I don’t feel safe. I feel violated, humiliated, and angry.

Yesterday, I was touched — in my opinion, inappropriately — by a TSA agent at LAX.

I'm not going to talk about it in detail until I can speak with an attorney, but I've spent much of the last 24 hours replaying it over and over in my mind, and though some of the initial outrage has faded, I still feel sick and angry when I think about it.

What I want to say today is this: I believe that the choice we are currently given by the American government when we need to fly is morally wrong, unconstitutional, and does nothing to enhance passenger safety.

I further believe that when I choose to fly, I should not be forced to choose between submitting myself to a virtually-nude scan (and exposing myself to uncertain health risks due to radiation exposure)1, or enduring an aggressive, invasive patdown where a stranger puts his hands in my pants, and makes any contact at all with my genitals.

When I left the security screening yesterday, I didn't feel safe. I felt violated, humiliated, assaulted, and angry. I felt like I never wanted to fly again. I was so furious and upset, my hands shook for quite some time after the ordeal was over. I felt sick to my stomach for hours.

This is wrong. Nobody should have to feel this way, just so we can get on an airplane. We have fundamental human and constitutional rights in America, and among those rights is a reasonable expectation of personal privacy, and freedom from unreasonable searches. I can not believe that the TSA and its supporters believe that what they are doing is reasonable and appropriate. Nobody should have to choose between a virtually-nude body scan or an aggressive, invasive patdown where a stranger puts his or her hands inside your pants and makes any contact at all with your genitals or breasts as a condition of flying.

I do not have the luxury of simply refusing to fly unless and until this policy changes. I have to travel dozens of times a year for work, and it simply isn't practical to travel any other way. Airlines know that I am not unique in this regard, so they have no incentive to take a stand on their customers' behalf. Our government also knows this, so our Congressmen and Congresswomen have no incentive to stand up for the rights and freedoms of their constituencies against powerful and politically-connected lobbyists like the former head of the TSA. This is also wrong.

I have to travel back into the USA next week, and I'll be back and forth between Los Angeles and Vancouver for much of the next several months. When I think about all this travel, I feel helpless, disempowered, and victimized by the airlines and the TSA … and I'm one of the lucky passengers who has never been sexually assaulted. I can't imagine what it must feel like for someone who has been the victim of sexual violence to know that they are faced with the same two equally-unacceptable choices that I faced yesterday, and will likely face whenever I fly in the future.

It's fundamentally wrong that any government can force its citizens to submit to totally unreasonable searches so we have the "freedom" to travel. It is fundamentally wrong that the voices of these same citizens are routinely ignored, our feelings marginalized, and our concerns mocked.

I don't know what we can do to change this, but we must do something. I'm writing letters to all of my congressional representatives, contacting an attorney, and reaching out to the ACLU when I get home. I am not optimistic that anything will change, because I feel like the system is institutionally biased against individuals like me … but maybe if tens of thousands of travelers express our outrage at this treatment, someone will be forced to listen.

Edit to add one more thing: I don't believe that all TSA officersare automatically bad people (though we've seen that at least some are.) For example, I recently flew out of Seattle, opted-out, and got a non-invasive, professional, polite patdown. It was still annoying, but at least my genitals weren't touched in any way, which was decidedly not the case yesterday. I realize that most TSA officers are doing the best they can in a job that requires them to interact with people who automatically dislike them and what they represent. It isn't the individual officer who is the problem; it's the policies he or she is instructed to carry out that need to change.

1. The TSA recently admitted that the amount of radiation passengers are exposed to in backscatter scanners was 10 times more than they originally claimed. The TSA claims that the scanners are still safe, but what else would we expect them to claim?

308 thoughts on “I don’t feel safe. I feel violated, humiliated, and angry.”

  1. Security Theater. For the sheeple. Between the TSA groping people and stealing our laptops and the FBI fabricating their own “terrorists” it’s just sad.
    As to the radiation: you get more flying. Not that it makes it any better, it’s just more on top of what you already get just being above the shielding atmosphere. This is why pilots freaked out about the pr0n scanners. They already get cooked every day on the job.

  2. Part of the new "enhanced" procedure is (or at least, was, when I flew) to feel under the waistband of the person's underwear (between the underwear waistband and the skin).

