Friday, November 16, 2012

Alkon: Don't go quietly

Amy Alkon has an entry on her latest violation at the hands of the TSA. After years of degradation by the TSA, there is nothing particularly remarkable about her experience: she was sexually assaulted because she bought a plane ticket.

I wholeheartedly agree with her final remarks:
I will at least make a spectacle of myself and in turn of what they are doing.

Don't go quietly, please. And name names of those who violate you -- post their name (THEDALA MAGEE!) and a picture of them if you can find or take it. (To avoid a libel suit, be absolutely sure it's the right person -- there were a number of Tiffany Applewhites, and most of them are regular people who don't appear to grope people's genitals for a living.)
If more people screamed and yelled and protested in some way, we might be able to make some change. In so many ways lately, our constitutional rights are being eroded. Keeping quiet will not end well for any of us.
If you are having trouble finding a place to publish your story, please send it to me using the contact form on this blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Opt-out and Film Week starts Nov 19

A peaceful protest of the TSA is being organized for Thanksgiving week:
Supporters of Opt Out and Film Week are encouraged to film TSA activities at their local airport -- even if they are not flying -- and upload the videos to Youtube and other sites.
Here's the Facebook page.

I am all about peaceful protest - it is the reason I started this blog. I couldn't just sit around and do nothing! If you are the type to go out and be more of a presence, then this may be a good opportunity for you. The best part about it is you don't have to board an airplane, go through security, or even go to an airport to participate:
1.) Fly within the United States, OPT OUT of the body scanner and have someone FILM your pat-down;
You can also opt-out of other unreasonable TSA security procedures (i.e. iris scans, drink testing at the gate, TSA ordering you to 'freeze' on command etc.) and film what happens.

2.) Go to your nearest U.S. airport and hand-out flyers to travelers to spread the word about the event
Campaign sample flyer:
We also encourage everyone to make their own flyers to hand out

3.) Film TSA at non-airport locations (i.e. subways, highways, etc.) and peacefully re-assert your rights when faced with violating security procedures (i.e. random bag searches).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Correction: Manchester airport substituting one naked scanner for another

The headlines for all of the articles this past week about the backscatter naked scanners trial ending at England's Manchester airport are so misleading. For example, "Manchester Airport's body scanners scrapped" and "Manchester airport axes controversial 'naked' scanners after EU fails to approve them."

Here's what has really happened. The EU approved backscatter naked scanners on a trial basis. The trial automatically expires in October, and Manchester was the airport where these scanners were installed. Therefore, the scanners will be illegal in the EU starting next month and Manchester has to stop using them.

But, the EU has no such law against the millimeter wave scanners. So Manchester will be swapping one naked scanner - the MMW version with the software upgrade showing cartoon figures - for the old naked scanner - the x-ray backscatter version. As I've written here before, the MMW scanners with the cartoon software are still taking an image of unclothed people, virtually strip-searching them. But, instead of showing the security goons that data in a format that looks like an actual naked person, it shows the data in the form of a cartoon. Either way, the data exists to reconstruct an unclothed person - the software is just hiding it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ZOMG Delta!

This blog post by a (non-white) man about his recent experience with Delta, TSA, and the Niagara Transit cops is upsetting - on many levels. It is also a great illustration of how things will not change with regard to the TSA and security theater until there is a serious change in mindset in this country. How depressing!

In short, Arijit was wearing a sarcastic anti-security theater t-shirt when trying to fly Delta. He had no problems at the TSA checkpoint, but Delta decided to harass and eventually kick Arijit and his wife off the plane. Meanwhile, the TSA had re-cleared him (and even apologized for the incident), but the Niagara cops took over for Delta in the harassment. He was able to fly Delta the next day without any problems, although Delta didn't even give him and his wife a hotel or transportation voucher.

The Delta supervisor, Delta pilot, and the passengers on Delta (who were being blamed for complaining about being "uncomfortable" flying with Arijit) have every right to be bigots. But, if Delta were serious about not being bigoted and treating its paying customers like, well, paying customers, they should immediately reprimand the supervisor and pilot (I'm thinking unpaid suspension at the very least, but firing them would be more appropriate). They have the unions to contend with, but who cares? Instead, Delta has taken the standard TSA line: denial, denial, denial, with official policy repeated over and over again (as if policy makes counter actions impossible).

