have bad manners.  Also if your rude when interviewing for a position with TSA, thats bonus points.

    1. I have run into some absolute angels.  There is no taking away from the care and consideration they exercised to treat me decently.  I have also witnessed situations where I can only shake my head in wonder.

  12. I believe that airlines, like any other business, should be able to determine how they manage their business as long as they do not violate the various civil rights protection.  Anyone regardless or race, religion, gender, etc. can be a frequent flier.  Frequent flier lines aren’t as much about giving perks as efficiency.  Anything you do repeatedly, you should better at.  If I fly 30 times a year, I’m probably faster at clearing security than someone else who flies once a year.

    As far as TSA agents and rudeness, each person has their own experiences.  I personally have yet to encounter the rude TSA agent.  I’ve encountered the Gate agent from Hell at LAX gate 44x two years ago.  She picked on a passenger who she assumed (wrongly) that she could bully.  She threatened to have him thrown off the plane.  I wrote down her name so if he didn’t get on the plane he’d have an eyewitness.

    I have no doubt there are some truly evil TSA agents out there.   Just as there are some bad cops, corrupt politicians and even bad McDonald’s cashiers.

    The question that I have, are these reports of TSA abuses normative for the TSA or are they outliers.  To make that determination we simply need to look at the percentage of TSA agents accused/arrested/convicted and compare those number with other law enforcement agencies.

    1. I fly 30 times a year, I’m probably faster at clearing security than someone else who flies once a year.
      This x1000. I liked the “green/blue/black” lines they had for awhile. Now I find myself stuck behind leisure travelers who take five times as long because they don’t understand the rules or think the rules don’t apply to them.

      On my dreaded trip through MCO a week or so ago, I had to watch a family whine and throw a fit because they didn’t want to give up a case of soda they had brought for their kids. Folks, if it’s a liquid and it’s not medical, you can’t have more than 3 oz. Period. 

      To his credit, the TSA agent was very polite with them, even when the mother accused him of “ruining their perfect vacation.”

      1. Exactly.  So if you are a frequent  flier, you will waste a lot of time repeatedly standing behind people, who through no fault of their own, simply don’t know the procedures because they don’t fly often.  By contract, an infrequent flier will waste less because he/she only stands behind other infrequently fliers, well, infrequently.

  13. Agents is certainly more accurate than officer.  Back from Palm Springs Airport last Wednesday, the film on the TV above the line for screening consistently used the word “Officer”, in the verbal and in print at the bottom of the screen.
    Palm Springs is natorious for exceeding every other airport in TSA security.  With 5 or 6 trips there every year, every single time my bags are opened and somewhat returned to order. Every time. Consequently,I KNOW to totally empty everything including the cloth belt and leather band small watch.

    Then, going through the full body xray machine, I was stopped, and pysically searched first above the belt and then around the middle of the body.  When I asked why I was told the fold in the shirt above the belt indicated an object.  He then pointed to a screen seen from the inside (somehting I had not noticed before) that indicated a square aginst a body image.

    Interesting that a fold in a shirt would indicate an object.  Had the power of the machine been turned up to max after the stories of things getting through.

    I find more agents are civil and polite these days, but there are still too many who dress and act like a cop who thinks you just robbed a bank.

    I also  am still anoyed by all the people who insisit on carrying their cell phones, and other items through, and who seem oblivious to even the most basic of ways to speed the process, so I can also understand the frustration of the agents to these people, the ones who slow down the line unneccarily.

    I think it has a lot to do with the local TSA manager who set the standards and hold eveyone accountable.  Try some secret travelrs to see if these standards are consistent. 

    1. It sounds like you went through one of the millimeter wave machines with the new software installed. The new software displays a simple outline and, as you observed, it has little boxes to indicate where there are potential problems.

      But, as you also discovered, the false-positive rate with these machines is in excess of 50%.

      How can anybody in their right mind think that such a machine should be used when it can’t tell a fold of clothing from an actual object?

    2. I had a similar thing happen to me at Richmond last week. I was wearing a shirt that is “gathered” (for lack of a better word) on the left side.  After I went through the scanner, the TSA insisted on patting down my left side because the scanner showed an “anomoly” there.  But of course, it was just my shirt.

  14. The quote from Mr. Williams is spot on. As is the subsequent observation about TSA employees often being on a power trip.

    I feel I’ve been fortunate: the last time I really ran across a rude TSA employee was several years ago, and it was in Las Vegas. I went to take off my shoes (it was already SOP to do so) and was yelled at for doing so.

    Which points out another thing about TSA: consistently inconsistent about their own rules, whether it’s their employees going out of their way to break them or simply being ignorant.

  15. Way to go, Ben Nelson!  I also have not had any problems with the TSA at Eppley Airfield in Omaha (OMA).  Lincoln, (LNK) is even better.  Last summer, I traveled with a carry-on bag over 1/2 full of freshly picked Nebraska sweet corn destined for friends in Alabama.  The LNK TSA agent operating the X-ray scanning the bags looked at me and asked “who is so lucky to get all of that sweet corn?” without even having to open the bag.  MCO was crazy, though 2 months ago.  My friend travelling with me hadn’t flown in over 15 years!  He saw the much shorter “experienced traveler” lane and jumped in..I had to quickly bring him up to speed so we wouldn’t look like fools, me being a frequent traveler and him not.  No special “elite” lanes, but yes, one for disabled would help a lot to smooth  the process.  We all pay the same for security.  Until the airlines themselves are paying for it…we are all equal, even though it seems some are more equal than others. 

