TSA Abuse of Power

Woman accidentally leaves a knife in her carry-on luggage, where it’s discovered by screeners.

She says screeners refused to give her paperwork or documentation of her violation, documentation of the pending fine, or a copy of the photograph of the knife.

“They said ‘no’ and they said it’s a national security issue. And I said what about my constitutional rights? And they said ‘not at this point … you don’t have any’.”

Posted on June 7, 2005 at 4:10 PM122 Comments


Roger June 7, 2005 5:13 PM

We haven’t had much in the way of any constitutional rights since January 2000.

Andy June 7, 2005 5:20 PM

Something’s fishy here:

Beaman says she was told her name would go on a terrorist watch-list and that she would have to pay a $500 fine.

“I’m a 57-year-old woman who is taking care of 37 kids,” she told them. “I’m not gonna commit a terrorist act.” Beaman says they took information from her Washington drivers license and confiscated and photographed the knife according to standard operating procedure.

She says screeners refused to give her paperwork or documentation of her violation, documentation of the pending fine, or a copy of the photograph of the knife.

So is she paying the fine or not? If yes then there’ll be documentation. If not and possibly her name is just added to some blacklist (will come up the next time she flies) then it tells us about the quality of such lists…

It’s still strange though. You would expect to have some witnesses..

Jarrod June 7, 2005 5:27 PM

There may be a time lag between when documentation is taken and when it reaches the central database, so I’m willing to cut them some slack on that point for the moment.

However, this is a reason for oversight. All aspects of government must have some sort of oversight in order to be functional, or else you get this kind of thing. The words of the TSA employee, if true, suggest that training for them is woefully inadequate. Police are trained to respect the people they serve, taught to understand that they have a great deal of power and that it is important that it is not abused, or else there are potentially serious consequences.

This TSA employee, OTOH, seems to revel in the power provided under the law. This kind of activity is garnering the attention of elected officials, who are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the carte blanche authority that the TSA and other agencies have. Let’s see what we can do to get this kind of thing accelerated so that the TSA can be overhauled with proper oversight, or perhaps even scrapped.

Arik June 7, 2005 5:35 PM

Strange how child-abusers, kiddie-porn-picture-takers, robbers, thieves, thugs, serial killers, mass murderers and politicians all have constitutional rights, but a knife-toting felon-principal doesn’t. Funny that.

MS June 7, 2005 5:38 PM

Petty tyrants such as these are exactly the kind of people the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution.

And just wait until you have national IDs. These little nazis will be jumping out of the woodwork at every turn.

Anonymous June 7, 2005 5:46 PM

I don’t see why you think this is a significant issue. Why shouldn’t she be fined? Who doesn’t know at this point that knives aren’t permitted on aircraft? The alleged comment by a TSA employee — if true — was rude an inaccurate. But the woman should know better. Especially if she’s caring for 37 children.

nick June 7, 2005 6:31 PM

To “Anonymous”: I don’t think you read the article. She had misplaced the knife after making sandwiches fot the kids she was chaperoning. The screener found it deep int the outside pocket of a cooler. It sounds like a “whoops”, not that she was being sneaky.

Davi Ottenheimer June 7, 2005 6:38 PM

I wonder what lesson the 37 kids learned.

“…they said it’s a national security issue. And I said what about my constitutional rights? And they said ‘not at this point … you don’t have any’.”

…and then the officer said, “Hey lady, I bet you is one of them progressives from Iowa, ain’t you? Good thing we caught you before you could terrorize any more kids with your anti-American ideas.”

Roy Owens June 7, 2005 6:40 PM

I think US AG Alberto Gonzales has already tipped the government’s hand — the entire Constitution is being ‘rendered quaint’.

Davi Ottenheimer June 7, 2005 7:09 PM

Here’s a lovely quote from the story:

“TSA does not impose fines on the vast number of passengers who inadvertently carry prohibited items. Dealing with any prohibited item, however, adds time to the screening process both for the traveler who brought the item and for other travelers as well.”

Sounds very discretionary, perhaps to the point of being completely arbitrary or a shady system to balance the TSA budget.

Can not help but think of the random armed “official” in undeveloped countries whose salary depends on you — they demand payment before you can continue your journey. “I do not care what you say. I say your papers are no good and you must pay me $20 in cash now or I take you to jail.”

Nick June 7, 2005 7:11 PM

When did the TSA become comparable to the FBI? Terrorist?! The poor woman was making sandwiches!

One day of tragedy and suddenly anyone who brings a sewing kit on a plane is a terrorist. That isn’t right.

ed June 7, 2005 7:38 PM

The only ‘bad’ thing that happened was what the TSA guard said.

There is no conceivable reason to need a knife in your hand luggage, and if there were, it is rare enough that making sure the authorities know well in advance isn’t much of a burden.

Those who flout the regulations must be punished (as Bruce said in a comment on the last article, regulations must have teeth).

And why can’t middle-aged white lady principals be terrorists? You paranoid readers aren’t profiling are you?

Nick June 7, 2005 8:05 PM

To Ed, Re “And why can’t middle-aged white lady principals be terrorists?”

They can be, of course. The issue isn’t with her age, sex, nationality or anything else. The issue is that she’s classed as a terrorist for carrying a bread knife. It’s seeming more and more like “terrorist until proven otherwise”, which is quite opposite to what it reasonably SHOULD be.

Maureen Hay June 7, 2005 8:52 PM

How much money has been spent on this whole TSA business? And they don’t have forms to handle this sort of situation? Are carbonless copies too high tech for them, or perhaps not sufficiently awe inspiring?

I worked part-time at a yarn shop until recently, and have heard many tales about airport screeners. Crochet hooks and wooden knitting needles are allowed, but screeners take them all the time, and often become beligerent and threatening, especially when showed printouts of the FAA rule allowing them.

BTW, people are missing the point about them not allowing her to have a copy of the picture of the knife or her paperwork. Later, they could claim all sorts of things about her knife or what happened during the stop. She would have no original record to contradict them.

Imagine if the police could go back to the station after writing you a speeding ticket, find out you aren’t a liked guy, and just start adding additional violations.

I am not a lawyer, but these airport stops seem almost designed to NOT collect admissible evidence. So what are they doing?

Anonymous June 7, 2005 9:20 PM

“There is no conceivable reason to need a knife in your hand luggage”

As long as they allow ballpoint pens and belt buckles on board, there is no conceivable reason to need to BAN knives in hand luggage.

Mark J. June 7, 2005 10:43 PM

Some of us remember when the airlines supplied you with bread knives so you could eat your lunch. Remember food on planes? On a recent trip to New York City we had to show boarding passes and IDs to two screeners who were less than 10ft apart. Do they not even trust their own staff?

On one leg of the trip, some loud-mouthed jackass got on the plane to LaGuardia with a ticket to Charlotte. So much for vigilance.

TSA=Typically Stupid Agency?

David June 7, 2005 11:44 PM

How chickenshit have “proud and brave” Americans become when school teachers with bread knives to feed her kids is considered to be a terrorist. Sure, in these stupid times, they should have taken the knive, let her have a copy of its picture, and ended the story there.

In a more sane time, she’d just go on with a smile and have a nice trip.

Every backpack is a threat left by a terrorist. Every person with a pocket knife is a threatening terrorist.

It’s very sad indeed that sanity has given way to fear-mongering and power grabbing.

Bob Watkins June 8, 2005 12:07 AM

My laptop computer had a false positive a while ago, and the police officer that pulled me aside asked me to boot the unit to prove it was a computer. No problem, I understood this.

What I didn’t understand is why he needed to open my Recycle Bin and inspect my browser history. Fortunately, both had been cleared before packing the computer – but still – seems like beyond the call of duty to me.

Davi Ottenheimer June 8, 2005 12:08 AM

“Those who flout the regulations must be punished (as Bruce said in a comment on the last article, regulations must have teeth).”

Wise practicioners of security always say that you quickly lose credibility if you hold fast to an unreasonable, if not wholly unfair, doctrine.

We might assume that “hostile treatment” is subjective, but the $500 fine certainly seems steep for an “accidental” bread knife in a cooler for a US Citizen with no prior record. Again, makes me wonder about how the amount of fines are assessed and where the money goes.

I usually give screeners the benefit of the doubt, but these fines seem excessive. Fines for firearms, I understand, but large fines for a butter knife? If the woman was being uncooperative and/or combative, then a fine (if appropriate) should be related to her behavior.

Maybe it would help if the TSA could post a list near the scanners/screeners with a price list for violations:
Nail clippers $200
Small scissors $300
Large scissors $500
Butter knife $500
Steak knife $1000
Other donations welcome…

Curt Sampson June 8, 2005 12:46 AM

“What I didn’t understand is why he needed to open my Recycle Bin and inspect my browser history. ”

Not that I know much about U.S. law, but that does seem to me to be something along the lines of an unreasonable search.

Simon Johnson June 8, 2005 2:58 AM

Having faced the fully revised American immigration system for the first time on my trip to the USA this year, I must say that the TSA is a waste of space.

First of all, I crossed the border three times and had my fingerprints and photo taken three times. Given my passport, which is machine readable, it should be possible to verify that I am the same person that crossed the border last-time by pulling up my record from the system.

So the question is why are they taking this information two more times? It seems to me that they’re just recording this data serially without the intelligence to actively query it.

If this is true, this is terrible security trade-off – This system has cost billions of dollars and the reason the public was willing to foot the bill was because it was meant to stop a terrorist bording a plane.

Without the ability to query the data in real-time there is no way that the data can be used to decide whether to stop a person getting on a plane. It may help to identify a terrorist after they’ve hi-jacked a plane – but we could do this anyway. It only took 24 hrs for the FBI to unravel who the hi-jackers were on September 11th.

On a related point, they don’t put traditional film based cameras through the x-ray machines or metal detectors. The reason for this is because the xrays might destroy your photographs. Now, if I was a terrorist, where would I hide the bomb/Posion/Weapon? Clearly this is a problem.


AartJ June 8, 2005 3:26 AM

I think the lady shows a broad perspective when she says:

“This is not the way my country should be treating me,” she said. My concern is that if that’s the way they’re treating American citizens I would hate to think how they’re treating other people. It’s crazy.”

Remember Brasil’s reaction in January 2004 to US security measures?


James Walker June 8, 2005 3:58 AM

Curt: You’re right, it is completely unreasonable. However, it’s common that the fourth amendment is ‘interpreted weakly’ concerning people who are travelling.

Another example of this is driving a car in America. The instant you start your car, you have much lower expectations of protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

Oh wait, I forgot … “at this point, you don’t have any [constitutional rights].”

Harry June 8, 2005 4:07 AM

So, Terrorist have won. American has so radically changed that it now trusts no one and all citizens are treated as criminals with officials hiding behind hastily enacted laws – You’re starting to look more like IRAQ every day – WAKE UP AMERICA!

Adrian Ramsey June 8, 2005 4:21 AM

The school this woman works at operates a Zero Tolerance policy on carrying knives (http://www.hsd401.org/rights/rights.htm). Presumably she won’t be automatically placed on emergency expulsion like any of her students would if they accidentally brought a bread knife to school?

I guess the students who were travelling with her got a lesson in karma and/or schadenfreude.

Douglas Stetner June 8, 2005 5:13 AM

I am a Canadian-Australian, and had the ‘pleasure’ of transiting through Guam on a recent trip between Australia and Micronesia. I was finger printed, had a mug shot taken, and all our bags were broken into (literally, locks broken off) and searched, even though they had been cleared by Australian security. All this, even though I did not see my luggage during my 3 hour stay inside the Guam airport as it was checked directly through to Chuuk.

So, when I arrive some where, and they find drugs etc. in my bag, how can they possibly blame me? (IE see the Schapelle Corby Bali case)

I am going to make a point of avoiding all travel that would take me through the US, even if it is only a transit. I have heard a number of people say they will no longer attend conferences in the US, much less holiday there….

MeToo June 8, 2005 8:28 AM

I had a similar situation occur when we tried to visit the Kennedy Space Center museum. There was a sign about knives and guns. The sign said nothing about nailclippers or nail files or blade lengths, or I would have taken my my 2″ manicure scissors and eyeglass repair kit back to the car.

My “contraband” appeared when I emptied my purse. The security nazi loudly announced to the whole table that I “was a walking bomb”. They rushed me out the door. My husband had no idea where I was, since we got separated in the crowd.

They even tried to confiscate my RSA token (which clearly says “RSA” in big letters and doesn’t look home made).

I was in the area for a SANS conference, which make it all more pathetic.

We demanded & got a refund. No, they didn’t offer one.

I want to know also why women routinely have their privacy whittled down, but men’s breast pockets are seldom or never pawed through.

Paul June 8, 2005 8:46 AM

My Parents-in-law passed through SF airport on his way back from Fiji. They had all of their luggage broken into by US staff and my Father-in-law had his beer removed from his luggage. It was their last stop of their round the world trip and he had collected a bottle of beer from each country he visited.

They were delayed 4 hours while every bag on the plane was searched, no reason was given. He was far more upset about his beer being nabbed though.

