Another Attempt To Make TSA Searches Open To Sex Offender Charges

from the touching-junk dept

Back when the TSA’s new search procedures went into effect last year, there were a few efforts to subject TSA agents involved in screenings or patdowns to claims of sex offense or sexual assault laws. While I’m not convinced that this truly makes sense, I do know that I’ve now had conversations with a few different people who have had extremely emotional reactions to having to go through the patdowns, where they truly felt abused afterwards. Some of the accounts are downright frightening, of people who clearly were seriously impacted by the experience.

harbingerofdoom alerts us to the news of a proposed law in New Hampshire that would make the TSA search a sexual assault, where penalties would mark those convicted as Tier III sex offenders. The bill specifically “makes the touching or viewing with a technological device of a person’s breasts or genitals by a government security agent without probable cause a sexual assault.”

I have to admit that I’m a bit torn about this. As mentioned, I know some people who certainly have felt sexually abused by the searches/patdowns. And I have no doubt that emotional abuse is real and horrifying. I also have serious questions about the usefulness or appropriateness of these searches, and think we’d certainly be best without them. But labeling a TSA agent a sex offender for doing what the TSA requires seems like a pretty extreme response. I recognize the goal here probably isn’t to get TSA agents branded sex offenders, but to create a situation that leads to a policy change. But the whole “sex offender” list concept has been abused over the years in dangerous ways, labeling all sorts of people “sex offenders” and branding them for life, even if their “crime” wasn’t what one would normally consider a traditional “sex” offense. I’m not convinced that expanding that list, even if to drive a policy change, is a good idea.

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Comments on “Another Attempt To Make TSA Searches Open To Sex Offender Charges”

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Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: I'm good with it

I tend to agree, but I’m not sure it’s that clear cut. Millgram showed us that, like it or not, the majority of human beings DO seem to lose all sense of judgement and responsibility at a basic psychological level as soon as someone assumes a position of authority over them. It’s terrifying but true, and while it doesn’t excuse those who are just following orders, I think it shows that you can’t just brush off such a powerful psychological factor in determining guilt…

william (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'm good with it

Which kind of making me wonder that since this is such a strong “psychological factor”, would an plead of “temporary insanity” because I was “psychologically pressured” to “grope” work?

I’ve always wondered how “temporary insanity” works, because I think most people go through that quite a few times each day. 😀

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: I'm good with it

So what should they do?

I’m possibly facing employment by the TSA after over two years of unemployment. Should I be willing to give up what will probably be my only chance at a livable income because somebody wants to put me on a sex offender registry for doing my job?

And for the record, I *don’t* agree with TSA procedures in this regard, but living in the poorest part of the country I don’t have a lot of options, either. I couldn’t even get a job at Taco Bell, despite positive work references and no criminal record.

Berenerd (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'm good with it

i doubt seriously that you, unless you went below and beyond the call of duty, would not actually get arrested. There was a radio interview with some of the people from NH that are pushing this law. The end result they want is some local control over who becomes a TSA groper and such to hopefully have some oversight to try and say “hey this really isn’t working”

Adam Wasserman (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'm good with it

I have been very very broke in my life. I have lived through times when I could only eat one “meal” a day and that meal was a day old donut or a bag of popcorn.

I knew people who worked in the “boiler rooms”. They made phone calls and bullied scared old people into sending them their life’s savings. Of course they offered me a job with them. Of course they told me it would be easy and I would make a lot of money.

I did not take it. No matter how broke or hungry I was I would never steal a little old ladies life savings.

Trust me when I tell you that I would also never take a job that supported an unconstitutional police state.

I feel for you, but hunger should never be used to make people do morally wrong things.

Christopher Gizzi (profile) says:

They Don't Know What To Do

I’m pretty sure that most people don’t want these searches. States are trying to think of ways to get around them by inventing laws that criminalize the activity. Because they can’t refuse the federal government, they think drastically.

Instead, their elected officials should put their foot down and change things at the federal level. But then they look soft on terrorism and get thrown in jail for aiding the enemy.

John Doe says:

I am all for this law...

I don’t want to see any TSA agents get busted for this but what I do want is to see this law put a stop to it.

Someone here posted a while back that even parents cannot legally grant someone authority to touch their child unless they are a Dr performing a legitimate exam. Therefore TSA agents may already be breaking the law when it comes to children. There is no way I would let my child be subjected to a groping or the backscatter scanners.

TDR says:

Re: Job posting...