  16. Fortunately, they’ve never done it to me. Maybe it’s because I always try to read agents’ name tags, make eye contact with them, and greet them by name: “Good morning, Bob.” After that, they tend to behave.

    MY DADDY TAUGHT ME HOW TO BEHAVE IN PUBLIC.  Chris’ above paragraph sums it up.  If every airline passenger in American were forced to spend 8 hours dealing with “the public” they would better understand TSA agents’ behaviour.  How would you react after repeating the same instructions a thousand times?  Anyone would get a little testy I think.  I’ve never been subjected to rudeness, and I have two artificial limbs so lots of one-to-one experience.  They are in a no-win job, doing the best they can and if you treat them politely, you’ll get politeness back, or at least civility

    Now that I think about it, I was once barked at by a female agent at CDG for no apparent reason.  I just stared at her and pretended I didn’t understand French and wouldn’t do anything until she calmed down and addressed me in a civil tone.  It was very satisfying to “win” without coming back at her with hostility.  The agent behind her quietly thanked me as I gathered my things (very slowly) and departed for the gate.

    1. TSA works for us, not the other way around. So maybe you can get your daddy to teach TSA employees how to behave in public.

  17. maybe they just recognize me and don’t want to end up in this column.” You’re assuming that they know how to read, and if they do, that they read anything other than comic books.

  18. I have never been browbeaten, barked at, or belittled by a TSA agent, but I have also never been greeted with a smile or any other small act of courtesy by one either, even when I have made a friendly comment in greeting.  I do feel like I’m being herded like cattle.  That’s why I was so surprised this past February when in BWI my husband’s carry on was searched because he had a bottle of sunscreen he had forgotten to put in his checked baggage. The TSA agent smiled and apparently said something funny and pleasant and my husband laughed.  Confiscated bottle and no hard feelings.  The fact that this “incident” stands out in my mind speaks for itself.  These agents and their immediate supervisors need to be better screened (personality, psychology, background) during the hiring process and better supervised while on the job.  If this were the case, no one capable of behaving as TSA Agent El did would have ever gotten the job. 

    1. Yes, see that’s a big part of the problem… they aren’t necessarily rude, but they are hardly EVER pleasant.  They avoid eye contact at all costs unless its to stare you down; they don’t say anything unless they are giving you an “order”… basically, they just act like they are high on themselves all the time.  There is a difference between doing your job and acting like little Napoleons…

    2. This past Friday at BWI the agent who took my ID looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Good Morning, Welcome to BWI Airport.” She couldn’t have been nicer. I admit I was a little shocked that it took me a moment to reply, but what a nice way to start my trip.

  19. I will join the chorus of people saying the agents at Eppley Field are consistently pleasant.  I am based in ATL and feel the agents here are mostly rude.  I try to be as friendly as possible, which they seem to find disarming.  And, if you know which lines to pick, you can avoid the porno-scanners completely.   Unlike places like SRQ and RIC, that only have porno-scanners. 

    Look at the way their bosses (Napolitano, Pistole) treat any type of questioning by anyone higher-up than them. And they never allow themselves to be held accountable for anything.  Why are we so surprised that the TSA staff at the airports feel they can treat anyone however they want?

  20. I’ve run the gauntlet of TSOs with all the airports I’ve been in over the years as a travel writer.

    DAY – had really nice TSOs but a little dippy.  I was bringing home some ham loaves from a small bakery near where I grew up.  They were in blocks, wrapped in foil, and I got to the airport much earlier than I normally would because I knew they would require additional screening.  The TSO I started with wanted to open the bag inside my carryon and I told her, “Absolutely, I don’t mind” to which she proceeded to gingerly NOT open the bag (for about two or three minutes) before I had to say, “Would you like me to tear it open?”  Another TSO overheard what was going on and said, “Oh, yeah, a Copey’s ham loaf?  I love those.  Here, let me check her through” and then it was all over in a matter of seconds.

    TUS – My home airport and they do okay, I suppose.  I’ve never had a problem there in the slightest.  I get in line, I get through security w/o being manhandled and I get to my gate.  The agents are usually smiling, always greet you and wish me an “Enjoy your trip” as I’m walking away.  Makes it a good day, every single time.

    DUB – absolutely the WORST US employees found anywhere.  Rude, condescending, confrontational and that’s on a good day.  Using these people as a guide, I can now see why we are viewed as ugly Americans.

    You said it best, Chris, when you said, “What if a real law enforcement agency or a branch of the military treated the civilian population like this? Would that be OK?”

    1. It’s funny you mention Dublin, because I was thinking of that with HKG. I went through security on the Chinese side and everyone was pleasant and smiling in that public-face-to-the-public way, and then when I went through US-side security (you actually have to be scanned twice), they were shockingly rude and shouting at non-English speakers—in CHINA!

      The only place I’ve ever seen it be the reverse is at ZRH, where the US-side security was affable and relatively pleasant, and the Swiss-side security was a burden.

  21. I get to get through the TSA security check points mostly in Detroit and Chicago about a dozen times a year and I have not been treated badly by the TSA even when “my airline” requested additional security. They even smiled and were courteous about it, maybe I am just lucky. However, I am sure there is a minority who are outright rude and power crazy.
    The problem is that they are unapproachable, they think a frown will scare a terrorist. Flying is a stressful experience for many people and a smile can go a long way. However, I have seen similar behaviour in LHR with private security and BAA security staff.