Anonymous June 8, 2005 9:48 AM

How does the “little man” get involved with trying to help prevent/change this? As I see it, its going to get WAY worse before/if it gets better..

Hieronymus June 8, 2005 10:37 AM

I’d hate to think what would’ve happened to my wife when she tried to go through the screeners a few years ago. I had used her garmet bag on my hunting trip and had accidently left an 30-06 bullet in it. When they found it and asked her about it, she nearly fainted, as she had no idea it was there. They just took it away and told her to be more careful.

Today, I’d probably be heading down to the federal prison to bail her out.

bcoffee June 8, 2005 12:33 PM

I’m afraid I’ll have to agree with Harry on this one. There is no “War on Terrorism.” It’s over. We lost. The terrorists (either real or imagined) now effectively control our lives, and are working every day to expand and cement that control. Move along, nothing to see here…

stacy June 8, 2005 12:42 PM

@ Douglas Stetner
“I am going to make a point of avoiding all travel that would take me through the US, even if it is only a transit.”

I too have re-evaluated all of my travel plans that may cause me to go to the US. For me it was the deportation of a Canadian citizen to Syria that did it.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, see:

It seems like a fitting response to the comment:
“This is not the way my country should be treating me,” she said. My concern is that if that’s the way they’re treating American citizens I would hate to think how they’re treating other people. It’s crazy.”

Alan June 8, 2005 1:14 PM

This is totally out of line. She has a “a 5 1/2 inch bread knife with a rounded tip and a serrated edge.”

According to http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/Permitted_Prohibited_5_16_2005_v3.pdf “Knives, round-bladed butter or plastic” are PERMITTED in carry-on luggage. It also says “To ensure everyone’s security, the screener may determine that an item not on the prohibited items chart is prohibited. In addition, the screener may also determine that an
item on the permitted chart is dangerous and therefore may not be brought through the security checkpoint.”

In which case, the screener should not penalize or criminalize someone for carrying what they in good faith understood was permitted — and had even disclosed to the screener, which is listed as a “mitigating factor” in Section B of http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/Sanction_Guidance_for_Individuals_7-15-2004.pdf

I think that I will keep a current printout of these documents with me every time I travel.

Davi Ottenheimer June 8, 2005 2:40 PM


“I think that I will keep a current printout of these documents with me every time I travel.”

Yeah, that printout will do you a lot of good when a TSA officer tells you that you no longer have any rights at all, not even Constitutional (or Geneva Convention, for that matter).

“they said it’s a national security issue. And I said what about my constitutional rights? And they said ‘not at this point … you don’t have any’.”

ed June 8, 2005 3:16 PM

The comment about constitutional rights deserves sanction, and training.

But it’s just an excuse for you all to make mountains out of molehills. She disobeyed the rules, she got caught, she must be punished even if she claims she didn’t do it on purpose.

mjk June 8, 2005 4:01 PM

Ignorance and accidents are not an excuse. You break the law, you get punished. That is not abuse.

The only “abuse” that I could see is refusing to give documentation.

How hard is it to make sure your carry on bags are free of all the restricted stuff on this site:


It says right on the site, you dont get your stuff back when they find it.

The guy handling her was rough and insulting, ohh that meanie!

Davi Ottenheimer June 8, 2005 4:05 PM


“she disobeyed the rules, she must be punished”

First of all you did not define “punished”, and second, do you really think you or a TSA agent should be given the power to single-handedly define punishment? That might lead to abuse, no?

Bruce had it right when he titled this log entry “TSA Abuse of Power”. Perhaps you could put your comments in the proper context?

Paul June 9, 2005 12:07 AM

This lady is a principal at a public school in Des Moines, Iowa.

From the policies webpage:

The Des Moines Public Schools will not tolerate the possession or use of weapons on school property or at school-related activities, while on school-owned and operated school buses or on chartered buses, and while away from school grounds if such conduct directly affects students or staff. Students who violate this policy may be subject to expulsion and/or other disciplinary action. When appropriate, violations of this policy will be reported to law enforcement agencies for investigation.

. . .

Any object which could be used to injure another person and which has no school-related purpose may be considered a weapon. An object which has a school-related purpose but which is used to threaten or inflict injury will be considered a weapon. Weapons include but are not limited to knives of all types, guns, firearms, metal pipes, chains, numchucks, throwing stars, metal knuckles, blackjacks, fireworks, explosives or other chemicals, or simulated weapons.

It appears she should lose her job also, under the policies of her own school district. Perhaps this experience will cause her to rethink Zero Tolerance policies.

Dawn June 9, 2005 12:28 AM

Paul, that policy is for students. If the teachers and staff weren’t allowed breadknives how could one prepare food for the students?

“Students who violate this policy may be subject to expulsion and/or other disciplinary action”

“Any object which could be used to injure another person and which has no school-related purpose may be considered a weapon. An object which has a school-related purpose but which is used to threaten or inflict injury will be considered a weapon”

By those quotes it says “students who violate” and it says “any object….used to injure….no school related purpose” Feeding your students serves a purpose and as she didn’t threaten anyone with it that doesn’t count either.

Besides, the issue isn’t so much that she got fined for making a mistake. People accidentally park in a no parking zone and get fined all the time. Things happen. The issue is that she shall have no copy of this and that she apparantly has no constitutional rights. That is an abuse of power and, frankly, it scares the hell out of me.

Anonymous June 9, 2005 8:00 AM

Funny how if something would have happened with a little old lady with a knife and 37 kids how all you people would be blaming the TSA for not doing there Job. I applaude the TSA agent for doing his job, if she didnt like how it was handled she shouldnt have broken the rules. Take some responsibility for her mistakes and live with the consequences.

Joe June 9, 2005 9:47 AM

The airports sell stuff in glass bottles, inside the secure areas. I’ve seen bottles of wine, and barbecue sauce in beer bottles. Hands down, that’s a more dangerous weapon than a bread knife.

I read about one guy who got through security with a bottle of rum, then dropped his bag and broke the bottle. The final security check wouldn’t let him through with any pieces large enough to cut someone. Intact bottles are fine, broken ones are prohibited.

Boggles the mind. Sometimes I think they’re trying to break our spirits by purposely acting crazy.

Maureen Hay June 9, 2005 9:55 AM


From the many knitters I’ve talked to, having the list of what is and isn’t permitted qualifies you as a terrorist. Why would a law abiding person need a list like that? All the regulations give final authority to the person at the gate. Sucks.

Anonymous June 9, 2005 10:03 AM

Consequences for breaking a rule is one thing..but not allowing the subject in question a copy of said violations and resulting consequences against them is what opens up the can of worms for abuse..

Anonymous June 9, 2005 10:05 AM

And those who think otherwise are part of the problem…

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
~Benjamin Franklin

Andy June 9, 2005 2:01 PM

Take note that the TSA guy is at a time advantage: he can always redirect you to secondary checks, interviews etc without any concerns for your lost plane.

A Screener June 9, 2005 5:41 PM

I have read all of the comments posted by the lawyers, scholars of the constitution and other would-be security specialists. I don’t claim to be an expert nor do I want to be. I am simply a screener who is trying to do the right thing to make your travel safer.

I am in agreement that if the screener who spoke to this woman talked to her in the manner which she described, he was out of line. At the airport where I work (a major Class X airport), customer service is preached to us daily by our supervisors and their supervisors.

Most people feel that security is someone else’s problem. Most people haven’t bothered to read or inquire about what they can and cannot carry into the secure area of the airport. I spend most of my time in the checkpoint explaining why they can’t have a lighter, Swiss Army knife, loose single-edged razor blades and the like. I also spend inordinate amounts of time explaining why people have to remove certain shoes. Remember Richard Reid? He was the terrorist that attempted to blow up an airplane using explosives and fuse concealed in (yes, this is correct) a pair of sneakers. “Why do I have to take off my sneakers? They don’t have any metal in them”. Neither did Richard Reid’s sneakers. Instead of arguing about removing your shoes wasting my time and the time of other travelers waiting behind you, take off your shoes when requested to do so or you’ll be sent for additional screening increasing your time in the checkpoint. Oh and by the way, we can’t just throw you in for secondary screening without a valid reason. Some of the reasons are, refusal to remove shoes that fit the criteria for additional screening, mandates by the FSD at the airport in question requiring random continuous screening, that suspicious bulge on your hip that looks strangely like a weapon and not a cellphone (which would alarm coming through the metal detector anyway) and other published reasons. We don’t hold any advantage over you. Trust me.

My favorite question is, “Do I look like a terrorist??” If we knew what terrorists looked like, we could go and round all of them up and dispense with the need for further security measures at the airport. Please recall the suicide bombings committed by women, children and other people who “don’t look like terrorists”. No, we don’t think you look like a terrorist. Please divest yourself of all metallic objects, lighters, and any other item that you are not allowed to carry through the checkpoint.

Now, as to the issue at hand: the butter knife. I, as a screener, have NOT got the final say about whether or not you can carry something into the secure area. There are at least three levels of appeal close to the checkpoint you are attempting to pass through: you can ask to speak to the screener’s supervisor if you disagree with the screener’s assessment of whether your butter knife can be considered a prohibited item. If you’re still not satisfied, ask to speak to the screening manager. If you’re not happy with his thoughts or comments, ask for the terminal manager. If the woman was dissatisfied at her treatment, she should have taken this to another level. “But I would have been late for my flight”. Okay, then arrive two hours early like we tell you to do so you WILL have time to address security concerns.

There was a comment somewhere along the thread that said, “she broke the rules, she must be punished”. Again, that’s not true. We routinely confiscate prohibited items or allow passengers to leave the secure area to dispose of their item as they see fit. Sure, there are some items (such as firearms in carry-on luggage), knives (with sharp pointed blades longer than 2 3/4 inches) and pepper mace that require notification to law enforcement upon discovery. A forgotten butter knife (if that’s what she had) should have been handled by the screener or the screener’s checkpoint supervisor. READ THE PROHIBITED ITEM LIST available online and DON’T BRING THIS STUFF TO THE AIRPORT! Do you think I like taking the jacknife that your grandfather gave to your father and that he subsequently gave to you? Hell no. I try (and have at times begged) the passenger to PLEASE consider mailing it back to his home address or leaving the checkpoint and putting it in his car if possible. The last thing we want to do is take your stuff!

We’re not the stupid people you think we are. Most of us are caring, concerned individuals trying to make your experience as stress-free as possible. Just as you have rules governing the performance of your job, so do we. One of the rules is that we are bound to treat each of you with respect and discretion. If you feel you haven’t been treated that way, say something. Take names. Write a letter. That’s the only way you’re going to weed out the people who don’t understand that they’re just like you: another human being, a fellow traveler or a schoolteacher carrying a forgotten butter knife in her carryon. We all make mistakes. Schoolteachers do and screeners do. Give us a break. We’ll do our best to do the same for you.

Ari Heikkinen June 9, 2005 8:26 PM

Also remember that an attacker’s best defense at airports is simply to play dumb (although it probably wouldn’t work to claim you “forgot” explosives in your luggage by accident). The frustration about “stupid” security measures at airports is exactly what a smart attacker would take advantage of. As for terrorists, the best ones are those that don’t look or behave like one.

Alan June 9, 2005 10:16 PM

@ “A Screener”

Thanks for your comments and thoughts. I for one very much appreciate what you folks do. In almost every case where I’ve been selected for “extra screening” I’ve expressed my appreciation for the job you folks do — and inevitably received a grateful thanks. But I always say so AFTER being screened, not before! (I would be very suspicious of someone who thanked me before I screened them…)

I have dealt with arbitrary officials in many countries in my travels, and I’ve always appreciated that, in this country, one can make a reasonable appeal to what the law says. Personally, I can’t say that I’ve ever felt mistreated by a TSA screener.

JohnJ June 10, 2005 8:02 AM

I would argue that the full list (not abbreviated) of permissible and banned items be made available at the airport freely and obviously at the beginning of the checkpoint. Or be provided when the passengers check in at the airline. Before the actual screening, there should be a bin to dump the things you realize you brought by accident. The bin would be like those used for shredding confidential documents; easy to drop something in to but locked so you can’t take anything out.

The document should also spell out your recourse if you disagree with the screener. I, for one, wasn’t aware of the escalations available that A Screener mentioned above. We, the sheeple of the US, have been informed that the screener’s word is law.

Personally, I now try to avoid flying whenever possible. When my wife and I went on vacation last year, we wound up going through the extra-tedious screenings on 2 of 3 flight segments. My suspicion is that it was because the flights weren’t round trip (point A to B to C to A), but of course there was no explanation of why we were singled out or examination of our itinerary.

In all cases we arrived 2 or more hours before the scheduled leave-the-gate time (I’d say departure, but the flights all spent 20+ minutes on the tarmac before actually taking off). One of those screenings caused us to miss our flight. We even asked the TSA staff about our rapidly dwindling time window but they could not be bothered to care. Not only would they not move us forward in the line but they refused to call ahead to the gate to let them know we were on our way. We missed the flight by probably 2 minutes or less and wound up delayed two hours before being able to snag a later flight. Those two hours put us arriving past a scheduled deadline at the destination.

