The TSA (or Transportation Security Administration) has become synonymous with harassment, despite their core mission of protecting Americans and other travelers from terrorist threats and violence. But why? In addition to the bad personal experiences many frequent fliers have had at the hands of TSA personnel, much of the blame can be placed on news stories like the following.
What are some examples of TSA harassment? Take a look here and see for yourself.
Celeste (she chose not to reveal her full name) was a rape survivor and a seasoned air traveler who, like many other travelers, wasn't immediately aware of the pat-down changes that occurred in October of 2010. She flew from Minneapolis to Chicago before the changes were instituted, and faced a more old-fashioned approach to security - walking through a metal detector, having her luggage scanned and maybe getting a cursory "pat-down" if there were any questions about what she was bringing on to the plane.
On the return trip to Minnesota, after the more extensive TSA procedure was introduced, she had a troubling experience. Celeste had previously tried to avoid the full-on body scanners because they brought up past trauma. However, when she opted out of going through the scanner, she was physically inspected by a male agent. She described the incident as "so intimate, so horrible."
In October 2008, a young woman from Amarillo, TX, was flying out of nearby Corpus Christie when she was selected for "extended search procedures." After she was patted down, the TSA agent pulled her blouse down, exposing her breasts. When the woman returned to the screening area, she was reportedly laughed at by other agents. One male employee allegedly told the woman he was sorry to have missed it, and would definitely be watching the video later.
Eventually, she got through security and filed an administrative complaint.
A passenger named Ella Swift claimed she was singled out for screening due to her baggy skirt. During the pat-down, she said, "The female officer ran her hand up the inside of my leg to my groin and she did it so hard and so rough she lifted me off my heels. I think I yelped. I was in pain for about an hour afterwards. It just felt excessive and unnecessary."
At the Ft Lauderdale airport in November 2010, Meg McLain found herself hitting a snag while trying to go through TSA procedures. Out of the six or so people in line to get through security, she was selected to go through the body scanner. McLain told TSA officials she was not comfortable using the scanner. She also declined to undergo an "enhanced pat-down."
What happened next is a matter of some debate. McLain gave a radio interview immediately after the incident, in which she described having her ticket torn up in front of her, being restrained to a chair, handcuffed and eventually escorted out of the airport. The TSA has objected to numerous specifics in McLain's report.