  22. Re the Fairness Act, my own feeling is that one could make a case that priority lines for certain people violates the constitution’s equal protection clause. After all, we’re queueing up to interact with a US government employee. One should have equal access.

    1. No, you really couldn’t make that argument  Equal protection 1)applies only to the states, not the feds and 2) it’s based upon generally accepted immutable and discreet characteristics, e.g. race, gender, national origin etc. 

  23. I see a lot of jealousy here over the elite lines!  It speeds up the entire process. Frequent fliers have it down to an art, we can zip out our laptops and get our shoes off in a millisecond.  Actually, I choose shoes that I can slip out of quickly.  This means that the elite lines can screen more people more quickly.
    If we had to wait behind less frequent travelers, the whole process would slow down.  I have flown on weekends when the lines are not available (yes, they are not open on weekends when business travelers usually do not have fly) these lines grind to a halt with people who STILL bring 16 oz cans of shampoo and other toiletries.  Casual fliers take too long!  As far as the precheck lines, these are only in a few markets and hopefully this process with WORK and maybe be spread to all markets and ALL fliers someday.  They are just starting with the fliers that have supplied additional info and are more known to the airlines first.

    1.  Agreed.

      There are very rational reasons for having lines for certain classes of guests.

      These lines do not violate any equal protection argument because any person can become a frequent flier.

      To violate equal protection a classification must meet three criteria

      1.  Immutable characteristics – i.e. difficult to change
      2.  Discreet group – entry or exit is difficult
      3.  History of discrimination

      Infrequent flier fails on all three accounts.

      Classic examples include in descending order

      Race (indistinguishable from ethnicity for civil rights purposes)
      National original

  24. I fly a lot, I usually opt out of the nude-o-scopes, and I’ve never had an issue with a rude TSA person. Not all of them are happy and smiling, but at 6 am, neither am I. I try to be friendly and courteous, and I find that is always returned. Even when they are groping my junk, I keep in mind that this is a job they’ve been told to do. The problem isn’t them; it’s TSA’s ridiculous policies and John Pistole’s inability to admit that he is wasting our money and our time on ineffective security measures.

    That said, I’m not diffident or servile and this is one of the rare times when I do not say “thank you” (I once got the feeling an agent was waiting for that after a pat-down; my courteous good-bye had everything but, and then *he* thanked *me*! I made sure to say “You’re welcome”).
    The way I see it, they are at the airport to do their job, and I’m there to do mine. I’m not going to take out my anger about TSA policies on the poor schlubs who have to carry them out.

  25. In a former life, a couple decades back, I was an officer–a REAL federal officer, unlike the TSA thugs who only THINK that’s what they are–at DOJ.  I used to deal with illegal aliens–NON-AMERICANS who did not belong in the US in the first place–who’d already been convicted by US courts of sexually molesting American children, murdering US citizens, smuggling cocaine into the US… you get the idea.  And the top mucky-mucks at Justice were always after us to think of the people we dealt with as “customers.”  We were faulted when we weren’t “nice” enough to them!  After all, you can’t discriminate, you know… and we were constantly reminded that these people have rights!

    In contrast, today we have TSA employees who are NOT officers, treating people who are (a) US citizens, and (b) to the best of everyone’s knowledge, decent and law-abiding, as if they are sub-human garbage, on a daily basis, and with impunity!  Is there not something wrong with this picture?  No kidding, I used to be required to be more civil to convicted statutory rapists, than the TSA is to honest Americans! 

  26. I think friendly screeners are the creepiest and most upsetting of the whole bunch.  I do not wish to exchange pleasantries with the kind of human garbage that takes cash to rub the genitalia of minor children.  Having to speak civilly to a traitorous worm in a blue shirt can just about ruin my whole day, and I’m too terrified of them to just say clearly, “I don’t speak to child molesters, leave me alone.” 

    The screeners that upset me least are those that stay far away from me as I pass the checkpoint, that never make eye contact, that never address me, that that do not smile or speak.  Just keep away from me and we won’t have any problems.

    You don’t fix sexual abuse by smiling at people.  You can’t add words to a sexual assault that make it better.  You can’t put your hands down a stranger’s pants in a friendly manner.  Just stop hurting people, TSA, and it won’t matter to me if you want to swear and scowl.   Stop touching our sex organs and stop looking through our clothes, and people will stop associating the TSA with pure evil.  If the TSA keeps forcing young women to endure regular genital inspections, smiling creepily as they rub our vulvas is not going to fix things. 

    All in all, I prefer that the TSA continue to bully and berate travelers.  The general public can see their disgusting motives most clearly that way.

    1. You have real issues!!! Theres good and bad in every job. Not every TSO around the country acts the way you are decribing, and some actually give a dam about protecting and preventing. Granted there are some really bad TSO’s out there, but blame management for not dealing with it. I assure you they are well aware of the crap that is going on. They just chose to ignore it.
      For those like me who actually treated the passengers the way I wanted to be treated if and when I fly, respect privacy and use tact, end up out of a job for some crazy reason management can come up with. I was a 10 year LTSO, loved what I did and did a great job, but I was a whistleblower. Now I am spending all my time trying to do whatever it takes to expose the bad, and take care of the good. We need security, but we don’t need to be lied too, treated badly, and joked about. TSA needs to step up and do the right thing, starting with weeding out all the bad apples. Of course that wouldn’t leave very many to do the screening.

      1. The only issue Sommer has is an aversion to the rampant sexual assault that is taking place every single day in our airports.  It’s just plain wrong, and anyone who is willing to work in a job that requires that they sexually assault innocent people deserves every name Sommer called them. 

