Monday, February 21, 2011

Unfriendly TSA: Invasive in Seattle

I just got through the TSA screeners at the Sea-Tac Airport. I am very, very upset with the service of the TSA employees. Is this really necessary?

As I approached the screener today, I had made up my mind that I was going to opt out of going through the X-RAY machine. There are three purposes for my decision:
1. PRIVACY - Have you seen the images that are taken by those x-ray machines? They take a snapshot of your body in the NUDE. I have no shame when it comes to my body. I really don't. If it were up to me, I would never wear a bra or tshirt again in my life because I prefer being in a lavalava than being fully clothed. The issue with me is that none of the TSA workers or the Feds need to see any of it. This is my body and I prefer that strangers NOT be allowed to view it without my permission.
Click for Photo Credit

2. HEALTH - Who knows what kind of x-ray radiation our bodies are being subjected to by going through the machine? Even at the dentist you have to wear protective gear when they x-ray your mouth. They stuff all that cotton in your mouth then put that hard cardboard thing in too. Then they put that heavy blue apron on you before they snap the picture. Even the technician has to stand behind a partition when they do the x-ray'ing. With that being said, why would I want to subject myself to that type of radiation?
Click for Photo Credit

3. POLITICAL DEFIANCE - The final reason is that I am not a political pawn to be used to justify the use of taxpayers dollars to purchase the scanners. The TSA director is purported to have a vested interest in the company that produces the x-ray machine. In other words, he holds stock in the company that will produce and sell the machine to the TSA. If that isn't a conflict of interest, I don't know what is! He has also been quoted as having said that the x-ray machine would not have detected the explosives on the shoe-bomber guy. So once again... why do we need the x-ray  machine? Ugghh!!!

So as I approach the scanner thing I politely tell the woman screener, "Ma'am, I'd prefer to be pat down instead of going through the scanner."

She yells to someone off in the distance, "We have an opt-out." She points to a specific place for me to stand to wait for someone to do the pat down.

I have to point out that the gentleman two people in front of me was not thrilled with the process. He had not taken off his shoes or his belt. He was giving the TSA screener a hard time. I felt his annoyance with the TSA workers because they were very rude. As the man is beginning to remove his belt, she yells to the worker on the other side of the xray machine, "This guy is giving me a hard time." Okay -- embarrassing and very unprofessional even if it's true. Just because someone works for a pseudo-government agency doesn't give them a pass to be an ass.

Annoyed man enters xray machine. This extremely round man on the other end begins to bark out instructions to the man. Okay -- once again, embarrassing and very unprofessional.

Another guy follows the annoyed man and everything goes off without a hitch. Of course it does -- compliance is always the easiest route, right? Is it? Is compliance easier, rather, is compliance more important than PRIVACY, HEALTH, and REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO UNFAIR PRACTICES? At what point is enough, enough?

So there I am standing at the appointed location to await my pat down. Husband is right behind me and he opts out as well. The very young woman behind him opts out also. So there we three are awaiting our pat down. I agree with all the people who say that these invasive practices are in violation of the 4th Amendment. As a refresher, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (it was included in the original Bill of Rights) says:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Everyone complies with this "unreasonable searches and seizures" under the guise that this will protect us from the terrorists. The topic of terrorists could take this post into another discussion but I will reserve that for future examination and remain with the topic at hand.

As I'm standing there in the appointed position, a woman in the other line is attempting to get through. She has a very young baby in tow. He could have possibly been about 9 months. Her diaper bag is, of course, full of stuff for the baby from formula to baby food and the male TSA worker is giving her the hardest time about ziplocs and appropriate ounces. As she attempts to walk through the scanner, a female worker comes from behind and tells her that she has to remove the baby from her person and walk through the scanner. The mother tells the worker, "Are you going to carry my baby? I am traveling alone." I reach over and offer to carry the baby. The TSA woman comes over quickly and grabs the baby, tells the mother that she has to put the baby on the stainless steel table while she walks through the scanner. Really? Terrible!

As I am watching this whole scene unfold, the woman that will pat me down finally retrieves me. I must tell you that the 'pat-down' is very, very INVASIVE. If I were lesbian, the groping she did might have done something to me. It was THAT invasive. On top of that, they do it right there in front of the ENTIRE crowd of people waiting to come through the gate. The worker feels every inch of my body and it is NOT a pat down and more like a FEEL DOWN. Husband is getting the treatment next to me from a male worker.

After the gloved feel down, the worker then do a swab down of our clothing with this large cotton pad. They wiped both husband and I with the swabs then put it into this machine. The machine came back with no interesting results so I am free to dress and head to my gate while my husband's swab comes back POSITIVE for explosive material. Really? We were together all day. How is mine negative and his POSITIVE? hmmm... sounds random to me!

Two male workers take husband into a private area and question him. I can hear them.

"Where were you today?"
"Have you been in contact with anyone...?"

It was nonsense! When husband came out he told me that they did an even more invasive feel down in the private area. As a U.S. citizen, why is this ok? Innocent until proven guilty or are we all guilty to begin with?

I am going to let my the congress people in Washington D.C. know about how I feel about this. One voice can turn into many if more people would care more about their rights and less about willful obedience. All the young people are revolting around the world, upset with the powers in their governments. And here is America, with the most powerful military on the planet and the most apathetic, indifferent citizenship in the world.

We are laden with rights endowed from our Creator to force the government to obey its citizens or revolt until they do.



evotia said...

I'm torn with the scanner issue. At all costs I feel safety should come first. Given the option of getting patted down and groped invasively (as u put it) or walking thru a scanner.. exposing my nether regions - I'm gonna have to go with the scanner. I see your political view supported by many and respect your right to opt out. I just can't see myself being touched by others OR watch my kids have to go thru the same. What I can agree with you is this - SEA TSA S U C K S!!! I've had two bad experiences there with their unprofessional way of handling my husband and I with baby bags and cpap machines. They were terrible. Was this the only airport you experienced this? ATL seems to be smooth with the opt-outs (from what I've seen).

The Songer said...

This is crazy! I hope to never travel through an airport with scanners.... And the baby incident.. They're killing me!

Nicole said...

This isn't about political reasons, right, left or middle. This is about our Constitutional Rights!

Full Frontal Nudity Will Not Make Us Safer: Abolish the TSA

Right now, in America, we have "actual elected lawmakers" -- Republican and Democrat both -- going up against "unelected political appointees" a la Janet Napolitano and John Pistole. The lawmakers have the Constitution and public opinion on their side; the appointed bureaucrats have neither.

I use to be active duty in this nation's military and was willing to die for everything it stood for. Right now, I am ashamed to be an American and I am refusing to have any children until this TSA debacle gets fixed.
How would I raise my child? "Sweetheart, just remember no one can touch your privates unless they are a TSA agent", is this what I'd teach my child? Is this what I should tell myself?


seavu7 said...

Thank you for standing up for your rights & posting these comments! These procedures go too far and more people need to do what you and your husband have done and broadcast it as you have done! The government is supposed to be working for us, not treating us like criminals. Until these invasive, unconstitutional procedures go away, the real terrorists have truly won!