in Houston, Texas
The TSA’s power grab: Graphic details flow in complaint letters about Transportation Safety Administration’s groping excesses
Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012, 08:47AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Read together, hundreds of letters complaining about Transportation Safety Administration security excesses acquire a horrible and sickening power.

Not in the graphic descriptions of genitals groped, terminal ailments revealed or utter powerlessness before government endured. Rather, it’s how often in the face of violation and outrage the victims somehow manage dignity, courtesy and self-effacement., a non-profit website whose slogan is ‘videre licet,’ roughly translated from Latin as “permitting to see” posted 205 pages of these letters from 2010 obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Airline passengers from all over the country addressed complaints to President Obama, Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, senators, congressmen, their local newspapers and Anderson Cooper at CNN.

You can see all of the letters here.

Advances in joint replacement and the amazing new alloys used to make them are responsible for many of the indignities. A 57-year-old woman from Tyler, Texas implored outgoing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to put a stop to knee replacement discrimination that allowed TSA guards to run their hands over her breasts and bottom.

“And next week I am going to another small airport in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I don't know these women. They could be perverts that are touching me and it was even worse to have someone in the room watching,” she wrote to Hutchison.

A woman flying out of Hobby Airport reported the “invasion of my vaginal area,” which caused her to have a traumatic reaction that lasted for days.

A woman flying out of Detroit Metro Airport tried to explain that after a rather serious cancer surgery she had been fitted with a urostomy bag for the collection of urine. Her searchers ignored her pleas that their rough grabbing and patting would break the seal of the bag and when it did, she wrote, “urine started dribbling down my shirt and into my pants.”

And it isn’t by any means only women. A veteran of the 10th Special Forces from Bradenton,  Florida, says the metal body parts he earned from serving his country in combat also earned him pat-down “so rough he injured my testicles and was nauseated for hours.”

Thom McDaniel, president of Transport Workers Union Local 556 representing, among 9,400 transportation workers, Southwest Airlines flight attendants, asked why TSA wasn’t more interested in real security risks.

He called the body scans and the pat downs of his union, no different than the general public, invasive.

But when he asked that the searches be stopped, that his membership be treated with respect, he made his request “respectfully.” Juxtaposed with scene after scene of disrespect in these letters are entreaties begging pardon for the intrusion on the politician or the bureaucrat.

A remarkable number of angry letters include qualifiers of support for airport security and apologies for resorting to graphic words to describe what had happened to the writers. One apologized for the typeface produced by the old computer she used to write her letter.

Judging by its procedures today, the Transportation Security Administration ignored those letters from 2010 and all the complaints since. But while ignoring them, the agency is none too happy to have these hundreds and hundreds of complaints made public.

If the public continues to willingly debase itself in the name of national security, you’d think a federal agency might heed the request of the fellow from Bradenton who served his country to “instruct your employees to be gentle with the old vet.”

He said please.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of TSA pat down at ORD Chicago by flickr user marklyon, used via a Creative Commons license.

Elizabeth Conley
Wednesday, 09/05/2012 - 10:42AM

I don't think there's any hope. Americans don't seem to mind being treated like livestock. In fact, the majority seem to enjoy being debased by an authority figure.

Both major parties are in favor of decreased individual rights for citizens, and neither is interested in scaling back any of the Constitutional Rights Violations we've seen in recent years.

If we don't like living with roving squads of goons and jack-booted thugs stealing from us, unlawfully detaining us and illegally searching us, then we need to move elsewhere.

The United States is no more.

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