TSA Successfully Defends Itself

Story here. Basically, a woman posts a horrible story of how she was mistreated by the TSA, and the TSA responds by releasing the video showing that she was lying.

There was a similar story in 2007. Then, I wrote:

Why is it that we all -- myself included -- believe these stories? Why are we so quick to assume that the TSA is a bunch of jack-booted thugs, officious and arbitrary and drunk with power?

It's because everything seems so arbitrary, because there's no accountability or transparency in the DHS. Rules and regulations change all the time, without any explanation or justification. Of course this kind of thing induces paranoia. It's the sort of thing you read about in history books about East Germany and other police states. It's not what we expect out of 21st century America.

The problem is larger than the TSA, but the TSA is the part of "homeland security" that the public comes into contact with most often -- at least the part of the public that writes about these things most. They're the public face of the problem, so of course they're going to get the lion's share of the finger pointing.

It was smart public relations on the TSA's part to get the video of the incident on the Internet quickly, but it would be even smarter for the government to restore basic constitutional liberties to our nation's counterterrorism policy. Accountability and transparency are basic building blocks of any democracy; and the more we lose sight of them, the more we lose our way as a nation.

EDITED TO ADD (11/12): Follow up by the woman who posted the original story. She claims that the TSA's video is incomplete, and omits the part where she is separated from her son. I don't believe her.

Posted on October 20, 2009 at 1:11 PM • 55 Comments

Comments

GeorgeOctober 20, 2009 1:37 PM

Bruce, glad you were able to sleuth this one out after it was submitted.

Can not be too careful with security stories.

George

kangarooOctober 20, 2009 1:46 PM

It's even true that there was at least one person who complained about E. German secret police who was a psycho who got exactly what they deserved.

There's always at least one. It's just deeply irrelevant.

HJohnOctober 20, 2009 1:57 PM

I'm not a fan of how the TSA does business, through I cut them more slack than many others do. To be honest, however, considering the TSA screens about 2 million passengers a day, it's remarkable there aren't more complaints.

I hope the TSA continues to refute bogus claims so perhaps people will think twice about lying about it. That way those with genuine complaints aren't dismissed as easily.

MoOctober 20, 2009 2:08 PM

I used to work for a small internet mail-order company. I was astonished at how people lied online about their interactions with me. Not simply "opinions differ" types of things or what one of us said, but things that could be disproved through invoices and such.

What it came down to, I think, is that people were really upset, but knew on some level that the truth of what happened wouldn't garner sufficient sympathy. So they made up a story worthy of their anger.

HJohnOctober 20, 2009 2:09 PM

@Carl Bussjaeger: "Amazing. Usually the TSA simply states that the cameras or recorder malfunctioned. Or that the tape was already re-used. Or just lost."
__________

I haven't seen that before. I guess the point of this is don't believe what you hear just because it is anti TSA.

So, i'll pretend that is untrue for now, just for fun. :)

Other BillOctober 20, 2009 2:13 PM

"But, she wrote, "In the video, it looks as though my son is playing happily in his stroller while I am being searched with a wand. Obviously this is the big discrepancy with my story, since he was not in my sight at that time, and one that I too am thoroughly looking into.""

Later, when cornered by Tommy lee jones at the top of a dam, she told him he should be looking for the one armed TSA agent. Then she did a flippin' Peter pan right off the edge.

HJohnOctober 20, 2009 2:22 PM

@Mo: "I used to work for a small internet mail-order company. I was astonished at how people lied online about their interactions with me. Not simply "opinions differ" types of things or what one of us said, but things that could be disproved through invoices and such."
_____________

I used to be annoyed at those "this call may be recorded" messages, but now I actually prefer such correspondence be subject to recording, as long as I know that ahead of time. I think both sides behave better if they know they are on record.

One thing that could go a long way would be for TSA employees to get in trouble when accusations turn out to be true, as well as customers get outed when accusations turn out to be false.

We can debate and disagree all day long about TSA's screening. But one thing we should be able to agree on... the vast majority of the 2 million people per day screened are law abiding people and should be treated with dignity.