        You sound like a person with a conscience…and yet you spent ten years in a job that required that you treat innocent people as if they were criminals, touch the sex organs of strangers, and participate in wholesale abuse of people who’ve done nothing wrong.  And you sound proud of having done a “great job” at it.  Great in what way?  Did you stop any terrorists?  Did you keep a single plane from blowing up?  Did you catch any bombs before they were brought onboard?

        No…what you did a (presumably) great job at is following the useless, abusive rules of an out-of-control government agency.  I’m sure you were wonderful at it.  But what purpose did it serve? 

        And in the process of NOT stopping any terrorists, how many genitals did you rub?  How many children who didn’t belong to you did you touch in places that no stranger should ever touch?  If you come back and say you didn’t do any of those things, well then, that means you really didn’t do such a great job because the job REQUIRES that you do those things…or at the very least, provide support to those who do, which is just as bad.

        You say TSA needs to weed out the bad apples.  What you fail to realize is that they are ALL bad apples.  The entire TSA is one big bad apple that is rotten to the core.  There is no such thing as a “good” TSO.  Oh, they may be nice people with hearts of gold…but in the end they are sexually assaulting and abusing innocent travelers.  They knowingly work in a job that requires that they perpetrate abuse and assault.  And that’s just a fact.

        1. First of all LeeAnne, the fact that you like many use the words sexual assault, are obviously out of touch with reality.Do you think that the victims of 911 would have felt like you. Had those terrorist been patted down, the box cutters would have been found. You are a fool if you think that what we do everyday hasn’t made a difference. So many in this country think that we are targeting the wrong people, yet terrorist come in all shapes, color, and sizes. Your valgur attack on employees that are doing their job is no less than an attack on the persons that are trying to protect this country. How foolish you are to think the home grown terrorist and the cells in our country are not testing security looking for the weak links, so they can do something again. You have no clue what really goes on within Homeland Security and all that has been caught, and I’m not talking about just knives and guns. Just because you don’t hear about it on the news doesn’t mean nothing is going on, and when you do hear about an airport closing due to something suspicious, more than likely the screeners were being tested by terrorist that are in our country. I have seen it myself, so until you work for TSA, you have no right to accuse ALL of sexual assault.
          How dare you accuse me of assaulting innocent passengers. Not every passenger is innocent, but you wouldn’t know that because you don’t work in security.  The only reason I went to work in airport security was because of 911. I like many in this country was horrified by what they did to us and felt the need to help prevent something like that from ever happening again. I took my responsibilities seriously, and never assaulted or took pleasure in patting someone down. You don’t know me or how I conducted my pat downs, and your an idiot if you think we enjoy doing it. Don’t compare me to the few in security who should have never been hired. I am proud of the many guns, knives, and box cutters I found during my employment with TSA. I am proud that I used compassion, tact, and respected my passengers. I am proud that during my shift, I didn’t let anything get passed me that shouldn’t. I am proud that every night when I laid my head down, I knew I did everything I could to help protect our country.

          I just like many in this country that have a job that requires placing your hands on someone, only did it because it was part of the job and never took pleasure in it, nor did I ever touch that very sensitive area.
          Do you accuse Police officers that are patting someone down as sexually assaulting them, or how about the doctors that are much more invasive in areas they have to touch. It’s part of the job, nothing more, nothing less.
          Quit your bitching, and be thankful nothing has happened, or would you feel better if thousands of innocent people lost their lives again.
          There is worse crap going on in this country than patting someone down. So get over it already.
          Someday, if God forbid we have another attack by way of airplanes, I will be sure to look you up and throw it in your face just how stupid you really are, unless you happen to be one of those in this country who don’t believe in prevention and happen to be on that plan that went down. You know God has a way of dealing with people like you.

          1. “You know God has a way of dealing with people like you.”

            Wow. Just wow. Using god and 9/11 to justify anything and everything?

            Dude, where’s my country? Because people like sadie make me think it’s completely lost its way.

          2. Really, lost their way..Take a look around. This country has been lost long before TSA and continues down that road. Not by me, I’m not one of those uneducated, immoral people that think anything goes. My father fought for this country, and taught me to do it as well. It’s those like you that want to do whatever they want without rules or laws, that are destroying this country. NOT ME!!!!

          3. Oh, yeah, because your father fought that excuses away your stupidity? Whatever.

            I’ve got a brother who’s served in Afghanistan. (My father was a 4F come time for Vietnam.) My grandfather was a marine, with an aunt who’s recently retired after a full career in the air force.

            So, I guess my background trumps yours?

            You were a 10 year LTSO. Which means you spent 10 years watching the abuses. You had no excuse, and now you’re trying to blame everybody else for your failings.

            But hey, god, 9/11, and your father taught you well… it only took 10 years for you to pick up on what they were saying, eh? Yeah, you’ve contributed plenty alright.

          4. “Quit your bitching and be thankful nothing worse happens to you.”

            The words of my rapist.  And  now the words of my TSA agent as they finger my vagina looking for “terrorists.”  Its so absurd I forgot to laugh…

          5. Trust me, nothing worse will happen to me..I’m a decent honest person, who has gone through life helping others and doing the right thing.
            And as far as your discusting words of being a rapist, your sick. If you think someone patting you down is like being raped, think again. I was raped when I was 16, and trust me you are sick to even compare that to rape.

          6.  Interesting, because I’ve spoken to other rape victims who have said that it’s EXACTLY what TSA gropes remind them of, to the point of having flashbacks.

