TSA Tyranny: ACLU Receives Over 900 Complaints In One Month
Travelers detail purposeful humiliation and violation at hands of federal government
Friday, Nov 26th, 2010
The American Civil Liberties Union has received a huge wave of complaints within the last month following the TSA security crack down at airports, contradicting the establishment media spin that naked body scanners and invasive pat-downs are being meekly accepted by a compliant public.
“These complaints came from men, women and children who reported feeling humiliated and traumatized by these searches, and, in some cases, comparing their psychological impact to sexual assaults.” the ACLU website notes.
It states that recurring themes in the hundreds of reports they have received include:
• The searches are extremely invasive
• Many travelers are reporting intense feelings of violation and humiliation
• Some report being physically hurt by the searches
• Some feel their searches are punitive
• Reports of gawking by agents
• Reports of seemingly unnecessary repeated touching of intimate areas
• Many vow not to fly any more
• Any traveler may be forced to undergo one of these searches
Following a Freedom of Information request it was recently revealed that last year that there were over 600 formal complaints about the use of the naked body scanner devices in airports. Judging from the number of complaints to the ACLU in the last month alone, that number has clearly increased exponentially as the devices, in addition to the new pat-down procedure, have become more widespread.
Comments from passengers subjected to excessive experiences at the hands of the TSA have been published by the ACLU.
“The TSA agent used her hands to feel under and between my breasts,” said one woman. “She then rammed her hand up into my crotch until it jammed into my pubic bone.”
Another woman described the TSA groping as more invasive than her monthly breast exam with her GP:
“She ran her hands all the way up and into my crotch with force,” the woman said. “When she finished with the front she did the same with my back to the point that she, what I would call groped, my butt. She went under, in between, and on my breast.”
A New York man described how he was publicly humiliated by TSA agents simply for refusing to go through a scanner:
“Three or four TSA employees came over, basically surrounded me and very loudly proclaimed what a jerk I was for refusing the scan,” he said. “The ’supervisor’ then spent 15 minutes examining every part of my body – it was intrusive, humiliating and without a shadow of a doubt, intended to punish me for electing to not be irradiated.”
The full list of passenger quotations provided by the ACLU can be read at the foot of this article.
Over the past couple of days several corporate media outlets have been running with stories of how the “opt out” protest against the TSA procedures failed to materialize, insinuating that Americans have absolutely no problems with enhanced security measures.
The Boston Herald even suggested that the TSA had been “handed a victory”.
However, it soon emerged that the TSA turned off many of its naked body scanners across the country, and scaled back the invasive searches for one day in a hastily crafted PR stunt to mute the impact of the protest.
This move came despite the fact that a TSA administrative directive stated that “Opt-Outters” should be considered “domestic extremists”.
In this sense the protest represented a resounding victory for the majority now opposed to TSA tyranny, proving that direct action can influence the government’s actions.
The organisers of the protest emphasized this point in a statement on their website, optoutday.com:
Despite claims to the contrary, National Opt-Out Day was a rousing success. The entire point of the campaign was to raise awareness of the issues of privacy and aviation safety at TSA checkpoints, with the ultimate goal of influencing policy – to ask the question “are we really doing this right?” In that, the campaign was a success.
It was always about getting attention to the issue, educating the public and putting pressure on to change the current procedures. With near daily headlines on the front page of newspapers and debates on television and radio news, the mission was accomplished – our voice was heard. By the time November 24 rolled around policy change had already been set in motion.
This success highlights that EVERY day must be an opt-out day, only then will the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security be forced to change the unconstitutional procedures they wish to not only see normalised at airports, but in shopping malls, train stations and at sports events.
As the Charlotte Observer reports today, even if airports are pressured to replace the TSA with privately contracted security companies, the TSA procedures will remain. You may not be barked at so loudly, however you will still be faced with a choice of having harmful ionising radiation fired at you to produce an image of your naked body, or being felt up by security personnel.
The only way to defeat this tyranny and prevent it spreading to American streets is to follow the example of pilots and flight attendants and flat refuse to submit to it.
More complaints to the ACLU:
(These quotations have been lightly edited for clarity and length. Please be aware that due to the nature of these searches, these complaints often include graphic and sometimes disturbing language.)
I opted out and was sexually molested in public. The method used to search my body was on par with a sexual massage by a stranger of the same sex. My penis was touched by a man. My anus and groin were rubbed by a man. My scalp was rubbed by the same person. How can this be acceptable…? These TSA agents are not qualified to deal with the psychological or ethical responsibility of this technology.
- Joe in New Mexico
The pat down was so invasive that the woman doing it stuck her thumb through my jeans into my vagina, significantly more than simple resistance. She cupped each of my breasts, and ran her hand inside the waistband of my jeans…. I am upset, humilated, degraded and feel abused and criminal, when I am guilty of nothing.