Vacations are supposed to relieve stress, not be a stresspoint themselves. Until the situation improves, we’ll stick to vacations within a reasonable driving distance. I’m also minimizing my travel for work.

Paul June 10, 2005 11:55 AM


My point is, she administers a school where the students have no rights, and can be penalized for having a bread knife when no intent to cause harm exists; simple possession is a crime. Constitutional rights apparently aren’t observed in school, searches and other infringements are commonplace.

Now she finds herself in the position of a student under similar policies and she doesn’t like it.

I’m not as sympathetic as I might otherwise be.

cdmiller June 10, 2005 4:32 PM

You state: “READ THE PROHIBITED ITEM LIST available online and DON’T BRING THIS STUFF TO THE AIRPORT!” According to the list you ask us to read, round-bladed butter or plastic knives are permitted in carry on and checked luggage. Perhaps screeners are the ones who should be required to “READ THE PROHIBITED ITEM LIST” and memorize it. Perhaps screeners should be accountable for their mistakes.

A police state isn’t much fun, is it? As a participant in the police part of a police state, don’t expect much sympathy.

Kevin McGrath June 10, 2005 4:53 PM

IMHO, TSA screeners are just one step above your typical security “square badge” guard.

Recently, on a trip outbound from the United terminal at JFK airport, TSA agents were letting so-called airport employees jump the line I was on, and then gave them a cursory once over. The rest of us poor paying airline customers received TSA’s full monty security hassle treatment.

A Screener June 10, 2005 6:09 PM


Ari Heikkinen: How are we screeners supposed to recognize the terrorists who are playing dumb from the other passengers? After all, when you come through a metal detector, set off an alarm and are asked to exit and remove ALL metallic objects from your person and pockets, then come through again, alarm again and get “Oh, it’s my cell phone” or “Oh, I forgot the $10.83 worth of change in my pocket”….you gotta wonder who’s playing dumb and who’s not. We all know that cellular telephones have no metal in them and change isn’t considered a “metallic object”. Right?

Alan: Thanks for recognizing that we do the best we can with what little we have.

JohnJ: You’d argue that the prohib list should be posted? How about asking your airline carrier about certain items you question. Also, the TSA doesn’t select you for additional screening based on your scenario – the airlines do. Believe me when I tell you, the less people I have to put my hands on in a given day the better. Once the airline selects you for additional screening, we are not allowed to let you pass unscreened. Once again, it’s NOT our choice to delay you. Complain to the people that put you in the predicament. Don’t shoot the messenger. As for your choice to drive rather than fly – great! One less person to screen. Happy Motoring!

cdmiller: Read my response again. I said that the butter knife should have been handled differently. You have the right to escalate your concern (as I also said). Oh, and while you’re whining about the “police state”, drop a note to the thousands of people who no longer have some of their loved ones at Christmas, Thanksgiving and any other holiday because of 9/11. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you should be accountable for your actions and not bring prohibited items to the airport. Clean your own house first before you mock someone else’s dirty house.

Kevin McGrath: Ah, Kevin, another security expert! Airline employees don’t “jump the line” as you put it. They are badged people who have undergone extensive background checks before they are employed. They are not only exempt from some types of screening because of that, but can avoid many checkpoints completely by entering through secured doors using their badges, passcodes and in some places, biometric recognition technology. As a screener, I am exempt from some types of screening, but I am still required to submit my property to x-ray inspection and I must walk through the metal detector and pass just like you. We’re not security guards, we’re Transportation Security Screeners, Lead Security Screeners and Supervisory Security Screeners. We’re highly trained, must submit to constant retraining and must meet certain standards to maintain our jobs each month. We have to recertify yearly or we will join you on the unemployment line. Hey, suggestion: carpool with JohnJ.

CurtSampson: I must correct you when you say “they” (who are “they” anyway) don’t put film based cameras through the x-ray or metal detector because the x-rays might destroy the film. First of all, it’s your choice to either submit the camera and/or film for x-ray inspection or to have it hand screened, not ours. Secondly, a camera wouldn’t go through the metal detector anyway because (are you ready for this?) it sets off the metal detector because it’s METAL of all things! Last, but not least, the x-ray machines used to screen carry on luggage won’t harm any conventional film below 800 ASA. Higher speed film may be fogged, so it would be a prudent decision to have your film and/or camera hand screened. We’ll check it out by doing a physical inspection on it which includes explosive trace detection. So much for hiding explosives (or anything else) in the camera huh?

If I’m sounding a bit sarcastic, I am. Please don’t speak of things you do not know enough about to comment on. Instead of attacking the process, ask questions, make suggestions for change and you never know, you just may make a difference in the way we do things. And don’t call me (and my co-workers) stupid. You show your lack of intelligence when you stoop to that level. I guess when one doesn’t know what they’re talking about, it’s easier to point fingers rather than admit you don’t understand. I got over that in grade school. How about some of you?

Anonymous June 11, 2005 1:04 AM

Consumers have the power to change this. Stop Flying. There reaches a point where it’s not longer worth it anyway.

The airlines are huge corporations that have the ear of the government, unlike lowly citizens. Stop flying and the airlines will be forced to pressure the government to reconsider its flirtation with gestapo tactics.

The TSA DOES have to adhere to the Constitution AND International Law. There is no legally ratified authority for this behavior. Even the PATRIOT ACT is a simple bill. It cannot override the Constitution even if Congress voted for it.

Anon June 11, 2005 1:59 AM

After some incidents I bought my wife a pepper spray can that is small enough so that she can use it as a key ring. It goes with her everywhere. Every time we fly I see nightmares of us forgetting to leave it home. I did not even realize it would become a serious incident at the airport, though – I assumed it would be confiscated just like some small sharp junk we have forgotten or failed to discover in our luggage.

It takes a fair amount of effort on our part to go through all our stuff that we are packing, to make sure we are not accidentally bringing any contraband stuff, and then search all toiletries, baby toys, etc. containers for contraband. And still we have not always been successfull: a miniature screwdriver (total length 2 inches), and a swiss army knife forgotten in toiletries bag.

anonymous June 11, 2005 9:59 PM

The ban on short, sharp objects is very noticeable. This ban is set by the government and it is likely that screeners do not have a choice about enforcing the ban. However, the effectiveness of the ban is questionable, apart from the inconvenience imposed. A past issue of Crypto-Gram talks about manufacturing a blade on the spot with epoxy adhesive (http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0308.html#7) See also the Crypto-Gram entry at http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0109a.html#2 which talks about security measures. Of interest, the El Al airline of Israel has some very serious security measures, but they do not ban all sharp objects.

In the UK, metal utensils have been reintroduced on business class flights. (Economy class flights have always used plastic.) The article is at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/05/22/nba22.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/05/22/ixhome.html It is said that metal utensils are less useful now as weapons because of other security measures (sky marshals, closed-circuit TV cameras, and secure cockpit access). Such utensils will have to be provided by airlines and meet certain regulations; passengers are not allowed to provide their own.

JohnJ June 13, 2005 7:58 AM

@A Screener:

“You’d argue that the prohib list should be posted? How about asking your airline carrier about certain items you question.”

Why? It’s the TSA that’s doing the screening; not the airlines.

And how am I supposed to know what’s considered a questionable item? Sharp objects, understood. Flame-producing items, OK. But what about ball point pens whose tips are good for stabbing? Is that considered a sharp object? Screwdrivers? Am I going to disassemble the plan in midair? Most people would not make the realization that it could be used to stab (not to mention the tip could be sharpned to make it good for slashing).

Anyway, my point is that by posting the full list (which can still have a ‘other objects deemed unsafe by the screener’ catch-all), the passenger will not only have something to read while waiting in line, but they might see something on the list that they thought was safe and be able to dispose of it before getting to the actual checkpoint.

“Also, the TSA doesn’t select you for additional screening based on your scenario – the airlines do.”

That wasn’t so much a complaint about the TSA as a complaint about the process.

Trust me, that airline is on my ever-growing list of companies to avoid at all possible costs. Not for that reason, though.

“Once the airline selects you for additional screening, we are not allowed to let you pass unscreened. Once again, it’s NOT our choice to delay you.”

I never asked to avoid the screening. Just that it be done in a timely manner so we wouldn’t miss our flight. And once it was obvious that we’d really be pushing it, that the TSA do a courtesy call to the gate to let them know we were on our way. The TSA staff were not cooperative in this regard. Downright unsympathetic, actually.

I know my experience is not representative of all screeners and all situations. But you need to realize that this sort of behavior is occurring among your ranks and that it is impacting the public’s perception of the flight experience and the TSA specifically.

In general, people wouldn’t be complaining unless they had something to complain about.

A Screener June 14, 2005 8:50 AM


Yes, we do the screening, but it’s the airlines that select you. Believe me when I tell you, the airline’s system of selecting people for screening has some serious issues. For example: a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) who purchase tickets for passage walk up to the checkpoint and the only person selected for additional screening out of all of the passengers in that party is the 2 year old little girl. Some would argue that the adults could hide prohibited items on the child, but if that’s what they’re worried about, screen everyone in the party!

Regarding posting the list: there are countless notices in the queue outside the checkpoint about removing laptops and camcorders from their bags and advising not to bring lighters into the checkpoint. Nobody reads these notices, people routinely “forget” to take these items out of their bags and get delayed during the process. They have the nerve to become irate at us for delaying their trip. Had they arrived with enough time to prevent a missed flight (if they weren’t going to bother to comply with the rules) they wouldn’t miss their flights. If you show up 2 hours ahead of your flight (like the airlines tell you to do), you’ll never miss your flight. I have not seen a wait time over 20 minutes EVER at the airport I work at (and it’s in the top ten busiest airports in the U.S.A.). How are you supposed to know if something is questionable? Ask! That’s my point. There are obvious things (posted on the DHS website) that are prohibited. If you wonder about that personal grooming kit that contains a nail file, ask. We’re more than willing to answer your questions and the airlines will answer too (when you can get a human on the phone and not deal with an IVR). By the way, you can dispose of any item before you enter the checkpoint, or simply surrender it to one of the screeners for disposal. If it’s done before you enter the checkpoint, you’re all set. It’s when you bring it into the checkpoint unannounced that generates a problem.

We don’t have the resources to call the gate for every passenger who’s flight is being called and who needs to be screened. There are far too many people who don’t allow enough time before their flights. We do notify the airlines if there are a number of people who have been bumped to another flight (causing them to need additional screening – another flaw in the selection process) so that the flight MAY be held to allow them to board. The TSA is horribly understaffed at some airports and we’re doing the best we can.

I will never make excuses for rude behavior towards you or any passenger, no matter what you bring in the checkpoint. I’ll do my job, treat you with the same respect you treat me (most times more) and do my very best to get you through the process as quickly as possible with security and the safety of the other travelers in mind. As a matter of fact, I actually had a passenger who I screened thank me for doing my job. Trust me, a kind word, and respectful treatment go a long way in my job. I know that some of my peers don’t share my attitude, but I know that most of us try to be professional and respectful to you.

People will complain about the smallest things just to vent sometimes. I can only say to you that their inconvenience pales in comparison to losing 150 people onboard an aircraft because we didn’t do our job completely.

John, your comments are thoughtful and I’m sure reflect the concerns that many passengers have. You’ve touched on some real issues without resorting to innuendo and speculation. I’m sure that an Email detailing some of these issues and thoughts would be welcomed and appreciated by the DHS. Can I suggest that you write to
For anyone that feels that they have been mistreated by a TSA employee, your option is to write to
I know that complaints (at least at my airport) are fully investigated and resolved. If enough people write and voice their concerns intelligently and factually, things will change. I’ve seen it happen.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my comments and see “my side of the fence”

Kevin McGrath June 16, 2005 8:03 AM

IMHO, TSA screeners are just one step above your typical security “square badge” guard.

Kevin McGrath: Ah, Kevin, another security expert! …we will join you on the unemployment line. Hey, suggestion: carpool with JohnJ.

Res ipsa loquitur!

Another TSA Screener June 16, 2005 1:46 PM

Okay, I’ve watched this long enough without comment. A Screener: you’re pretty much on the mark with everything you’ve said. With your attitude and respect for the people you deal with, I’d welcome you to my checkpoint anytime. I share your dedication and respect for the people we deal with every day. I can only reiterate that there is a process for complaints by anyone who has issue or finds fault with a particular screening process. I suggest anyone with issues use the process because I don’t think the Transportation Security Administration reads this thread. Kevin Mcgrath: Res ipsa loquitur indeed. How many weeks do you have left to collect unemployment?

A Passenger June 24, 2005 5:34 AM

What an amazing demonstration of how even intelligent and thoughtful people can be brainwashed into supporting oppression. All it takes is the argument that “this is to prevent another 9/11” and people line up to help tighten the thumbscrews without any critical examination.

Jerry Pournelle makes the point that they could hand out boxcutters at the airport gates and it wouldn’t make any difference to how safe we are.

No one should be surprised that there are some genuinely concerned people at the TSA in addition to the many misanthropes that are attracted to the jobs. Any time in history that people’s rights have been successfully taken away there was always a group that thought they were doing it for their own good. This issue isn’t going to get better until enough Americans ask themselves what freedom really means.

