“We can pat you down here or we can go down to the Broward Sherriff’s Office and do it.”
These were the words of the Transportation Security Manager on duty early this morning in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I was illegally detained and then threatened with arrest. For refusing to allow the TSA to touch my genitals and buttocks.
My morning started at about 4 AM, where in FLL T3, approximately 80% of the passengers were being directed through the backscatter x-ray variety of nude body scanner. Try as I did to be one of the “lucky” 20%, I was directed to the scanner.
“I’ll be opting out of this,” I politely told the clerk. “No problem, that is your right!” There was no yelling of “WE GOT AN OPT-OUT!” anymore, and after showing me a card that explained that opting out means that they would be touching my “sensitive areas” and giving me a chance to change my mind, I went to “the box” — which in FLL is a roped-off area.
He explained the procedure to me, which involved the usual mention of “resistance.” I asked for him to define resistance, and he said something along the lines of, “Where the leg meets, you know, here,” gesturing to his crotch. I told him that he can perform whatever pat-down he wanted so long as he did not touch my genitals or buttocks (my usual lexicon does not include such fancy words for “balls” and “ass,” but I digress…).
A 3-striper (STSO) is called over, who insists that the pat-down will not touch my genitals, but notes that it will involve going over my buttocks. I ask him to clarify how he intends to “meet resistance” without touching my balls, and he suggests that maybe if I stand in some kind of lunge position, it will help. I again clarify that I consent to search so long as it does not touch my genitals or buttocks.
I get a polite version of the classic, “Do you want to fly today?” and then a note that “Leo” would be called over if I didn’t want to proceed. For those of you unfamiliar with TSA shenanigans, a LEO is a Law Enforcement Officer — a county sheriff, in this case. I tell him if that’s what he needs to do, then that’s what he needs to do.
My LEO comes within a few minutes, asks what’s going on, the TSOs explain that I won’t consent to a search, and I clarify that I consent, just not to touching my junk. The sheriff just sits by passively, not ready to do too much since there’s nothing for him to do, and makes a polite attempt at getting me to comply.
Honestly, everyone up to this point was quite polite. Everyone in a blue uniform, plus everyone from the sheriff’s department was calm and relaxed, as was I, the entire time. However, then comes over the TSM — the lowest level of TSA “suit,” who explains the same thing as everyone else, and then informs me that I cannot leave the checkpoint until I am screened. He then goes on to tell me that if I do not permit his screeners to touch my genitals, I will have to go down to the “BSO” — Broward Sheriff’s Office. At this point, I am now being illegally detained and illegally coerced into complying with a search.
I told him we’ll do what we have to do, but I do not consent.
One of the other screeners is now going through my belongings with detail that I have never seen. Bags that took me half an hour to pack are now completely empty, every last pocket, and everything swabbed for explosive residue. The screener starts looking through all the cards I removed from my pocket before the screening started, and actually begins to read them all. I object, stating that it’s beyond the TSA’s mission to read my personal belongings, but he tells me he has the right to do this. Finally he finds something suspicious in my card stack — a concealed weapons license. He hands it to the sheriff like it was evidence that I must have a gun on me. The sheriff shrugs and says, “I don’t have a problem with anyone with a concealed weapons license. You know why?” Of course I do — it means I’ve had a background check and have no criminal record.
The collection of 2 sheriffs, at least 6 blue shirts, one TSM, and one woman whose role I’m unsure of kept themselves busy. The sheriff ran a warrant check on my license. The TSA people made copies of my ID and boarding passes. The bag searcher held up a corset he found in my bag, confused, and I told him he’d look great in it (and no, the corset is not mine; belongs to one of my girl friends). Another screener asks me if he knows I can be fined and asks me if I know that. I tell him of course, $11,000. A relatively cute STSO (who happened to be my TDC — the person who checked my ID) made small talk and told me she liked my hair. But, try as they might, I have nothing illegal with me, and have no intent on giving in to their threats (or flirtations :)).
The TSM finally comes up to me and tells me I’ll be escorted out of the airport. “What, no arrest? I thought we were going down to the BSO?” Apparently he couldn’t back that statement up.
I took my belongings, thanked the sheriffs, exited the checkpoint, and after a total of 57 minutes at the checkpoint, turned off my audio recorder.