- Janet from Maryland [no form]
I was visibly upset and when he started to fondle me inappropriately I yelled “I want to see your supervisor!” I asked (emphatically) if he was legally allowed to grab my genitals and the supervisor said he was. After fondling my genitals he groped my buttocks and told me to have a good flight.
- Allen, Nebraska
The TSA agent used her hands to feel under and between my breasts. She then rammed her hand up into my crotch until it jammed into my pubic bone…. I was touched in the pubic region in between my labia…. She then moved her hand across my pubic region and down the inner part of my upper thigh to the floor. She repeated this procedure on the other side. I was shocked and broke into tears.
- Mary in Texas
In and around breasts, both arms and legs, inside of legs, up to and including genitals (although I clenched the top of my thighs to limit the officer’s groping. Legs a second time, but from the rear (where her hand ran up my bum crack). Entire inside waistband of pants, both from the front and rear. Lifted up my hair (already in a ponytail), inside collar of shirt.
- Sharon, Massachusetts
She ran her hands all the way up and into my crotch with force. To get graphic she could have felt if I had a feminine pad on. When she finished with the front she did the same with my back to the point that she, what I would call groped, my butt. She went under, in between, and on my breast. It was more intense than my monthly breast exam.
- Paula M. Hamilton, Corydon, Indiana
In the 4 times she explored the area where my inner thigh met my crotch, she touched my labia each time, and one pass made contact with my clitoris, through 2 layers of clothing. I told her I felt humiliated, assaulted and abused…. In my work as a nurse, if I did what the TSA did against a patient’s will it would be considered assault and battery, and I did not see how the TSA should have different rules.
TSA says he is going to run the back of his hands on my buttocks and the front of his hands on my groin area…. He feels my bare arms and upper body including my balding scalp. …
- Randy Spencer
This is the most humiliating experience of my entire life. Having another male on his knees in front or behind me and feeling my private areas. And in full view of other passengers. It is a disgusting sight. I now can not sleep due to the thoughts of these agents on their knees feeling my private areas…. I have never, ever been so humiliated and will never, ever fly as long as this policy is in effect.
- Ron Wilson, California
I have a history of having been raped. I was subjected to what I have since learned is a new TSA “enhanced pat down”…. I cried throughout the groping and have had intrusive thoughts since. It was humiliating. I felt powerless. It brought up emotion I could not explain.
- Woman in her 40s
I was shaking and crying the entire time. I was begging them to hurry up but they kept stopping and telling me to calm down. It is impossible to gain composure when a stranger has her hands in your underwear. A crowd gathered and watched and I never felt so humiliated. After it was over, I ran into the ladies’ room where I vomited and cried until my plane was boarding.
- Melissa, Massachusetts
I felt molested and sexually harrassed by their search.
- Gweneth from California
I would not hesitate to say that I felt sexually assaulted by the agent.
- Vince from Kansas
This was, by far, the second most humiliating, and personally violating event in my life – the first being a date-rape in college.
- M., Connecticut
The entire affair was very punitive, and humiliating and time consuming and emotionally distressing. When I retrieved my things, I walked into the women’s restroom and wept.
- Rosemary, Virginia
While in the “private room”… the agent inappropriately touched my genitalia (more than once) and made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. The agent also pulled down my shorts (about halfway), and I had to ask the agent to let me pull them back up. I was inappropriately touched, groped, rubbed, massaged and sexually harrassed. The procedure was violating, degrading, invasive and humiliating.
- Scott in New Mexico
Simply, I was sexually assaulted. My breasts were caressed in an almost amorous manner. And on the second canvassing of my groin, single-finger pressure was applied to my labia majora – the plane of which was near-broken, during which the agent made a wildly off-color remark.
- B. from Maryland
In all of these years and the thousands of flights and millions of airlines miles I have never been so humiliated. If my choice is to risk having my genitalia spread all over the internet and my body exposed to unknown radiation or to have my testicles bounced and my buttocks stroked I will not fly any commercial airline…. our humanity and our dignity are being violated. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
- Dennie from Texas
I am concerned about the exposure and I am equally concerned that someone saw my precious daughter as if she were naked. I was then put through as well and was humiliated and felt as though I were in a peep show. Before this trip, I honestly felt the scanners were a good idea and a price to be paid for travelling – after living it first hand, I have to say it is flat out WRONG.
- Celeste in Florida
The TSA agent did not give me the option of going through the screening machine. She put her hand forcefully in between my legs and took it all the way up into my genital area. She then pressed on my breasts just like a doctor would during a breast exam. She then lifted my dress and put her hands inside of my leggings around my waist…. It was so rough that I felt the effects of it throughout the day.