Jeri June 30, 2005 1:37 PM

I know the rules of traveling and have always followed them. I am searched some times, some times it is my husband. At one airport in Corpus Christi TX you are treated like a criminal not a family of four. A year ago as I was placing my items on the belt to be X-rayed I was asked by a screener if my 10yr old and 13 yr olds shoes have ever been on a airplane I looked see what they had put in the screening tube(we always take our shoes off) when the screener started yelling at me. “Mama I’m talking to you.” I said,” sir I’m trying to answer.” “Answer me”,he kept yelling. I finally said no the shoes have never been on a airplane. I was so shook up. I flew out of Houston which is a three hour drive for a year. The screeners are very professional in the larger Airports. Three month’s ago I found myself back at C.C. airport I had to pick up a friend. I was in the food court waiting when a security guard approached me “Is that a camera phone” “No sir, It is just a cell I was just checking my messages.” My cell was taken from my hand and looked over. I was shaken after the screener left me, I left the airport and stood out side the terminal. (The screening area is on C.C. website). Last Friday I needed to fly to Dallas we made a decision since it was for only two days to fly out of Corpus Christi. I went threw the screening process setting off no bell’s in my bare feet. I was pulled to be screened. I was asked by the screener if I have ever been screened before, yes I say I has screened 3mnth ago at Houston airport. The wound was used and then her hands which was a first, under my breast my stomach and my thigh’s where touched. My daughter who is 11yr looked at me in fear, she has never seen anyone searched by hand before and we travel a lot. I mouthed to her this is stupid and rolled my eyes while the inspector looked at each of my toes. My daughter smiled and turned back around. I rejoined my family as they where putting shoes and bracelets back on. I was helping my daughter with her bracelet when a male voice said, leave this area now. I left and waited for my family outside the screening area. Mr. Edward Adams TSA followed me and just stared at me as I waited for my family. As we where walking off I told my husband the famous saying “I must look like a terrorist” I still don’t know why I said it. Mr. Adams asked me what a terrorist looked like. A argument insured and Mr. Adams said after I started to write down his name on a piece of paper. I have the right to detain you matter of fact, lets go. At this point a plane clothed officer stepped in and said it is against the law to say Terrorist in a airport. I said I’m sorry I did not know that but I said, it in a private conversation not out loud for other’s to hear. Mr. Adams was waiting for me to say something because he knew I was mortified by being touched. Mr. Adams after walking away came back a lot calmer and said, here is a complaint form fill it out and turn it in to TSA if you think it will do any good. He then went into great detail describing how people transport drugs under their bras and in suitcases and since the luggage area doesn’t have X-ray machines that is a real problem. They aren’t looking for terrorist as much as drug runner’s Mr. Adams said. I guess I am not much of a security risk after all, since I was just given some ideas as to how to smuggle drugs. I don’t buy the fact that blonde haired 40 yr old moms with children are going to blow up a plane. We mom’s are stressed out enough hoping our children don’t set off the buzzer, we really don’t need to be separated from our children. If TSA are really looking for drugs or explosives why can’t they us dogs they are alot more professional, then having to be groped in public. And if you cannot say Terrorist in a airport because it will cause civil unrest as the plain clothed officer told me than why have CNN on the TV. Mr. President said the T word 20 times while I waited for my flight on Friday. On this flight from C.C. a 18yr old said the same thing I said would they have arrested her, for saying “I must look like a terrorist.” she was traveling alone and said it to the guy next to her, he said their is a code on your boarding pass that tells the screeners to search you. Don’t you think terrorist know this, if a wine sales men does. If you don’t want us to say the T word stop degrading us mom’s and young children. I travel a lot and I am treated with respect but at C.C. airport, is it me or the airport . I’m just glad I was at the airport 2 hrs so if Mr. Adams did detain me I would not miss my flight and that their was only a few passengers who saw my humiliation. Mr. Screeners if you want to weed out the bad seed you need to police your profession. TSA needs to have their own internal inspectors, maybe then the citizens will have more respect for you. You asked the question what does a terrorist look like well I keep seeing the same type of men on the news. Until I see differently it isn’t mothers or the elderly. If you need to grope us women take us in a private room, don’t do it in public. I have never met a police officer or any Fed. officer who did not treat me with respect, but than again I’m not a criminal. I have told my children what happen to me last Friday was a just a bad TSA officer, and that not all are bad guys. I don’t want my children to be afraid to fly. I thank the TSA officers in Dallas Love field they, where kind to us, my son was so nerves he kept hitting the sides of the metal detector. The officer said, son lets try it one more time and my son did it. I could have kissed that screener. I think my son would have lost it if he would have had to be searched. My next trip in two weeks will be by car. I don’t think I should have to pay to be yelled at or groped.At the same time as this public argument on Friday the PA system kept asking for the coin truck operator to return to his truck he left it out front with the motor running, they paged the man three times. I think they should have been more conerned with a running truck than me, but what do I know I must look like a terrorist

P. Sutter September 27, 2005 5:35 PM

I travel frequently to quite a number of countries. I can say with no caveats that the airport experience in the U.S.A. (my home) is the worst. Many TSA agents are rude, megalomaniacal, impatient people who throw their authority around like insecure 3rd world dictators. It is embarrassing how they treat Americans and disgraceful how they treat foreign guests. Something is awfully wrong with a culture that allows this sort of mean spiritedness in the name safety.

K.Lynn October 22, 2005 8:51 PM

On 10/2/05 at AVP a group of Naval Reservists were departing for deployment to the Middle East. The immediate families accompanying these service members were given gate passes by USAirways so they could spend the last few minutes with the departing sailors. TSA “officials” decided to “randomly select” each properly documented family member, collected their ID’s and gate passes, would not return the documents, and held the families for additional personal searches, including a 16 month old child!

Naval officers at the scene pleaded in vain with TSA and airline personnel. The TSA staff were pushing and shoving some family members. The end result was that family members were deprived of those last few minutes, subjected to horrendous additional stress, and had to say very hasty goodbyes to their loved ones.

TSA says the the “selectees” were determined by the airline. USAirways denies any responsibility, but claims to be concerned about security. This claim of concern was evidenced by grossly mistreating the families and service members who are charged with defending our security, with their lives if need be!!! USAirways refuses to do anything about it.

After the incident, a TSA staff member who was not directly in the incident, but did witness it, approached me with a complaint form and stated that he was upset by what had occurred. I appreciated his concern and filed the complaint, but the damage was done and the opportunity to spend those last few minutes with my son was gone!

Americans need to stand up to this outrageous treatment. TSA personnel who abuse their power should be dismissed immediately.

I have complained to my senators and congressmen about this incident and will follow it through until some responsive action is taken, ideally the dismissal of the 5 TSA staff members involved in this shameful incident.

Hal January 3, 2006 1:44 PM

I was delayed and subjected to intimidation at CLE on Jan. 1, 2006, when I asked the TSA inspector at the magnetometer ( the thing you walk through) what his training in the 4th amendment had been. Only when I abandoned my question and was compelled to virtually beg that yes, I wanted to go on my flight, was I relaeased to rejoin my family. This was after I had passed the inspections.
One of the earlier post bloggers was asked by their screener what a terrorist looks like. Well, nowadays their uniform has the initials TSA on it.

Pedro January 17, 2006 3:01 PM

PDX Airport: 11:30 pm.

Travelling from the East Coast –not much sleep, connnecting flights, elderly parents ill (reason for travel) and the final stops of a long adoption completed (2 foriegn children). To add to the exhaustion was a tooth that had cracked – my dentist told me to hold it in place with my tongue until I could see a dentist in Oregon.

On the second leg of the trip I consumed a mini bottle (.375ml) of wine – and started a second, but fell asleep. I awoke to the wheels touching the runway and the remaining wine down the front of me.

In a bit of a fog I exited the plane — and headed to a waiting family member. Unfortunately, I left a bag on board. The child at the security screening area refferred me to a TSA agent.

I explained my dilema — he asked me if I had been drinking and for ID. I pulled my backpack off…. He indicated that I was not to touch anything….he would get the ID. I had little idea of where in the pack it was.

The first thing he saw was a months supply of medications. What are these for?” He asked. I told him it was none of his business. Before I could get the sentence out, he had thrown me up against the wall, face in. Realizing by the ripped shirt and torn belt loop that he meant business….I told him, I’m HIV+.

Wrong answer. He threw me to the ground, foot on the back of my head and my face into the carpet. “DON’T SPIT” he started screaming repeatedly.

The police were summoned — I was hand cuffed and taken to a station downtown. The mantra of ‘Don’t Spit’ was repeated throughout the night. I was released at 5 AM
belongings inn a garbage bag.
Wallet gone, Ipod gone, $500 cash gone.

Horrified to even file a complaint….however, now that I swearing off travel, and the children are here…. it is forthcoming.

I must admit, I am still traumatized….3 mo. later. I wake up in a sweat.

AA Captain March 28, 2006 12:10 AM

It is funny how everyone of you “so called Americans” are whining about airport security……..” do I look like a terrorist?” You all had the cheap flags you bought for 4.99 on your cars after 9-11 –how soon we forget when we are suddenly inconvienced. Well the bad guys have a whole lot of funding, and lets say white American John Doe is suicidal, and has is approached by Mr. Terrorist ensuring his family will be financialy secure if he takes an improvised explosive device on the aircraft….those TSA folks would be your heroes when they catch him because they were doing thier jobs according to standard operation procedures. So if you old crusty folks need something to complain about go to McDonalds at 6am and continue complaining about the egg mcmuffins.

Outraged Citizen April 11, 2006 2:50 PM

Well Mr AA Captain – What about the 15,000 people killed annually by drunk drivers in the US; or the fact that 1 in 6 children in this country live in poverty; or about the disgraceful way we brand and intimidate our poor. What about the people who fight everyday against debilitating diseases — does our government care about them? Osama Bin Laden has won this war — he has coerced our government officials into driving this country into debt and instilling fear in the hearts of millions of Americans, who no longer find it acceptable or possible to feel the rapture of life because they have been brain washed by our government propaganda. The TSA employees are the same — brain washed and given power and authority they are not trained to handle properly — have you looked at the hiring requirements for TSA screeners — these people wouldn’t qualify for law enforcement jobs anywhere else in this country and they have been tasked to protect us? Instead they abuse us. There is no need to fear the terrorists — the most imminent threat of terror is right here — emanating from our Capital — stripping us of the rights and freedoms we proclaim we are protecting around the globe — but no longer have ourselves. What rubbish. We have a right to complain, these rights were fought for with the blood of our ancestors. TSA is a government contractor, who does not train their personnel properly, and who develop a power hungry pathology. We who have suffered the indignities of the TSA power play – the “Un” patriot act and the propaganda from the white house, are sick and tired of being abused at the hands of our own governing body — America a Democracy — huh — it is an Oligarchy. Wake UP!!! We are not ephemeral flag wavers such as you proclaim and if you choose to let fear dominate your life — so be it.

Anne June 25, 2006 12:33 PM

I travel weekly for my job in Florida and have seen the gross incompetency of TSA first hand.
Yesterday, Tampa’s TSA Checkpoint 1 stopped me before I got on the train to the terminal saying my pilot case was too big to fit in the overhead compartment. I explained that it fit on the flight to Tampa and I was on the same plane. They were sending me back to the Delta counter when the second TSA person looked across and said my bag was fine. The first TSA person asked to see my ticket again and said that it was OK. At no point did TSA or Delta have anything negative to say about my bags after that incident. Conclusion: Poorly trained TSA person.
Last month in Orlando, The first TSA checkpoint asked to see my ticket and photo ID. Upon delivering these, they asked to see my drivers license. I reminded the TSA person that the two government IDs I produced were allowable photo IDs. As she looked confused at my photo ID clearly written for a fourth grade reading level, she asked what they meant. I told her that they meant I worked for Homeland Security. Looking relieved she handed my ID back to me and let me through. Note: Nowhere does it say Homeland Security on my ID. Conclusion: Illiterate TSA person.
At the Tallahassee airport, I was carrying a purse, briefcase and pilot case. I was told that I had too many bags and was sent back to the Delta counter. I told her that TSA in Orlando, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale allowed this same number of bags through everyday, that TSA is a federal mandate meaning that unless there was an announcement of increased security for a particular airport that they would need to follow the same regulations as all other airport TSAs, and that the number of bags allowed is up to the airline, not TSA. No use. Conclusion: Poorly trained TSA person.
I have many other incidents from around the country that remind me that flying is no safer today than it was pre 9/11 thanks to the sloppy management of TSA. Osama is laughing his buns off at how we’ve screwed up commerical aviation in this country due to his bypassing the sloppy pre 9/11 airport security management to attack our country. The law abiding American public is so completely snowed by this approach to air security that TSA has created the perception that we’re safer because of the Rube Goldberg approach to avoiding terrorism. There are easier, less invasive ways to approach security but the administration feels that as long as Americans perceive the current system to be deterring unsafe flying habits, ‘why fix it if it ain’t broken?’