  3. I don’t know if the bill survived or not, but Rep. Chaffetz recently has TSA people repsond to their concerns – under oath – about how invasive the TSA policies are, and their inconsistent enforcements.

  4. Wil, I grew up flying back and forth between Germany and the United States. I’ve crossed the Atlantic more than 50 times. Never in my life have I been afraid of flying.
    Until now. Since all this TSA crap has started, I’ve been continually thankful that I haven’t needed to board a plane in more than 2 years. I’ve never been sexually assaulted, either…but what you’re describing sounds like sexual assault to me.
    It terrifies me that a stranger could have such control over my body — and that the government sanctions that control. And any behavior that goes with it.
    I’m so sorry you’ve been subjected to this.

  5. I just thought I’d mention the fact that, despite what many people think, flying is a right according to the law, US Code – Section 40103:
    “A citizen of the United States has a public right of transit through the navigable airspace.”

  6. I have to respectfully disagree about your last statement regarding not all TSA employees being bad people. When you voluntarily choose to work for an organization that has no regard for the constitution, the law or the public it allegedly serves just so you can collect a paycheck and benefits, you’re as evil as the outfit you work for. You run with the devil you choose.

  7. Touching people’s genitals does not keep us safe. If it made us safe, I’d just live without flying. I wish we could do something about these invasions.

  8. I have written a few times on my blog about the eroding personal freedoms of our country. All in the name of safety and very few of them make us safer. Wiretaps, TSA, for goodness sake they get to know which library books I check out. I love living in the U.S. but I hate that my government has begun to treat me like a criminal.
    I am not some ultra liberal or a person who sees conspiracies around every corner. My political views are all over the place. Part of the problem is the government and the press have done such a good job of sugar coating what is actually going on. A recent study of the newspapers showed when water boarding was mentioned in conjunction with the U.S. it was called an interrogation. If it was another country doing it then torture was always the word used.
    As far as the TSA it really terrifies me. I was sexually abused as a child. I have no choice here. I have to take the supposedly safe radiation scan. There is no way I will ever be able to voluntarily put myself through a pat down. This is disturbing to me. I used to fly a lot. Now I try to drive whenever possible. This next year though I have to fly a lot more than I usually do. I have no choice. The government has also given me no choice with the TSA. Here’s hoping they are right about the radiation.
    Wil I am very sorry you had to go through this. When you get back and you have time to think about how you want to approach this I would be more than willing to join any cause or help out in anyway you need. I hope this is the end of your discomfort. Sadly, I think it was probably only the first shot in the dark.

  9. AMEN! I am glad to hear more people outraged about the TSA. It helps even more to have public figures like yourself express their outrage.
    I actually blogged about this a while back:
    One article I read was especially impressive. It was called, “The ‘Israelification’ of airports” http://bit.ly/7qQobW
    We do not have to stand for this, but it will take a lot of noise to change. Encourage everyone to contact their elected officials. It is easy to do these days:
    You can also send feedback to each airport you fly through and tell them you want them to kick TSA out and adopt a more Israeli approach. Here is the contact info for LAX:
    [email protected]

  10. Well we’d better get a move on if we are going to have any say in how we are treated when we travel at all, then, because the TSA has already started up with their “security procedures” at some train stations, soon to be ALL train stations. What’s next–Rapiscan Toll Booths? Then Rapiscan highway on-ramps? The “I don’t fly anymore” crowd may be spared a while longer, but the more we sit back and take it the more we are going to get.

  11. I am in the midst of a potential move from Southern California back to my hometown of Pittsburgh. The original plan was my boyfriend would drive across the country with all of our things and I would follow by plane a month later. With all of the terrible news about the TSA I am filled to the brim with anxiety about flying. I HAVE been sexually assaulted and the thought of that happening to me by someone who is misusing their position of authority makes me sick to my stomach. I cried reading your post. I have decided we will drive out together. I’d rather stress about finding an apartment in time than someone touching me inappropriately.
    Thank you for speaking out, Wil. We need people like you and other people who may be able to pull some weight, people with a few more friends than the common citizen. Thank you.