For example,
Delta spokesperson Betsy Talton told MailOnline that the airline does not discriminate against any of its passengers.
I've always maintained on this site that the airlines are, at best, complicit in the TSA and all the related abuses. They will have to stand up beside us if change is to happen. And, it would help to have fellow passengers and local cops wake up, as well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A protestor states his case

Kevin McElroy, a writer and father, sent me this video of his reasons for not flying:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Highlighting a new addition to the Blogroll

TSA Out of Our Pants! has been added. I thought it was already on there, but apparently not. This guy is a hero, so I want to highlight his blog. It includes his viral videos of beating the scanners - offering real world proof of some of the things that scientists pointed out early on.

Illegal, hazardous searches - and inhumane to boot!

This video showing a sales pitch by a government supplier is amazing for its bluntness. I blogged about these vans when I first started this blog and again last summer. Two years ago, it was something that was being used covertly, and in other countries. Now, it is being promoted openly as a device for use on American soil.

These vans do not use the backscatter radiation of the airport naked scanners - they are penetrating through metal to find contraband and thus are using x-rays more similar to that used by a doctor to view a broken bone. There is not - and can not be - a claim that they are safe for humans.

I have suspected that these devices have already been used on American soil by VIPR teams when they search trucks. I now have no doubt. It is unclear to me whether they ensure that drivers and passengers of the vehicles (all commercial trucks, to my knowledge) are clear of the x-rays. I certainly hope so, but any truckers out there should be aware of the physical danger these machines could expose them to and protect themselves in the event of a VIPR trap. I also doubt that TSA agents operating these x-rays are wearing dosimeter badges, as the TSA agents in airports do not don such badges.

What really bothers me about the use of these x-ray vans (and which is glossed over by the sales rep in the above video) is that one of the uses of the vans is to examine cargo at border crossings. What is smuggled across borders? Drugs, guns, and people. These vans have been used (at least in other countries) to see inside of trucks to find illegal passengers (leaving jails). In what world is it humane to knowingly expose prisoners, illegal immigrants, or anyone else to large doses of ionizing radiation without their consent or knowledge? It sickens me that this practice is even considered by the US government, and I fear that it has been or will soon be implemented at the Mexican border without consideration of the very serious human rights violation involved.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The LA Times and the scanners-are-safe interpretation

As soon as I read the LA Times' take on a new scientific article on naked scanner radiation study, I knew they had misrepresented the findings. I have now read the original research article in full, and my hunch holds.

The article, by Hoppe and Schmidt in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Marquette University, seems solid to me. The introduction nicely summarizes what studies have been done at this point. Two that were done in conjunction with the TSA (by the FDA and by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab -- which is functionally a government research lab doing a lot of work requiring security clearances) had access to some form of naked scanner technology, although not necessarily the exact models used in airports. They both were assigned the task of determining whether the scanners met radiation guidelines specified by an ANSI, which is suspect. So this is where Hoppe and Schmidt take off. They note the shortcomings of these earlier studies, and also reference the "scanners aren't safe" articles from 2010.

Nonetheless, as the scanners have not been made available to anyone outside of the TSA for testing, Hoppe and Schmidt were left to use TSA-provided data for their analysis. They created a computational model for measuring radiation doses in various organs of the body. They replicated the radiation from the x-ray scanner by correlating it with the TSA-provided data first, then running the simulation on their human organ models. It is true, as the LA Times reports, that they find that the effective dose of radiation that passengers receive is below the ANSI standard, as has been claimed by the TSA.

They do not claim the scanners are, therefore, safe. Indeed, they make no judgement on this at all. They note the caveats that they did not have access to an actual machine several times throughout the paper, which means that they can not independently verify the radiation levels coming from the scanner. They also had to make some assumptions and simplifications with their computational model. Although I can't find fault with their methods, it is not the same as testing the real thing, or even a physical model, with an actual scanner, as the authors are well-aware.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Handheld scanners

You may have heard that the TSA is now looking for handheld naked scanners. I just can't wait until every law enforcement arm in the country is carrying around something that can strip search me without my permission or knowledge! There is a slippery slope, and we are headed down at break-neck speeds.