My wife and I were in the security line at an airport last year on our way to Florida, and the person in front of us had a large bottle of sunblock in her carry on. TSA told her it was against the rules to take it on board, and gave her a choice of returning it to her car or they would discard it for her. She was very irrate over it, and understandably so, but the screener didn't make the rules. He apologize for her inconvenience, but told her he could not allow it past the check point. At no time did he treat her with anything less than respect. Now, I'm not saying this is always the case, clearly it is not, but it should be the norm. The rule was dumb, and he probably knew it, but it wasn't his decision to make. She left to go to her car, and he greeted my wife and I and said "I apologize for your delay. Have a nice flight."

Rules aside, passengers should be treated with dignity.

Frank Ch. EiglerOctober 20, 2009 2:36 PM

"It's the sort of thing you read about in history books about East Germany and other police states. It's not what we expect out of 21st century America."

Bruce, just what history books would those be? In actual East Germany and other police states, people were/are actually brutalized, suppressed, tortured, killed. The TSA merely inconveniences.

JRROctober 20, 2009 2:36 PM

Huh? I think the woman was clearly pathetic and hysterical. I don't see how releasing surveillance video showing what actually happened is in any way wrong. It shuts down the lies immediately, case closed.

sadOctober 20, 2009 2:39 PM

HJohn,

I don't travel a lot. Most of my interactions with the TSA have been quite tame.

Recently I encountered very rude TSA agents. I'd forgotten to remove my belt (normally I stow it in my bags before I travel). So when I went through the metal detector, I set it off.

The agent started asking me what I had forgotten--keys, phone, belt--and I immediately knew it was my belt. I removed it, and she told me to get a bucket to put it in. I started walking back to the end of the line (where the bins are) and she yelled back in the most exasperated voice I've ever heard, "SIR, GET A BUCKET." I looked around, trying to figure out what she meant, and she audibly sighed (from about 10 feet away) and pointed to the x-ray machine. On this machine were smaller containers--I'd have called them bowls (but then, I wouldn't have called the regular bins "buckets.") I grabbed one, put the belt in it, cut in line to get back through the metal detector.

As I was walking through the machine, another agent yelled out, "Whose crap is this?" He was referring, of course, to my 4 bins which were on the end of the conveyor belt. I said that they were mine, and got a dirty look in return.

This isn't a horror story. It's meant to show that there are a whole range of experiences. It's always important to remember that the TSA are composed of people who do a thankless, tiring, even exasperating job. They deal with angry and upset fliers day in and day out.

Immediately after my experience, I was irate. I'm not accustomed to being yelled at except online (where people are more likely to show anger and aggression for some reason.) After cooling down a bit, I just figured that they'd had a bad or long day. I'm sure I haven't always been as nice to customers as I should be, having worked a couple of first-tier technical support jobs in my life.

VinOctober 20, 2009 3:17 PM

I wonder why the woman in question was blocked out (and only sometimes) but none of the other dozens of people going through the checkpoint were?

Grande MochaOctober 20, 2009 3:19 PM

One problem that faces TSA agents (and teachers like myself) is the internal fallacy of thinking that since you have said something a thousand times to a thousand different people, the person you are conversing with has heard it a thousand times and therefore must be an idiot for not knowing it.

I'm a math professor, and I must constantly remind myself never to get frustrated with a student who is committing a common error that I have mentioned repeatedly. This might be the first time the student has heard about it, but I find it internally frustrating because I've probably said it a thousand times.

I've witnessed the same thing happen with frustrated TSA agents. One agent at a small airport I was in even yelled derogatory remarks at a crowd of people for being in the wrong line, even though there were no signs indicating which line to use. Perhaps the agent was annoyed because he had been correcting people continuously, but he shouldn't have taken out his frustration on the crowd that had no way of knowing which line was correct.

Likewise, the TSA agents are probably informed of the most recent ridiculous rule change each morning, so by the end of the day they must feel like the traveling public is full of idiots because we didn't know that we are now no longer allowed to bring more than two pair of glasses in our carry on*. Hence the agents get frustrated with all of us "morons" for not knowing the rules which are so obvious to them.