            I’ll take their word over yours, given that you’ve shown yourself to be an unabashed TSA apologist.

          7. When you stop acting like and speaking like rapists, maybe then we’ll stop comparing you to rapists.

            Btw, I wouldn’t “trust you” as far as I could drop kick you.

          8. To all, I hope the day never comes where you eat all your nasty words.

            I did my job by the rules and regs. I didn’t agree with them, but I had to do it, just as you have to follow rules in whatever your jobs are.

            This is not worth my time to debate a bunch of sick minded people. As for the one who thinks he knows about what its like to be raped, FY. You probably defend it because thats how you get your attention and kicks.

          9. sadie50 writes: “I did my job by the rules and regs. I didn’t agree with them, but I had to do it, just as you have to follow rules in whatever your jobs are.”


          10. Sadie50, you don’t even get historical facts straight. 

            Security procedures before and on 9/11 allowed for box cutters to be brought on planes.  Box cutters did not bring the planes down.  Neither did bombs.

            No bombs were brought onto planes on 9/11. The planes themselves were commandeered, something that won’t happen again because the cockpit doors have been secured, and because passengers will no longer silently submit (which is more than I can say for TSA apologists).

            The last time a bomb smuggled aboard an airplane in the USA detonated was December 11, 1967. The plane landed safely; no fatalities, no injuries. (Aviation Safety Database)

            The last time a bomb was smuggled aboard an aircraft in the US from which there were fatalities was May 22, 1962. (Aviation Safety Database)

            Almost 50 years. And for all that time, until just recently, the TSA reign of molestation and rank stupidity didn’t exist. Gee, how is it possible we all haven’t been blown out of the sky by now? After all, The Terrorists Are Everywhere!

            And the guns, knives, etc. you love to tout are all caught by metal detectors. Because they’re all — duh — metal. Not by the strip-search scanners and not by TSA agents sticking their hands down people’s pants.

            Quit using the victims of 9/11 for your own gain. Bullying, harassing, stripping, and groping people isn’t being done for the victims of 9/11.

          11. Wow, you
            should watch the news or read the newspapers my dear..Have you forgotten about
            the underwear bomber, and you and the rest are certainly out of touch if you
            think TSA hasn’t found IED’s since they have been in place. You have no clue
            just how much shit really goes on. If you did, then you would keep your mouth
            shut. You’re by far way off hun about the gun, knives, etc being found by metal detector. They are found on the x-rays that passengers run their property through. This is just an example of how little any of you know about what really happens in security. You all love to jump on the band wagon criticizing things you know nothing about. You know, all of you who don’t take protecting this country from
            terrorist seriously, need to get the hell out. You’re a fool if you honestly
            believe those monsters are not plotting every single day on ways to get us. As
            far as using the victims of 911 for my own gain is a horrible disgrace for you
            to say. There is no personal gain, the only gain from my time working for
            Homeland Security was to make sure we didn’t have another attack.

            Reading how
            all of you respond makes me sick. Why do you think we have TSA, it’s because of
            911, and If my belief in God and how he deals with those that go around
            labeling All TSA officers as child molesters, rapist, and touching people in
            private places, makes you worse than us.
            You know you all are right. Lets get rid of security at the airports, we are just wasting our time on trying to save lives. So once we are gone, and something goes wrong, maybe you will be on that plan.

          12. I just love how people who are afraid to sign their own names are so free and easy with the personal insults. And yeah, “God” will protect you. (So why do you need the TSA?)

            As for the so-called Underwear Bomber, I was waiting for that. You are referring to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He is a mentally disturbed man who never had a chance in hell of detonating a bomb.
The scanners and punitive gropefests (not the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced patdown”) were conveniently instituted after he was allowed onto a plane due to the negligence of our intelligence agencies. 

            The scanners, most of which are manufactured by Rapiscan (how appropriate), already existed; they were discussed in the Bush administration, when, irony of ironies, the consensus was that Congress & citizens would never put up with them. Michael Chertoff, the head of DHS under Bush, who went through the revolving door to become a lobbyist for Rapiscan, pushed for their implementation right after the hyped-up Crotch Bomber episode. Quel coincidence.

            As many security experts have attested, the scanners and gropefests wouldn’t have detected Abdulmutallab’s so-called bomb, and won’t detect PETN. Just one account: 


          13. Ok, I will give you that on the underwear bomber. As far as using my name, I’m not stupid. It is obvious that no matter what I say really matters to any of you.
            I didn’t agree with everything TSA did, but it was required. I like many in this country needed my job, but that wasn’t the reason I stayed or even went to work for security. Believe it or not, there are those like me that did our best, respected the rights of individuals, and never put our hands on a private area.
            I am not ashamed of the part I played in security. I started it days after 911 because of how horrible it was to watch lives be lost and destroyed on that day. For all who enjoy insulting the many decent TSA agents, are no better than a terrorist, and I hope nothing terrible ever happens to you or one of your loved ones.

            As far as all your responses, you seem to know an awful lot about security, maybe you were one yourself.

          14. If you really believed in a god, any god, you wouldn’t have worked for TSA for 10 years.

          15. Box cutters were allowed on planes before 911. I’ve been sexually abused by the TSA and I can tell you I still could have gotten something past security. It’s all conditioning theater for the willing sheep!

          16. Oh, sadie50, you in those few paragraphs have displayed everything that is wrong with screeners and their attitudes.

            Thank you for proving LeeAnne and all the others correct in their assertions that the TSA screeners are useless.