What I find interesting about this is how the state-friendly media (or do I repeat myself) deals with this kind of information. The original announcement that the TSA was looking for this was back in November. The ominously named Government Security News let its readers (many of whom are apparently government contractors) know that DHS "issued a presolicitation notice on Nov. 2 inviting technology companies to describe... handheld detectors that could provide such secondary screening in the event that the AIT body scanners now being rolled out to dozens of U.S. airports pick up an 'anomaly' during their primary inspections of passengers."

At the beginning of last week, there was a solicitation (not presolicitation?) for white papers on handheld naked scanners, again reported in GSN. Fast forward 6 days and this turns from a bland request for proposals-type announcement in an industry rag to a positive PR story for the TSA. Sample headlines:
It may just be coincidental, but on May 29th, the story also broke that the TSA's budget is set to be cut and this may lead to higher airline ticket fees. Republicans are going to prevent this from happening by cutting other so-called government services. Democrats are joining forces with the TSA to make sure there is no real budget cut by increasing fees:
The agency, backed by Democrats in the Senate, wants to increase the security fee everyone pays with a ticket from $2.50 a flight. to $5.00 per one-way ticket. A total of $10.00 would be added to round-trip tickets.
Uhhh... why is the idea of cutting the budget of this really truly terrible agency off the table? The cynic in me knows the answer, but it's a good question to put to other citizens to get them to think about what is going on here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This blog's mission

This post is a bit more personal. For the few readers that I have left, I feel that I owe an explanation of some sort for the sparse postings. In short, things have been happening in my life - both good and bad - that have made posting on a regular basis a challenge. I recruited Bill Fisher last fall to help out, but neither of us intended for him to run the show, and it's not fair to him that I sort of dropped out. I have not found the time to write about the dozens of articles that I've bookmarked or ideas floating in my head. Indeed, I have several unwritten drafts that have not - and likely will not, due to a lack of timeliness - be published.

When I first started this blog, I was feeling cornered by the TSA and I wanted to protest in some way. It was a great outlet for me to feel that I was making an impact. Since then, many other venues have popped up - from Becky Akers' new blogging position at to Boycott Flying on Facebook, to the many viral stories of TSA injustices. While this hasn't reduced my passion, it has reduced my feeling of responsibility to get any and all TSA-related news out there.

I have reason to believe that this summer may allow me more time to post on this blog - but no promises! In the meantime, I will continue to reflect on what this blog's purpose is now - only a year and a half after I started it up - and how I can meet that mission while keeping the content interesting. Although I feel that I've shirked some responsibility for the last half year plus, I have been so hopeful by the ever increasing backlash against the federal agency that has significantly changed my life. I don't know what is in store for this blog, but, the dissolution of the TSA and all of its shenanigans remains a fervant wish of mine.

End the TSA! End the TSA!

So great to hear of a bill being drafted to end this horrendous agency. Since it's coming from Rand Paul, I don't expect this to be a mere wardrobe change. I also don't have a lot of hope for it's success, but, as Christopher Elliott points out, the TSA has a PR problem, so I could be surprised.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Viral video of TSA torture

I first saw this reported on a few days ago, and now the press is picking up this heartbreaking video:
This is why I won't fly. I don't know how I would react to a pat-down, and I don't want to feel the way this woman feels.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Not another run-of-the-mill press release

Kudos to the KPAX reporter who wrote of the naked scanners set to arrive in the Missoula airport soon. Normally these articles are virtually word-for-word copies of TSA press releases and just repeat the propaganda  about how these are effective, privacy-protecting machines being deployed by our saviors at DHS. So I clicked through on this article expecting to see the same thing.

Not so. It starts:
Passengers traveling through Missoula International Airport security will be subject to search with those controversial "body scanners", starting later next week.
From there, it continues to use quotes for all TSA-approved words, and to highlight the controversy surrounding the naked scanners.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chris Elliott examines the TSA PR machine

This post from last week (in case you missed it) is a must read: The Huffington Post blogger asks, "Are we better off without the TSA?"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Good question. Lame answer.