  12. Will, i’d like to offer a suggestion, especially for someone who travels over (mostly) short distances (YVR to LAX isn’t that far). Get your pilot’s license, and start flying yourself. As private pilots it’s necessary to do a bit of paperwork to cross the border, and clear customs each way, but it’s really a lot better (and I mean a *lot* better) than being subjected to the lunacy you had to go through.
    And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

  13. The terrorists have won. What’s worse is all of this invasion does absolutely nothing. I recently took two flights with a 4 inch switch blade in my pocket by accident. Guess what it didn’t get detected by the metal detector or the radiation scan, and it’s a worse weapon then those used by the 9/11 hijackers. TSA is a huge waste of money, and in violation of our constitutional rights.

  14. The problem with the amount of radiation that a person is exposed to is that the machine is set to one generic level. For an average sized person (over 5’3″about 150 lb for example) the radiation amount isn’t harmful if you aren’t flying very often. For those of us who don’t fit the average, or children or the elderly the amount of radiation is significantly higher that the recommended safe amount. TSA also doesn’t allow their screeners to wear radiation badges because they don’t want a visible indicator of just how much radiation is leaking out. Just wait until the screeners begin developing cancer.
    Thank you Wil for speaking out on this. It is a horrible violation of our rights. Whoever performed your pat-down had absolutely no right to insert their hand underneath your clothing. That’s unlawful sexual contact, or assault if you felt physical pain from the contact. The scariest thing about all these searches for me is that until just a couple of years ago, a person who was a registered sex offender could be hired as a TSA screener if the offense happened more than 5 years prior to the date of application. It was a loophole that was (supposedly) closed in the past couple of years in their hiring process, but they didn’t go back through and “clean house” of those people who are not supposed to be around kids or have other restrictions. I like the idea of calling 911 after an invasive pat down. You may catch a sex offender violating the terms of his release…

  15. “Congressmen and Congresswomen have no incentive to stand up for the rights and freedoms of their constituencies against powerful and politically-connected lobbyists like the former head of the TSA.”
    They also have no incentive to stand up for our rights and freedoms because they’re not subjected to the body scans and pat downs. They get a pass when travelling.

  16. In all seriousness, would you have felt violated if the TSA agent looked like Jeri Ryan? I imagine some guys would brag about it (“Hey, a really hot TSA agent felt me up!”).
    What if it had been a robot/machine doing the pat-down (with the same intensity)? Is it the fact that it was a person doing it?
    Maybe I’m not as serious about my nads, but I personally wouldn’t care if they had to do some checking there. But then I wouldn’t consider the body scan an invasion of privacy either. This is the Twitter and Facebook age where everyone is sharing their passing thoughts and what they had for breakfast for the world to see. So what if a TSA agent sees a body scan?

  17. Also, two things I found out when researching this about a year ago: LAX does have a higher incident rate of inappropriate behavior during these searches (whether that’s due to training or whatever) and each airport in the US can choose whether to use TSA or a different private company. If these airports that currently sub-lease their security out to TSA suddenly started getting hundreds and hundreds of complaints and requests for a different security company, one that screens their employees very carefully and only uses the safer of the two types of scanners, it would definitely make a financial impact on the TSA!

  18. I seem to remember reading some years ago of some residents of low-income, government housing in a gang-dominated area who wanted to install metal detectors on all the entrances to the building. The ACLU stepped in and said no, you can not even consent to sign away your Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure. So why are we allowing millions of people to sign away these rights simply by agreeing to fly? My answer is simple: no one has yet pushed the right buttons to make this hideous monster go away.
    Look, if a duly sworn police officer with probable cause to search a perpetrator for weapons can’t put his hands inside of that perpetrator’s pants, then you had better believe that the TSA can’t either. That is sexual assault, pure and simple. And no one should ever be forced to consent to sexual assault. And no one should be forced to consent to an invasive, explicit, and potentially health-hazardous “photograph,” either.
    Chicken Little has screamed “The sky is falling,” and we’ve wadded up our Constitution to throw at the invisible monsters.

  19. I’m really glad you’re taking a stand. I fly a lot, and so far every interaction with the TSA has been cordial, but every time I’m in line for scans I get super nervous, and I shouldn’t be! I used to LOVE flying. Now I just worry about being groped.

