Following our story on the guy, who was detained by the TSA for refusing to go through a backscatter scan or to have his groin fondled by TSA agents, some folks pointed to a similar experience by Meg McClain, which she detailed on a radio program. You can hear her story here:
In response, the TSA has put out a public blog posting, which more or less calls McClain a liar. They took the somewhat extraordinary step of publishing the surveillance videos of what happened during McClain’s detention, suggesting that it proves she lied about the incident. The videos have no sound and for much of it you can’t really see what’s going on. It does suggest that McClain may have exaggerated some aspects of the detention. Rather than an hour, it looks as if it lasted more like 25 minutes. There may not have been a “dozen” police and TSA agents, but (especially towards the end) there are an awful lot (and some appear to be out of the camera’s frame at times). Also, she claims that no one else had to go through the backscatter scans while she was detained — and suggests she was “singled out” — but that’s not the case. Though, it does appear that no one else is brought over to the roped off area for a full on search while she was held in that area.
The big controversial claims involve whether or not she was handcuffed. While her version of the events stated she was handcuffed to the original chair she was placed in, that is not true. Some viewers of the second video suggest that as she’s escorted from the area, it appears her hands are bound together in some way. Honestly, it’s a little tough to tell one way or the other from the video. Her hands are definitely held together during the time she’s escorted away. Why that’s the case is not clear. You can see both videos below, though, they’re relatively long and not much happens:
What I find a lot more troubling about the entire thing, however, is this idea that if you speak out against the way you were treated the government might come out and try to publicly shame you by claiming you were lying. These types of incidents can be quite nerve-wracking, and it’s unlikely that anyone going through them will get every single detail correct, even if the larger description of what happened is accurate. The same thing was true of the other story in San Diego, where the guy even admitted he was so shaken he didn’t remember the exact order that things happened.
For the government’s response to be to attack someone’s credibility based on getting some small things wrong, rather than acknowledging the larger concerns raised by these types of searches and detentions, is really quite troubling.