Instead of actually investigating what happens time and time again to the disabled at airports, a newspaper portends to answer a letter by quoting the TSA policies:
Q: Would you please answer a question or find the answer for those of us who have lost a body part in a battle with breast cancer? What should we expect when we walk through the scanners (at the airport)? If the scanners are any good, they will certainly spot a breast prosthesis, then what? Will the Transportation Security Administration employee reviewing the scan be able to recognize the prosthesis and pass it as benign? Will we have to go through a further security check like a pat down?
— Sandra, Muscatine
A: From Jim Fotenos, TSA spokesman: “TSA respects the privacy of all passengers. They have been trained to safely and respectfully screen all passengers, including those with medical devices.
“TSA has created an optional communication card that helps travelers discreetly inform TSA officers about any disability, medical condition or medical device that could affect security screening. Travelers can write their information on the wallet-sized card and hand it to the security officer. While these cards do not exempt anyone from security screening, they allow passengers to communicate information about their medical conditions to the officers discreetly.
“TSA recommends passengers advise our officers of the medical device; passengers will not be required to expose these devices for inspection. Security officers should not ask you to remove medical devices during the screening process and you should be offered private screening by a same-gender officer if additional screening is required to complete the inspection process.”

Friday, March 2, 2012

Watch out: AK, CO, KY, PA, and SD

TSA press releases, disguised as 'news', show that small airports in Arkansas (Where the lie that this will "speed up the screening process and reduce the number of pat-downs" is being propagated. Still.), Sioux Falls, Scranton, Lexington, and Louisville now have naked scanners. Colorado Springs, meanwhile, is blowing a bunch of money to make room for the obscene devices.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Interesting spam

I deleted a comment which was nonetheless interesting. It was advertising a website that does training for airport screeners. As Ludwig von Mises said in his groundbreaking book, Socialism:
[The bureaucratic mind] classifies activity according to the capacity for undertaking it formally acquired by means of examinations and a certain period of service. 'Training' and 'length of service' are the only things which the official brings to the 'job'. If the work of a body of officials appears unsatisfactory, there can be only one explanation: the officials have not had the right training, and future appointments must be made differently.
 So there is an industry that has cropped up in the last decade to train and re-train TSA agents and their superiors and colleagues in DHS. When the real problem is the bureau and agencies themselves, not the training of the officials!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Security at the Superbowl

Before the Superbowl, there were confirmed reports of a DHS presence, including bag searches and x-ray ray scanners for bags and trucks. As if that wasn't bad enough, there were also rumors that naked scanners would be employed.

When I read this, I though "Welcome to your police state."

So what actually happened? It was arguably much worse in some ways. The night before, we got this report:
Helicopters and planes equipped with special monitors for radiation and biological agents constantly hover and scan high above Super Bowl village...
In addition to air patrol, on the ground police use giant x-ray machines to scan every vehicle arriving at the stadium, and surveillance cameras, which allow officers to monitor both the interior and exterior of the stadium. The videos are streamed into command centers set up throughout the area nearby. Hidden monitors test the air for toxins and biological weapons, and police patrol with portable radiation detectors. 
Although vehicles were subjected to x-ray scanning, there does not appear to have been naked scanners for people. But, everyone go a pat-down! And, if you watch this video, at least some football fans didn't care about this gross violation of their rights as long as it didn't take too long (which it didn't):

Why are  so many okay with the feds interfering with a nominally private event? (And when will truckers stand up to the cargo scanners that are quite dangerous?)

Underbomber witness statement

Please read this heroic statement by underbomber would-be victim, Kurt Haskell. An excerpt:
In closing I will just say that regardless of how the media and government try to shape the public perception of this case, I am convinced that Umar was given an intentionally defective bomb by a U.S. Government agent and placed on our flight without showing a passport or going through security, to stage a false terrorist attack to be used to implement various government policies.
The effect this matter has had on my life has been astounding and due to this case, I will never trust the government in any matter, ever.
In regards to sentencing, nothing I’ve said excuses the fact that Umar tried to kill me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Media Succumbs to TSA Propaganda

The press that was railing about the intrusive TSA procedures less than a year ago has seemingly taken a softer approach toward TSA in the past month, reporting frequently about improperly checked weapons, empty shotgun shells, dangerous cupcakes and loose change at checkpoints. While many of the recent TSA related mainstream media reports resemble public service announcements for the agency, crimes by TSA workers go unreported or largely ignored by the major news outlets.