            I especially like this:

            ” I am proud that during my shift, I didn’t let anything get passed me that shouldn’t.”

            You don’t have a clue as to how much got past you that should not have.  

          17. Sadie50 wrote:  ” unless you happen to be one of those in this country who don’t believe
            in prevention and happen to be on that plan that went down. You know God
            has a way of dealing with people like you.

            I was going to type up an articulate response to your insane claims here, but then I saw that you, apparently, wish me DEATH! 

            Sorry but I don’t interact with people who want me dead.

            Please do not respond to me again.  Any further attempts at contact will be met with contact from someone other than myself, who will make it clear to you just how…um…”unacceptable” it is to openly wish DEATH on others.

      2. In the interest of full disclosure do you work for DHS/TSA or have a close relative that does?

        (I see in an earlier post the answer to my question)

        I don’t think anyone should have to be touched in the crotch just to get on an airplane.  If you feel that is ok then we will never agree.

      3. Let me just address one aspect of what you are saying.  I agree with you that whistleblowers deserve protection.  This is one of the many things that I fight for in my activism, and if you have blown the whistle on the TSA then I applaud you for that.

        One thing you could do immediately that would truly help the situation is to release the complete SOP describing all possible passenger searches.  Only with that information can passengers make an informed decision about whether to fly or not.  As it is, TSA requires us to sign a blank check when we get in line – we have no idea what might be done to us in the name of security (strip searches, forced public milking of breastfeeding moms, painful removal of nipple piercings, kids deprived of their leg supports and forced to crawl through metal detectors, et cetera) , and the TSA says we can’t leave or refuse. 

        I have it on good authority that some women don’t feel upset when strangers touch their breasts or reach up between their legs to rub their sex organs. I can’t imagine how that could be, because even thinking about being disrespected and abused that way causes me to burst into tears, but different people are different. The fact is that TSA intentionally hurts all those people who, like me, are sensitive about strangers touching them.  I think it takes a serious compassion deficit to say “I don’t care about hurting people, I don’t care about their emotional pain, since I don’t feel the same kind of pain from that touching.”

  27. Great topic Elliott, but dig a little deeper!! I’ve got that story you and I emailed back and forth about. Just wasn’t listed under this name…Have to protect my identity.

    1.  Sadie, i understand and agree with many things you have said here. not sure how long you have been a poster, so i’ve just got to say that you won’t win this one.  there are a few people on here that cannot have a rational discussion, and there are those who have no clue about what plans the security measures have thwarted. the vast majority of those never get publicized, like the man who was pulled off my plane for having C4 in his bag.  yes, THAT C4.  was it on the news? nope. but thank god security found it in his checked bag, and all was well.  was it a mistake? he claimed so. but how do we know that?  same with people who’ve been found with guns in their carry-ons. grandma claims “oops! i forgot it was there!” and off she goes. old folks can be criminals, too. we had 2 80-yr-olds arrested because they were attempting to smuggle drugs. not all contraband is weaponry. and TSA is not only looking for terrorists.
      as for Sommer Gentry, i know her in real life, and i have for over 20 years.  she is a brilliant mind, and a wonderful person. this just happens to be a topic we disagree on.  i cannot say the same for LeeAnne Clarke nor Lisa Simeone and the others, as i do not know them.
      for the record, i do not like the TSA in general, but not because they are “rude” or “commit sexual assault”… but because many are just plain dumb, and/or can’t even use semi-proper English, and their critical thinking skills are nil.

      1. flutiefan, re the C4, you’re referring to Trey Atwater, who got through TSA so-called security without his C4 being detected. It was widely covered in the news.

        While agents are busy dumping scary shampoo and confiscating cupcakes, and the agency is busy touting every metal object it nabs (through old-fashioned metal detectors), it also takes care not to trumpet the fact that its crack security team at Fayetteville let Atwater through:

        And the TSA has no business searching for drugs or “excess” amounts of money or anything else; only weapons, incendiaries, and explosives. They got rightly slapped down for that in a court settlement, though their who-cares-about-the-law agents continue to search people for these things.

        1.  no, honey, i’m talking about something that happened several years ago that WAS NEVER PUBLICIZED. not Trey Atwater.

      2. Oh, you mean the C4 that TSA completely failed to detect on the man’s outbound trip?  It was an enormous block of C4, and prominently labeled as such.  If the TSA can’t find a 5-pound block of C4 with a great big label on the front, I can only guess what they think they’re going to be able to find in between the folds of my labia.  Guess what’s between my legs, TSA – my sex organs.  Keep your hands off, perverts.

        1.  actually, this was the man’s outbound trip. i’m not referring to the recent incident that was on the news and websites. this was many years ago, but still post-9/11. and it was never publicized. (i was a witness, that’s the only way i know about it.)

          and i fully support TSA agents not being able to touch skin and to only use the backs of their hands (not probing fingers) to quickly sweep someone at screening. i don’t necessarily think the screening processes are the best practices, either.

          1.  Ah!  A secret good deed of the TSA that they are somehow resisting the urge to crow about, even though they post a list of all the marijuana they’ve found in peanut butter jars every week on their blog.  Interesting, but I refer you to the excellent debate at the Economist on this topic:  https://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/822#pro_statement_anchor

            The takeaway is that the pro-TSA argument boils down to “just trust us that this stuff works and makes you safer”.  No evidence is ever presented nor ever can be presented that would demonstrate that assertion, just anecdotes and more “trust us, trust us, trust us”.  Bruce Schneier absolutely destroys this argument by demonstrating how you can see for yourself with no leaps of logic that TSA is utterly helpless to defend us against smart terrorists, while it massively overdefends us (which paradoxically makes it less effective) against idiot terrorists. 

