Please sign this fab TSA petition

Come on, folks, let’s get this up to at least 150 signatures. If we do, it’ll go live on the main White House petition site. It was written by our perennially creative contributor Chris Bray.

You may recall that we’ve tried petitions in the past, including one that went nowhere thanks in no small part to the fact that the White House’s site went down for several hours and they didn’t extend the petition-signing time to account for that. In other words, we got shortchanged.

Let’s not let that happen again. This time, the petition is a brilliant satire of the TSA’s behavior, especially the recent case of TSA supervisor Maxie Oquendo sexually assaulting a young woman at La Guardia Airport under color of authority.

Come on, let’s make this happen! I know most people can’t be bothered with this issue in general (boy, do I know it), but you can at least have a little fun with it. Sign the petition here. And then repost, tweet, disseminate however you like far and wide.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

Morrissey alleges sexual assault by TSA

British indie rock musician Stephen Patrick Morrissey — better known simply as Morrissey — became well known in the 1980s with his band The Smiths. He’s now 56 years old. And yesterday he filed a complaint against the TSA for sexual assault.

Welcome to the club, Morrissey.

Americans — and visitors to the U.S. — get sexually assaulted by the TSA every day. It’s standard operating procedure here. Americans accept it. Some of us have been trying to tell your compatriots about it for years and have usually been met with incredulity and ridicule. But since the UK is now adopting the worst practices of the US — including using the scanners that it already found don’t work — it’s only a matter of time before those heads in the sand pop out.

As Morrissey says:

“I went through the usual airport security procedure including the standup ‘scanner’, and all was well – no bleeps and nothing unusual.

“Before I could gather my belongings from the usual array of trays, I was approached by an ‘airport security officer’ who stopped me, crouched before me and groped my penis and testicles.

Of course. The blue shirt probably recognized you and wanted to cop a feel. (That’s if he was smart enough to know who you are, which is a tall order with the TSA.)

Well, good luck with that complaint. As always, “TSA takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and strives to treat every passenger with dignity and respect.” 

Ha ha — as millions of people have already discovered, joke’s on you!

(Photo: “Morrissey crop tie” Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia)

Cross-posted at ABombazine

Give to TSA Watch

The fundraising drive at TSA Watch has been stuck at $6,921 for weeks. The TSA is sexually assaulting people at airports in this country every day. We and many other organizations have been documenting it for years. I don’t know what else people need to know in order to care.

Oh, wait a minute — for some people, getting robbed is more serious than getting sexually assaulted. Okay, fine. The TSA is robbing people at airports in this country every day.

Hold on — just remembered something else — for other people, being forced to miss their flight is the worst that can happen. Okay. The TSA is detaining people (don’t tell me they don’t have the right — we know that — doesn’t matter; they do it all the time) and forcing them to miss their flights.

The TSA also routinely censors comments on its blog, which is supposed to exist for the benefit of the public and for which we pay with our tax dollars.

The TSA is a criminal agency that bullies, harasses, robs, and assaults people every day. Do you care? Or are you content as long as it happens to Someone Else?

If you give a shit, then please support TSA Watch.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

Judicial Watch finally gets answers in TSA sexual assault lawsuit

Last August I wrote a post reporting that the non-profit civil liberties organization Judicial Watch was suing the TSA to gain access to documents outlining the sexual abuse of travelers at the hands of TSA workers. I said that Judicial Watch was joining a long line of of other organizations and individual people who had also tried to sue the TSA to get information, and that the TSA, predictably, had stonewalled.

Now comes news that Judicial Watch has been successful. It has finally obtained records detailing sexual assaults of passengers by TSA agents:

Judicial Watch announced today it obtained 58 pages of records from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that detail alleged sexually related assaults on passengers by TSA personnel at three major U.S. international airports. The documents describe incidents at Denver International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The documents were released in response to a July 11, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:14-cv-01179)).

The press release by Judicial Watch goes on:

The TSA documents show that passengers strenuously objected to the alleged sexually related assaults, repeatedly saying they were “shocked,” “violated,” and “humiliated.” In one incident, a passenger reported that TSA officers, and “even the Supervisor … began to roar with laughter at the alleged sexual assault.” In other incidents, a breast cancer survivor reported she felt as if she had been raped. And an elderly passenger with a colostomy bag said she felt violated after being informed by a TSA agent that she had to “touch her bag so I could then touch her hands.”

