Tom Vellner, Boston Magazine: my cousin’s experience with the TSA

Tom Vellner writes in Boston Magazine about the experience of his cousin at the hands of the TSA.

From his column on August 17th:

My own cousin shared a story with me about her trying experience at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport last week. After a male TSA agent described the pat-down to her as “touching your breasts and vagina and putting her hands inside your shirt and pants,” she calmly objected and asked to speak to a manager. The TSA’s response? According to my cousin, they handcuffed her for being uncooperative and detained her in a room for nearly an hour. She missed her flight and was told that if she “made a scene at security” again, she would be banned from the airport.

This story comports with the thousands of stories that have been reported in the past few years. And, of course, those are only the stories we find out about. Given that TSA agents “screen” 1.8 to 2 million passengers a day, we’ll never know the full extent of harassment and abuse they perpetrate.

  • I wish, at the very least, they’d get the terminology right. A vagina is not exterior, and *nobody* better be touching during in a pat down! Perhaps they’re squeamish about saying vulva? Meh, I still don’t want strangers touching that…

    • Actually, many women have reported being penetrated with fingers, hands, and foreign objects as part of the TSA sexual assault patdown. By the way, the FBI defines any unconsented penetration as rape. The TSA raped me with a metal detecting wand. TSA Clerk Thedala Magee raped Amy Alkon with her hand. So, yes, if the TSA rape machine goes after you, you’d better be ready for full vaginal contact.

  • ElizabethConley

    Isn’t that unlawful detention? Shouldn’t she be suing? It sounds like a very serious violation of her Constitutional Rights to me. I’m shocked!

    • Well, if there is video evidence that her rights were violated the TSA will never find it. It will be her word against the TSOs and actual LEOs that acted on the original information they were provided by the TSOs.

      The TSOs will simply state that she was obstructing the screening process, or the LEOs will claim that she was disturbing the peace. I have little doubt that a lawsuit will prevail when the ones being sued control the evidence in the case.

  • 1amWendy

    I’d be interested in learning exactly who handcuffed her: if it was the TSA I smell a juicy lawsuit, since the TSA employees are not authorized to detain or arrest.

    • Wendy, I know; I thought the same thing. But given that most people don’t know the TSA isn’t law enforcement, she may be conflating the airport cops with the TSA. Who knows? In any case, we have plenty of other examples of airport cops siding with the TSA instead of with the citizens they’re supposed to protect.

    • TSAisTerrorism

      The airport cops essentially do TSA’s bidding, so really, at the end of the day this confusion is part and parcel of the process. TSA doesn’t seem to give a fig if people think it’s TSA who’s the heavy or not.