Oh, did I mention I have this all on tape? 😉
Coming soon. 🙂 Along with a new federal civil action for fourth amendment violations relating to the unlawful coersion, as well as false arrest.
Beautiful! I wrote about my vagina-choppings over the past few months. I tell them they can do the pat-down but they can’t touch my vagina. They get all red-faced over that word… I wonder if they’ve ever heard it before. When the agent does, I step back and say loudly, “don’t touch my vagina.” Then I get back in position. I’ve taken to putting my hand over my vagina and standing with my legs pretty far apart. I look forward to your next action!!! Thank you.
Sorry, nurse here. The word you want to red-face them with is probably “labia”. It would be quite a search if they touched your actual vagina, which is inside your body.
Yeah, the TSA needs a lesson in anatomy before they molest innocent travelers. LOL
I too was raped by a TsA agent, it was uncalled for just because I had bling on my back pockets of my jeans,I was treated like a criminal, my bags were went through, my phone was taken from me, my hands had something rubbed all over them. I was told not to touch anything. After the pat down I was told she was gonna do a more invasive search!,,Yes my vagina was touched my ass was grouped!! I Was so upset!cause this bitch acted like a dyke, I asked her, What did I do, I didn’t what I did, I was crying, people were staring at me, I have sexually assaulted in the past, the feeling was horrible reliving the assault, all she could say when her supervisor told her to let me go there was nothing wrong with me, she has the nerve to tell me. Next time I need to Google what I could wear, I did complain never heard crap back, I would love to use them
Please tell us the identities of the criminal TSO’s and the incompetent LEO’s so that they are exposed as a warning for the traveling public.
The LEO I actually had no problem with. He didn’t take any action to violate my rights, and did not take the TSA’s bait to threaten me with arrest for non-compliance.
The name of the TSM, on the other hand, is on my audio recording and will most definitely be published as soon as I transcribe it. He’ll also be a named defendant in my new suit. 🙂
Thank you for your calm resistance! I would like to know more details about how you managed recording all this over an hour.
Cell phone! Android’s built-in Voice Recorder app does nicely. When they brought my stuff over to the “penalty box,” one of the first things they did was take the electronics out. They happened to point the mic of the cell directly at us. I don’t know how much will be audible, but a quick review showed that at least some of it is, and the guy threatening me with arrest was pretty loud.
I will look forward to the follow-up.
If they try to fine you I hope you never pay.
hahahaha they can’t! If they try to fine me, I get discovery in a US District Court and a jury trial as to whether or not the nude body scanners are constitutional. They’ve spent the entire lawsuit I currently have going against them trying to prohibit me from doing exactly that.
I thought such fines were “administrative.” Meaning no court, no way to appeal, you just have to pay unless there is some way to prevent your money from being garnished or something. This is an area I know nothing about bute should learn just in case.
Fine you? For what could they construe as fine-able? Do you mean for telling the bag screener that the corset would look good on him? Does that mean that if, when they start
feeling you up, you start moaning and telling them it feels
good, and could they please do it so more….they could fine you for that?
Just curious, because I was thinking if I ever
flew public transportation again, I would try that one… 🙂
And if so, how do they justify trumping first amendment rights? Or have they ever bothered to justify or give a rationale for it in their “rules?”
The fine would be for failing to complete security screening.
Alice – Federal administrative fines can be disputed in a US District Court. 🙂
Awesome.“I don’t have a problem with anyone with a concealed weapons license. You know why?” Of course the most of the half-dozen or more TSA crew pawing over you and your property had no idea. Probably couldn’t get the same license themselves.
Thank you for making it clear that you do not and will not consent to coerced and unwelcome sexual contact with complete strangers. You, sir, are fighting for all of us. I pledge myself also, never ever to consent to a sexual assault “patdown” at an airport or anywhere. I will refuse, calmly, politely, and repeatedly, whatever the consequences.
Aww I knew you’d approve, Sommer! 🙂
Good for you! We need more people to do the same. Can you imagine if the next 10 people in that line did the same thing. I think their heads would explode, they can’t handle too much at once , they need a group of baffoons trying to intimidate each person. Can’t wait to hear how the rest of this plays out. Great job.
