TSA: Freeze, or else

We have another not-a-new-story but one that many people still haven’t heard yet and for which there’s a new video that’s making the rounds. And lucky us, we can see the TSA’s foray into Saturday morning cartoon territory.

The UK newspaper The Daily Mail has picked up a story that the New York Times reported last year; namely, that TSA agents occasionally order people to freeze on command.

In a first-person account aptly titled “Playing Simon Says at Airport Security,” the NYT’s Joe Sharkey related the surreal experience of watching countless obedient people freezing in place while the TSA barked commands. Even more surreal, another passenger, through clenched teeth, commanded Sharkey to freeze when he didn’t immediately comply.

So we have fellow citizens doing the TSA’s dirty work for them.

In case you’re wondering, TSA agents do not have the authority to order you to “freeze.” Yet in the two times Sharkey experienced this little game and in the video published by the Daily Mail, everyone dutifully froze in place, including people who were already well past the checkpoint but were merely within hearing distance.

Obedience training, anyone?

I try to be sympathetic to my fellow human beings, but it’s getting harder and harder, when they demonstrate so clearly that they’re willing to do anything and everything an authority figure tells them to do, no matter how abusive, egregious, or just plain stupid that thing is.

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/A. Roger Davies)

  • Marlee

    This happened to me after I cleared security at PDX….TSA yelled freeze and some people stopped…others continued on their way…until…the TSA yelled louder and longer until everyone stopped.
    It is very intimidating because you don’t know why they are yelling freeze.
    What do you do if they continue to yell at you when you do not freeze?

    • Drontil

      You keep on walking. They can do NOTHING to stop you.

      • Dazymae

        I wonder if Claire Hirschkind would agree with that.

        • Dazymae, those were the airport cops being a**holes. The TSA doesn’t have the power to drag you away.

          • TSAisTerrorism

            No, but we all know too well that airport cops are all too eager to do TSA’s bidding.

          • Understood. I just want to point out the limits of the TSA’s power (and yes, I know they abuse those limits all the time). Most people still don’t know that the TSA isn’t law enforcement and has no law enforcement powers.

          • TSAisTerrorism

            Oh, I agree with you completely (almost always do). But look at Jon Corbett’s ordeal at FLL. He, like Sommer, is a brave patriot who is taking his fight to court, and I adore them both for their bravery.

            And let it not go unmentioned that I adore you for constantly reminding us of what they are allowed to do, what they actually try and do notwithstanding. I wish more people were like you (and most of us here). If wishes were fishes, and all that jazz…

          • Daisiemae

            But TSA does have the power to call LEOs who can then drag you away. It amounts to the same thing. If you defy them, you risk being arrested.

            And Claire Hirschkind was tried and found guilty of “knowingly failing to obey a lawful order from airport security.” So it appears TSA does indeed have the power to make you do whatever they want.

          • If that were the case, Sommer Gentry wouldn’t have been able to walk away. And she did.

          • Dazymae

            As you know, TSA is extremely inconsistent in their behavior. There is no set protocol and they can perform any random outrageous act they choose.

            I am very happy that the TSA bozos in blue that Sommer encountered allowed her to walk away. But this is another example of “if it didn’t happen to me, it’s not happening to anyone else.” Just because Sommer was not detained against her will, does not mean that it’s not happening to other people.

            Claire Hirschkind was not allowed to walk away. Rand Paul was not allowed to walk away. Stacy Amato was not allowed to walk away.

            When TSA bozos decided that an insulin pump was a gun in LAX, they reported an innocent passenger to LEOs who then hunted the passenger down and detained her. She was not allowed to walk away.

            After Jayve Montgomery was panted by TSA, the TSA screeners called LEOs and had him arrested. Jayve was not allowed to walk away.

            It may be true that TSA does not have the right to force us to do anything, but TSA is notorious for stripping American citizens of their rights. TSA is notorious for their flagrant disregard for the law and for refusing to follow (or even know) their own rules.

            Because TSA is a above and outside the law and because TSA uses LEOs as its henchmen, TSA literally can force us to do anything that individual, erratic, and unpredictable TSOs choose.

            I’m very happy that the TSOs and LEOs that Sommer met on that day did not force her to do anything she did not want to do. However, if they had chosen to force the issue, there is nothing that Sommer could have done about it.

            Sommer is a very brave woman. She is a true freedom fighter. She took a big risk and fortunately the end result was a positive one. But her experience does not guarantee that everyone else who tries the same tactics will be successful.

    • LeeAnneClark

      I haven’t yet experienced this farce. But trust me, when I do, I will not stop what I’m doing. And I have no doubt that I’ll catch all kinds of hell from the sheeple around me.

      The TSA has no authority to force you to do anything you do not want to do. That includes getting scanned, groped, or anything at all. They can prevent you from passing into the sterile area if you don’t subject yourself to their abuse, but they can’t MAKE you DO anything. You have every right to walk away from them at any point in time.

  • For me, it is getting harder and harder to take anything that the TSA does seriously. With stupid tactics of checking our drinks and yelling ‘freeze’, who is running this Keystone (non) cops?

    • TSAisTerrorism

      I have always enjoyed Bruce Schneier’s “security theatre” term.

      However, TSA’s antics have clearly crossed into the realm of Security Circus.