I will remind readers that we here at TSA News have been documenting such assaults since 2011, and I personally have been documenting them since 2009. My Master List of TSA Crimes and Abuses, both pages of it, contains thousands of accounts. And again I repeat, these are only the crimes we happen to find out about. Logic dictates that there are more, many more. It is impossible to know how many.

Yet no matter how much evidence we present — solid, fact-based evidence, eyewitness testimony, risk assessment, statistical analysis, GAO and DHS reports — millions of people in this country persist in denying that the TSA is doing what it’s doing.

I urge you to read the Judicial Watch press release in its entirety, for yet more sickening details on the sexual assaults; my first post about Judicial Watchthis post by Sommer Gentry; and, of course, the Master List of TSA Crimes and Abuses.

Finally, I will re-post here what I originally posted in August 2014 — the verbatim comment of one typical American traveler, who goes by the internet moniker “PsyGuy”:

“I have long advocated and practiced that I do not care what the TSA does. At some point it will not surprise me if we have to give blood samples at a check point to be cross checked against a DNA profile to insure I am who I am, and I will care no more then than I do now, which is zero. I am happy and content to be a sheeple, my goal is to get from the counter to the gate of the plane with as little hassle and problems, and my experience has been that exercising right is an ineffective and draining use of time, resources and energy. I do not care if the TSA has never stopped a terrorist or even if they have in some way aided terrorism, I don’t care. I care about getting on the plane, that is the only thing that matters to me, and anyone in a position to effect that goal needs to be dealt with in the most efficient manner, in this and all cases that means compliance. I do not care about courtesy, humility, or any other such nonsense, i care about getting on the plane. I do not care if I get safety or security or neither, I do not care about my rights, your rights or if the constitution clutches its chest and dies a little more each day, or even if the founding fathers are turning in their grave, I care about getting on the plane.”

You’ve heard of schadenfreude? It’s because of PsyGuy and people like him that I have plenty of it stored up, just waiting for release.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

Denver TSA groping scheme UPDATE

The TSA has actively protected employees who were allegedly conspiring to commit frequent and serious acts of sexual assault. And the news reports about the event have left out more questions than they’ve answered, in part because no one appears to have bothered to get the police report — which took me all of five minutes by email from my living room, a thousand miles from Denver.

But before I describe the evidence, let me say this again: The TSA received a tip that some of its employees were sexually assaulting airline passengers in an airport checkpoint, and that the crime was routine and ongoing. And the TSA’s response was to protect those employees.

This week, CBS4 News in Denver reported that two TSA officers were fired from their jobs at Denver International Airport. The two officers, the report said, “were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers” — an event that happened “roughly a dozen times.”

As Lisa Simeone has already written here, one officer signaled another when he saw a male passenger he found attractive, and the other officer pressed a button on the scanning machine to set it for a female passenger. Then, when the machine detected an “anomaly” in the supposedly female passenger’s crotch area, the first officer had a pretext to do a patdown on the attractive passenger’s crotch — “with the palm of his hands, which is contradictory to TSA searching policy” (though see yesterday’s post, which includes evidence that it’s not contradictory).

So: A conspiracy to grope the genitals of attractive strangers. If you and I did that at the airport, what would be the outcome?

The news reports about this event say two very strange things, side by side: First, the two officers were caught in the act by a “TSA supervisor” who witnessed the whole thing directly — the signal between officers, the deliberate use of the wrong setting on the passenger scanner, the false alarm about an “anomaly,” the genital patdown with the front of the hand. Confronted, the officer manipulating the scanner to trigger a false alarm admitted the whole thing to a TSA investigator. The TSA fired both officers, who have not been publicly named. But prosecutors who got a report of the gropings declined to file charges, because the TSA “has said it could not identify the male passenger who was groped.”

1.) A TSA supervisor stood in the airport and watched the officer groping the passenger.

2.) The TSA can’t identify the passenger.