*I made that up, but it wouldn't surprise me if the TSA created such a rule.

GeorgeOctober 20, 2009 3:23 PM

I think Bruce said it best, and there's nothing I need to add to it. Except that incidents like this actually benefit the TSA's status quo by deflecting attention from the need for accountability, transparancy, consistency, and just plain common sense in an out-of-control agency that's costing us so much in so many ways.

NostromoOctober 20, 2009 3:26 PM

I think a lot of people here are missing the real point.

There are a lot of complaints about the TSA. Encounters between ordinary people and the TSA are often stressful. But who is in control all the time? The TSA.

When really bad incidents are alleged, sometimes the traveler is at fault, sometimes the TSA. But who gets to decide whether to show a video clip? The TSA.

Out of the thousands of complaints, the TSA found one where the video showed the traveler to be at fault. It would be truly amazing if they could not. Even the Stasi could probably have come up with a video clip that showed nice reasonable Stasi officers dealing with an unruly, lying citizen, if they'd had video monitoring in those days.

Jason!October 20, 2009 3:43 PM

An excellent point. Who decides to release the video, and when? The TSA could say "We get so many complaints, we can't release video pertaining to all of them", which is probably true but also leaves the TSA open to (valid) accusations of "cherry picking".

Why not put it all online? Each airport can have all their camera data online for the last week or so. Sure, it's a lot of data, but I'm betting not a lot of folks will avail themselves of it unless there's something "interesting". It's only a storage issue, and they're already storing it (perhaps even digitally).

I suppose the argument could be made that putting it all online would "give valuable information to the terrorists", but it's nothing that couldn't be gleaned from other means.

Craig MarshallOctober 20, 2009 4:08 PM

The details of the complaint certainly seem to be confabulated, but I wonder if something has not been missed. According the video clock, it took 15 minutes for this woman to clear the screening point, and my presumption is that nothing was found (since she was let go). So this process was a false positive and could be considered a security failure.

This point has been made before, but 15 minutes for some number of people each day, each day of the year, amounts to considerable wasted time (both their time and that of the TSA).

How many true positives, by which I mean people with an intention to do harm, are found by this process? What is achieved by this expensive and time-consuming process?

DBOctober 20, 2009 5:06 PM

I distrust the TSA enough to wonder if the video is legitimate. The woman says it simply doesn't mesh with her memory. Maybe she's lying, or psychotic; or maybe the TSA just intercut the video of her with that of someone else, or something. I don't know; but is she certain it's all her?

CurmudgeonOctober 20, 2009 5:20 PM

It's amazing how easily the TSA found this tape given that every tape of TSA agents abusing the public tends to get 'lost.'

It's *really* amazing that so many Americans think what the DHS (particularly the TSA, immigration and customs) does to the public is more at home in old East Germany than in a 'nice' country like America. The DHS's behavior is entirely in keeping with police practices throughout America. Local police dish out far worse abuse against the poor and against minorities than the TSA has ever done. The country is a police state and has been for a very long time. Deal with it.

AaronOctober 20, 2009 6:00 PM

The TSA blog at one point indicates that this tape is actually property of the Atlanta Airport and not TSA themselves. I do find it somewhat curious though, (as others have said) that they were very quick to post this one (showing the passenger wrong) and very closed off about other ones that may or may not have shown TSA wrong.

Pat CahalanOctober 20, 2009 6:04 PM

> It's amazing how easily the TSA found this tape given that
> every tape of TSA agents abusing the public tends to get 'lost.'

Citation needed. I've outright mocked and ridiculed the TSA before, but this sounds like a characterization of a pattern of behavior, and I (at least) have seen no such pattern. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, I'm saying you can't just throw this out without some sort of evidence.

PaulOctober 20, 2009 6:17 PM

There is an explanation for the discrepancy that does not involve a nefarious TSA or a pathetic, lying mother. She mentions her extreme anxiety (for which she always carries an emergency Xanax) and that she blacked out. Maybe standing in that booth, watching her stuff back up the system triggered a legitimate panic attack causing her to "fill in the gaps" in a way that is consistent with her internal panic. I feel for the woman. She seems to really believe her baby was taken from her. But the TSA can only really be faulted for being slow.

