Marla Murasko: Did the TSA harrass us because of our special needs son?

Bruce Turner
Columnist Marla Murasko has finally discovered what the rest of us have been saying for years: the TSA is an exercise in abuse. Its agents are on a power trip. They bully, harass, rob, and assault people, every day, all across the country. It just took her a while to figure that out:

My husband and I are frequent flyers, and have traveled many places with our son, who is 7 years old and diagnosed with Down syndrome. We have traveled through many airports and have always followed the TSA policies. However, on this one particular day, we encountered such a rude and unpleasant display of harassment from a TSA Supervisor in the Houston airport that I wrote a letter to the TSA.

Oh, a letter. Yeah, that’ll go far.

. . . This time was no different from any other time we have traveled. We clearly were upfront with the agents, explaining that this is what we had in the cooler bag, our son has special needs and we have a note from the TSA (that we received from an earlier incident five years ago in Newark) and a doctor’s note explaining his special diet.

But as we know, TSA clerks routinely ignore doctor’s notes and their own procedures.

. . . Again, we explained that we have documentation from the TSA, but no one wanted to acknowledge or even look at the documentation; they just proceeded to pat my husband down. At this point, my husband and I were clearly upset. But what made matters worse is that the TSA Supervisor who was standing right there had the audacity to say to us “if you just be quiet, it will go a lot faster.” Seriously, is this how the TSA trains their employees to treat passengers? I was absolutely appalled at his comment.

At this point, my husband was so upset that he began shaking because he felt that he was being disrespected during the pat down. He even said to the supervisor: “he’s pulling my pants down,” and the arrogant supervisor said “well hold them up.” I turned to him and said, “You just told him to put his arms out to the side, which do you want?”

Welcome to the wacky world of the dictatorial TSA!

Then, just for good measure, one of the clerks threatened her:

But hold on, this gets even worse. Would you like to know what his response was to me? He looked right at me and said, “if I don’t shut up, he was going to get law enforcement.” Instead of apologizing or trying to make the situation better, he wants to call the police on me because I told him he was upsetting my son? Really? This is outrageous! This was the worse my husband and I have ever been treated at an airport.

Sorry, Ms. Murasko. You shouldn’t have had to go through this. But neither should the millions of other people who’ve gone through similar abuse and written about it, publicized it, and tried to get people such as you to wake up. As the saying goes, one grope at a time. One grope at a time.

You can read the entire column here.

I hope Murasko submits a comment to the public docket during this open comment period.

(Photo: Bruce Turner/Flickr Creative Commons)

  • RB

    Bullys (TSA) usually pick on the weak.

  • Svensonon

    And after all that, she ends it with, “My hope is that the TSA make this person go through more training”.

    Because surely it was a lack of training!

    My lord, some people just can’t close the loop, can they? She gets chewed up by an uncaring system, but it’s not the system itself! Oh, if we could just fix it a little here, and here….

    Ms. Murasko will not submit a comment to the public docket. She won’t do anything. She will let the TSA victimize her and her family, again and again. She’ll just accept it, more meekly than ever next time.

    More and more people may realize the evil of the TSA, but clearly it doesn’t mean they’ll actually do anything about it.

    • Jeremy Smith

      She’s probably giving TSA the benefit of a doubt. After all, she’s been travelling for years and this was just one bad experience. I think it’s rather reasonable of her to not let this keep her from flying. It was one supervisor who was the problem. She didn’t mention anything about anyone else hassling her so it would be rather easy to write it off. It’s sad that this supervisor had to act in such a fashion, but I applaud this woman for not letting it ruin flying for her.

      • Jeremy, it was two people — the TSA clerk pulling her husband’s pants down and the TSA supervisor. No telling how many other clerks were standing around watching, which they’re wont to do. Click the tab at the top of this page that says Master List and then come back and say Murasko’s experience is rare.

        • Jeremy Smith

          And yet she only reported the supervisor who was definitely on some sort of power trip. The agent in question who was pulling his pants was never mentioned in her complaint. Since a supervisor was the one being a jerk there are few people who can talk to him as an equal.

          When I said her experience was rare, I meant that only for her. She mentioned that she and her family were frequent flyers and she never mentioned any other time she encountered such rudeness. I am well aware of the content here and while most of these incidents are truly sad I feel that they aren’t typical of how people are treated.

          Mrs. Murasko had been flying for years and had one bad experience in all that time. I’ve been through security and I’ve read other people’s accounts. It seems like it all varies as to who you are dealing with and the type of person you are. Airport security seems pretty overhyped in general.

          • Quite frankly, “frequent enabler” is a better term. There are countless millions who won’t stand up for the 4th amendment, won’t stand up for those – such as the medically challenged, those who look over 12 and under 75 – who ARE profiled by the GeTSApo (just like the original Gestapo was in charge of Nazi Germany’s domestic security to defend the Homeland….er, Fatherland), and won’t stand up against coercive, criminal touching of our bodies, especially genitals, buttocks, and breasts.

