The TSA Is An Abomination: Let’s Scrap It
Feb 2012 02

The TSA Is An Abomination: Let’s Scrap It

Posted In Activism,Blog,Politics

by David Seaman

Wil Wheaton wrote of his unpleasant TSA experience right on this very blog back in April, 2011:

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

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

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

Why write something original when Wheaton’s feelings mirror my own so precisely?

On a January 31st flight to New York for business (the videocast), I turned down the backscatter x-ray machine. I did so because, as I’ve written about before, the safety of these new machines is entirely up for debate: they’ve been banned in the European Union, and there’s some evidence the TSA and others have been lying (or simply don’t know) the true level of radiation exposure one experiences when going through the zapper, or “rape-scan” machine, as it’s affectionately known by frequent business travelers.

As per TSA regulations, I was subjected to an “alternative” — a full-body patdown, which fell somewhere on the scale from extremely thorough to molestation. Did a male stranger rub my groin? Yup.

Then the TSA agent swabbed my clothes and fed it into some Idiocracy machine; the machine started buzzing and coughed up a print-out. My clothes had, according to the agent, come back positive for explosive chemicals. Umm, okay. I challenged this, and he shrugged, saying they don’t know what I do in my spare time*. Zing!

At this point, I was escorted (along with my belongings) to a dark, small TSA “screening” room for a second patdown: more invasive than the first one, firmer rubbing on my privates, and not by a Victoria’s Secret angel or Suicide Girl, either.

Thoroughly humiliated and de-humanized, I was given the all-clear. The agent noticed my MacBook and helpfully noted that there was free wi-fi in the airport.

This needs to end. This is un-American. This is unconstitutional, on a variety of levels. This makes us look bad on the global stage. This doesn’t make us safer. This makes me angry. This makes me feel powerless. This makes me want to travel less (after my New York visit ends, I don’t plan to travel by air for the rest of the year — voting with your wallet is one way to vote).

And the only thing that makes me shake with anger and humiliation more than my private TSA screening room experience are the handful of Americans who believe TSA is a “necessary evil,” or even a GOOD thing. Yesterday wasn’t the first time I’ve been groped by TSA agents. But it was the last. I just can’t stomach flying until this agency is de-funded, dismantled, and scrapped. We can do better as a nation**.

I’ll leave you with this oft-quoted Ben Franklin insight: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”


* [This happened to a friend whom I was traveling with, who was a singer with a well known band, and clearly not a terrorist. She had recently put on hand cream before going through enhanced “smart” security, and was flagged for further screening after the handle of her bag was swabbed and electronically sniffed. The TSA officer on hand, who was rather polite and helpful, apologetically explained that their chemical sniffer machines can’t tell the difference between glycerin (as used in common garden hand creams and soaps) and nitroglycerin (as used in common garden explosives), and thus she'd been picked out for additional screening because she was guilty of moisturizing. The moral of this story: moisturize (or wash for that matter) at your own risk before flying. – Ed!]

** Even the TSA’s founder, Rep. John Mica (R. -Fla.), has gone on record as saying “the whole thing is a complete fiasco” and should be scrapped (source).

***

David Seaman is an independent journalist. He has been a lively guest on CNN Headline News, FOX News, ABC News Digital, among others, and on his humble YouTube channel, DavidSeamanOnline. Some say he was recently censored by a certain large media corporation for posting a little too much truth… For more, find him on G+ and Twitter.

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  12. [...] Too Close For Comfort? SG’s David Seaman Interviews Occupy Wall Street’s Patrick Bruner The TSA Is An Abomination: Let’s Scrap It Obama’s YouTube/Google+ Hangout Not Only Kinda Sucked – It Was Positively Orwellian SG [...]

  13. [...] Too Close For Comfort? SG’s David Seaman Interviews Occupy Wall Street’s Patrick Bruner The TSA Is An Abomination: Let’s Scrap It Obama’s YouTube/Google+ Hangout Not Only Kinda Sucked – It Was Positively Orwellian SG [...]

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