By the way, I am guessing the delay is due to TSA rules about same gender inspections. She saw a bunch of free female agents but they needed a male agent to check the baby first. If this is true, I would guess they didn't explain that to her. Personally, the rule seems irrelevant when dealing with a baby that small, but thinking as the TSA, I would rather deal with complaints about slowness than complaints about child molestation.

LazloOctober 20, 2009 7:39 PM

@hjohn: I've always been fascinated by the response I get from telemarketers and such when I answer the phone "Hello, and thank you for calling, this call may be recorded to insure quality service, this is {me} speaking, how may I help you today?" Note that the call actually won't be recorded (at least not by me), but just saying that does tend to insure quality service from people calling me...

But, more on-topic, I'm not sure that it is such a good idea to release the video. It sets the precedent that complaints cause video to be released, and that leads to either a huge hassle of releasing video of everything or the assumption that if you don't release a video, you must be hiding something. Thus, all the comments on cherry-picking. I mean, yes, there's kudos for taking any action at all in response to a claim, instead of just ignoring it. But what would be much more impressive would be for them to release video of actual abuse (in an organization this large, given its makeup and duties, there is near zero chance that abuse will never happen). Release it along with information about how the abuser has been fired, how criminal and civil suits are pending, and how an external investigator is being brought in to determine if action should be taken higher up in the command chain. Prove an attitude of internal intolerance to abuse, as opposed to proving that a particular instance contained no actual abuse.

But, better than all of that would be Bruce's suggestion to restore some liberty to those who are traveling, and some sanity, consistency, and transparency to the regulations surrounding the agency.

Impossibly StupidOctober 20, 2009 7:43 PM

@Pat Cahalan
"sounds like a characterization of a pattern of behavior, and I (at least) have seen no such pattern"

You don't see the continual seizure of harmless personal property to be a pattern? That may not be the "big A" abuse you're looking for, but the slippery slope works both ways.

Nick W.October 20, 2009 7:44 PM

The key point I take away from this is the importance of videotaping, when feasible, contacts between citizens and law enforcement personnel -- for the protection of both. My understanding is that this is done routinely in UK police interrogations (okay, on Prime Suspect at least). Digital video cameras are so cheap now that it should be standard to record all custodial interactions. We just had in incident in Seattle where a deputy sheriff was fired for abusive treatment of a teenage girl. The video of the incident was indispensable (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipb_PeXOdT4). Your post shows that it's a two-way street that benefits only the good guys.

NE PatriotOctober 20, 2009 8:23 PM

My only question is "does anyone know the woman in question, so we know the TSA didn't just try to feed us any old video of a woman with a child being pulled aside for extra attention?"
I remain skeptical. The TSA has done a lot to earn our distrust, and as we all know, on the internet, no-one knows you're really a dog.

ChuvakimOctober 20, 2009 8:45 PM

Why do we believe these stories? In my case, it's because of the guy who caught the whole interaction on his cell phone sound recorder when he was harassed for failing to unquestioningly provide information to two or three DHS thugs that they had no right to ask for and had absolutely nothing to do with keeping hijackers off of airplanes.

The DHS proving they were right about this one nutcase or another does very little toward shaking my belief that they are uncontrolled thugs willing to do anything to meet their need for sadism.

JasonOctober 20, 2009 9:00 PM

I'm all for the TSA being able to use video evidence to settle a dispute in its favor.

I'm also all for citizens being able to video the TSA and use *that* to settle disputes with the TSA.

But somehow, the TSA gets upset when people take pictures of their security stations. Let's have a level playing field. The "security risk" of having potential terrorists videotape security arrangements is more than balanced by the ability of private citizens to act as security good samaritans -- "if you see something, say something" with video.

If video is power in the omnipresent surveillance society we seem to be building, let's make sure the government doesn't control all the cameras.

