Women say they’re singled out by TSA

by Lisa Simeone on February 3, 2012



In yet another unsurprising development, female passengers claim they’re being targeted by TSA agents for extra, uh, scrutiny.

A Dallas woman says TSA agents repeatedly asked her to step back into a body scanning machine at DFW International Airport. “I feel like I was totally exposed,” said Ellen Terrell, who is a wife and mother. “They wanted a nice good look.”

When Ellen Terrell and her husband, Charlie, flew out of DFW Airport several months ago, Terrell says she was surprised by a question a female TSA agent asked her. “She says to me, ‘Do you play tennis?’ And I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘You just have such a cute figure.’”

Terrell says she walked into the body scanner which creates an image that a TSA agent in another room reviews. Terrell says she tried to leave, but the female agent stopped her. “She says, ‘Wait, we didn’t get it,’” recalls Terrell, who claims the TSA agent sent her back a second time and even a third. But that wasn’t good enough.

After the third time, Terrell says even the agent seemed frustrated with her co-workers in the other room. “She’s talking into her microphone and she says, ‘Guys, it is not blurry, I’m letting her go. Come on out.’”

As I have documented, many people have been not only sexually harassed by TSA agents, but actually assaulted. Some have initiated lawsuits against the TSA and won settlements.

Lynsie Murley is one such woman. She sued after a TSA agent pulled her blouse down to expose her breasts, after which the agent laughed about it with fellow employees. A male TSA agent came over to Murley and said he was sorry he had missed the show, but that he “would just have to watch the video.”

Murley settled last year.

The so-called “random” screening really means that TSA agents can single out passengers at whim. I was “randomly” selected for a scan while dozens of people before and after me merely walked through the metal detector. I refused the scan. Then I was punished by being made to wait — and wait and wait and wait — before one of the standing-around-doing-nothing clerks came over to wand me. (This was a month before the gropes were implemented.)

Sommer Gentry, a mathematics professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, has written publicly about her assault at the hands of the TSA. She has become an outspoken critic of the agency and also writes for TSA News.

As long as people continue to acquiesce, physically and philosophically, to the TSA’s demands, these kinds of stories will continue. So far, there’s no end in sight.

(Photo: Flickr/Daquella manera/Daniel Lobo)

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