TSA: More Powerful (and Less Accountable) than the President
0 comment Friday, May 2, 2014 |
My husband, frequent-flyer extraordinaire, has amassed so many points that we can fly round trip to Paris and stay in a lovely hotel for a week, all for . . . free.
So you'd think I'd be happy, right? Exuberant, even! And I am. Really. I am. But I'm also in a bit of a snit, not the least of which is because I don't want to go through the naked-people machines.
But the real problem for me? I'm absolutely, blood-curdlingly terrified of the TSA.

I'm crazy, you say? Ha! Just keep reading.
Let's start with the intellectual prowess found in TSA's agents, as evidenced by this 22-second clip about "prep stops." Notice especially the last thing the guy says.

Here's another cheery TSA clip, showing off their new "re-composure benches." (We had our composure but then we lost it when we had to take off our shoes -- but we'll get it back, by golly, thanks to TSA's re-composure benches). Think I'm kidding? Just watch.

But here's the scary part: TSA agents are not just smart. They're devious. And twisted. Which makes for a lethal combination.
Consider the nightmare TSA put a young college student through. The agent "found" a plastic baggy full of white powder in her luggage. "Where did you get this?" he asked her. "Just tell the truth and everything will be fine."

The poor girl was speechless and stood there, dumbfounded, for a full twenty seconds before the TSA man started laughing. "Just kidding," he said. She burst into tears.
Well hardeharhar, you funny TSA man, you.
But fret not, gentle readers. Ann Davis, a regional TSA manager later said the agent "had been disciplined by TSA management at Philadelphia International Airport, and he has expressed remorse for his actions."
Remorse!? Oh, sweet relief. Don't we all feel better now.
And God forbid you make those TSA people mad. Flying coach might feel like being in jail, but I'll take coach over the real deal, any day. No doubt, Nadine Pellegrino would, too.
Two female TSA workers accused this petite, middle-aged woman -- a teacher of public speaking and semantics, and former faculty member at Penn State and Trenton State College -- of committing felony assaults against them. At the airport. In public And then the TSA conveniently "lost" the evidence: the videotape of the incident.

Yep. And these uncorroborated accusations got Ms. Pellegrino an arrest record (which she later had expunged) and a night in the Philadelphia pokey.
Her troubles began when she was "selected" for "enhanced" screening. Rather than have her private belongings strewn everywhere for the world to see, Ms. Pellegrino asked that the luggage search be conducted in a private area. Oh, and that the TSA women change their gloves before fondling her lipstick and underwear.
But, umm, her requests didn't go over so well with the TSA ladies, apparently. One of them, said Pellegrino, deliberately ripped an old change purse her father had given her, after Ms. Pellegrino asked the agent to take special care with it.
The TSA women tell a different story, of course. But their word choices tell the tale. "I could tell she was going to be one of those passengers," said female agent Abdul-Malik. And Abdul-Malik's supervisor, Laura Labbee, testified that Pellegrino was "authoritative, demanding."
One thing all three women agree upon is that Ms. Pellegrino said, "What is going on here? Both of you are behaving like bitches."
Bitches indeed.
A judge ultimately dismissed all charges against Ms. Pellegrino, who was described by a longtime friend as, "very thorough, very sharp. I've never seen her get mad or violent. Maybe she felt they were putting her down."
Do you think?
And perhaps the most egregious TSA encounter yet happened when a Camden police officer, his wife, and his disabled four-year old son were about to fly to Disney World. It would be the first time young Ryan, born sixteen weeks early, had ever flown in an airplane. The Disney Trip was for his birthday. What an exciting day it should have been.

Bob Thomas folded up his son's stroller and put it on the x-ray belt. Tiny Ryan, who had just learned to walk with the assistance of leg braces, passed through the metal detector. And, naturally, the metal machine beeped.
So what did the TSA automaton agent do? He insisted the child remove his braces. But Ryan couldn't walk without his leg braces, his parents explained, beseeching and imploring.
Too bad, said the all-powerful TSA worker. The braces must be removed. And so they were.
At that point, Leona Thomas, Ryan's mother, asked if she could help him through the metal detector since he didn't have his leg braces on. Oh, no, said the big man in charge, the authoritative TSA agent. The four-year old would have to walk through the machine on his own.
And so little Ryan was forced to hobble through the machine in what was surely a humiliating and public display. His parents walked in front of, and behind, him to catch him if he fell.
How's that for a first trip to Disney?
The better part of valor is discretion, at least in decent men. But TSA agents have far too much unchecked discretion and precious little valor.

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