BrianOctober 20, 2009 10:40 PM

We believe these stories because we WANT them to be true. The vast majority of regular travelers and security professionals (the people more likely to read TSA related blog entries) view TSA as an annoying inconvenience. But it's hard to direct a lot of hatred at an organization that is fundamentally irritating, but just doing its job. We would much rather TSA behave like "the East German police" because it's a much better story and because it's a much better justification for our attitude towards them.

But in the long run "I think giving up my water bottle is annoying and useless" is a MUCH better discussion point than "OMG, TSA = Secret Police!!!!!" If only because you don't look like an idiot when TSA releases video evidence that you're full of crap.

DaveCOctober 21, 2009 12:45 AM

My wife was physically assaulted (body checked, in American parlance) in the security line at CHS in 2007 by an employee of Delta Global Services, the ground staff company of Delta airlines - back then, the boarding card checkers were airline supplied and not TSA.

The airline's first response was to deny us boarding, unless we agreed to drop any complaint. Nice.

We chose to miss the flight and filed a report with the airport police. When they obtained camera footage from the airport, the checkpoint wasn't in view.

Infer what you like; alas, I find calls for TSA to be transparent about their complaint process to be risible - wannabe security types just don't think that way.

dbOctober 21, 2009 1:40 AM

Did TSA obtain permission from all the people shown in that video to publish it on the internet?

Should I expect, when passing a TSA camera, that the images collected are for publication?

Would it be ok for them to release a "100 celebrities at check-in" video?

ytOctober 21, 2009 4:10 AM

@HJohn "We can debate and disagree all day long about TSA's screening. But one thing we should be able to agree on... the vast majority of the 2 million people per day screened are law abiding people and should be treated with dignity."

That has almost always been my experience with the TSA as well. Even when we got SSSS boarding passes, the TSA agents I dealt with were all courteous, friendly, and helpful. In that case, the agent who inspected our carry-on luggage made sure that the first item he gave back to us was my young daughter's stuffed toy. I completely disagree with most of the screening policies and procedures, but the overwhelming majority of TSA agents I've met have been decent human beings.

FOKOctober 21, 2009 5:06 AM

Hey, was it only me who noticed some discrepancy in video.
From the footage you can clearly see that checkpoint procedure is complete mess. After going through metal detector she was detained in a box. But after that she
- walked out and mixed up with already checked people
- she told them that it is her baby pacifier but why they didn't ask her to put it through X-ray
- she was searched but obviously her baby not

After seeing this video I can clearly say that all the checks are only security theater. But on the other hand her baby was always with her.

IainOctober 21, 2009 5:19 AM

After seeing that I won't complain about security at Heathrow again! What was happening when she was detained in the glass box?

Must have been very stressful for her, but that doesn't explain what seem to be total fabrications.

AndyOctober 21, 2009 7:21 AM

"Bruce, just what history books would those be? In actual East Germany and other police states, people were/are actually brutalized, suppressed, tortured, killed. The TSA merely inconveniences."

You're missing the point. The whole "secretive government agency that posts arbitrary rules which are subject to whim and change yet not subject to review" part is the similarity. Sure, they may not be hauling people off to concentration camps. But they do create an nice distrustful and fearful atmosphere.

BryanOctober 21, 2009 8:25 AM

A few thoughts.

Maybe she did invent most of the story, either intentionally or as part of a mental illness. But, at the same time, the TSA could find a video of any woman with a baby being pulled for screening, or even send a fake passenger through a real checkpoint to act out a scene similar to the story given, to discredit the passenger who complained. Unlikely? sure. But you can't fairly try to pass the lesson off of "don't believe everything you see on the internet" and at the same time ask people to believe one side of the story. I think the TSA has a larger motivation and more resources.

Yes, I personally think it's more likely that the woman lied about her story. But I don't think it's impossible for the TSA to cover something up.

What I'm more concerned about, is that even if many stories like this are invented because we "want to hate the TSA" like other posters describe, airport checkpoints are still a bad and unnecessary thing. We don't have airport-style security at schools, churches, shopping malls, movie theaters, amusement parks, etc. All places where you can find a tightly packed croud which we seem to believe these invisible terrorists like to blow up. And years go by without any "terrorist attacks" happening at any of those.