In December a TSA screener at La Guardia Airport was arrested for stealing a laptop from a college student as he passed through security. TSA screener, Edwin Rosario, was for taking the computer on Dec. 19, 2011. Rosario was seen on surveillance video taking the laptop and admitted to the theft when a TSA supervisor confronted him about it at his Bronx apartment. Curiously, the incident was not reported until after the busy holiday travel season and then not in any major publication.

In another incident, a Federal Air Marshall, ironically named Adam Marshall, was arrested by the Boston police department on Dec. 10 after he allegedly argued with members of Occupy at 3:00AM, called some of them prostitutes, struck one of the organizers in the face and stole her iPhone. This is especially troubling since Air Marshalls are armed and have the power of arrest. This too went unreported and didn’t make it to internet outlets until nearly a month later.

Incidents like this occur when you have an unaccountable agency whose workers can harass passengers with impunity and come to consider themselves above the law. There were 62 TSA workers arrested in 2011, an average of one every six days and these two add to that number nearly a month after they happened.

Many agencies in Government have as many workers as TSA yet none of these has anywhere near the same level of employee criminal activity. We virtually never read of an IRS, FBI or FAA employee being arrested but this is common for TSA employees and often the crimes are particularly heinous, such as child molestation and even one murder. In many cases, investigations after their arrest reveal that these workers had past criminal records that TSA ignored or failed to discover.

TSA hiring standards state that the worker may not have had a criminal conviction in the past ten years and excludes juvenile convictions when the applicant becomes 18 even if the conviction is less than a year old. Consequently many TSA workers have past criminal histories yet are entrusted with airline security and custody of our belongings.

Now AFGE, the TSA union, is pushing the agency to give TSA screeners the power to arrest travelers whom they determine to be a threat of not complying with TSA regulations. If the union is successful in gaining more authority for already unaccountable workers, it is simply a matter of time before law-abiding travelers are being arrested by TSA screeners for failure to show proper deference to power tripping ex-convicts with a grudge against society.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Finally following their own laws

All employers have to provide dosimeters to any employers working near radioactive sources. This requirement comes from OSHA . Now the TSA is finally following the law. I'm interests to see the results, as are many scientists, since independent testing of exposure has been repeatedly blocked.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why opting out is important

I couldn't have said it better myself. This is easier said than done for some, but if you can bear it  - as my husband does - then it does help us save our freedoms and protest their loss.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TSA budget + $400,000

Because people carry change in their pocket, and this sets off alarms both in metal detector walk-throughs as well as naked scanners, airline passengers unintentionally forfeit hundreds of thousands of dollars in change each year. And the TSA, bastion of public service that it is, keeps all that loose change. Seems they should return it to the taxpayers via a refund (could just be a line-item on our 1040a, "Taxpayer money acquired at illegal checkpoints due to you") rather than put back into TSA coffers.

Oh - and how many of you think that none of the agents at the checkpoint pocket some change along the way?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Egregious violation of safety and privacy at American borders

Around the time I was warning that unseemly practices of other countries could come to the US if we weren't, Obama's DHS was purchasing the very technology that I was worried about: scanners that were capable of seeing through the metal bodies of cars and trucks. I knew that DHS has been using these for VIPR inspections of trucks, but I did not know that any had been installed at the border. They have and CNET has the story.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Senator who stands up

Rand Paul didn't just stand up for himself. He stood up for all of us. Here's an excerpt from his father's fundraising email about the news today:
After an “anomaly” turned up in his body scan as he was trying to board a flight in Nashville, Rand showed that he was clearly no threat and asked to go through the scanner a second time.

Instead of tolerating this common-sense idea, TSA officials demanded he undergo a full body pat-down.

Rand stood up for his rights and refused – and was then detained by the TSA and prevented from getting on his flight.

Though the TSA finally caved after Rand didn't back down for two hours - and allowed him to go through the scanner again - Rand caught a later flight but missed his commitment to speak at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Ron Paul promises to end the TSA as President. Note that he always gets the pat-down due to a medical issue that triggers it.

UPDATE: Here's Rand Paul explaining his confrontation to CNN...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Are outbursts at the airport okay?