  20. Thank you. For speaking out, particularly as you have a far more significant audience that you can encourage to speak out with you. As a woman, as a victim of rape, as someone who has a body that is not considered “acceptable” by general standards, the current environment of flight security requirements in the USA disturbs me deeply. I am not American, but I love America deeply and love travelling into and through America as often as possible. As it is, I find general pat-downs or swab tests triggering, without it being ramped up to these invasive scans and body searches.
    Why is the default to invade everyone’s privacy, when only a few ever put anyone at risk?
    I don’t think I could ever bring myself to object to the body scan and opt for the body search (despite my concerns of the radiation risk) but what I want to know is, just who sees these near nude scans, and how are we safeguarded so that those scans of people who have bodies that are not considered socially acceptable (those who have disabilities, medical issues, are fat, have prosthetics or disfigurements) are not being emailed around TSA or anywhere else for jerks to have a laugh or point at the weirdos.
    Human beings should have the right to physical privacy should they choose it, and not to have their bodies violated by people who are not professional or decent human beings.
    I’m sorry that you experienced something traumatic, but I am glad you are speaking up.

  21. if you would not arouse suspicion you could put a cucumber in your pants and then smile broadly when you get man handled

  22. And this is why I couldn’t fly last month. I was flying one with no checked luggage and two days before my flight I lost my ID. I knew my circumstances would make me stand out. I decided to cut class and drive rather than fly, because I was so afraid of a TSA assault.

  23. >>Wil Wheaton says, “Don’t be a dick!”
    Time to add on to Wheaton’s Rule- “Don’t touch my dick!”
    Seriously, though, I support you on this totally. Just had my first experience with the enhanced security, and it will be a long time before I choose to do it again.

  24. I think the TSA is going to have serious regrets about their behavior once someone invents transporter technology.
    How much longer do we have to wait for that again?

  25. We laughed at “Airplane!”
    Have you ever been in a Turkish prison, Billy?
    Billy, do you ever watch movies about gladiators?
    Have you ever seen a grown man naked?
    Somehow, I suspect Thousands Standing Around wouldn’t get the joke.

  26. TSA agents are not law enforcement, have no powers of arrest or detention, and must call real cops if they have a problem. If they detain you, it is kidnapping–a federal offense.
    The problem is, they know you’re on a tight schedule, and they have your cell phone in the bin. They use intimidation and your schedule against you.
    If they make you wait for a pat down longer than a reasonable time, you should ask, “Am I under arrest? Then am I free to go?”
    The only legal answers they can give are “no,” and “yes.” Any other answer is a violation of federal law. They CANNOT arrest you, and detaining you against your wishes is unlawful.
    Yes, you can call real cops and file charges. People have. However, that takes an hour or so, and you have a flight to catch…

  27. The best statistical case that can be made (assuming there have been attempts at terrorism aboard aircraft since their implementation, and that TSA was 100% effective in stopping them), they have improved the odds of you dying from such from 1:79 million to 1:76 million.
    How many lottery tickets is that?
    And I know a lot of people in this forum won’t like the European solution–when I was in France and Germany last month, they profiled people. Non-Israeli Middle Easterners and North Africans were pulled aside for extra scrutiny. African-Americans and -Europeans, and Caucasians were largely left alone.

  28. You won’t recognize this nick but you have met me a couple times. I’m hiding because I don’t share this with anyone. It’s just too personal and still hurts too much. I know what you went through & exactly how it makes you feel. It’s the #1 reason I won’t fly until things change.
    The first time I was molested I was 3. My father found my cousins doing this & instead of taking me in his arms & taking me out of the situtation he yelled at me. He called me a slut and a whore. He then paraded me in front of all of our family completely naked. Everyone burst out into hysterical laughter. Even my mother. They all thought it was so cute. This set me up for 18 years of being abused by several other people.
    The last time I was raped I cut myself off from everything. I figured I needed to build a safe world inside my head. Make myself look and feel as ugly as possible so no one would ever touch me again. It’s made it so I don’t trust anyone. I used to put on a facade all the time. The real me was always hidden because I was tired of being used, abused, and terrified. As they say fake it til you make it.
    I’m now 37 and just starting to live life. It’s taken me all these years to even peek out from all the walls I’ve build up inside me.
    The thought of either being exposed by a machine or so invasively touched scares the fuck out of me. I’ve come a long way in the past 16 years. I don’t ever want to go back to that dark place again. So what is a person like me supposed to do? My choice is to go back to nightmares, random severe panic attacks, hiding inside myself again, or not fly at all. What kind of a choice is that?
    Thank you for speaking out. I’m a nobody. These people would brush me aside and not give a crap about what I’ve been through and how what they are subjecting us to could potentially ruin years of hard work. Someone like you has a voice. It takes people like to say enough is enough. Things need to change. Please for people like me keep fighting. Keep using your voice. For those of us who don’t have one.