It all starts with you! 🙂 Will you double-opt-out the next time the TSA says the need to touch your junk before you can fly?
You are a warrior my friend! I commend you for your courage and persistence in revealing this disgusting practice in our country. I wonder if it might be better if a group of us did this at the same time and someone videotaped it?
I’ll be sending in a Freedom of Information Act request for allllll the video from their security cameras. Then, I should be able to edit in the audio I have for a truly epic look at unconstitutional TSA behavior.
Nice job. I would like to see the legal definition of “sensitive parts” as that seems to be obfuscating, like the use of Advanced Imaging Technology, which replaces Whole Body Imaging, which isn’t as accurate as strip search scanner.
I wonder if you can focus your lawsuit to make them identify “sensitive parts” and their assertion for touching genitals. Could get closer to identifying laws that may be broken.
I wish someone could figure out what law is broken by unwanted genital touching – IF the perpetrator does not intend it for sexual gratification. That is what makes this NOT a sexual assault in FL.
It seems to me that the law is broken because the individual owns their own body and that it is against the law to touch a person against his/her will, sexually or otherwise.
I thought it was plain old ordinary assault for someone to touch you against your will. Doesn’t have to be sexual assault, since the “gratification” thing doesn’t seem to apply with these goons, at least in the eyes of the law.
Thank you for aiding in the effort to preserve our rights by standing up to these cretins and recounting the events this story so well. It is only through persistent resistance that this will stop.
It’s interesting that the threat of an $11K fine has lost its effect. There has been some question as to whether TSA is authorized to impose this and even if the “fine” someone it may be unenforceable.
Meanwhile another TSA screener arrested for child molestation making this the 7th TSA screener arrested since December of 2010 for a sex related crime. This is what you get when the Government sanctions child molestation, sexual assault and strip searches in the guise of airport security.
DA charges Spring Creek TSA Screener with Lewdness & Child Molestation
Thank you for doing this. I am outraged about all this because I don’t even want to fly anymore, but in order to see my family and friends over seas I have to do it at some point. I think we need to take some better actions, as PI so nice said : can you imagine if 10 people in a row would do so. I think we should have a special day when EVERYBODY in every Airport in America will refuse to go trough the naked scanner. How is that for a change. And then we do it again and again until they stop this nonsense.
If you want to protest this way, it’s easy and free. Just buy a fully-refundable ticket and show up at the checkpoint.
What will the TSA do if a traveler buys a ticket in the airport, with their Attorney standing next to them as a witness, and legally retains all their rights to privacy on their ticket? If the TSA refuses to allow them to board their scheduled flight, could they then file a lawsuit against the airline that sold them a ticket?
Until more people are willing to stand up to these criminals — or stop flying entirely, thus bringing the airlines to their knees — this abuse will continue. It’s that simple.
“Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
— Frederick Douglass, 1857
I do not believe tsa has the authority to make a copy of a Federal/State ID!
They have a right to write down by hand the info contained on it but NOT copy it.
What say the rest of you?
Being a lawyer, Jon will better be able to answer this.
Fact is the TSA doesn’t have the authority to do half the shit they do, yet they still do it.
I’m not a lawyer, I just pretend in federal court. 😉 I’m a firm believer in all of our Constitutional rights, and the right to petition one’s government for redress of greivances (first amendment) and the right to represent one’s self even without a law degree (sixth amendment) are no exception.
That said, I consented to the TSA taking my ID and boarding pass (though didn’t explicitly consent to the photo copy). If I had them both in my pocket and said no on request, I don’t think the TSA would be able to compel me to give them. If they were in my luggage, they can see them during the baggage search without my consent. I’m not sure if, once they obtain them, they are allowed to photocopy them. Perhaps I will ask the court to declare that unlawful when I sue the TSA over the FLL incident. 😉
I am unfamiliar with when someone has the right to photocopy your ID. I have gone into motels where they do that and I usually refuse and drive on. If it is impractical to refuse I will write on the copy (bearing down so it is obvious if it is re-copied) that this is for motel use only. Sometimes I have been told, such as in Phoenix in 2010, that it is required by law. Since then I have not stayed in Phoenix.