That’s just a rude and crass generalization and you know it. Now apologize. Or are you so deluded that you can’t comprehend that, strange as it may seem to you, there are honest priests in the world. I’m not Catholic myself, but even so, I don’t care for spiteful generalizations like the one you’ve made. Again, apologize and admit your mistake.

Jackie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: TSA and Searches

I had a similar reaction. Yes, Some catholic priests but every other kind of priest, minister and rabbi. Plus all the non-religious kinds. Grain of truth stereotypes are not fair.

Although I can understand the shaming effect.

Some child abusers conspire and operate in groups. Which I think is what happened to the Catholic church.
Some got in and then made it easy for others to follow. Eventually they are hiding in all ranks and you can’t tell who’s just soft and who has a hidden agenda.

nraddin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Job posting...

Do you also support the KKK in your spare time? The Catholic church allowed thousands of children to be abused, while systematically covering it up, suppressing the stories, and continue to employee the criminals and then fighting all charges and denied allegations even accusing tormented victims of being liars and punishing them within the church.

The Catholic church might have some great and wonderful priests in it. I am sure the KKK does some great charity work too, but you will not catch me defending them

Prashanth (profile) says:

This’ll be interesting, considering that a particular state is setting down a law applying to federal employees (even outside the state’s borders/jurisdiction?). While I welcome laws that put an end to this, (1) this may be a little too extreme and (2) this reeks of South Carolina’s nullification of a federal law in the early 19th century.
Am I right?

Adam Wasserman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wouldn't apply outside of NH

> And more importantly, even if such a law were to pass, it would be completely unenforceable


Perhaps you mean: would lose on appeal after much sound and fury.

Any police force can pretty much enforce whatever law it wants to and is unstoppable unless some armed force (private citizens or some other police force) wants to get into an armed conflict with them.

Just which police force do you think would draw their guns to prevent NH State Troopers from putting a TSA agent in handcuffs? It does not have to even be at the airport, these agents live in NH, they can’t stay at the airport 24/7…

No… if this law gets passed, and NH has the political will for a test trial, you better believe it will get enforced.

Anonymous Coward says:

Texas too has such a bill in the works.

I extremely dislike the idea of a pat down that in any other country would be considered sexual assault. This is a government totally out of control. The idea that any citizen is subject to a patdown anywhere in the US at anytime is where this is going.

Your next encounter with TSA is liable to be when you stop at a wayside park to take a wizz. For the now, it’s only the airports, with an occasional step outside, such as the Savanna train station, the Superbowl, and the occasional wayside park. Coming to a city near you will be next followed by the sidewalk where you live.

I really, really, hate the idea of a “papers please” mentality that is going on behind this process. Did someone sneak in and change the the entry sign into the US to read Germany 1941?

What happened to having a little bit of spine in this country?

PW (profile) says:


It’s just crazy that these are the lengths that we have to go through to stop this TSA mandate. It’s almost surreal that no one in authority over the TSA hasn’t stepped up to stop this nonsense. It’s ridiculous that it has come down to cities and states having to fight for what seems like the most basic of rights…the right not to be felt up 😉

Havoc (profile) says:

Re: Insane!

“It’s just crazy that these are the lengths that we have to go through to stop this TSA mandate.”
What, comments on an article, or a tiny state passing tiny laws that won’t stop a damn thing?
I can’t stress this enough: write or call your Congressman AND the White House. No one cares who you voted for; this mess started under the previous administration but the current one hasn’t made it any better AND WE ARE NOT SAFER.
Write or call(emails get ignored generally) and let the ones you pay know that this is unacceptable.

Michael Kohne says:

This is what happens

When a federal agency is allowed to operate with no counterbalance – pretty much everyone agrees that these things are unnecessary and stupid, and the state lawmakers (since they have exactly zero leverage against the TSA) are trying to generate some leverage on some level.

I really don’t think it makes sense, but since they don’t have any other options, they are doing what little they can. Sadly, I suspect it will have exactly the same impact as anything else has had on the TSA – none.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

What this is is....

..a full blown state’s rights challenge to the Federal government.

Rather than sue the states in federal court to get these laws overturned like REAL MEN would do, look for HisObamaWeasel to issue Executive orders that Federalize the territory that the TSA works in, effectively subtracting that land from the State’s sovereignty and legal jurisdiction.

Morely Dotes (profile) says:

Re: What this is is....

Let’s not forget that Adolf Bush and Hermann Cheney created the Department of Fatherland Security. Cheney ordered the illegal torture of prisoners of war, and Bush ordered illegal warrantless wiretaps, and both are subject to arrest if they travel to a number or European countries, where they faces charges of war crimes.