  29. I am going on a plane for the first time since i had a metal hip put in 6 mo ago, and I am scared about the security screenings I will be subjected to. I have just kind of resigned myself to being groped as the price for going to hawaii. It isn’t right and I’m sorry it happened to you.

  30. Wil, I have such mixed feelings about security searches at airports. I remeber you and I discussing such matters the last time I saw you at Phoenix. I work for a Trans Atlatic airline at London Gatwick and I have to go through a scanner and a pat down 2,4,6 times a day, all depending on our flight programme for that day. In the UK we have no choice over a scanner or pat down, they come hand in hand. I have several times in the past been touched in a way that I beleive to be inappropriate. On each occasion I have made a complaint to the security manager, who has always been very sympathetic. I’m usuaally told that the member of staff in question is a new starter and so a little too enthusiastic. I do understand that they have a job to do, which is not an easy one at all. I think that when you are a passenger you may feel that you dont have a voice, but surely in an Amrican airport there must be some sort of manager that you can complain to.
    On the flip side, I have exprienced a full security emergency involving a suspicious device spotted on a scanner, so I do believe that security screening is a vital part of airport and passenger security. The device eventually turned out to be a DFT dummy, our version of the TSA, testing the airports security procedures.
    I really hope that you can make your complaint heard Wil. We have to have these security searches, but the staff must be trained to carry them out with respect. Don’t be put off flying. At the end of the day that’s what terrorism is trying to acheive, to disrupt our lives.

  31. I firmly believe in “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (Ben Franklin, at least according to Wikipedia.) The key point to this is the question of what is “essential liberty”. Is it essential that I carry dangerous objects onto an aircraft? No, so I’m OK with there being safeguards to prevent it. Is it essential that I not be sexually assaulted? Absolutely, so I don’t believe those safeguards can cross that line. Is it essential that I not go through a machine that might cause me to be seen nude? That’s tougher, but my opinion is no – it might be embarrassing but it’s not assault. Is it essential that I not be asked questions which may lead me to be further investigated, like what the Israelis do? Not at all, I’d happily answer such questions.
    One of the problems with the TSA is that they haven’t correct answered most (maybe all) of those kinds of questions. The TSA guidelines are simply someone’s knee-jerk reaction to some admittedly horrific events. Those guidelines have not been written to ensure that they 1) actually provide safety and 2) protect what are truly essential liberties; they provide neither of those things. What the guidelines do provide is the ability for politicians and bureaucrats to say that “action has been taken” to protect America’s air passengers. At some point the outcry over the failure to provide both #1 and #2 above will outweigh the desire to “take action”, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that point yet.

  32. Hi Wil- I know other women have already commented on this too, but I’ll add my voice to the chorus. As a rape survivor, I find the TSA’s new policies disgusting, invasive, and violation of my human rights. I’m sorry you went through that, and really happy you’re speaking up about this issue.
    The issue for me isn’t that the search is overly physically invasive per se; it’s that I don’t have a right to refuse. Sure, I putatively can refuse by not flying, but since that’s not a *realistic* option, it’s not really an option at all.
    The argument I find most annoying is that the TSA pat-down is “like going to the doctor”. I always want to slap people who say that- to me that’s like saying rape is like consensual sex. The difference is consent- the doctor won’t touch me unless I want him or her too; the TSA agent will. It makes me ill.