A friend posted the following status to her Facebook profile today:
Can't believe that some lady just made a HUGE scene and got super, visibly mad that the TSA made her throw out all her liquids over the allowed size. She even admitted that she knew about the rule, but said they had always "let it go" before.
She later updated to say the woman was still complaining loudly in the boarding area. I responded in a comment to her, but it led to a rash of ideas that I wanted to elaborate on.

I am sympathetic to both sides here. Let's face it: flying sucks. Many people are in a rush. They don't want some moron - or someone with a protest agenda - holding them up. Frequent fliers are oftentimes just commuting. They want to get this mundane part of their day over with. Get to the gate or on the plane and get settled in so something productive can be done. Occasional fliers are often flustered by all of the rules. They are aware that they are the hold-up in the line and don't want to inconvenience others, but are also understandably confused by the process.

It's quite obvious that the TSA, at a minimum, exacerbates and, in some cases, even creates these problems. Before I elaborate, I want to relate a story that occurred to my family (my sisters and parents) and posit that something like this may have occurred to the lady making a scene in front of my friend. It will also tie into some issues that the TSA can take the blame for.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bleg: Android and Blogger

I have a mobile Android device now (Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus - love it so far!), which I hope will help me stay more current on this blog than has been possible for the last several months. But, I'm having trouble with the Blogger app, which leads me to this bleg: Do you know of any good apps for posting to blogger on Android? Please respond in the comments or email me.

(If you want to know, I can't embed links or preview posts, so I've been saving my drafts and then posting them on a PC later - hence the flurries of postings you've been seeing.)

From a police state to a military state (with help from the TSA)

Even I find this surprising. I've not been to Boston, but have been in several cities and rode on mass transit in each recently. I did not notice a police or TSA presence and did not have to undergo any warrantless searches.

TSA's successes

Straight from the horse's mouth. But, as the first commenter noted: "You will look in vain on this 'top ten' for any terrorist threat."

Excellent expose of the TSA

12 ideas for the TSA

I'll add one more to Chris Elliott's list: Go away, TSA!

TSA skeptic illustrates security theater

Jeff Goldberg points out that if scanners were so essential, then they'd be in more locations more quickly if the airport in question has a lot of flights to Reagan airport. Just another example of the theater.

Friday, January 6, 2012

TSA Groping Celebrities - 2011 Edition

Over the past year ordinary passengers weren’t the only ones who had problems with TSA screenings. Over thirty celebrities of varying notoriety were also serially groped and humiliated, some more egregious than others. 

Humorist Dave Barry was among the first to publicly describe his mistreatment by TSA. This was soon followed by another report from CBS anchor Brian Williams who described TSA’s inspection of him and “the twins” on the Dave Letterman Show. Similar reports followed by blogger Adam Carolla, and Fox financial reporter Al Lewis, some of which were quite graphic and described in detail previously too racy for publication in mainstream media.

A number of highly invasive pat downs were reported by Khloe Kardashian, who compared her pat down to being raped, actress Christine Ebersole, blogger Amy Alkon and an emotional account from Former Miss USA Susie Castillo recorded minutes after she cleared security.

Other actors were also less than happy with the invasiveness of their screening. The Wil Wheaton who reported his groping on his website and James Pitt Star Of Avatar expressed his distaste of TSA pat downs and full body scans on YouTube.

Even dignitaries have been subjected to this humiliation In December 2010, TSA screeners at BHM airport groped an Indian Diplomat at the checkpoint despite her repeated request for a private screening. She was probably fortunate that they refused or things could have been worse for her. Within days of this incident an Indian Ambassador was harassed by TSA, this time at IAH airport.

In a yet a third insult to India, Former President Kalam was frisked at JFK in November, touching off yet a diplomatic protest, since this the second time this man had been publicly frisked in a US airport.
On the national scene, Alaska State legislator and abuse victim Sharon Cissna made news when she refused a pat down after the nude scan identified her mastectomy scar as an “anomaly” that was a potential weapon. This was followed by Congressman Chuck Schumer tweeting that TSA scans and pat downs were “un-American” after he had the experience himself.