Every time an airline passenger is inconvenienced, treated rudely by TSA agents, has their privacy violated for a search or body scan, has to throw away or not bring harmless items with them in their carry on luggage, we lose something and harm is done. We're given up our freedoms in exchange for an illogical false sense of security against an invisible enemy. We're not even trading freedom for actual security. It sickens me.

I also don't by the "maybe the TSA agent is having a bad day". Sorry, that comes with the job. Even if the TSA agent is deluded enough to think they're doing "the right thing", they need to fully understand that every passenger they're inconveniencing is going to be unhappy about it. Those agents need to check their personal emotions at the door. No matter how irate a passenger becomes, the agent has no excuse to make their life any harder than the rules of the job dictate. It also sickens me to hear of TSA agents threatening passengers with missing their flights, additional screening, searches or dealing with "authorities". None of these people are "terrorists" and they shouldn't be treating with the assumption that until they've gone through a metal detector, body scanner and been groped by an agent they are a terrorist.

I would like to be able to get on a plane with the same freedoms, conveniences and privacy I have when I get on a bus or metro train. Oh yeah, there's no screening for those either. Don't tell the "terrorists".

BWOctober 21, 2009 11:27 AM

I love it, post a claim about mistreatment and you can get the entire security footage, detailing exactly how they work. We would never have seen this footage otherwise.

dmcOctober 21, 2009 11:55 AM

No one has yet posted this woman's follow-up to her original post:

http://www.mybottlesup.com/my-apologies/

She claims that the video on the TSA blog is incomplete, and omits the part where she is separated from her son.

From the evidence presented, I don't see any reason to either believe or disbelieve this claim.

I do think that the TSA has a motive for... umm... forgetting to include those bits. I don't see much of a motive for her fabricating the incident. You could suggest that she just wanted attention, but to my mind this is a weak argument. It requires you to believe she is acting irrationally, whereas the TSA editing data in its own favor is entirely rational.

Clive RobinsonOctober 21, 2009 12:15 PM

@ phil,

"that chick is a physco it's obvious she has some type of mental disorder"

She is not a "physco" and she suffers from panic attacks and the medication she takes does have certain side effects (as do all medications).

She was needlessly subjected to high stress by incompetant TSA staff who obviously lacked appropriate training. Behaviour which could easily trigger an attack in people far less prone to anxiaty.

Further some medications intentionaly cause amnesia (which is why some LEO's joke about "liquid coshes"). And in lesser doses the brain can fill in the blanks in a similar way to a dream with pieces of other memories (with some types of panic attacks this can be of "worse fears" so more a nightmare). They can aslo suppress the respitory system as well.

Further even if she had not taken any medication and had simply just hyperventilated she could have suffered problems.

The brain is very sensitive to the amount of oxygen in the blood stream, to much or to little can cause effects similar to being intoxicated by various common chemicals (think either alcohol or laughing gas).

All that aside the TSA have done themselves no favours by showing the videos. Simply because it shows very very very clearly that their security is compleatly meaningless.

Worse they violated basic security principles over and over again.

They have also put themselves at significant risk simply by seperating the woman from her possessions and allowing an unknown third party to pick them up.

Personaly I think what ever the woman said does not mater, the TSA have not just shot themselves in the foot, the've shotguned their leg off at the hip and therefore no longer have a leg to stand on.

Especialy as it apears the video tapes and therfore there content do not even belong to the TSA...

The next accusation that comes along they will have to produce the tapes or suffer the consiquences. Further they will not be able to play "they do not belong to us" card either...

Also has anyone considered the whole thing might have been a TSA put up job from start to finish?

Concivably it might be that the woman was actually working for the TSA and it was a put up job to show the TSA has to deal with "unfounded alegations" all the time...

If that where the case then the TSA would not have worries about copyright and other issues like consent forms etc...

I suspect what ever the real story is we will not find out any time soon if at all.