- Dina Pember, Kennesaw, Georgia
3 or 4 TSA employees came over, basically surrounded me and very loudly proclaimed what a jerk I was for refusing the scan, were laughing at me, repeatedly berating me. The “supervisor” then spent 15 minutes examining every part of my body – it was intrusive, humiliating and without a shadow of a doubt, intended to punish me for electing to not be irradiated.
- Aaron from New York
I was wearing a sanitary napkin, so the agent notified her supervisor that I had a “foreign object.” It took about 10 minutes for her to walk 70 feet, speak with the supervisor, and return. Then she collected my carry-ons and began swabbing items in each of them. This process took a verrrrrry long time…. It was obvious to me that this was punitive for refusing the body scanner…. Finally I was told to remove my sanitary napkin. By the time I got to the gate the jetway had been removed and I was not able to board.
- Suzy in California
Going through the body scanner I said, “I want you to know I do not like this machine. ” the TSA agent asked me if I would like to opt out. I said “no, I don’t want you to touch me like that, I think it’s worse,” to which she snickered and replied, “well there’s a good chance we’re gonna do that anyway.” When I went through, she said I did need a pat down, and then she said she need to check my butt and rear crotch…. It was demeaning and indecent….
- Tiffany from Nevada
4 other male and female TSA agents watched while she ran her hands up and down my body, starting with my hair and then going all over, including my breasts and vaginal area.
- A physician, Michigan
My genitals were touched no less than 4 times with the index finger as the screener’s hand was slid up my leg until it could go no more into my crotch.
- Marlene, California
This new procedure was absolutely humiliating. She touched my limbs, my torso, my breasts, and rubbed my vagina with her fingers three separate times. I might have understood one rub. Three rubs was NOT acceptable. My pants were thin cotton…. As soon as I left the security area, I began to cry. My husband and I had spent one of the best weeks of our lives together for our honeymoon, and it was destroyed on the way home.
- Tiff, North Carolina
The female TSA agent did not advise me of an alternative and after she directed me through the scanner she conducted the “pat-down” WITHOUT my permission or WITHOUT warning that she would be making direct and forceful contact with my genitals FOUR times! I felt sexually violated and yet afraid to protest for fear that I would be put on some kind of no-fly list or miss my flight.
- Kim, Hawaii
This was a very different and, I maintain, a deliberately abusive experience…. the agent not only felt the inside of my upper thighs but also probed my vagina three separate times. I made it to the end of the search, but then broke down…I cannot and will not allow this to happen to me again…. I continue to have nightmares about this experience.
- Charlotte in California, female, 68
I was with two strangers, one of whom now had both of her open palms moving slowly across virtually every part of my body. She barely moved them as she groped both of my breasts. And most disturbingly, her hands karate-chopped their way a full two inches up into my vagina through my slacks. She performed this maneuver not once, but twice: once from behind me, and then once again, standing/bending in front of me.
- Alex, Washington state
I will do everything in my power to drive rather than take any commercial flights if this is the new standard of TSA screening.
- Max, North Carolina
My daughter was forced to cancel her plans to join us for Thanksgiving because she did not want to subject her children to either the exposure to x-rays or the patdowns. We have cancelled our plans to fly north for Christmas and will drive instead.
- Janet, Florida
The TSA agent squeezes my thighs and runs his hand up until they touched my testicles on both of my legs. This was done in full view of everyone in line. This was very uncomfortable, humiliating and seemed very unnecessary. If given the choice, I will do everything in my power to drive rather than take any commercial flights if this is the new standard of TSA screening…. I do not feel safer. I feel violated….
- Max, North Carolina
When I asked the agent politely for her badge number, she said in a sharp, loud tone, “If you want to know my badge number you can talk to my supervisor!”
- Heather from New York
I have Type 1 Diabetes and wear a wireless insulin pump. TSA supervisors… informed me that since I have to wear a medical device, I will be subject to the enhanced pat-down every time I fly. It’s not okay with me to have a stranger grope my genitals once, much less 12-15 times per year. Please, please, please help those of us who are being given no choice in this matter.
- Laura Seay, Georgia
I didn’t set off any alarms, apparently I was searched because I was wearing a ‘loose fitting shirt’. My T-Shirt was not tucked in.
I walked through the xray machine… with flying colors. And out of the blue a women said I had to get a pat down.
- Heather from Illinois
I was the only female in a crowd of men. Even though I was not next in line, I was called over to the body scanner. As I got closer to the scanner, I could clearly hear him say “got a cute one, some DD’s.” … I was appalled and decided at that point to “opt out” of the scanner…. I was then put through the pat down procedure which I only can only describe as sexual assault.
- Caitlin, Connecticut
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor at Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and regular contributor to Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.http://www.prisonplanet.com/tsa-tyranny-aclu-receives-over-900-complaints-in-one-month.html