I know this thought might not be too popular, but I’m starting to wonder—is this TSA story real?
To be clear, there are two different elements of this story:
a) Is the enhanced search policy a good policy? I think this is perfectly legitimate to argue.
b) Are there a lot of outraged people around the country actually being groped? I’m a little hesitant on this one.
Over the past week or so, we’ve seen almost all of the highly publicized claims of TSA terror be exposed as being overblown or not current.
Off the top of my head:
1) The 3 year old who was crying in the security line—was actually from two years ago. And children below twelve are exempt from the searches anyway.
2) The radio host who claimed she was handcuffed to a chair and held for an hour—video seems to indicate she exaggerated her story greatly.
3) Penn Jillette calls cops after being fondled at airport—that was actually from 8 years ago.
4) The “don’t touch my junk” guy—this just seems suspicious to me. The agent is courteous and understanding, and the junk guy is obviously trying to make a point. Remember, he doesn’t say he was groped–he is just putting up fuss about the possibility of potentially being groped. With the exception of the title “groin check” which is the equivalent of calling a burger a “cow flesh sandwich” —the agent’s description sounds pretty cold and clinical to me.
5) The picture of the nun being searched. I haven’t confirmed this one yet–but a TSA agent that listens to the 4th hour writes in and says “the picture…the one of a Muslim female officer patting down a nun, is at least 3 years old… She’s wearing our old uniform.”
6) The guy who “punched” the TSA agent in Indianapolis. It had nothing to do with the new policy. In fact, the guy wasn’t patted down at all. He willingly went through the body scanner. He had “a history of medical issues, including two metal implants, a colostomy bag and a fused right wrist” which started a conversation with security. Of course, most of these items would have also been spotted by a normal metal detector, but the guy “punched” him anyway. When the officer asked why the man hit him he replied “I was only kidding with you.”
Again, I think it’s fine to criticize the policy. I don’t understand why we need to start using the front of the hand instead of the back of the hand, for example. I don’t like the possibility of images being saved or sent from the scanners, when we were promised that it wouldn’t happen. I also recognize that if a terrorist wants to bring a weapon on a plane–he’s going to put it near his junk–and we better figure out how to find it, before he decides to use it.
But, regarding the idea that there is some rash of agents grabbing your noodles for no reason, I just haven’t seen evidence of it happening with any level of regularity. They get close, sure. But even the pictures from the Denver airport show close calls, not cup-o-noodles. Maybe it is going on, but I haven’t seen enough in the news, nor have I seen it once–any of the times I’ve flown. The whole thing just seems odd to me.