          2.  As for what’s okay for TSA agents to do: Even if the parameters of the search are what you’ve described, normal variation and randomness mean some women will be searched in a manner that qualifies as rape by the FBI’s definition of penetration, however slight. 

            You can’t rub a woman’s vulva, even through her clothes with the back of the hand, and have a zero percent chance of sexually violating her.  I have a letter to that effect from the TSA regarding my assault – they say it’s impossible not to do this to women, and they have no intention of changing their screening process to make sure it doesn’t happen.  Innocent women being sexually intruded upon, being penetrated (accidentally, they say) is something the TSA accepts as well, you know, you can’t get an omelette without having to break a few eggs.  I won’t take that for an answer, and I don’t think you as a woman should either, flutiefan.

      3. Thank you for the kind words, flutiefan.  We do seem to disagree on this!  Still, I sincerely believe that if you’d experienced what I experienced at the hands of TSA, you’d be on my side of this argument. 

        Some of us think that TSA will just continue to collect enemies, one victim at a time.   It should be obvious that if the TSA had tried to impose these sexualized patdowns on every passenger, the whole regime would have been shut down by now.  The TSA ekes along by only seriously abusing a small number of people (lucky me) while plenty of people pass through checkpoints and say nothing bad happened to me so everything must be hunky-dory. 

        It’s not going to work, TSA.  The TSA has made enemies of most frequent flyers, undermining any capacity it might have had to cooperate with passengers.  Now, most flyers see TSA as an annoyance at best and as a Stalinist agency of terror at worst.  It’s utterly nauseating to watch John Pistole’s ugly face on the airport monitors saying things about how passengers and TSA are working together.  Let’s get this straight, you monster, I am not your partner.  I am your worst nightmare, and I will do anything in my power to stop you from realizing your sick vision of looking through my clothes and rubbing my body all over.

      4. “but thank god security found it in his checked bag, and all was well.”

        Where was your god on 9/11 when the planes went crashing into building?

        Because, whether you’re simply turning a phrase or otherwise, you’ve now thanked god, while sadie wants her god to do harm upon people who disagree with her.

        I think I can safely say that we can stop bringing up god here.

        1.  sorry, “THANK GOODNESS.” it was a turn of phrase, jeeeeeez.  Sommer Gentry knows that i wasn’t literally thanking a god. calm down.

  28. Chris, I love Jeanne’s idea of a poll for the airport with the worst TSA agents. You could run it ala the Consumerist’s WCIA awards. I know I’d definitely be voting!

  29. Rude isn’t the only problem. There is no incentive for politeness when someone is searching you without probable cause or frisking you in public with absolutely no reason to believe that you have committed a crime. Please sign my petition to the Obama administration here: http://wh.gov/RPx

    Tell the administration to withhold funding for TSA until they respect the Constitution and the traveling public.


    Thanks for signing.

  30. Harry Reid, Ben Nelson, et. al. are full of you-know-what. Their little exhortations to the TSA to “smile” and make nice are worthless grandstanding. If they really cared about reining in this abusive, criminal agency they would disband it.

    Instead, they’re just asking thugs to be “nicer” while they assault people. And the rest of us to endure the assaults with a smile on our faces as well.  In other words, enlist the victims to be complicit in their own abuse.

    There’s a clinical name for this behavior.  It’s called traumatic bonding. Better known as Stockholm Syndrome.

  31. I have never been treated rudely by a TSA agent. Perhaps some of the other posters here might have a similar experience if they left their attitude at home!

    1. You can consider yourself lucky, as its got nothing to do with someones “attitude” when it comes to the TSA.  My entire family, a polite Christianly bunch full of cops and military, is littered with stories of TSA disrespect.  I myself have never gone through a TSA checkpoint without being harassed and “randomly” chosen to go through extra screening AND a pat down.  Perhaps you could keep your assumptions to a minimum.

  32. I’m sure Kimberly you have no real clue what being sexually abused really is.
    All of you making the statements about rape, molesting, sexual abuse are insulting the real  victims in this country that have had the real thing happen to them.
    All the exaggeration of sexual
    abuse, rape, etc, shows how immature you are, and comparing TSA to horrible acts like that is discusting. I hope you never have to experience what true sexual abuse fills like. Count yourself lucky that all you ever suffered from was a simple patdown.
    Oh and yes I did know box cutters were allowed on planes prior to 911. Blame that on the FAA, not security.

    1. Right, sadie50, now tell Kimberly what she really knows, really thinks, and has really experienced.

      Tell that Sommer Gentry, too, while you’re at it.  She has written bravely and publicly about her sexual assault at the hands of the TSA.

      And tell that to the thousands of similar victims of TSA sexual assault, whose stories I’ve been tracking for the past two years.  They’re all clearly lying. Yeah, they just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to make stuff up!

      1. Lisa, you’re a follower. Having someone place their hands around your legs and pushing up until they meet resistance, is nowhere close to being sexually assaulted.
        Until you have a man physically throw you around, and force you to have sex, don’t compare a stupid patdown to sexual assault.
        If a screener accidently hit the private area while patting you down, and then apologized for doing it, then you have nothing to complain about, nor compare it to sexual assault or rape. I can assure you, touching someone of the same sex, and having to squat down on your knees and smell the stinch of nasty crap doesn’t appeal to me.