  33. The best way to stop this is to make TSA want to stop it – when you are searched giggle loudly and ask them to touch you there again in a very loud voice.
    I have done this several times at my home airport and now I get a very perfucntory patdown and get waved through.

  34. Thank you, Wil. I have been sexually assaulted, and I also have a family history of cancer. Therefore neither the groping nor the radiation are acceptable risks for me. The rest of my family simply cannot understand why I will never fly again. Luckily my ability to make a living doesn’t depend on it.
    But I used to love to travel.

  35. Yet another example of TSA insensitivity and indifference to the security of travelers. People need to grow up and stop swallowing every bit of propaganda the government throws at them.
    This security charade exists to fund the scanner lobby and provide jobs to otherwise unemployable people. Twelve TSA employees have been arrested or convicted of job related crimes since December. Anyone who trusts an organization with this many criminals is simply ignoring reality. An example:
    6 Year Old Girl groped by New Orleans TSA
    This does nothing to improve traveler safety, the child is simply too small to carry enough explosive to bring down an aircraft. A Southwest 737 developed a five gash in the fuselage and landed without incident.
    TSA apologists who support funding this agency and having their wives and children groped by strangers are endangering their families and our liberty. Unless people complain to Congress and the White House, these travesties will not stop.

  36. I completely agree with you, Wil. I do not fly often and I haven’t flown in several years because of these policies. I choose to drive when I travel, so does my family. The last time I did fly, I took the puddle jumper from my small airport to Houston and I was chosen for extra attention. The person who searched my carry on and patted me down (gently) was a good friend in my antique car club, but still had to go through the motions since I was picked. My sister’s family took a cruise in December that departed from Florida and they chose to drive over 800 miles to the port in order avoid the airline security crap. My brother-in-law is a federal agent but can’t get his family through security with his badge, He was not about to subject his 12 year old daughter to a TSA search.
    I have a good friend who was an airline pilot with Delta, retired now. He firmly believes that most security measures put in place after 9/11 are complete eyewash.
    In the early 1990’s I traveled to Germany twice and carried a pocket knife. They didn’t care either here in the U.S. or in Germany, a place that had numerous domestic and international terrorist attacks in the 1980s. They had pretty tight security but did not pat me down. They used much more advanced imaging equipment than the U.S. had to scan my luggage. I did not hide my pocket knife, I ran it through the machine with my wallet and keys.

  37. Hi Will, I can definitely feel your anger about the procedure you’ve gone through, I am also sure it was unpleasant as you stated. But there is something you need to understand.
    In the last 40 years more than a few attempts were made against airports, airplanes and passengers all around the world. Up until 2001 most of those attempts targeted the Israeli airlines or Israeli destinations. But since 9/11 it as all changes since terrorists tried and in some cases succeeded in attacking American, British and more targets concerning aviation around the world:
    In 1972 Kozo Okomoto, a Japanese student entered Ben Gurion airport in Israel an alongside 2 others killed 25 people and injured 21 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dz%C5%8D_Okamoto
    In 1986 I young and naïve Irish women was sent by her fiancée to Israel with a suitcase full of explosives, the fact that she was pregnant didn’t bother him when he thought about killing her and the rest of the passengers in midair. Because of its Syrian connection and the fact that everything happened on British soil the British embassy in Damascus was closed until the early 90’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindawi_affair
    I can go on and on about these incidents, some of them you are aware of – 9/11 and the shoe boomer, some you’re not – the reasons for lack of knowledge are varied – some are classified while others just didn’t receive much attention over the years. But as you can see – the threat is real and as the machines become smarter so does the terrorists which means that somewhere there is a person who think about how to succeed in evading security and another persons who has to think of new measures with which they will catch that guy.
    Now before I continue I must say that I am not an American, and I have never gone through a TSA security search. I am actually an Israeli that was born to a reality of security and safety. I also worked in Ben Gurion airport, doing the Israeli security for all incoming and departing flights. I also have to state that we don’t carry this machine in Israel – religious reasons prevent the Israeli Aviation authority using this measure. And on a personal note I must say that I agree with you that this machine shouldn’t be operating.
    I understand that for you as a normal person, well known in some circles it is difficult to go through such a procedure, especially when you think to yourself that you are not a terrorist and that you will never jeopardize this flight or any other. But the TSA agents don’t know that, and as uncomfortable as you feel about this situation they don’t have any personal interests in touching your private parts. And the fact that you didn’t hear about situations regarding aviation in the past few years doesn’t mean they don’t occur, it means we were lucky enough to catch them on time.
    The security procedure in Israel is a bit different and unlike the Americans we don’t act “randomly or totally” and there are things we don’t do, but if you’ll google Israeli security I’ll bet you will find hundreds of cases where people complained about how hard it was for them, and that must have been hard as they stated, but it was also hard on their fellow travelers, and it also helped to make sure that the plane they are getting on is safe even if it meant violating some of the rights mentioned here.
    Someone said in their comment that we Israelis see the TSA as useless which in a way is true, mostly because you Americans tend to be hysterical in these situations and not rational. I agree with you that changes can be made, but at what cost? There is always going to be someone who is going to get offended by the procedures, in Israel for example the Supreme Court is dealing with this issue for the past few years.
    You should act against what happened to you, but not because of the security measures that were applied (even though the TSA should really learn more about how security works), you should act because of the simple fact the TSA agent didn’t do his job – not right and not at all.

