I have not written an article in a couple weeks because I was visiting with my family. On the returning trip, I had my first up-close and personal experience with the Transportation Security Administration at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. I was intimidated and lied to by multiple TSA workers to such an extent that I am compelled to share the story with others now. For those of you who might say I am a troublemaker or looking for something to complain about, my boyfriend was patted down before our first flight (leaving SFO) with no complications. I was allowed to photograph the pat-down for his protection, and the security worker who administered it was very polite.
On March 17th around 6 am, my boyfriend, who was traveling with me, and I got in line at the security checkpoint at RDU to get to Gate A24. All passenger lines were being routed through the naked body scanner instead of a regular metal detector. Both my boyfriend and I opted-out to avoid unnecessary radiation and a violation of our privacy. Once a “male and female assist” arrived, we were separated, making it impossible to record our experiences, even though the TSA website itself states our right to have the pat-down witnessed. A small, young, black woman (Woman A) escorted me to a side area and begrudgingly changed her gloves upon my repeated requests. At this point, a large middle-aged, white woman (Woman B) appeared with my belongings, which had already gone through the x-ray, and informed me that she would be searching through them. Woman A proceeded to describe the invasive pat-down that I would go on to receive, which included hands in my shirt collar and waistband and under my breasts, and back of hands on my groin/pubic area. When she asked if I understood the procedure, I replied, “No, I do not understand. This is a violation of my Fourth Amendment.” I tried to appeal to her as an individual instead of a TSA drone, but she repeatedly told me such a violation was not her concern and that I could “write a letter to somebody” about it. A third woman, tall, pale/olive skin, dark hair and eyeliner (Woman C), now surrounded me in what seemed to be an attempt to intimidate me into cooperating.
While I was being patted down, Woman C told me that I “have a choice” like taking a “train or bus.” This is a completely false statement since the TSA has VIPR teams in train, bus, and ferry stations, even at the Super Bowl. I even saw a VIPR vehicle on a highway during my time in North Carolina. Woman B also told me that I need to “review the Fourth Amendment” and its provision on “air travel.” For those of you who don’t already know, there is no provision for air travel in the Fourth Amendment. It reads in its entirety as follows: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” I smirked and told all three women, “I am being treated like a criminal for getting on an airplane. This is America.” “Yes, it is!” replied Woman C, to which I responded, “It sure doesn’t feel like it right now.” After apparently hearing enough truth for one day, Woman B decided to run my luggage through the x-ray machine for a second time. Still failing to find anything that might cause me trouble, they were all forced to let me go and “have a nice day.”
My boyfriend, whose pat-down was less invasive and only required one TSA worker, was waiting for me. The man who administered his pat-down was standing between him and me and talking to him until I was let go. I can only presume he did this to prevent any recording of the unlawful search. He also told my boyfriend not to be scared of the body scanners because they use “sound waves” instead of radiation. This is also a flat-out lie. At best, results of multiple studies have been inconclusive as to the safety of the radiation-emitting machines. The Department of Homeland Security is being sued right now to release documents regarding radiation risks.
My God-given right to privacy was violated only because I was traveling to visit my family. Is this America, Land of the Free, or Nazi Germany? As upset as I was and am by the violation of my rights as a U.S. citizen, I am most concerned about the misinformation given to us by the TSA workers during what could be considered a routine security checkpoint. Any passenger not educated on their rights and TSA procedures might accept such propaganda as truth. For the record, I am disputing all false statements publicly, and I hope all you TSA workers are reading this…
- You can not avoid TSA checkpoints by taking the bus or train. The VIPR program is being expanded as we speak to target trains, buses, ferries, trolleys, and even private vehicles. Read more about it here.
- The Fourth Amendment protects you against unlawful searches. TSA searches violate the Fourth Amendment and are un-American.
- Full-body scanners do not use sound waves to look at your private parts. All machines use either ionizing radiation or millimeter waves to give you a virtual strip search. You can read more about the unknown efficacy and safety of the technologies here and here. (For your own safety, I recommend opting for a pat-down, especially if you are pregnant.)
For additional information on the TSA and full-body scanners, read these articles:
16 Airports Have Opted Out of TSA Screening Note: Having flown through a privately-screened airport (SFO) and a TSA-screened airport (RDU) myself, I can tell you the difference between the two is like night and day. At SFO, we chose which line to go through at the security checkpoint and therefore could avoid the naked body scanner and instead go through the regular metal detector. The pat-down my boyfriend received was polite and noninvasive. At RDU, every person was being ordered through the scanner. In my time there, my boyfriend and I were the only people who opted for the pat-down, and maybe the only people who knew we could because the option was not given unless specifically requested. The TSA workers’ words and actions towards me were rude, intimidating, invasive, and deceitful.
South Park Demolishes the TSA (Toilet Safety Administration) WARNING: EXPLICIT AND HILARIOUS