        Thousands of victims of sexual assault, are you for real? What world are you living in? You accuse TSA screeners of sexual assault, yet you don’t think people in this country don’t lie and make up shit so they can make money. Give me a break.

        1.  Please define “resistance” using medically-accepted anatomical terms.

          There is no body part called “resistance” so please inform us what body part a TSA clerk-not-agent-not-officer runs into when they “meet resistance.”

          1. I think she’s saying that she rubbed  women’s vulvas against their will, contacting possibly the: inner thighs, buttocks, labia, clitoris, anus, or vagina of her victims.  That she doesn’t think this qualifies as sexual assault says all we need to know about the kind of person who works for TSA.

    2.  “Oh and yes I did know box cutters were allowed on planes prior to 911. Blame that on the FAA, not security.”

      Uh, no, you didn’t.  You clearly said, “Had those terrorist been patted down, the box cutters would have been found.” That means you believed before you were corrected that box cutters were not allowed pre-911 and had they been screened properly, the box cutters would have been confiscated, uh, turned over.  Don’t compound the error.  Screeners should know the history of how their agency was founded and why screeners look for certain contraband. 

      Look, you have a thankless but well-compensated job for which there are virtually no job requirements.  Many of us would prefer that you didn’t have that job.  Many of us who fly more frequently do not believe another 911 could happen because of 1) reinforced cockpit doors and 2) Flight 93 taught us how to behave toward hijackers.  I, for one, don’t believe that TSA has prevented a single hijacking and the chances of being the victim of a terrorist attack in the U.S. are lower than getting struck by lightning twice.  I am not delusional or immature or weak or unhappy.  I don’t like being treated like a criminal when I lawfully travel about this country based upon a minute threat. 

      In other news, you have not addressed the actual article whether or not you believe that screeners like the one who threw a full cup of hot coffee on a pilot was rude or if you think any screeners such as yourself are rude to the flying public. 

    3. I AM a real victim – of rape years ago, AND of sexual assault at the hands of a brutal TSA screener last year at LAX.

      You do not speak for me.  And in fact I insist that you stop trying.

  33. Your welcome Drontil..
    Trust me, nothing got passed me, and nothing any of you say will ever make a difference in how I feel.
    All you small minded people need to know what it really feels like to suffer the way so many around the world have suffered at the hands of terrorist.
    Count your blessings…

    1. Many people here know exactly what it’s like to suffer at the hands of terrorists.  The terrorists, for the record, wore blue uniforms and patches with “TSA” embroidered on them.

  34. I fly about 6 times a year and since 2001, if you have a brain, by now we all should know the travel requirements, whether we like them or not, to get through security.That is the BEST way to get through the TSA gauntlet – be prepared and cooperate.While I can see that they are not the chummiest group of people, I have had pleasant TSA employees and the other ones I write of as drones, but I really would like to understand what some of them are saying to me.

  35. it appears from afar (in Australia) that TSA agents are on the minimum wage in USA (is it USD$5/hour ?) but they are told by their superiors that they have a very important job, which they don’t.

    Heck, anyone can get into the USA, just don’t try via airports. Very simple to cross the boarder from Mexico or Canada.

  36. Leave it to Harry to care more about foreigners then Americans.    Doesn’t surprise me.. He is supposed to be representing Nevada in the senate yet he lives in Washington DC.   Nevada has the worse schools, and the worse healthcare.   Doesn’t bother him…his wife has cancer and she receives her treatment in DC.    Can’t say I blame her though.  The joke in Las Vegas is if you get sick and need treatment the best place to go is the airport.  Why can’t every human being expect to receive fair, non-humiliating or abusive treatment from security?

  37. US minimum wage is something like $7/hour, although many states have it set a little higher.

    TSA employees start at something like $10, but the qualifications are laughable, so they’re certain overpaid.

  38. I have huge objections to the TSA in general, but I have to admit that I have yet to encounter a rude TSA agent. (I haven’t flown through the airports that people claim are the worst). A couple of times I’ve encountered TSA agents who were friendlier than the flight attendants on the flight I boarded that day.

    I’m not disputing the accounts of people who *have* encountered bad TSA employees, mind you – just saying that there are definitely good ones out there.

  39. The TSA is inherently unconstitutional and should be stricken as soon as possible. Buying a plane ticket does not equal probable cause for a warrantless search.

  40. There is a formula for rudeness.  Here’s how it works:
    All TSA jobs require U.S. citizenship and successful completion of a full background investigation. In addition, persons interested in security officer positions must pass a medical examination, be able to read, speak, and write English, and pass a physical ability test, a drug and alcohol screening, and an aptitude test.
    Note there are no educational requirements to these minimal requisites to work at a mind-numbing job.
    If they happen to come from a minority population that (unfortunately) has subjected them to some form of discrimination, they will automatically have the required “chip on the shoulder.”  Can you imagine the satisfaction of a young kid who always worried about being “stopped and frisked” for no reason… NOW has the ability to do the same on strangers?
    Outfit them with a uniform which is usually associated with police or military authority and pin a badge on that uniform.
    Give them the authority to search travelers, inspect their belongings, and mostly have the authority to delay travelers and possibly have them miss their flight. 
    Here you have all the ingredients for taking revenge on anyone that displeases them… or just anyone…. a power that they never had before in their lives.  What fun….
    “See that fancy lady with the Rolex… and that well-dressed executive… I can make them practically disrobe, empty their pockets, order them to stand over there… no over here!!  Spread your legs so I can see if you have an AK 47 in your shorts” 

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