            In short, if you have to demand “courtesy” by your oppressor, if you think the government giving Down Syndrome children and their parents a hard time is perfectly natural to make you feel secure against incredibly small odds, then….you are on the winning team…TEAM OSAMA. Mission accomplished.

          • Jeremy Smith

            Are you seriously comparing the attempted genocide of an entire people to going through security at the airport? This is why I think this issue is overhyped,

            There is a clear difference between a TSA agent asking me if I’d like to go through a patdown or scanner and a group of military troopers busting into my home and taking my family to a death camp because they don’t like my religion. I feel that somewhere the argument against TSA got turned into something ugly and untenable.

            Mrs. Murasko’s experience was terrible, but this supervisor wasn’t some goose stepping Nazi bent on tearing her life apart. He was a officer who happened to be doing a terrible job at relating to a passenger.

          • Jeremy, nobody’s comparing the abusive TSA with genocide. You’re the one who’s overhyping, by deliberately pretending not to understand an historical analogy.

            Ever heard of “Papieren, bitte”?

            Perhaps you’d like to tell the ghost of Justice Robert H. Jackson, Nuremberg prosecutor, that he was overhyping when he said: ” “Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart.”

          • Jeremy Smith

            Isn’t terror supposed to be terrifying?

            At worst, I’ve felt mild discomfort and impatience going through security. I could understand if they were always mean and brutish like the supervisor in Mrs. Murasko’s case, but I’ve encountered officers who try to make the process as quick and painless as possible.

            The last time I went through security I encountered a little old lady who had to be at least sixty years old. She was telling people to divest their property for screening or whatever their spiel is. I was not scared of this woman but i felt sorry for her because she was complaining about her back and how she wished she could sit down.

            If the government expects me to cower in fear of TSA workers who look like they belong in old folks home, I fear our leaders in DC are far worse off than anyone imagined.

          • Susan Richart

            WOW! You’d better hope that your grandmother or your mother doesn’t read this site. How old are you, 15?

            “…little old lady who had to be at least sixty years old.”

            You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, sonny.

          • Svensterobster

            Actually, it isn’t. Terrorism is powerful because it is unequally applied. The fact that you occasionally don’t get hurt by the system is what makes it terrifying.

            Keeping you on edge. Keeping you guessing. That’s what terrorists do. And come to think of it, that’s what the TSA does too, isn’t it?

          • I’m terrified by what I see happening at TSA checkpoints – brutish thugs sexually assaulting children too young to consent to such filthy actions being perpetrated on them, and parents lining up to let strangers fondle or take naked pictures of their kids. What happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Looks to me like a bunch of pansy wimps handing over their dignity and their vulnerable family members to be abused by vile lowlifes in government costumes. Yes, terrifying is definitely the word. What the TSA did to me gave me nightmares for months, but seeing my fellow Americans roll over for these losers is what’s truly terrifying.

          • wygent

            Do NOT ever justify the actions of tyrants. They don’t start out breaking down your door and hauling your children away. They begin by limiting your freedom in small ways to “make us all safer”, then they move on to bigger and bigger bites of your freedom. Ignoring the most basic provisions of the 4th Amendment is a pretty big bite, but because there have been so many small bites previously, people are seemingly numb.

  • Chris Bray

    The correct response to “if you don’t shut up, I’m going to call law enforcement” is to tell the fucking assholes to go ahead. Cops, at least, are still not being hired from pizza boxes, and are generally expected to at least be high school graduates. What the fuck do the scumbag idiots think the police are going to do?

    “Uh, officer, he objected because I was pulling his pants down in public, and uh, my supervisor told him to hold his pants up, but we also told him to keep his arms out to his side, so then he got confused, and so then his wife was sarcastic to us.”

    Yeah, that’s a major crime. I’m seeing state time, here.

    Call the police, you fucking idiot, or finish this farce so I can catch my plane.

    Do not be intimidated by TSA officers — it’s like trembling with awe in the presence of McLovin.

    • So that the whole family can miss their flight, one or more of them could be arrested, and their kid would be further traumatized. Great fucking idea.

      • Chris Bray

        Arrested for what? For what? Be serious, for a moment: name the statute.

      • Chris Bray

        Sommer Gentry at this website, just a couple of days ago:

        “I told the police that I wanted to leave immediately. That I wouldn’t let the TSA assault me. That I understood it meant I would miss my flight but that my safety comes first. After about ten minutes I reminded them, ‘I don’t want to be here; I want to leave the airport. I want to leave now. Am I being detained? Are you detaining me? Why am I being detained?’ This effort was rewarded within 30 seconds when I was escorted to the checkpoint exit.”

        Then she went back through the same screening checkpoint again, a little later, and got on the next flight.

        Don’t give government officials power that they don’t have.