HJohnOctober 21, 2009 1:41 PM

@dmc: "I don't see much of a motive for her fabricating the incident. You could suggest that she just wanted attention, but to my mind this is a weak argument."
___________

People fabricate and exaggerate all the time, sometimes for little motive other than anger or revenge, sometimes to justify themselves or self-preservation (i.e., my behavior will be justified if I make them look like the culprit).

I once argued with a co-worker who slammed my office door on her way out. Later, I was called into the boss's office, where she sat, after she went to the boss to complain about ME slamming the door. She was afraid he heard the door slam, so her self-preservation kicked in...motive.

Robbo the wonder spanielOctober 21, 2009 4:36 PM

If you look at the woman's blog, it screams 'rant' the whole way through. Do some digging and the profile that hit me was one of a person who probably would put a plane at risk - delusional, borderline insane. Are we sure she is coping in the post-natal sense?

bobOctober 22, 2009 10:21 AM

Has she stipulated that she is in fact the one in the video? I imagine the TSA handles enough women with strollers that even they could find a video of one being treated correctly in all their footage. Similar to a policeman showing you a speed reading on a radar gun; nothing proves it was you in the sights at the time the trigger was pulled (note: I have advocated for some time that digicams with a time/date stamp be incorporated into speed guns to show who, where and when generated the speed event).

But at the root of it I agree emphatically with Bruce; wouldn't it be simpler to 1) establish rules for how they intend to behave 2) determine what rights the pubic has, 3) post all of the above, and 4) actually do what it says; than to perpetually put out fires?

And in a country where (in theory) the government works for the citizens and not the other way around
isn't that the way its supposed to work?

SandraOctober 22, 2009 11:38 AM

What disturbs me most about this incident is that wholesale attack TSA launched on this woman by contacting each and every person who responded to her Twitter account of the incident.

Further, it disturbs me that TSA has allowed people responding to this video on their blog to use expletives and call the woman names, when they have been known to refuse to allow a post that contains the acronym, CYA.

It's a sad commentary that the TSA operates so ineptly that they felt they had to do this in order to defend themselves. It would have been much better to have just ignored the whole matter.

JohnOctober 22, 2009 12:07 PM

@NEpatriot:

Other way around. On the Internet, everyone knows you're a furry; IRL people don't know.

Well, I do, but that's because I'm a walking security flaw (people just COME OUT to me, they dump their deepest secrets, their strange subculturisms, their orientation, whatever, like as soon as they meet me... it's weird).

nodnubNovember 15, 2009 3:07 AM

a hypothetical motive for making up a story like this:

1) Whip up a frenzy on the net
2) Drive a lot of traffic to the blog
3) earn income from schmucks that click on the ads.

KirkNovember 15, 2009 10:08 PM

Certainly the gal's story is much worse then reality. But why is there no outcry of the reality. She was detained in the box for 90 seconds during which time any of her belongings could have been stolen. And it quite probably feels quite demeaning while waiting.

After the whole thing the child barely got looked at while she was searched twice. Now perhaps there is good reason, but it didn't show and quite likely furthered the agitation she was obviously experiencing.

It seemed to me to be taking entirely too long and I didn't have a flight to catch as she did.

But I don't feel a bit safer about this.

GBNovember 16, 2009 8:29 AM

For religious reasons, I wear a headscarf. I have had interesting and varied experiences w/TSA in doing so. In Manchester NH I am ALWAYS pulled aside for a body check. This is done by a female agent and always conducted with respect. Other airports have had other standards. Some airports could not care less and don't even check. At others, I've had the wand, pat-downs, and once I was also asked to pat down my own head! Once I was asked to remove the scarf, which I did in a private room under supervision of the female TSA agent. Again, each time it was done with respect and in a courteous manner. I don't have a problem with their checking, btw. Evil people could indeed hide stuff under a hat/scarf or whatever. I think it's a good idea to be safe rather than sorry, but I sure wish the standards for checking were identical and standardized at every TSA checkpoint, not just random and uninformed as in most cases.

FrankNovember 16, 2009 11:21 AM

The update says "She claims that the TSA's video, and omits the part where she is separated from her son." There appears to be something missing, a verb perhaps. The video "is" something, or "does" something? The sentence seems incomplete. Please make another edit to clarify.

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