  38. I totally agree with this. I read that it’s not just the security agents, but the baggage handlers, ticket agents, and other workers in the airport are trained in basic human psychology to understand what signs and signals people are putting out. Then you add in the fact that their actual security line is so short and secure, that clearing the area in the case of an emergency takes all of 5 minutes.
    I have no need to fly anywhere anytime soon (hell, if I were to go to PAX Prime, I’d do the Cross-Country SuperTrip, and when I go to PAX East, I do the PAXTrain) and while I enjoyed flying the few times I’ve done it in the past, I’m very wary of going by plane right now.

  39. Thank you for posting about it, given that it’s something that can feel embarrassing to share. The more people that speak up in outrage about it, the more I realize no, we’re not crazy or entitled or whiners. This situation is ridiculous, and we *need* to speak up about it, write Congressmen, bring lawsuits, bring attention to the fact that it is. not. okay.

  40. My thoughts on current security theory have been thoroughly covered by others (I fall firmly on the it-doesn’t-protect-our-freedoms-it-erodes-them end of the scale), so I just want to say how sorry I am that this happened to you.
    If I may, I would also like to suggest not paying too much attention to those who tell you what they “would have done” in the same situation, or criticize you actions or reactions. It’s mostly nonsense, and even where it isn’t, it’s still meaningless. It’s pretty much impossible to prepared for this kind of thing to happen to you. Maybe you’d have done something differently if you’d known in advance what would happen. Maybe you wouldn’t. We get through it how we get through it. You didn’t do anything wrong.

  41. I’m so sorry this happened to you, Wil. Nobody deserves to be treated this way, esp. when they aren’t even suspected of any criminal activity. It makes me wonder if someone in the govt. would be happier if Americans were less free to move about the country at will–easier to control and keep track of us if we stay quietly in one place!
    My sister is a freelance nurse at about a half-dozen hospitals in NYC, and her hobby is world travel. She’s been warned by radiation and X-ray technicians at every hospital she works at to avoid the back-scatter machines at all costs, as ionizing radiation is dangerous even in tiny doses–don’t even walk near them, they’ve said. Neither the TSA nor the corporation that makes the machines will share info on the tests they’ve done, or specific info on the machines themselves. The techs (at the hospitals) believe TSA workers who work near the machines may be getting hit with radiation leakage that will make even frequent flyer exposure look paltry in comparison, and will be the first to get sick.
    I wish there was something more to be done than just writing to our Congresscritters, who are already in the pay of the corporation that makes the machines. Sadly, there is too much money to be made (they are becoming taxpayer-funded billionaires even as we cut spending to necessary public works) to let a little thing like popular opinion stop them, and we, the taxpayer, are going to be forced to pay for more & more of these super-expensive machines at more transportation centers as time goes on.

  42. I totally agree with you. You and all Americans certainly should do something about this awful practice. I’m Brazilian, I’d love to visit your country, but I won’t visit it while this kind of practice is being done. Best luck!

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