Michael Bane July 23, 2006 11:10 AM

The whole problem stems in the first place from people not being allowed to carry weapons onboard planes. Look at the heroes of United Flight 93. They proved that passengers can deter hijackers. If some of the passengers had weapons that day, they could have stopped the hijackers without the end result of the plane crashing. I have a new website on this subject, http://www.armedpassengers.org.

Randell Jenkins August 23, 2006 8:17 AM

I work in Japan now…and with this latest liquid terror scare..I really do not want to travel back to the US with the idiots who work security and make policy. Too many young men and women are serving in the military overseas and when they get back–they will see the country they are fighting for is no longer. The Global War on Terror (GWOT) = General Waste Of Time.

Anonymous September 23, 2006 11:50 AM

This is pretty minor, but typical — At Baltimore Washington International my wife’s knee implant always sets off the metal detector.

Yesterday it did as well. She was shunted aside to be patted down, as usual. When the TSA agent came up to wand her, my wife started to tell her about the knee implant… the TSA agent’s response?

“Shut up and let me finish.”

Shortly thereafter a gentleman accidentally knocked some items off a conveyor on their way into the x-ray. Another TSA agent’s response?

“You gonna pick dat shit up?”

These are the people protecting us from terrrorism! While these petty tyrants are harassing innocent people the real bad guys are probably laughing and finding creative ways to beat this system.

John October 4, 2006 7:08 PM

First of all, there is no requirement for any of this information to be provided to the teacher. If she is fined, which I doubt she will be, she will get a copy of the completed investigation paper work from the Aviation Security Inspectors. Granted, the TSA screeners stated things that were un called for, but their actions are justified. We live in a world that states that we cant profile because its wrong and violates civil rights. In an effort to be politically correct rules are made and enforced across the board. Now, you people complain a teacher is being picked on. I hope that none of you liberals are on a plane that goes down because of your willingness to make exceptions for rules that are set up for your safety. Im sure that if we have another event like 9/11 all of you will be saying where was TSA. They will be in the corner with their hands tied from the red tape of customer service and friendliness. Bottom line……If you dont like it, drive!

Totally Traumatized October 23, 2006 10:48 PM


I read everyones comments here prior to my trip to the US, and thought perhaps my experiences might help others be aware of potential areas of risk. According to TSA’s website liquid medications are exempt from the new quart baggie rule. However on 7 October two TSA officers at LAX (including a supervisor), having read the identifying details on my medications, helped themselves to my meds on the grounds the bottles exceeded quart baggie size.

It is a terrifying thing, when you are seriously ill, when you are carrying only exactly the amount of meds you require for a two week international trip (due to other laws) to watch powerlessly as your vital medications vanish. Pointing out that TSA says meds are exempt, trying to get them to read the Dr’s letter I was carrying, begging in tears that these vital medications could not be replaced in the US, that I would have to cut my trip short … all these things greatly amused the two men, who did not place my meds in the bin with my other toiletries but took them somewhere out of sight.

Further when I asked whether the supervisor would at least sign something to explain why they had taken these items I was told: “we are not TAKING anything from you, you are VOLUNTARILY SURRENDERING these items so no, I won’t write anything”. When I got out a pen to write a list of what they were taking both men started screaming “you dont have any right to make a complaint, you will NOT take our names!!”. So I, like others, find myself with no documentation, not only re a possible complaint but also re my own insurance – also how do I explain such an incident to my employers, which cut short an expensive and important international business trip?

I encounted a similar problem at SFO when I tried to leave the US, although at least in this case it was not open greed but ignorance on behalf of the screener (after 10 minutes of hell he summoned a supervisor who advised him he was in the wrong). But in either case, this type of situation puts people like myself in a terrible position. Sure we can check luggage through with toiletries etc (although in this case it was not possible due to the time I was held by TSA) but we can’t check through serious medications because they invariably vanish in transit. What on earth can we do??? We have no recourse to TSA, because despite the medication exempt rule it all comes down to a TSA screener’s “judgement” on the day. But if TSA continues to separate people from their meds there will be medical problems, possibly even fatalities. So please warn everyone of this situation!

Traveler November 2, 2006 10:29 PM

I can feel the love…..

There are going to be bad apples, ignorant morons, over-zealous a**holes and incompetent idiots, both on the TSA side and the among the travelers. Considering the number of people flying and the number of TSA employees, I’d say there really isn’t much of a problem. People are always going to remember bad experiences and will spread the word about said experiences. They rarely mention how courteously and professionally they were treated.

I travel constantly, both domestically and internationally. I have had a few annoying and inconvenient moments with TSA personnel, but they have been relatively far and few between. It’s really been no worse than my experiences in Europe, Asia or the Middle East. I simply shrug my shoulders and do my best to get past it. It’s easier to do that than to make things more complicated. If you have a problem, wait until you’re in a position to file a complaint. Don’t do it at the airport because you’re on their turf and you’ll never win. If the problem appears that it’s going to be more hassle than it’s worth, simply play the game long enough to get out of the facility. Better to miss a flight and suffer the inconvenience than to spend a night (or longer) in jail.

I guess that is the point I’m trying to make–learn how to play the game. Be careful, be prepared, make sure you’ve dotted the i and crossed the t before you go to the airport.

I’ve been doing this so long and so often I’ve got it down to a science. The best thing you can do is educate yourself, give yourself enough time to properly prepare for your trip and that you’re following proper operating procedure and your trip will be easier, faster and more enjoyable.

Yes, I agree the terrorists have won to some degree. We are not going to see the flagrantly open and happy-go-lucky travel of yesteryear again. Our trust was shattered since 9/1/1 and increased security is now a necessary evil. The way we will win is to adapt to the new ways and learning how to make the most of them. The more conflict we involve ourselves in and the harder our lives become the happy they are. Walk through the checkpoints prepared and smiling. Play the game and beat them at their own.

Tim November 4, 2006 2:15 PM

I regularly travel between a home in Mexico and one in the US. The TSA (or Bureau of Jackbooted Thugs as I prefer) is a case study in the corruption of power. Too hastily recruited, too thinly trained and overseen by uber-fuerher TSA officials that value the fear their thugs can create over any vague attempt at service, a traveler is a toy for the personal amusement of these would be SS. I have traveled many hundreds of thousands of miles before and after 9/11. I know the drill and prepare carefuly for each trip. I keep my mouth shut, I absorb every rude comment without retort and I even accept the manhandling that these power drunk little people seem to employ based on criteria known only to themselves.

I can deal with petty people trying to build themselves up at my expense.
I just want to get from point A to point B in one piece.

To be fair, I have met a number of professional TSA employees. Sadly too few, though.

My fervent hope is that as the TSA matures, it begins to ferret out those that revel in their power and abuse it.

As a Vietnam Era vet I remember the last time the American people lost respect for their own government. This spanned a plethora of revolutionary organizations that pushed us to the edge of a police state and civil war.

We are again on that edge. Should the TSA not choose to accept the great responibility that came with their great power, they may push us into that abyss.

So, please, (TSA employee) next time yo feel the need to manhandle some woman, yell at a confused and tired traveler or jam some poor bastard into a wall because you can, remember you may be hastening the day that TSA means Targeted for Stategic Annihilation.

eddie December 8, 2006 1:29 PM

Hey Guys

I work for TSA, and I hate everything about that feted, vile, disgusting agency. The management is incompetent and uneducated and they continually violate employees’ and citizens’ civil rights. Please don’t be fooled by the “stopping the terrorists at all cost” nonsense. The TSA cares nothing about the American people, and only about power. Unfortunately, there too stupid to gain power except through inconsistently taking away people’s items. I am not offended by anyones hatred of TSA, in fact, I hate and despise the agency more than anyone here. TSA is another ingenious creation by our illustrious “president” Bush. I hope the TSA goes, as does president Bush next election.

Alan Howard December 10, 2006 6:19 AM

I flew into Houston for business earlier this year, and had a bad experience when trying to fly out. I thought I was the exception rather than the rule, but looking at the above it does not seem to be the case.

I went to leave and the security screener asked so search my hand luggage which I fully complied with handing it over. I asked her what she was looking for, and if I had a contraband item, maybe it was something I had overlooked and would be able to find it faster for her. She said ‘ I am just looking, refusing to answer’. I replied ‘ If you are looking for something like explosives or drugs, I have asthma medication which may have triggered your alarm, which is an aerosol inhaler, and some pills. I can show you where they are if you like (this happened before once, but I think it was just a faulty device at another airport).’

She replied ‘Dont say that word I will have to arrest you’, I think she was referring to the Explosives maybe the use of the word drugs, but I am not sure, and did not want to repeat the question, in case I said the wrong thing. Maybe I was being naive.

Eventually she pulled out a plastic packet of three cigarette lighters, which I had forgotten about that I had flown in with, I do not smoke, but had bought them to light a scented candle for my hotel room, whilst I read.

She said I could not take it on with me. I told her I had brought it into the country. She replied that you can bring lighters into the country but you cant take them out again. Ok so maybe I might be some kind of pyromaniac, and the checks are better here, but what came next demoralised me further. She replied that I was however allowed to take four boxes of matches. This seems at the very least absurd, maybe someone here could shed some light on this. (sorry for the pun). I asked here why this was and she replied loudly “That is the law of the United States” and ushered for another security person to come to her. Now I was under the impression that I would be arrested. I just said ‘ It really does not matter I just want to go home’. She replied in a condescending voice ‘ Oh yeah’ like look at how powerful I am kind of thing. Good luck to her, I am now one of the america haters and she is the one who created me in this way.

I was thinking of America as a holiday destination, but took some small satisfaction in booking a different country for my family, as I do not want them subjected to the same kind of abuse.

Barry January 11, 2007 2:30 PM

Is there a reason that the TSA screeners insist on having my 12 month old son take off his shoes for examination in the Xray machine? could there really be enough explosives hidden in shoes about 3.5 inches long to warrant that???

Also, I recently went to board a flight wearing open Teva sandals once…purposely to avoid having to take my shoes off. Not only did the short-sighted robotic TSA screener tell me to remove my sandals (which basically consist of the rubber sole and straps) but he also proceeded TO WAND THE THINGS.

Reinforces my view that 60% of the measures implemented by TSA don’t actually improve security but are meant to help allay travellers own fears and to show that our govt is actually doing something about the possible threat. despite the fact that those measures are basically useless in most respects. Typical “close the barn door after the horse has fled” mentality.

Gino February 5, 2007 2:05 AM

I just came into O’Hare from Dulles, and, due to detoxifying from a one year course of medication, forgot that I was carrying “terrorist” objects and that the airline told me to check in my bag at the security counter. I spent two hours sitting under armed guard while they stole my bottle opener, toe clipper, screw drivers, 1″ scissors, and 2″ pocket knife, a razor cutter and spare blades (how many terrorists need spare razor blades) from me, and questioned me about an arrest record, pilot’s license, my spare shoe laces (they break), and my ski mask (it’s cold outside). They would not allow me to take the items back and check them in, as they had allowed me to previously when O’Hare allowed them through.

These people are just hired based on low IQ. It seems that their policy makers (including W, who was trusted with a fighter aircraft) are certifiable morons. They will allow a real terrorist through, but they may charge me with a federal crime (Virginia already said they won’t charge me) because of a mistake made by an airline official and an oversight by a passenger who had no sleep in the past two days. My lawyer is supposed to be assisting me on the administration of my father’s estate; not on this petty BS that can toss me in Guantanamo forever. And, if they want to make me Jose’s room mate, my lawyer will never know. The terrorists are us.

Gino February 5, 2007 3:57 AM

This government is populated by morons who unfortunately have been given the instruments of power by we morons who are distracted. Turn off the TV and pay attention.

Lulu February 5, 2007 3:24 PM

My 12 year old son packed $175 worth of asthma meds in his check-in luggage. It was all common medications, including a rescue inhaler, in the properly labeled packaging with my son’s name on the pharmacy label. The TSA confuscated it because the first name on the medications didn’t match the first name on his airline ticket. My son goes by his middle name typically since he shares the same first name as his dad and grandpa. This is apparently a common practice to confuscate medications if the FULL name on the prescription label does not match the ticketed name. Will my 12 year old son now be blacklisted as a potential terrorist???

In the meantime I have spent more than half my day on the phone trying to sort out the matter, being bounced back and forth between the airport lost & found and TSA and am faced with a pile of claim forms to fill out in the hopes that perhaps the TSA gods will smile on us in 6 or more months and reimburse us for our financial losses.

My son has learned his lesson to never pack valuable items or medications in his check-in luggage!

A TSO March 17, 2007 3:40 PM

all you passagers want to beat up us TSA TSO’s for doing our jobs> Just remember since 9-11-2001 not a single airliner as been hijacked in the US. So as a TSO i feel that we are doing a good job. And i know at my airport we treat the flying public with respect all the time. And the flying public needs to remember that Transportion Security Officers are Fed. Officers and we are doing our jobs just you guys go to work everyday and yes somtimes we dont argee with the rules we have enforce but we do our jobs and try to you ungrateful passagers safe.

screener guy March 29, 2007 2:45 AM

I’ll throw in my two cents on the issue. I too am a TSO (Transportation Security Officer), and I have been performing passenger and baggage screening duties all across the country sense 2002. I have the misfortune of thinking too much about these issues, namely the misuse of power, the belittlement of passenger rights, and the neglect of courtesy between passengers and screening personnel; I often wonder how nice it would be to be one of those individuals who can drift their thoughts along not worrying about anything.

