Saturday, October 1, 2011

More TSA Security Theatre

Here is yet another story of a person humiliated by TSA in their "pretend" security. They subject innocents to harassment and degradation wasting valuable resources while spending next to nothing on real threats.

From the Lori Dorn blog:
At what point does the need for security eclipse human dignity and compassion?

Yesterday I went through the imaging scanner at JFK Terminal 4 for my Virgin America flight to San Francisco. Evidently they found something, because after the scan, I was asked to step aside to have my breast area examined. I explained to the agent that I was a breast cancer patient and had a bilateral mastectomy in April and had tissue expanders put in to make way for reconstruction at a later date.

I told her that I was not comfortable with having my breasts touched and that I had a card in my wallet that explains the type of expanders, serial numbers and my doctor’s information (pictured) and asked to retrieve it. This request was denied. Instead, she called over a female supervisor who told me the exam had to take place. I was again told that I could not retrieve the card and needed to submit to a physical exam in order to be cleared. She then said, “And if we don’t clear you, you don’t fly” loud enough for other passengers to hear. And they did. And they stared at the bald woman being yelled at by a TSA Supervisor.

To my further dismay, my belongings, including my computer, were completely out of sight. I had no choice but to allow an agent to touch my breasts in front of other passengers.

I just didn’t understand why these agents were so insensitive to the situation. I would have been happy to show her which bag was mine and have her retrieve the card, but she did not allow even that. I have been through emotional and physical hell this past year due to breast cancer. The way I was treated by these TSA agents added a shitload of insult to injury and caused me a great deal of humiliation.

I understand the need for safety when flying, but there is also a need for those responsible to be compassionate and sensitive to each situation. These agents were neither.
Compare Lori Dorn's story with the following...

A security breach at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport forced the evacuation of Concourse A, which serves six airlines. Paul Mason, Chief of Police at Lambert, said police were called to the concourse around 6:20 p.m. after airport screeners found a prohibited item in a bag. When airport police and TSA security officers arrived a few minutes later, the individual and the bag were gone. Mason said the item appeared to be a double-barreled derringer handgun. After security officers were unable to detain the person, the concourse was evacuated and passengers on five planes waiting to take off were unloaded and screened again. The entire process took about 1.5 hours.
Yeah... you humiliate a woman over her breast implants -- which are clearly identifiable in a scan -- but you let a guy with a double-barrelled derringer handgun just "melt away". Now that is class A, #1, top-of-the-line security!

Update 2011oct04: Here is a bit from a post on the NY Times blog of Tara Parker-Pope:
Since posting her story this weekend, several Web sites, including her husband’s blog, Laughing Squid, as well as the blog Boing Boing, have picked up her story. She said she has been contacted by T.S.A. officials and plans to speak with them soon.

The T.S.A. e-mailed a statement about the incident, saying that proper screening procedures were followed.
We strive to treat every passenger with dignity and respect. In this case, that may not have happened. During the screening process, if advanced imaging technology detects an anomaly that cannot be cleared, secondary screening is required to ensure the passenger does not have threat items, such as explosives concealed under clothing.

... [yada, yada, yada and more officialese ignoring responsibility and bad behaviour by TSA staff]
Ms. Dorn said the screening at the San Francisco airport before her return flight was uneventful, but she walked through a traditional metal detector rather than an imaging machine.

“The embarrassment came from trying to explain my situation to someone who didn’t want to hear it,” she said. “I was not refusing a pat-down if that’s what was necessary, and ultimately I submitted to one. I was objecting to how I was being treated.”

Ms. Dorn joins a long list of passengers with and without medical issues who have complained of mistreatment by T.S.A. screening workers.

Last year, told the story of a woman who was forced to show her prosthetic breast during an airport screening. Another woman said she was embarrassed when, during the pat-down, a worker manipulated her breast prosthesis from side to side.

Joe Sharkey, a reporter for The New York Times, has also written about what many travelers perceive as attitude problems among screening workers.

No comments: