TSA Resistance

Do you really want to be seen like this?

Sometimes I embarrass my wife. And on our July trip to Haiti I offered her one very embarrassing moment when I refused to go through the new backscatter TSA screening machines while opting for a manual pat down instead.

The TSA made the process of opting-out a hassle. While there were plenty of officers on duty they managed to make me wait for about 10 minutes while they played their keystone cop routine.

Call me a jerk all you want. But I don’t like that the government wants to take pictures of its people naked for the sake of “security.” The media has shown over and over again that all of this extra screening doesn’t stop people from smuggling weapons aboard a plane. It’s really just for passengers to feel safe while traveling and little else.

Back at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. I had completely dug in on my decision.

Kristen quickly went through the line, got her nudey pic taken, put her shoes back on, and glared at me in the way only a wife could.

Finally, an older TSA agent had me go through the metal detector and directed me to the screening area. He explained that he was going to pat me down and that he intended to touch my private parts with the back of his hands.

Obviously, I’m not dangerous and they didn’t find anything.

As the officer took his gloves off he looked in my eyes and asked asked me why I had opted out. My reply, “When it comes to governmental invasions of privacy, I prefer personal over digital.

That moment revealed the heart of the matter. If the TSA agents had to look hundreds of thousands of passengers in the eyes and manually search them– we’d actually be safer.

Dehumanizing the screening procedure is not how you make airline flight safer. Humanizing it is.

I’m not alone in this desire to resist the new scanners

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg shares his desire to resist as well as documents the new procedure to feel up your thigh until they feel “resistance.” (Obviously, women lack resistance.)

“But what about people who hide weapons in their cavities? I asked. I actually said “vagina” again, just to see him blush. “We’re just not going there,” he reiterated.

I asked him if he was looking forward to conducting the full-on pat-downs. “Nobody’s going to do it,” he said, “once they find out that we’re going to do.”

In other words, people, when faced with a choice, will inevitably choose the $%*#-Measuring Device over molestation? “That’s what we’re hoping for. We’re trying to get everyone into the machine.” He called over a colleague. “Tell him what you call the back-scatter,” he said. “The $%*#-Measuring Device,” I said. “That’s the truth,” the other officer responded.

The pat-down at BWI was fairly vigorous, by the usual tame standards of the TSA, but it was nothing like the one I received the next day at T.F. Green in Providence. Apparently, I was the very first passenger to ask to opt-out of back-scatter imaging. Several TSA officers heard me choose the pat-down, and they reacted in a way meant to make the ordinary passenger feel very badly about his decision. One officer said to a colleague who was obviously going to be assigned to me, “Get new gloves, man, you’re going to need them where you’re going.”

Here is another story of a pilot who refused the pat down and was suspended from his job. Ridiculous.

So– it’s come to this. If you want to fly you are left with an awful choice. Do you want someone looking at you naked or someone touching your genitals? We aren’t talking about a doctor here… we’re talking about a TSA agent. A person hired by the Department of Homeland Security for just above minimum wage with no qualifications. Seriously, TSA screeners either have to have a high school diploma or GED or one years experience working security.

Call me crazy. But I think if enough people opt-out we can force the issue and make the government remove these devices.

Call me a conspiracy theorist: But I would like to know how much American Science & Engineering, Inc gave to their members of congress and senators to lobby for selling these machines. (They are $170,000 each!)





23 responses to “TSA Resistance”

  1. Dave Luke Avatar

    “He explained that he was going to pat me down and that he intended to touch my private parts with the back of his hands.

    Obviously, I’m not dangerous and they didn’t find anything.”

    Thanks for sharing that personal information. 😉

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Well, I’m a little Irish Dave. 😉

  2. Joel Diaz Avatar

    Ah good times. I enjoyed my pat down in Ft. Lauderdale with you. It was a great bonding experience. Looking forward to my next pat down in Ft. Lauderdale just in time for Christmas 🙂

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Glad you implicated yourself, Joel. I wasn’t going to do it!

  3. Dewaine Cooper Avatar

    Some may be surprised, but I’ve never flown. Never even been in an airport. Due to these standards of choosing either to be photographed nude or molested, then I’d rather keep my feet on the ground.

  4. Ken Avatar

    I can’t wait for my patdown! “make sure to check for resistance underneath my moobs!”

  5. Mark Avatar

    So, you’d rather get felt up than have someone take a fuzzy picture that sees through clothes? Wow.

    I see absolutely no logical reason for your stance. In fact, I would say that your own points of logic argue against your stance…unless ultimately, you don’t want anyone searched in any way.

    But that’s not happening, and yes, TSA searches HAVE stopped things from happening onboard planes.

    1. Charlie Avatar

      Ok govt crony, go find a different chat room to hang out in. But while your here, allow me to educate you. First, do you think it’s not at all possible that we’ve been LIED to? Do you really think the govt always tells us the truth about everything? Consider that the technology used in the backscatter machines can produce ANY resolution of image possible. The images made public are of course blurry, but do you think that possibly the image being seen in the “back room” are more detailed? and THAT’s why they are in the “back room”? Hmmm… novel idea, huh? Of course, that kind of detail is pretty useful, right? So useful that they would try to intimidate you into using the scanner by groping you and grabbing your genitals, so that possibly next time you’ll think twice? This is our govt today… and YES, they must be stopped.

  6. George Donnelly Avatar

    Kudos on your courage! I resist the scanners because extra x-rays are on my list of healthy things to do. Although the groping is sick, at least it’s not going to mutate my DNA.

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Cool, I think that if enough people resist… they will have to change their method. At $170k per machine, it’s not like this is something affordable for the American people.

  7. Lauren Avatar

    I’d read the website you reference earlier this week and wondered if I could get fired for missing a work-trip by refusing to be molested or have a nudey pic taken.

    I also find it interesting you appear to have censored his use of the word penis but left in vagina.

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Ha! Interesting catch. That’s because he didn’t use penis, he used the d-word.

      I don’t know about the work trip question. Interesting.

  8. dave bryant Avatar
    dave bryant

    It w asn’t my fault. When I opted for a pat-down at MIA last week that Cuban food from the night before exploded at the moment when the TSA guy who was groping my crotch was right behind my ass. A tragic accident, of course, but one that could happen again. Oh well, I guess that’s what they get paid for.

  9. Mindi Godfrey Avatar

    did you have the kids with you? how did you handle that?

    I had my niece with me last summer and ended up in the scanners when they were testing them in Tulsa. There wasn’t an ‘opt-out’ available because of the test. I felt horrible for my niece–they didn’t explain it and separated us for a few moments til I started pitching a fit about separating the kid from the guardian.

    And I agree about the human factor being the most important in security. Alert fellow passengers are our best bet. I have little confidence that TSA does more than give us an inaccurate illusion of safety.

  10. Damian Avatar

    What happens if you wear a groin protector to protect your groin from their fondling?

    1. Charlie Avatar

      They will search you until they are satisfied. Besides changing our government and eliminating this criminal agency, the only thing we can rely on is that the agents will become passive and lazy (like we know they really are), and the searches will subside. And some will realize just how atrocious the agency is and TSA will not have enough employees to do all the atrocious things they want to do to us. This, of course, assumes that the airlines won’t fail first because people will just stop flying altogether.

  11. Lauren Avatar

    Did you read about the guy who refused both the machine and the pat down? He was escorted back to ticketing, American Airlines kindly refunded his ticket, and then the TSA boss came and said he had to go back to security and complete the process or he would be subject to charges and a $10K penalty. That upsets me even more. I always figured if it came down to it, depending on the trip, I could simply refuse to fly. Here’s that guy’s story:

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Read about that. As a San Diego resident I took notice. (As did the local media.) On my flight out this morning, there were reporters all over.

      I kind of hope that enough people opt out and slow the process down that they have to use the backscatter for secondary screening only.

      The real test is next week… can it survive a rush? I doubt it. If just 10% of people opt out, it’ll create absolute chaos.

      $170k per machine… somewhere, someone is getting rich.

      The ACLU is involved, so this whole thing is about to blow up.

  12. […] to Adam McLane (just a warning – his post does include a photo of what the scanners scan and, yes, you can […]

  13. Rwolf Avatar

    Could TSA Black Ball Americans Using All Forms Of Public Transportation?

    A song titled, TSA Boots Are Going To Walk All Over You, might make a great sequel to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Going To Walk All Over You.”

    TSA’s mistreatment, humiliation and general abrasive handling of Americans at airports, may be a portent to Americans (next) getting a Boot in their face if they refuse to be stripped searched, molested or x-rayed before boarding—any form of public transportation; bus, train, cruse ship. It is obvious TSA intends to extend its reach beyond airports; that TSA will blackball Americans from using other forms of public transportation, including preventing Citizens from driving beyond highway checkpoints, for alleged security reasons. TSA appears headed toward shutting down Americans’ Right To Travel Freely in their own Country.

    The Nazis used national emergency as a premise to repeatedly target, search and detain Germans boarding or taking trains considered political dissidents or morally unfit; Citizens were intentionally delayed by police/military so they would be late or miss work. As a result many Citizens lost there jobs and could not survive.

    TSA’s physical searches of air passengers’ private body parts, is intimidating passengers to submit to x-rays scans. Continued Low Radiation Exposure is Accumulative and believed to cause Cancer. Americans need to draw a line in the sand, Boycott airlines: that would get TSA’s attention and stockholders of airlines. Meanwhile, not just pilots and flight attendants, “ordinary air passengers” should also be afforded privacy when physically searched at public airports.

    The government intends to invade your bedroom. The government purchased hundreds’ of X-Ray Vans that will travel our streets without warrants, x-ray scan, see Americans naked when walking, standing, riding their bike and may—retain your scan-photos.

    Government/police will use x-ray vans to peer though Citizens’ homes and vehicles, exposing Americans and their families to radiation; government will view Citizens in their bedrooms. Americans need to ask Obama if independent studies were conducted to determine if Citizens could develop Cancer, if (repeatedly bombarded) by police X-ray scans. It is expected government/police with or without a warrant, will repeatedly X-ray scan a person of interest, in his or her home.

    Obama’s X-Ray Vans can ALSO be used by the military or police to secure perimeters to control civil unrest and instances of revolt, to screen and stop Citizens carrying guns, cameras; any item. Does Obama expect Americans to revolt?

    1. Charlie Avatar

      I just heard judge Napolitano suggest this on Fox News with Glenn Beck as his guest. It’s an interesting thought. Is the government provoking us so that we revolt and then they can snuff us out? at least the ones who oppose their unconstitutinal tactics? It’s a very interesting point. Hopefully the only revolution occurs at the ballot box and it is successful in restoring freedom. Because right now, we are not truly free.

  14. Charlie Avatar

    You did the right thing. I was groped for the first time this past Monday because I didn’t want to look all the other sheep who care not for their civil liberty. Though I thought of after the fact, when it happens again, the only words I will utter to the agent is “when it comes to being down on the ground on knees doing the job of a prostitute, better you than me”. We need to turn the table and get into the heads of TSA agents. Fight the same psychological war the government is waging on its own people. Keep it up. Something will give, and it just might be televised.

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Thanks for your comments. I fly about 20 times per year. (So frequent, but not all the time) I continue to opt out of the backscatter device.

      I’ve found that most airports that have them installed routinely either turn them off altogether or do a random selection of people to go through it.

      Last week at IAD I was randomly selected for the backscatter but chose to opt out. I waited 3-4 minutes for a full search. It was very professional and I wasn’t intimidated in the slightest. I found the whole process funny because the man frisking me was so descriptive and verbal. “I’m about to touch your buttucks.” And then while he did said “back of the hand, back of the hand, back of the hand…” I tried not to chuckle.

      Ultimately, he’s just a guy trying to make a living and so am I.

      That said, I still think the backscatter machine is a complete waste.

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