Claire McCaskill who initially described TSA pat downs as “love pats” while she still had access to a private jet, later said that her TSA pat-downs 'get ugly' now that she has to fly commercial. Even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was instrumental in forming TSA, was the recipient of a TSA inspection, demonstrating the unbridled stupidity of the agency.


Some resorted to Twitter to express their displeasure over their TSA experience. DWTS regular Cheryl Burke reported being ‘fingered” by a screener and Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis described a similar experience in her tweet. Former Facts of Life actress Justine Bateman booed TSA for their performance in her tweet. Actor Laz Alonso tweeted that he thinks scanners are invasive and random selections are silly.

Even sports figures have had their share of TSA encounters. Cubs Manager Mike Quade got a thorough going-over and NBA All-Star Chris Kaman reported his TSA ‘nightmare. A photographer captured Anna Kournikova's pat down and her reaction afterward. In another You Tube video former coach Mike Ditka was recorded while being inspected by a TSA screener.

Proving that people of all political persuasions are fed up with TSA, Keith Olbermann called for John Pistole’s resignation on his Op-Ed segment on Countdown. And TSA closed their list of celebrity abuses in November with Jersey Shore performer Jwoww blasting Fargo airport TSA for subjecting her to a humiliating public pat down after she cleared security and bought a cup of coffee.

The sheer number of reports, many not surprisingly occurring at LAX where the scanners still lack privacy software, makes one wonder if there is some sort of competition by screeners to see who can score the most celebrity pat downs or if they are recording them for their own entertainment. This would not be without precedent given that screeners at MCO were caught keeping a derogatory Jeopardy style scoreboard of who could harass the most gays, lesbians and blacks.

While all of these represent a violation of personal privacy and rights, none were as unfortunate as
CNN reporter Drew Griffin. He was placed on the TSA Terrorist watch list subjecting him to endless and unwarranted TSA harassment.

Some celebrities who were spared the mortification of a public pat down were perturbed at being selected for naked scans. Former Baywatch actress Donna D'Errico, complained that she was singled out for the naked scanners because of her appearance and Country singer Miranda Lambert opted out of the scanner at XXX and endured the TSA groping that ensued. Gwyneth Paltrow expressed similar feelings
Actor Laz Alonso tweeted that he thinks the scanners are invasive and random selections are silly as does Sean Penn who doesn’t like TSA X-ray, either.

If you are put off by the thought of being viewed naked by a stranger or having your nude image floating around in a government database, at least you’re not alone.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

False alarm rate is alarming Europeans

Millimeter scanners are not only a gross violation of privacy, they are also ineffective. Of choose we knew this anecdotally from the number of people who report getting the scan-n-grope. But now the European states are coming forward with their own numbers, and the false alarm rate is about 50%.

Florida is paying attention to the naked scanner controversy

This is a well-researched article summarizing the controversy of the health risks of backscatter naked scanners.

The TSA Pre-Grope Program

TSA is touting their new passenger vetting system that will allow “trusted travelers” to provide personal information in exchange for an unspecified form of expedited screening. Apparently not content to invade the physical privacy of travelers by groping and strip searching them, now they want passengers’ sensitive financial, health and personal data in exchange for what, based on their past track record, will almost certainly be an empty promise.

They have made it clear that these passengers would still be sent through scanners, would still be subject to pat downs and possibly strip searches but at least wouldn’t have to wait as long to be harassed. 

Those invited to participate in this Pre-Grope program will pay TSA several hundred dollar each year, trust that TSA won’t renege on their promise and actually believe that TSA will somehow manage to keep their personal financial information secure. Presumably, there are plenty of gullible and desperate passengers willing to participate in this despite overwhelming evidence that it will ultimately fall short of expectations and almost certainly result in even more TSA inflicted damage.

They assure participants that their personal data will be secure and only be used to confirm that the passenger is not a risk. This is from the same agency that released the personal information of passengers and its own employees in 2005 and posted their own sensitive security information on the internet in 2009.

In keeping with the agency’s penchant for avoiding the truth, TSA attempted to cover up the extent of the employee data breach and the airlines’ participation in TSA’s data mining efforts.

This program will undoubtedly result in disappointed passengers, data breaches, identity thefts and more attempts by TSA to deny reality and blame the victims.

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This article discusses a TSA presence at a train station. "Just" dogs and geiger counters.