There are problems on both sides. Travelers do not like to pay attention, read, listen, or follow rules they feel are bellow their standard rights. So the, “Whoops I forgot??? excuse is heard hundreds of times a day by those working in this field. Naturally not all passengers are this way, many seasoned or more intellectual individuals are a pleasure to work with because they breeze through and are on their way and require little babysitting. Now I do feel there is a greater problem with the work force. This can be argued in many different ways. I like to view it as a simple problem that faces many people in many industries today. People have no common courtesy; they do not feel that treating others with respect even beyond what they receive will reward them in any way so they reduce themselves to lashing out and acting childish to whomever they encounter. I will admit that I enjoy working around TSA personnel that have this mentality very simply because when I then talk to the passenger I look like an angel, and I get the opportunity to lash out at the TSA person for being a prime example of a failing society.

Please remember however that we are there for a reason and to carry out our duties. Many of us simply do our job the best we can and carry on our lives outside of the airport. Anyway for reason I do not understand many of the items found and events that take place at the airport are hidden from the public. When was the last time you heard about a gun getting caught at a security checkpoint? Well I can promise you it happens all the time, and we hear every excuse in the book, from, “That’s not mine, it’s my cousins??? to “I didn’t put a gun in that stuffed animal!??? So whoever is making the shortsighted decision to exclude the public from this knowledge is in effect causing the desensitization of the same people we are trying to secure.

Do I agree with screening, with violating rights, taking toothpaste, searching old ladies hand bags? I don’t like it but I do it as a function of something I feel is better then the alternative. Here is something to run through your thinker. If you were a terrorist and you were recruiting for a suicide bomber, where would you look? What would your qualifying factors be? Would a disgruntled old lady with terminal cancer be a viable option? How many explosives do you think you could fit onto her wheel chair? Do you think you could convince her that the problems she is facing are largely in part to the system which you are trying to change? Might not be as hard as you think, she is near death, has a axe to grind, is likely no longer of sound mind. Most importantly she has a better chance of getting preferential treatment from screening personnel at the airport.

Just some things to think about…
Oh and when you see me, I’ll be the one that smiles and asks if you’re excited for your trip, then pulls out your pocket knife and explains that you will likely need to enjoy it without your sharp toy.

Best to all of you, happy travels

(sorry I will likely not be back to view this, I just ran across it by chance. Someone else will surely defend or reject my opinions without further comment from myself)

Another TSO April 28, 2007 1:19 AM

Like “screener guy” I also believe there is a problem on both sides. First let me say that I do agree that rude screeners do exist and I am embarrassed by the few that impose this behavior on the traveling public. This is an issue that only management can resolve in the end and unfortunately they continue to allow these people to poison TSA’s reputation (no excuses for them here). Now, passengers have many venues to explore todays traveling rules and regulations. First, when tickets are purchased online there is ALWAYS a link to view the airlne and security guidelines, check the help section. At the check-in counter the information is offered and lastly before you go through security a screener will ask you about your carry-on contents. So, yes the usual excuse “I didn’t know” gets old. What bothers me the most is ignorance on the passengers behalf, not that it is the traveling publics fault. Remember folks, SSI (sensitive security information). I wish I could get into detail why all these rules are in place but I cannot without violating SSI. But I can say this…terrorists are getting more crafty each day and we the screeners are continously trained on their new techniques. Therefore, TSA has to impose restrictions for EVERYONE. If this informaton was readily available to all I believe that more people would be understanding and cooperative.

My goodness, those that “hate” TSA obviously are extremely ungrateful. And to one that said we have low IQ’s I dare you to say that to the faces of the many retired/ex police officers, firefighters, military, correction officers and others that hold degrees, working toward degrees. Come on, stop digging for insults.

Lastly, it’s true we do stop MANY prohibited items and possible deadly threats to the public on a daily basis. Unfortunately you guys don’t always hear about it. Media loves controversy and that’s what they will report. They don’t report the constant abuse WE receive on a daily basis. I am always pleasant (even on a bad day) and I’ve been told “F.U.” been called a “BH” just because someone else was having a bad day! Regulation says (and posted at all checkpoints) that there is a 3.4oz limit. If you come through with a tube of toothpaste that is 4oz, it’s a no go. Why am I a “BH” for doing my job by confiscating it? We all have jobs with rules to follow and if we don’t—WE ARE NOT DOING OUR JOBS!!!! Remember folks, these rules may seem stupid and beyond reason but believe me there is a very good reason for these rules. I believe that if I were not a screener I would probably feel the same way as most but due to my training and knowledge I can see why we must always be alert and aware of possible dangers.

BTW, the story with the lady and the knife seems fishy to me. terrorist watch list? and a $500 fine? Photograph? Who the hell keeps a camera at the checkpoint? No rule for pictures. Where was the police? TSA has drop boxes for these items and that’s it..no fines or otherwise. Yes, butter knives are allowed, now if it were a steak knife it’s a no-go but still no drastic measures are taken toward the person.

clamdip May 9, 2007 2:31 PM

i agree with “another TSO”. i’ve seen screeners get TONS of abuse but no one wants to say anything about that, or give credit to those that take it everyday in the chin.

guys, you need to think about the fact that TSA is trying to protect the traveling public. i really don’t think that they’re trying to give people a hard time just because they feel like it. you’ve got see it as, how many people do you think travel everyday? how easy is it for a terrorist to just blend in? if you did it randomly, it’s like pulling a needle out of a haystack. so the best way to be safe, is to keep an eye on and screen everyone who comes through, simple fact.

now, i can understand if they just picked you randomly and gave you a hard time just because you “looked” threatening but had nothing on you, then that’s a different story, but you did have a knife. it’s like pointing a fake gun to a police officer. how does he know it’s fake? do you think he will take your word for it? it’s like you said, “i’m not a terrorist”, but i have a knife in my bag. well, that’s where you’ve got to understand that it’s not what you say, but it’s what “might” happen. for all they knew, you were using the kids for protection, and believe me, any terrorist would do that. they would do ANYTHING to get away with EVERYTHING.

however, on the flip side, they did go a little extreme and i can understand your point of view, but you also have to understand theirs. well, i just hope that it doesn’t happen to you again. have a good day!

TSO May 11, 2007 11:47 PM

GOD, is this all you people have time for? bitch and complain about TSA? I wish there werent so many bad apples that make us all look bad, but thats in EVERY industry. don’t tell me you can’t look at someone in you’re own company and be like “oh he’s a dipshit” etc… You all need to remember that we have an SOP, which is constantly changing, and we keep up with it QUITE well. to the “T” and are tested a LOT. And we serve a purpose…to prevent another 9/11. Have you seen one since? no, you haven’t. you think the terrorist havnt tried? im sure they have, were they successful? NO, obviously. Try and take a step back next time and quit feeding each others ignorance and get you’re own facts and opinions. Thanks.

Lucy August 18, 2007 11:18 AM

Recently I went on a weekend trip leaving form Dallas Lovefield. I had my purse and 1 small carry-on bag. At the airport security we ran the gamut of 6 TSO employees. My driver’s license was checked 3 times. The last 2 times within 10 feet of each other. The 1st TSO employee checks my driver’s license. The 2nd employee sat behind a table stacked with the plastic boxes. She sat staring off to the side and didn’t speak to anyone while I was in line. Simply sat and stacked boxes. The 3rd employee at the walk-through X-Ray again checks my drivers license. Now, at this point I made 2 horrible mistakes: 1- I put my boarding pass in the plastic box instead of keeping it in my hand. 2- when the 4th TSO employees took my purse out of the X-Ray machine and carried it off to the other side of the machine that I just left, I tried to keep an eye on it and asked to go back through the screening door. BIG mistake. “NO YOU DO NOT!!??? he yelled. I had to stand on 1 side of the screen not knowing who was doing what with my purse while it was out of my site for a couple of minutes. The 5rd employee searched my bag. He explained to me how I should have put my liquids in 1 baggie not 2 and what items where exempt vs what items were not. A couple of times he was slightly sarcastic but basically OK. The 6th employee searched my husbands bag… it was about ¼ the size of mine. My 1 small bag with 2 pairs of shoes and clothes for 2 days went through XRay 3 times, 2 after we took out all the ‘baggie’ items. 3 other people behind me in line passed by while I waited on my bag and purse. One with a baby, baby bag, and stroller.

Now I’m all for people ‘doing their job’ and am glad we have airport security. But I can tell you right now that this was an extremely unpleasant experience. Just trying to get my purse and 1 small bag through security was an ordeal. This has soured me on airports, in specific airport security, and flying in general. Having to go through that kind of inspection and being treated disrespectfully for trying to keep an eye on my purse was ridiculous. All this for a weekend trip is just not worth it. From now on I’ll drive and skip the airport!

tsa victim R October 4, 2007 1:56 PM

Over the past few years, I am just one of many who have been abused by airport security and police at an airport. When I went through the screening arch, no alarm was sounded and there was nothing wrong or suspicious with my luggage or me. This notwithstanding, I was diverted from the line, allegedly for “random” enhanced screening, placed in a locked glass cell, then hand wanded, chemically tested, and still nothing was wrong. (I have since learned, that women over the age of 50 are routinely targeted for “random” enhanced screeing. Clearly, a targeted group is not “random” and is as offensive as racial profiling.) Then, I was told that I would be subject to a physical pat down. To this unreasonable, illegal, request, I objected. That is when everything got really ugly. I was surrounded and menaced by ariport security and police, told that I would not be allowed to fly, would be arrested and charged with federal crimes. To end this ordeal, under duress, I allowed the assaultive pat down. But, the abuses did not end there. My boarding pass was photocopied and I was told that I was being “flagged.”
Dozens of telephone calls and letters to agencies, elected and appointed officials yielded no genuine action. I am now seeking a civil rights attorney to go after these wrongdoers.
I have not gone anywhere by plane since that day and will never be able to fly anywhere again, as I will not deliberately put myself in a position to be so abused.
Also, I just read about the school principal who was abused for unknowingly having a bread knife in her carry on luggage. If there was a genuine concern about the knife, it could have been confiscated and the ordeal ended. The threats were unnecessary, but typical of the nasty things done in the name of security.
Now, a woman was murdered in Phoenix by airport personnel and/or police. The state of affairs in the name of airport security is untenable. The wrongdoers are alleging that she accidently strangled herself. This explanation lacks credibility.
If you were abused, follow up; send a Notice of Tort Claim followed by a lawsuit. This is where your power now rests. Nothing will be done until enough pressure is brought to bear on an overzealous government that is violating long standing constitutionally protected civil rights. Airport secuirty, while necessary, and appreciated, should be legal, not abusive.
Who is representing you? Apparently, no one is representing me!

tso October 6, 2007 4:17 AM

this is for tsa victim R
the pat down search is not illegal you gave consent when you enter the check point and by federal law any passanger that enters a checkpoint has given consent to search his or person and his or her propetry and if you really don’t agree with the laws then it is simple don’t fly and yes you can refuse screening but you won’t be allowed to fly. I take my job seriously cause i dont want another 9-11 to happen and i hate to say this but we as americans have too many right here so when TSA puts out new rules or tries enforce one on the books you all cry your rights are being vilotated. i love intl. travlers cause when they are asked by us to be screen they do it and dont argue cause many other counrties they are treated like crinmals with automatci weapons in thier face. so you need to grow up and realize that we are to protect you and just trying to our jobs and dont need be talked down too cause you guys fail to learn the rules..


tsa victim r October 6, 2007 8:43 PM

Response to A TSO
You are wong. I fully understand and appreciate the need for legitimate security and agree with all reasonable regulations, but no one has the right or authority to touch another person. I never consented to such. Unfortunately, most people do not know their legal rights, including airport screeners. (There are also other unreasonable regulations and acts done in the name of security, but that is best left for another time.) There are numerous reported incidents of TSA physical trespass that are clearly criminal acts, but TSA personnel are not held accountable.
This right to be free from physical assault and battery has been part of our basic freedoms since the establishment of this counrty. The civil rights of the individual are supposed to be secure. When law abiding citizens have not commited a crime, no one has the right to physically touch them. The issue is so significant that the United States Supreme Court established guidelines for when a police officer can conduct a “pat down” of a criminal.
If you think that arbitrary regulations promulgated by the TSA are legal, you need to be educated in constitutional law and civil rights. Bad law is just bad, no matter how it is rationalized. This TSA mess needs to be cleaned up.
I had absolutely no objection to all of the other alleged secuirty measures done to me for no logical reason, or purpose, save that of giving credibility to the notion that these screeing regulations serve a legitimate function.
I was seriously abused by a gang of TSA thugs in the name of security, have had significant flashbacks to those abuses, the physical assault and battery and find your incorrect reasoning a poor excuse to trample on the legally protected rights of millions of innocent travelers in the name of security. It is also illegal to target a group and then call it “random screeing.” That is profiling, akin to racial profiling.
Others who have been similarly mistreated should take strong action to bring the “ritual abuse of passengers” to an end. (quoting from an article in the Wall Street Journal.) If enough people stop flying, there will also be a reexamination of these abuses.
Can you also justify the killing of that woman in Phoenix? The claim that she accidently killed herself is doubted. Those TSA abusers will surely have some sort of excuse.
tsa victim r

tso October 7, 2007 5:42 AM

first thing what happened in phoenix had nothing to do with TSA. That incident was a result of the airport police not TSA but the fact most of you can’t tell differnce in the uniforms we at TSA take the blame . Also I just want to ask you one thing “was your plane hijacked” or “Was it used to kill people” no.. then if you don’t like the laws dont fly it’s just that simple.. And if you want to know what its like to do our job then come join us.. but until you do this job you have no right to talk bad about people who are trying to make a living and support a family… I’m Done Here…..

