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.