The TSA: Brazenly Strip-Searching and Just as Brazenly Lying About It

Recently by Becky Akers: From Democracy to Dictatorship

As usual when musing about a particular sample of the TSA's evil, it's tough to decide which detail most infuriates.

The Case of the Strip-Searched Seniors offers a perfect example. What angers you most: the TSA's shaming frail, elderly invalids by compelling them to disrobe for a governmental goon's inspection; its lying about these atrocities; or its "apology" that continues smearing the grannies as prevaricators?

You remember Lenore Zimmerman. She's the 85-year-old resident of Long Island, NY, the TSA strip-searched at JFK International Airport before her flight to Florida in November. Only Our Rulers could have mistaken this lady for a recruit to Al Qaeda: she probably weighs less than her walker, and for sure its legs are thicker than hers. As Ms. Zimmerman herself noted, "I really look like a terrorist." She wears a defibrillator and suffers from a hunched back.

True to its Nazi mentors, the TSA preys on just such weak and helpless people. When Ms. Zimmerman asked for a pat-down to avoid the porno-scanner at the checkpoint, two deviants "escorted her to a private room and began to remove her clothes.

"u2018I was outraged,' said Zimmerman, a retired receptionist." Who wouldn't be? But of course, the time when indignation could have achieved something was 40 years ago, when the Feds first meddled with aviation's security. Government-mandated and –managed checkpoints specifically designed to disarm us should have outraged everyone to rebellion.

At any rate, Ms. Zimmerman's story hit the headlines. And the TSA responded as it always does: with flat-out falsehoods. "'…TSA does not include strip searches in its protocols and a strip search did not occur in this case,' the agency said in a statement."

Whoa-ho! A barrage of stones from those who live in glass houses! No wonder Ms. Zimmerman came out swinging. Instead of agreeing that yes, we need the Gestapo to protect us, as too many of the TSA's victims do, she thundered, "They're lying to protect their a– because they're afraid of being sued u2014 and they will be sued … Why would I make up this story? … In my wildest dreams, I couldn't think of such a thing happening. … They took me into a private screening room and pulled my pants down and then pulled down my underwear … If that's not strip-searching, I don't know what else you'd call it."

Our money's on Ms. Zimmerman. As if to rebuke any skeptics out there, two other women immediately stepped forward with stories so similar only the TSA could possibly pretend they, too, were fibbing. Ruth Sherman, 88, "told CBS News she felt u2018invaded' after screeners at [JFK] took her to a private area to check the bulge caused by her colostomy bag. u2018This is private for me. It's bad enough that I have it,' she told the station. … u2018I had to pull from my sweat pants and I had to pull my underwear, my underwear down.'"

The TSA had barely denounced Ms. Sherman as a liar, too (with the exact boilerplate about "protocols" it used with Ms. Zimmerman), when yet another strip-searched witness delivered the details of her travail at Kennedy Airport. "Linda Kallish, 66, … was scheduled to be on the same flight as Zimmerman. Because she is diabetic, she has a glucose monitor that checks her blood sugar every five minutes strapped to one leg and an insulin pump strapped on the other. After she set off the metal detector, a female TSA officer ordered her into a private room and told her to take her pants off, Kallish said. She said the officer didn’t touch her. u2018So I took my pants off and showed it to her,' Kallish said. …"

Maybe the TSA figured the third time was the charm: it once again floated its denial – though it now took care to include wiggle-room: "The TSA says no improper strip searches were conducted – in that none of the women were improperly touched [Ms. Zimmerman made short work of that: "They didn’t touch me, but they told me to pull my pants down … My blood pressure after the incident was 189 over 90, and it shouldn’t be that high”] – and all standard protocols were followed. … The TSA declined to say whether there are instances where it requires passengers to remove clothing items."

Those of you still braving aviation's gulag may want to keep that last tidbit in mind. At any time, for any reason, the pervert molesting you could order you to titillate him further by undressing.

Meanwhile, the TSA added fuel to the fires. Not only did it continue its stubborn denials, it snidely dismissed the trauma by implying that it was only the old bat's perception: "TSA contacted the passenger to apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening experience [sic for u2018gate-rape.' Emphasis added]." Its sociopaths also insisted that "screening procedures [sic for u2018sexual assault'] are conducted in a manner that treats all passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy." There may be a way to "courteously" denude a victim ("Ma'am, would you please remove your blouse? Thank you. The trousers, too, please, and now the underwear, if you don't mind"), but there's no dignity or respect. The entire point of strip-searching is to humiliate and degrade.

Crimes this infamous naturally attracted politicians eager to capitalize on all the publicity. A senator in New York State's Assembly joined the megalomaniacal U.S. Sen. Charles "Up-Chuck" Schumer (D-NY) in moaning and wringing hands over abuse Up-Chuck could easily prevent. (Psssst, Up-Chuck: abolish the TSA. Problem solved.) Then they proposed yet more make-work courtesy of your taxes: the TSA should station "passenger advocates" at airports. And yep, the mainstream media duly reported this lunacy as though it were a solution instead of a ploy for PR.

The state-senator also lodged a formal complaint with the TSA, whose under"worked" wingdings kicked it over to their über-bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. DHS finally answered the state-slug, sorry, senator with what the corporate press characterizes as an "apology" but which is nothing of the kind. Josef Goebbels-sorry, "Betsy Markey, Assistant Secretary," prattled, "TSA determined that there is no evidence to support the claims that TSA employees conducted strip searches of any passenger."

Note the subtle shift from the TSA's categorical denials. Now it isn't that our trio lied, it's that there's no evidence supporting their stories. And we'll just have to take the TSA's word for that since it's never released any of the relevant "CCTV footage" it "reviewed." Josef does concede that the TSA's savages made some minor mistakes – they X-rayed Ms. Zimmerman's back-brace and "visually inspected" Ms. Sherman's "colostomy device," neither of which are "standard procedure" – but there's "no evidence" of far more grotesque insults.

Josef closes her cheery little screed with this assurance: "TSA and DHS take privacy and civil liberties concerns very seriously."

Whew! Imagine if they didn't…

January 23, 2012

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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