TOWCH November 8, 2007 1:42 AM

The only thing special when it comes to planes and knives is that thanks to the TSA: it’s more likely that any violent person on a plane with a knife is going to have slightly better luck slashing people without fear of armed retaliation that he might have to worry about on the street.

A nut with a knife is still better off on the street because you can’t rely on the aid of strangers on the street, while you’re sure to get it on a plane.

Getting a plane full of passengers to sit complacently while you fly it in to a building was a 1 time trick.

The TSA is a useless nuisance. Airport security energy should be 100% centered around bomb detection.

QuantumDogma November 22, 2007 11:30 AM

Things didn’t go so well with my last job. I was traveling on a job assignment when I had a run in with retaliation from TSA security screeners.

I had reported a screener because she inspected my bags without my presence and left something out. When I got to my destination I noticed it was missing.

I came back through the airport the next day and stopped back at the checkpoint to try to recover it. I spoke with the security supervisor and he took my information to file a complaint. When he came back he told me that, of course, he couldn’t find my item.

The next time I came through the airport, I recognized the same security screener who I filed the complaint against and she recognized me too. She became fairly hostile towards me when I approached her; cursing at me and using racial slurrs.

I managed to keep my composure and continued through the screening process.
After I walked through the metal detector doorway and moved to claim my bag from the end of the X-Ray machine another returning security screener stepped in my way.
I asked her to move aside, but she refused to let me claim my bag until after her bags had come through the X-ray machine. I understand that she was just trying to take up for her friend who was using such foul language with me.

Since my bag and my person had both cleared the security screening and I was not informed that a secondary screen would be required, it wasn’t appropriate for the screener to refuse me access to my belongings so I reached out my hand and took hold of the handle of my bag.

When she saw that I wasn’t going to be refused, she reached out and grabbed my arm at the elbow. Then she laughingly said “That’s assault.” and the lady I filed the complaint against confirmed it.

They both reported to the police that I had struck the returning screener. I am a Christian man and I did not lay a finger on that lady, but even though I insisted the police review the video surveillance to confirm my story, I still ended up in jail.

Since I was on assignment for my employer, you can imagine how damaging to my reputation and my employer’s confidence in me this was. Regardless of the truth, I became regarded as a joke at my place of business. My employer hired on another person to do the same job as me. I had to train him. After he returned from his first job assignment, I was terminated.

Even though I won the criminal case of assault the T.S.A. security screener brought against me, the T.S.A. decided to sue me in civil court for the exact same thing, assault. After losing my job, I had no more money to retain the services of another attorney so I had to represent myself.

The law has this stipulation that the security guards have to be “in the performance of their duties??? for the law to apply. The law also says that everyone has to submit to the screening when they enter the restricted area, this includes the screening agents. The police statement quotes the T.S.A. supervisor as stating that the accusing guard was returning from her break and was waiting for her personal items to come through the X-Ray machine.

I argued that the screener wasn’t performing her duties since she was being screened and that the civil penalty never should have been initiated.

When I finally got my chance to speak with the Judge and the opposing counsel, I managed to convince the prosectutor to drop the case. He apologized to me for “everything I had gone through???. He said normally when they drop a case, they issue an official “warning???, but that it wasn’t appropriate in this case.

He actually told me that he and his boss had known all along that the screening agent wasn’t performing her duties.
He went on to tell me that he had had a discussion about it with his boss before they decided to persue a lawsuit against me. He claims his boss told him to pursue me anyways.

They figured it was cheaper for me to pay the penalty they proposed, than to hire an attorney to fight it. I guess they never thought I’d represent myself.

Even though I won both of the cases the T.S.A. brought against me, I still haven’t been able to find any work in my field. I spent 3 months working at the temporary labor place. I sent out resumes for 5 months on every tech job I could find. I have never had this much trouble finding work before. I finally had enough of working the temp labor jobs so I got a Commercial Driver’s Licence about a month ago. The pay isn’t so great, but it’s keeping food on the table and a roof over my head.

QuantumDogma November 22, 2007 11:40 AM

And one more thing…
I don’t know if this qualifies as poetic justice, but the lady who falsely accused me of assault was later fired from her position in the T.S.A.

Anonymous November 24, 2007 2:46 PM

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
-Benjamin Franklin, American Patriot

seany December 29, 2007 7:17 PM

you pay for mistakes an that’s it. too bad too sad for her. She deserves it. If I make a mistake and speed past a cop and get caught that is my fault and no ones elses and I deserve a fine. She has no constitution right at a federal checkpoint .just like you sign away your constitutional right when you get a drivers license. If you refuse a breath test they can take you to the hospital and just take your blood or automatical charge you as guilty. why feel sorry for this idiot. She fucked up by forgetting and got caught. I bet she’ll check better next time.

tsa victim r December 29, 2007 10:39 PM

response to “seany”
First, you lack a basic understanding of having a driver’s license. It is not a Constitutional right and is regulated by legitimate state law, not federal law. Anyone who drinks and drives must be taken off the road. Many people are injured or killed by those who disrespect everyone else by engaging in foreseeably dangerous conduct – drunk driving. It is for the protection of eveyone, including you, that a refusal to take a breath test leads to the legal conclusion that you are intoxicated. The result of a refusal is explained to the suspect at the time the breath test is intended to be given. Clearly, anyone who was not drinking would take the test. Seems that you have been down this road before. Perhaps, you should also consider traveling under, not over, posted speed limits.
Driving, and related issues, is not a reasonable analogy to the illegal acts done at airports by irrational, illegal, arbitrary regulations and the drone personnel of the TSA by whom they are enforced. Everyone is supposed to have federally protected Constitutional rights without interruption, not abused by a government corrupt with power. This is a problem about which the founders of this country were keenly aware, having just gotten out of the British tyrannical, political stranglehold, and why they took great steps to prevent exactly what is happening now.
It is a puzzlement to me that millions of people, without follow up complaints, willingly submit to worthless, illegal regulations that do nothing to protect anyone from terrorists or anything else. In fact, the new terrorists are at the airports in the uniform of the TSA.
Sometimes when people make innocent errors, reasonable resolutions can cure the problem without taking the matter to unreasonable extremes. This would be the case of the teaher who inadvertantly packed a butter knife after making sandwiches for more than three dozen students. If there was a problem – take the knife, advise the woman that it should not be in her luggage and move on. All the rest is unnecessary overkill.
Again, I urge all TSA victims to take aggressive legal action against every agency and person involved in airport screeing abuse and stop flying until sanity is restored in the security measures.
Finally, you should wash your mouth, and computer, out with soap. Your filthy language may be appropriate in the gutter where you live, but it is inappropriate for the whole world.
TSA victim r

seany December 30, 2007 11:57 AM

Ok, first off TSA victim r, I don’t know if you even know what you are talking about. If she got caught with a butter knife, she would be given options and if she didn’t take them TSA would just take the butter knife and throw it away, you do not get fined an put on a “list” for a small swiss or butter knife. The knife the women had must have been a large chopping knife. And if she had looked in her bag she would have seen it, it is every passengers responsiblity to check themselves and bag for prohibitted items before they are going to fly. Second, you speak about constitutionl rights , yet then you have the nerve to regulate on my freedom of speach,wow that’s nice. I wrote two four letter words, sorry to hurt your feelings and no i do not live in a gutter but I’m sure I have a better living condition then most. You said it was not appropriate in all places in the world, neither is bring prohibitted items on a plane. The public is just too dumb in a whole to follow rules, if they did TSA would have to lay off thosands of workers becuse there would be nothing for them to do, but have a day where everyone follows the rules is like having a day without crime in the world, it’s not going to happen. Flying is a treat, not a right. You do not have the right to fly, just as you do not have the right to drive a car with a drivers license. You can and should be able to lose that option if you continue to violate the rules. It keeps everyone else on the planes safer. If you don’t like the TSA don’t fly, you can still drive, ride the train, take a cruise, or get a row boat and paddle your ass to Europe dumb shit. Eveything you are saying is false and gives bad teaching and ideas to others who are not educated in what’s going on. I hope no one trust or believes what you are saying to them. Don’t take advantage of them please. Comply or don’t fly, that should be the new theme.

Ex-TSO at TSA January 1, 2008 12:07 AM

I can only tell you, that I applied for a TSO position, with the TSA. I am 45 years old, and have never even had a speeding ticket, written a bad check, and have a credit score of 798. I live in a 700K home, with a 70K mortgage. I have no other debt. I have been married for 25 years, and we have scrimped and saved everything we can to create a solid life.
It took almost 4 months of TSA background checks, including listing everywhere I have lived over the past 10 years, without any open dates, credit reports including my husbands, listing all immediate family members, including my husbands. This includes step parents, and step siblings.
I had to include a motel we lived in for 2 weeks after closing on one home, and waiting for another home to be finished.
I went through a basic test in the beginning. I then went through a interview.
I will tell you that the TSA probably knows more about me than I do. The “drug screening test,” was a little more than I bargained for. I had to go to the hospital, and was placed in a gown with a wrist band. I went through thorough hearing exam, eye exam, coordination, a doctor checked my body for scarring. As God as my wittness, I was there for almost 3 hours and I have never ever taken drugs in my life! They physically screen these folks too.
I am not kidding or exaggerating any portion of this letter.
I lasted 4 days on this job.
I left immediately because of the low morale among TSO’s and intimidation by superiors.
What I did learn that I believe I can disclose, is this…
The TSO’s are extremely hard working. My impression prior to my short stop there, was that they appeared fat and dumb. (Just being honest.)
These folks spend their days in various areas, which in many cases do not allow them to move around. My feet were literally numb from standing.
The knowledge that these people have, is incredible, and they are doing their jobs better than most anyone could ever imagine.
I cannot disclose the training and education they recieve long term, but will say that despite the appearance of some TSO’s, in no way signifies a lack of intelligence.
I also believe that many of these folks may abuse the privelege of this position, and I suppose abuse it with the public, or within the organization. That does happen in almost every large business/corporation.
Though I could not imagine spending one more moment under the authority of specific supervisors I briefly worked with, I can honestly say that at least from this airport, it is unlikely that anyone is going to get on a plane with checked or unchecked baggage containing anything prohibited.
They honest to God, are doing their jobs.
I can’t spell check this, and I am not out to prove anything here, so please save any unkind remarks for someone who deserves them.
Just want you folks on this blog to know, that it is not easy to become an employee, and most people would not disclose the unbelievable amount of personal information required to obtain this job. (They audit your taxes also!)
So, the next time you go to the airport, expect them to keep the airport and you safe. If you walked in most of their shoes for half a day, you would think differently.
You don’t have to like these folks, or even like their appearance, but I want you to know, they bust their rear ends.
Take off your shoes, remove all your large electronics, don’t carry anything even by accident that could be construed as a weapon.
There are reasons for the gel, lip gloss, liquid limitation at 3.4 ounces.
Just do what they ask.
They are truly harassed more by the flying public on a daily basis, than most of us experience in a years time.
Just say thank you, and mean it if they are good to you.
Remember, they are there to prevent another 911. Help them do their job.

Oh, one other thing. Do you know that these TSO’s also screen EVERY piece of luggage that goes into a plane? That means that they LIFT EVERY piece of luggage into a very high tech machine, which is visible to the public but I won’t say what it does, but they can and do find potential threats.
Also, THEY DO NOT STEAL!!! Jerks that some are, they are honest.
I never one time heard a single TSO searching baggage find any item and so much as make one single comment.
They are good, and I am not kidding. Just miserable.

I dare most of you to apply, go through initial screening, then continue with about a 30 plus page application, allow your taxes to be audited, your high school transcripts to be viewed, your credit report to be released, your ex neighbors to be interviewed…I challenge you people to go through what these folks do.

And, they make very little. Their health insurance is NOT paid for. Their retirement is no different than any other typical corporation. You put in, they match to a certain amount. There are no freebies for these people.

Give em’ a break. For the most part, at least at this airport, are truly doing their jobs, and doing a damn good job at that.