So now let’s turn to the report from the Denver Police Department, which I’ve posted online. Take a moment to read the thing yourself — you don’t have to take my word for anything I’m about to say. Here’s what the report tells us:

On November 18, 2014, the TSA received an anonymous tip describing the scheme cooked up by its two employees that would allow one to grope the genitals of passengers he found attractive. The TSA began an investigation; and on February 9, 2015, a TSA investigator — not a checkpoint supervisor — watched the signal, the manipulation of the machine, and the front-of-the-hand patdown of the passenger’s genitals. On March 19, 2015, more than a month after the act of alleged sexual assault, Special Agent Charles Stone of the TSA Office of Inspection notified the sex crimes unit at the Denver Police Department of the event witnessed by the investigator.

A few things to notice. First, this sentence from the account of the TSA’s original contact with police:

“According to Mr. Stone, both [redacted] and [redacted] were terminated as a result of this incident.”

Second, this sentence about a later follow-up discussion with another Denver police detective, describing a discussion with a deputy district attorney:

“Mr. Stone also related that he had spoken with DDA Bonnie Benedetti, and that she had told him that if the victim could not be identified, the case would not be fileable.”

So in November of 2014, the TSA was warned that two of its officers were currently, actively conspiring to commit sexual assault. But the TSA did not notify the police about that anonymous tip. The Denver Police Department is the agency that regularly polices Denver International Airport; the DIA Bureau is listed on this directory.

If the TSA had notified the police about the tip in November, the police could have been watching the checkpoint to observe the groping incident that was instead witnessed by a TSA employee. But the police didn’t know about an allegation of active, current, ongoing sexual assault, because the TSA didn’t tell them.

And so an act of sexual assault occurred right in front of a TSA investigator — and the investigator let the victim walk away without approaching him and identifying him.

Then, in March 2015, the TSA informed the police of the allegation, and of the evidence of the event that a TSA investigator had personally witnessed more than a month before. But the TSA didn’t notify the police until both employees had been fired — in other words, until both participants in a scheme to commit sexual assault had been removed from the place in which they allegedly committed it.

It’s as if someone called the fire department to report a pile of cold ashes. The TSA waited to call the police until the passengers were long gone, the TSA officers alleged to have committed the crime were long gone, and the crime witnessed by a TSA investigator was more than a month old.

Then Special Agent Charles Stone called the District Attorney’s office, asked if charges would be filed in the absence of named victims, got the information that no named victims meant no charges . . . and then told the police detective assigned to the case that it wasn’t possible to identify any victims.

I sent a series of questions to the TSA press office by email — asking, among other things, why the TSA didn’t call the police when they got their tip in November, and why the TSA inspector who witnessed the incident as it happened didn’t approach the victim in order to identify him. Their complete response, which is plainly false on its face:

“These alleged acts are egregious and intolerable. TSA has removed two officers from the agency. All allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated by the agency. And when substantiated, employees are held accountable.”

All employees are most certainly not held accountable if they commit crimes at work but don’t get arrested because their employer worked to protect them from an effective police investigation; so no.

The TSA has had more than its share of embarrassments about employees being arrested for on- and off-duty crimes. In this instance, they received a serious allegation of ongoing sexual assault by TSA employees, and handled it in a way that kept the police from being able to investigate and which prevented prosecutors from filing charges. They protected a TSA agent who committed a dozen acts of planned and deliberate sexual assault, and they protected the agent(s) who helped him. They let a crime victim walk away unidentified, and they called the police only when it was too late to matter.


Denver TSA rigged system to grope men’s genitals

From KCNC, the CBS affiliate in Denver, comes this completely unsurprising “news”: TSA clerks at Denver International Airport deliberately messed with the strip-search scanners to alarm on attractive male passengers so one of the blue-shirted goons could grope them.

No, Virginia, say it ain’t so!

A CBS4 investigation has learned that two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers.

. . . “He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female. When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows (the male TSA screener) to conduct a pat-down search of that area.”

Gee, ya think this goes on elsewhere? Nah.

Just as the blue shirts at Reagan National Airport in Washington organized a ring of assailants to assault women, so, too, were the Denver goons getting their jollies.

And though the Denver TSA brass knew about it back in November, nothing was done.

Although the TSA learned of the accusation on Nov. 18, 2014 via an anonymous tip from one of the agency’s own employees, reports show that it would be nearly three months before anything was done.