While I would love to see Obama disband the DHS, as long as the GOP holds a majority in Congress, I don’t see how he can.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: What this is is....

> While I would love to see Obama disband the DHS,
> as long as the GOP holds a majority in Congress,
> I don’t see how he can.

The Democrats held the majority of *both* houses of Congress for the first two years of Obama’s presidency? Why didn’t he do it then?

You can’t blame it on Republican opposition. Even when there was none, he didn’t do a damn thing about it.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: What this is is....

“like REAL MEN would do”

As opposed to what, Pinocchio? Please explain what you’re trying to imply here.

“look for HisObamaWeasel to issue Executive orders that Federalize the territory that the TSA works in, effectively subtracting that land from the State’s sovereignty and legal jurisdiction.”

What do you base that prediction on? I’m not fond of Obama either, but what you’re saying doesn’t make sense. Even on healthcare, Obama was unwilling to rely on executive privilege to rush it through.

Morely Dotes (profile) says:

Perfectly reasonable

TSA agents remain on the job, and follow orders that are a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

I have so far not been able to locate one single warrant issued for the purpose of searching airline passengers, nor has the particular thing or things to be seized been named.

Agents who do not wish to be labeled sex offenders are free to refuse the orders to conduct illegal searches, or they can quit their jobs and go do something legal and productive.

RabidMonkey says:

Re: Perfectly reasonable

No one is searching you illegally or unreasonably, and they aren’t violating your 4th Amendment Rights. You putting your bag and body into the scanner constitutes a “consent search”. Nobody took your bag from you or forced you into a scanner.

If you don’t want to get searched, you don’t have to fly on a commercial airline.

RabidMonkey says:

Re: Re: Re: Perfectly reasonable

Like I said in my first response. No one is forcing you to fly commercial. There are other means of travel. You can fly private or you can drive. If you happen to be travelling over water, you can take a ship.

If you want the convenience of flying and being able to fly at a lower rate you have to subject yourself to some things. It’s the social contract theory, been around for ages.

I flew recently and I didn’t have to get groped or go through the scanner. Just went through a metal detector. The percentage of people actually getting groped or going through the scanner is minuscule compared to the people traveling.

Adam Wasserman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Perfectly reasonable

“Nobody took your bag from you or forced you into a scanner”


Suggest you look into this:
“We road (sic) the train from Deland, FL to Savannah, GA.
When we got off in Savannah, there were TSA agents out on the platform that told us to go inside to get our (checked) luggage…We told them we just got OFF the train. They said they didn’t care, that if we entered the building, we were subject to search.”

These people did not fly on a commercial airline.

Or this:
“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the airport”

So if you go to the airport in good faith, and only learn of the porno scanner and freedom grope once you get there, you are not legally allowed to back out slowly.

Or this:
“Okay, so now they were detaining me as I was leaving the airport facility”

Or this:
“One officer examines the child’s shirt before touching his lower body during the search as his helpless father watches at Salt Lake City International Airport”

Or this:
“I was informed that opting out was not an option and that I needed to leave the airport”

I could just go on and on and on.

If you *really* do not want to get searched, move to Canada.

known coward says:

A sex offense is a sex offense no matter who commits it or why. These activities when done by someone without a TSA uniform is considered a sex offense. Wearing a TSA uniform does not change the experience.

The people have bitched to the TSA and feds about these procedures. They feds have consistently blown people off, If you bitch about it at the airport you get ?special treatment?. Laws like this show the people do not take to be blown off about being felt up, very kindly.

Keith Richard Radford Jr says:

devices forced into my body by government officals

background checks make idiots rich with worthless info because people change from day to day

I remember living behind a church were Brian Lamb, and a bunch of these Cspan guys used too have a wood shop. At that place of residence my mom thought I needed an exorcist, after playing in the mud the way very young children will sometimes with my uncle who mixed a glass of this red clay in water and told me it was chocolate milk.

After drinking it as he would force me to do thing all the time like the time he made me cut off the limb I was sitting on and the device came out of my shoulder being more powerful and in control I broke out with ring worm all over my body and my mom told me it was writing that could not be understood so she had priests come in from the church.

I guess my Dad did not know that one of the people at the church was in line for being my new dad but that was not in the cards because I guess he felt I was in need of discipline after an accident in the wood shop. I had been check out on the band saw by my grandfather who was a millwright in Arkansas and to do some jobs the blade shield had to be removed. Some kids came in and wanted to use the saw, then got mad that I wanted to warn them to put the guard on and they told me they owned it all and I was not to tell them anything, and after this head strong kid cut his thumb off the other kids said they would tell their fathers it was all my fault, but it was not.