I just didn’t like the supervisors (Leads). Egotistical creeps (yup, they were women!)

tso January 2, 2008 6:23 PM

thanx ex-tso, for explaning the job and people to these folks and good luck on furture endevors my friend

tsa victim r January 13, 2008 3:04 PM

Response to Seany. Ignorance is surely bliss and you are a prime example. It is the “right” of every American citizen to travel by any mode of transportation each wishes, without being subject to unreasonable, illegal, searches. That includes the right to drive legally with a driver’s license. Using air travel is as common place as bus and train travel used to be and should not be the testing ground for eroding everyone’s rights.
Whatever happened with the school teacher is impossible to know exactly, but there are enough TSA abuse examples to deduce that something was amiss, perhaps on both sides. The result of an improperly packed item led to an overly nasty response by the “security” personnel.
Whatever rules and regualtions are implemented cannot violate the most basic civil and criminal law standards. While you question whether I know about what I wrote, you can rest assured that I do, having attended one of the preeminent law schools in this country and am admitted to practice in two states, before the United States Supreme Court and having taught college classes in history and political science for 12 years. The law school teaching faculty included one of the world’s greatest living constitutional and civil rights lawyers. The passions of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s is lost. Now, people are like sheep being led to the slaughter, without understanding what is happening or caring enough to do anything about it.
As to your suggestion that other modes of transportation be used, that is already done, in addition to the legal action undertaken for the criminal violations done in the name of security.
While you may delude yourself that you do not live in the gutter literally, you do figuratively.
It is amazing that there are not more investigative reports being done about the rapid descent down the slippery slope of lost civil rights. It is an important balance that must be maintained, but is not, between the government’s legitimate authority and the rights of the individual. Just look around the world at any society where a government had taken the most basic civil rights away. Looks lile we are heading there too. The selling out of America has been going on for some time in smaller ways, now it is moving into high gear.

Anonymous January 15, 2008 3:52 AM

tsa victim r , the system is flawed to say the least… but saying that your rights are being stripped from you is wrong but all these people are doing is their jobs they don’t make the rules, they are just charged to enforce them…. and yes some of them are quite rude to the flying public.. i dont care if you like the rules or not but show these hard working men and women some respect… their doing their jobs …..

Kim January 15, 2008 12:22 PM

I wonder whether there is any class action lawsuit going on against TSA over their mistreatment and abuse of power. I recently had an extremely unpleasant experience with one of the screeners at Houston airport, and am preparing to write a complaint, although I doubt that it is going to make any difference in their attitude. Personally, I am so pissed that I have to vent in some way. As one of my friends told me about their chronic abusive behavior and mistreatment of passengers, that is probably what happens when you give that much authoriy to highschool graduates with no future. I absolutely hate them.

An American January 18, 2008 10:42 PM

I have a solution for everyone-GREYHOUND-you do not have to fly. When you submit yourself to screening, you have waived your 4th amendment rights-its that simple. You so-called Americans are the problem, and your complaining/whining is distracting security personnel from identifying the real threats. If another attack happens, you will be the same fools flying $2 flags on your Volvo’s and enjoy being the “victim” when your to blame.

regular joe January 22, 2008 8:53 PM

if you really want to solve it. dont bother talking to the people at the checkpoints. im sure half of them dont wanna be bothered with patting people down. but like the people who are in the sanitary department and underpaid school system everyone has to have a job. i seriously doubt that TSA is this big corportation where people are standing in lines for waiting to apply so they can pat people down. they dont pay that much for that to happen. but if you really want a resolution CONSISTENTLY mail and call the TSA headquarters who make EVERY single rule that the TSO officers carry out.

yea i understand small items cant go. you think the world is ok now ??? think about the guy in front of you who forgot his gun in his carry on. imagine if that guy got on the plane and sat next to you and cocked it back. you would think…why didnt they stop this guy. when…tsa is worthless and go over the top doesnt even come to mind which is the very point you are making. you may also think to hire better professionals but regardless if the government is only payin 30,000 a year you arent gonna get anything better.

Fed May 21, 2008 9:54 PM

As a Law Enforcement Officer both with both Federal and Local powers, I too had a “bad” experiance with several TSA or TSO if you prefer, out of Ft. Meyers Fla. I was in no way rude or disrespectful, in fact I even was engaged in small talk with one of the agents in the scanning line when my wife, (also a police officer) was asked to step out for a secondary search. No problem there, my wife was fine with that, however, she was holding my 12 month old daughter at the time so I asked if I could take her from my wife.

Right after I asked this, one of the agents said, no that my daughter would also have to be searched. Not understanding why this was, I asked the agent why, and was told not to be disorderly. (I mearly asked the question in normal conversational tone, not being sarcastic, rude, loud or even challenging) I told the agent that I wasn’t being disordely and that he and I are on the same side, (as he knew i and my wife were Law Enforcement Officers), to which he replied rudely and sarcasticly, “No we’re not, I am FEDERAL” I advised him that I was indeed also “FEDERAL”, but with one difference, I am a sworn agent of a Federal Law Enforcement agency and have Federal arrest powers. He continued to argue with me and then looked at the agent conducting the second screening of my wife and said, “take your time with her and the kid” It was at this point that a supervisor came over and talked with the agent who was trying to argue with me. I told the supervisor that I wasn’t trying to cause a problem, but mearly asked a question and was now being harassed by the agent. The supervisor was told by the agent, again, in a sarcastic tone that my wife and I were “Law Enforcement officers”. The “so-called” supervisor ignored me, walked over to my wife and told them to make sure the “Swabbed” the nipple on the baby bottle that my daughter was drinking from. My wife told them that she would not let them put anything on the nipple of the bottle that my daughter was currently drinking from, but would let them test some of the formula if they wished. The agents continued to argue with her stating that they were testing for exlplosive chemical residue. my wife said numerous times that she understood and appreciated the job that they are tasked with, but didn’t appreciate the way that she was being treated.

After we finally were done with the all the screening processes, the “Supervisor” and the “wanna-be” “Federal” TSA agent followed us as we walked to our gate. If this is what you mean by protecting us from another 9/11, you are crazy. You are so far down the food chain when it comes to the security of the United States and it citizens, that it was laughable when the TSA agent tried to throw his “Federal” weight around. My wife and I do more in one week than you do in a months time to combat terrorism. I have always had respect for anyone that has to deal with the public and all that it encompasses on a daily basis, but to be treated in the way that we were treated is uncalled for.

So keep telling yourself and everyone else that YOU are the reason that there has not been another 9/11. In reality, you can thank the members of the Military and Law Enforcement (Federal, State and Local) for the fact that there has not been another 9/11.

Alexander Kerensky July 20, 2008 6:45 AM

I work for a security contractor that currently is working at an airport as an armed guard. I’ve seen a lot of what TSA does and personal opinions aside, how are they able to bypass the fourth amendment? They claim that they have the power to search anyone that enters the airport property whether or not they are flying. I have tried talking with their TSO’s about civil liberties and usually end up getting the typical propaganda rhetoric about national security and such, but no one has been able to show me any evidence. Protecting our nation and it interests is important, but that includes protecting the ideals and the freedoms it stands for. In my view, this is a violation of constitutionally established rights. Maybe I’m just an idealist.

Anyone have any insight to this?

JONATHAN AVILDSEN September 7, 2008 8:55 PM

the problem is too many americans are paranoid about “terorists” that theyre willing to sacrifice their own freedom to feed into an illogical paranoia. the truth is, americans terorise their own people more than any muslim. tsa needs to be retrained, and any kind of abuse should result in the immediate dismisal of the employee. if you really want national security, get all americans out of saudi arabia, and stop supporting israel.

Bionic September 11, 2008 12:26 PM

I just thought I would post my TSA horror story. I wish I could say it was unusual, but it isn’t. It happens to me whenever I fly. My crime? I have a pacemaker. I used to pass through airport security without a problem. Before 9/11 that is. After the terrist attacks they turned up the level on the metal detectors. The first time I flew after they had done this, no one warned me. It messed with the programing on my pacer. I am 100% pacer dependant. Every beat of my heart is regulated by this little device. Needless to say when your heartbeat is suddenly thrown out of wack, you become ill. Consequently I have not gone through the metal detector since. However, I think I could deal with feeling sick better than I could with the treatment I now receive. Since I can’t go through the metal detector and I can’t be wanded, I have to endure a groping session. How bad it is depends on how sadistic the TSA agent is. I try to never fly, but yesterday I was returning from a funeral. I (big mistake) told the screener that I was sensitive to being molested. I guess that left me open to having her feel around all my private parts. I couldn’t believe it when I felt her hand go down the crack in my buttocks. To say nothing about all the other private parts of my body she groped at. It is humiliating to be treated in this fashion. I for one will not take it lying down. I have filed a formal complaint. I am also going to call my congressman and the Americans with Disability. I guess this will just leave me open to more abuse, but until people stop blindly accepting this abuse of their rights nothing will be done. You can bet that if the majority of people had to endure what I go through every time they flew there would be some changes made.

screener August 4, 2009 12:08 PM

Hi. I am a TSA officer and I have not read all of the above posts, just a handful. Those who have mentioned rude or power-hungry TSO’s have every right to be angry. That is not what TSA is supposed to be about.

I would just like to point out that MANY of us are unfailingly courteous, even when faced with very abusive passengers, and very legitimate threats to security (YOUR security, btw – I’m not flying on your plane). I take my job seriously, and do my best to distinguish between genuine threats and inadvertant accidents.

Unfortunately, as in ANY business or workplace, there are always the few employees who give the rest of us a bad name with inappropriate behavior. As I read some of these blogs, I am truly astonished at the mishandling of some of these situations. Don’t be afraid to politely ask for a supervisor to voice your concerns. It helps alot if you remain calm and business-like, without letting anger and emotions muddle the point you wish to make. Many of us WILL listen, just give us a chance before becoming hostile and abusive.

Also, I know the majority of the traveling public are NOT would-be terrorists. The problem is – how do you tell which are and which aren’t? Therefore, everyone is screened – not just Muslims, not just young men, not just angry or skittish passengers, not just swarthy-skinned individuals. If we “profiled” certain individuals for screening, that would be a) ineffective, and b) unconstitutional. No one wants that, and so we are all (including myself when I travel) screened before a flight.

One last thing. I am not trying to rile anybody up, but please remember why we do this. Right after 9-11, people were thanking us for our tough screening standards. Remember all the finger pointing and blaming that led to the formation of TSA – “how could they let the terrorists get away with that?” and “Why don’t we have tougher measures of security in place?”. Do we really think the threat is any less now then it was then, or are we just getting complacent? And know that, should an incident like The Twin Towers ever happen again (God forbid!!) those who now say TSA is paranoid and over-strict will no doubt berate the agency for not being strict enough.

Again, I’m just throwing out another side to the continuing debate – none of us are totally right or totally in the wrong.

Respectfully submitted – TSA Screener

Jason L. January 9, 2010 11:25 AM

I appreciate what the “good” TSA agents do, it’s the lesser ones that upset me.
As a former Security Professional for the US Gov, I’ve seen great personel and very bad ones. Some believe they can bully and mistreat people then hid behind “I’m just trying to do my job”. Many are “power trippers”,some because the training, work ethic, and presonal traits leave them feeling insecure.
The hiring policy should be more stringent. It seems that some I’ve seen, should be at McDonalnds instead.
For the truely professinal–Thank you

Teddy December 25, 2010 12:26 PM

It’s all about the money, Investors stand to make millions if full body scanners are adopted at every american airport, so John Pistole is willing to molest americans and even promote pedophile to get american to accept those machines, john pistole and every TSA crossing guard will eventual find out what’s legal today could be criminal tomorrow.

TSAABUSE Sucks April 1, 2012 4:41 PM

Can anyone PLEASE tell me WHY the TSA Passenger Abusers feel they must SEXUALLY ABUSE passengers in order to supposedly keep them “safe?” What! Is one of the qualifications for being a TSA Passenger Abuser that they must first be convicted PERVERTS? Now I ask you, honestly, ….. What NORMAL person could stand there all day long and feel people up? I couldn’t because I am NOT a pervert! These people are NOT normal though. First of all they are completely brainwashed and/or in the closet perverts. They have to be, because, again, NO NORMAL person could even want a job where all they do all day long is feel up innocent people. That is NOT a “JOB.” That is a CRIME! “They” like to CRIMINALIZE OUR NORMAL activities, (like exercising free speech), but yet “THEY” can abuse innocent U.S. Citizens all day long, because, “they can’t tell a terrorist from a ‘regular person.'” Ah yes, government “efficiency” at it’s best!

emine cirpili June 5, 2012 2:55 AM

i dont buy this bullshit about “threats”, and people out to get us. i think the biggest threat to us are the criminals running the u.s govt. unfortunately, they are the ones being protected. i doubt making complaints to the tsa will do anything because the whole organisation is corrupt. the higher up you go on the food chain, the more corrupt. the u.s govt has a tendency of putting the most facked up people into power. they;ll probably just throw your complaint right in the garbage. it’s funny how america often slaughters millions of people to bring them democracy, but at home, the voice of the majority is silenced, and a few greedy corporate executives call all the shots.

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