According to the report, the TSA investigator then watched a male passenger enter the scanner at DIA “and observed (the female TSA agent) press the screening button for a female. The scanner alerted to an anomaly, and Higgins observed (the male TSA screener) conduct a pat down of the passenger’s front groin and buttocks area with the palm of his hands, which is contradictory to TSA searching policy.”

(Correction: it is not contradictory to TSA searching policy. It has been TSA policy nationwide since October 2010, and before that, in Boston and Las Vegas since January 2010, where it was being “tested” before the national rollout. This was widely reported, such as in this Washington Post article dated Sunday, August 22, 2010, quote: “. . . a palms-forward, slide-down search — is being tested at Logan International Airport in Boston and at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas before a national rollout. It replaces the old back-of-the-hand patdown.” And it is the first entry in my Master List of TSA Crime and Abuses.)

Wonder how Blogger Bob Burns and Blogger West Cooper will spin this one? We already know: “Proper procedures were followed.”

There’s even videotape of one of the incidents. But we all know what happens to TSA videotapes: they go mysteriously missing. Just ask Jon Corbett. Or Stacy Armato. Or so many others too numerous to name.

The TSA said the male passenger who they saw being fondled was flying on Southwest Airlines and the agency has videotape of the incident. CBS4 has requested the tape but it was not immediately released. TSA has said it could not identify the male passenger who was groped and the agency says there have been no other complaints about the serial groping.

But hey, we’ve only been telling you about this stuff for five years. We’ve been telling you about the groping, the bullying, the theft, the lies, the sexual assaults, the fact that the scanners are worthless pieces of junk. We’ve provided evidence on top of evidence on top of evidence.

But what do we know? We’re a bunch of loons. We engage in “hyperbole.” After all, “I’ve never experienced anything like this, and I fly all the time; therefore, nobody else is experiencing it either!” Logic at work.

You, Mr. and Mrs. America, know better. You think it’s okay that you and your children are bullied, robbed, and physically assaulted to get on a plane. You think it’s “no big deal.” You even want to arm the blue shirts. You even think cavity searches are okay (and no, we’re not talking about teeth).

Maybe you’re right. Maybe you do deserve to be physically assaulted in order to travel. Puts you in your proper place. Which, given your lack of concern about your rights, is perhaps where you belong.

And hey, if something like this does happen to you, or to one of your friends or loved ones, no biggie. Just tell them to “get over it” and move on. After all, it’s “for your safety.”

Happy Trails!

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

Redditor finally discovers the TSA is abusive


From a thread started at Reddit by someone who is just now discovering that the TSA is abusive. Duh. Sorry, patience is admittedly not one of my virtues, but I really can’t take it anymore — not only the surprise exhibited by people who seem to have been living under a rock for the past, oh, six years, but worse, those who deny, deny, deny what’s right in front of their faces. Read the whole Reddit thread to see what I’m talking about. The ignorance on display is breathtaking.

This is a TSA related question that occurred in Washington DC airport. My wife opted out of scanning and received a pat down. The scanner used to examine the gloves from the pat down tested positive. She was required to be taken to private screening. Where she was told that she is officially “detained”. She was told that her genitals had to be stroked several times as a more intensive pat down

She requested a phone call and a lawyer, but it was denied. She asked for a police officer. The TSA officer said that all the requests and questions are considered threats. The police officer finally came and said she “didn’t want to deal with bullshit” and told my wife she must either be patted down or go to jail. My wife was not allowed to leave the airport any other way. She finally submitted to the pat down. She asked what set of the scanner, but the TSA refused to give an answer. Is there a civil violation here?

I am just trying to gather information before seeking out an appropriate specialty lawyer.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

DA won’t prosecute fake TSA agent who groped women

Remember the guy who dressed up in a blue shirt, khaki pants, and blue gloves and impersonated a TSA agent in San Francisco last month? He succeeded in leading two victims into a curtained booth and groped at least one of them. Well, we don’t know exactly what he did, since he was hidden. We only know that he got away with it, and that if he had been an actual TSA clerk, whatever he did, including sexual molestation, would’ve been legal.  Continue reading “DA won’t prosecute fake TSA agent who groped women”