I had a fever of well over a hundred and I was a bloody mess with the infection. The priests came in with outer guys and one had a camera. The priests would throw me across the room well the other snapped a picture. I would fall on furniture and the floor and they would tell me get on the bed, don’t get off the bed very loud and when I would crawl back on the bed they would pick me up and throw me over and over again well the other priest would snap another picture and this went on till one guy said we have enough picture and they left me in the blood, mud, and bedding, then my aunt came in with some save that was for ring worm.

She spread the save and kidded me about dying when the rings got to my heart. After getting well I went back to the wood shop and the guys had made me a special shield and gave me my sword which were both made of wood and I had to fight one of the guys in my shorts because I did not want to remove them and the other guy was naked (he knowS who he is). I was still not up too speed and lost the battle. They then called me the bad guy and this group was supposed to be my gate keeper or something like that appointed by the priests. My Dad did not like them much also but that did not matter much because someone at the church was going to be my new dad till he said no, my mom cried allot, my dad was gone, I healed up, but I still have a case.

Please know that there is nothing any of you can do to make what you and the rest of the ones involved can do to make this my fault. See at the time I was about seven years old. Since then the church has made an effort to kill me, to the extent of trying to pass laws to kill sex offenders.

Come on, keep it up, keep pushing laws that you as a group of very said individuals know have no value. Take me too court so I can own a network. I have met with your staff members in private since along with military personal and others.

Now lets note when this happened I was only a small child being thrown around a room like a rag doll by people that started all this clear back in the late fifty’s and the steering by very bad people that think abusing kids to make laws to stop abuse, Ha! these laws are bogus and the fact that they can not kill gays anymore does not justify the use of laws too kill someone set up by them to create some worthless set of laws by a fusion of church and state is wrong and realty designed by them to harm us all.

My case was pragmatic but more than that I know what was done and who was involved making vendetta laws that really have no bases in truth, and are based in lies.

Keith Richard Radford Jr

PSS don’t be cowards, let me know you received this e-mail through a response.

It’s time to communicate and anyone that endorses sex laws is a sick pos.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s a government job with a ton of benefits that pays around $43,000 a year, and like most government jobs they care more about your aptitude for the work than asking B.S. private employer questions like “Why do you want to work here?” and “Why do you think we should hire you?” and “Name five specific areas where you think you need improvement.”

I applied to the TSA for the same reason I’ve applied everywhere else…because being unemployed for a length of time means I’m not picky. And unlike the literally hundreds of other job applications I’ve put in since 2008, the TSA actually gave me a call back.

David says:

Not Flying Until the TSA Stops the radiation exposure and molestation

And when the next would be bomber has a device in a body cavity will we have to submit to a body cavity search? I will not subject myself nor my family to needless radiation exposure nor TSA molestation. I will not be flying until the TSA changes these procedures.

“They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP.”No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial. We know X-rays are hazardous but we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner,” he said

Rekrul says:

They should pass a law stating that if you’re given an “enhanced” pat-down by a TSA agent, that you have the right to do the same to them.

Also, I can’t help wondering how the TSA would react if large numbers of people started asking for the agent giving the pat-down to go slower and concentrate on their genitals more. Maybe start grinding against their hand and moaning. 🙂

Nraddin (profile) says:

Why are you torn?

Don’t the TSA agents have the right to quit or refuse? I know if my boss told me that I had to sexual assault (And don’t fool yourself, that’s what they are doing) people in order to keep my job, she would have to fire me for it.

I don’t know why people question weather morals should be followed in the workplace. If it’s a big enough deal you should follow your morals, the TSA agents are not.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Why are you torn?

But you cannot really blame the agents.

Yes, some of them are simply jerks and act inappropriately. Are there no jerks working with you (hint – if there aren’t any, it’s you).

The vast majority of TSA agents are employees trying to earn a living. Even skipping the ones that really believe they are protecting people, you have to have some sympathy for the ones that could be forced to quit their job because the organization they work for has bad policies. For many of them, I’m sure it is the best job they have ever had and quitting may leave them unemployed and broke.

Forcing the TSA to change policies by making a law that places the blame for the bad policies on the TSA agents is backwards and, if necessary to fix the policies, unfortunate. It would place the burden of making policy changes onto people that have to give up their jobs in order to effect the change.

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