As for TSA it seems this would be a Fourth Amendment violation but like you say a lot of things are unconstitutional but they do it anyway.
TSA does what they want. It’s obvious all the traveler’s rights are forfeit when they purchase a ticket
Thanks for all that you do!! You are a true patriot!! Personally, I fight this by not flying! I have not boarded an airliner for almost 3 years now and do not intend to ever board one again until the TSA is rotting in Hell!!
@esgatch – your rights are forfeit when you buy a ticket only if you allow them to be forfeited. There is no agreement implicit or otherwise that when I buy a plane ticket that some stranger has the right to see my naked body or touch my genitals.
Now, as a woman I recommend other women wear a nice thick maxipad before going through security. You can take it off later. This along with a well padded bra will keep anyone from getting too intimate. So far, I’ve opted out of the porno scanner every time and been patted down a total of 6 times and yet none of them has “found” the maxi-pad. I guess I’ve been lucky so far that the female TSO’s I’ve had have been respectful and not stepped over the line. Believe me the minute one does or the minute one tells me something stupid like I have to remove the pad, I’ll personally call in a LEO. My brother is a LEO in a different city and I’ve also gone through the who DHS GOES card background check. So, I think a LEO would be sympathetic. The only way to win is to stand up to this. What is so dissapointing is that so many other people seem to think it is OK and just go along with it. I just want to SHAKE them out of their ignorance.
And Jon, thanks so much for all you are doing to expose what we all know is the real fact – the scanners are no more effective than metal detectors – in fact they are less effective.
Jessica, I’m astounded that an innocent woman who wants to be respected by American airport security has to take such personal initiative to ensure her breasts and genitals are not violated. My contempt for the practises of the TSA is absolutely indescribable. I cannot travel with my grown daughters, as I would be arrested for assaulting a TSO, regardless of their gender.
The TSA are theives, who not looking for bombs. They are looking for 2 things. Cash and weapons. Nothing more. The Fedgov is in the process of preparing for the implementation of martial law in the United States. The TSA/DHS will be bringing their faux-security to bus terminals, trains stations, and shopping malls. I anticipate the Supreme Court will eventually give the TSA immnuity from prosecution, and after that they will become ‘armed’ security.
We’ve just gone from the frying pan into the fire when it comes to bodily integrity, which I am sure you are aware of. The Supreme Court just ruled against a man who was taken to jail and strip searched for an “unpaid” fine because some town clerk mistakenly not recorded properly that he had paid the fine. I don’t know what the fine was for, but nowadays you can go to jail over a parking violation or delinquent dog registration.
It is beyond this apparent libertarian moron here why one even has to register a dog to begin with. Or a car. Or a gun. Actually I do know why. It is government greed. They are after money and power to lord it over people. The real question that I can’t answer is why people are not resisting any more than they are. That incident alone should have taken millions to the streets. We mustn’t let them scare us into obedience by these tactics.
Then I read that some woman in OH being strip searched by *male* guards!
Esgatch is absolutely right. Except I am not sure they are *preparing* for martial law. I think they just about have it. It is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
There’s that old saying that these things “do not happen overnight, but over a succession of nights’. (And we all know the one about the frog that slowly boils to death) But, this is a classic example how ‘We, the people’ have allowed a corrupt government to deprive us of life, liberty, and property, The Founders of our nation warned us that if we ever allow a central bank and a standing army, we will lose our Republic from within. (This is why the Fedgov vehemently opposes a true Citizen’s Militia)
I anticipate we will continue to have media-hyped false-flag events to bring a chilling effect against the people, as the Fedgov has been planning for martial law since March 13, 2008. (The date of their last closed-door, joint session of Congress that was blacked-out by mainstream media)
I knew that airport security was a joke when I took a flight out of Tampa right after 9/11. The airport was full of military carrying guns. It was a joke. There could have been a 1000 in Boston the day the hyjackers boarded the flights and it wouldn’t have stopped them. I also do not fly anymore. I stopped when they started the scanners and pat downs. I have wanted to go back to Europe again but I be dammed if I will go into one of the scanners of let someone feel me up. If you feel me up, you better be ready to “put out”.
Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog
with my zynga group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thanks
Thank you for standing up for all of us.