Nightmare at O'Hare

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Darwin's Bulldog, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. This happened yesterday (Sunday) morning, before a flight from Chicago to Pittsburgh (Flt# AA4142).

    When I approached the security area, I emptied my pocket, took off my shoes and hat, and put everything on the conveyer belt. I was wearing nothing but a tight-fitting t-shirt, a pair of tight-fitting bermuda shorts, and socks. They didn't have the naked-image x-ray machines at this security checkpoint, just the old-school metal detectors. So I walked through the machine. I'm an experienced traveler, and I knew that there was nothing on my person that would beep. No beep. I kept walking, when suddenly I heard the machine beep, about 2-3 seconds late. I looked back at the machine. A small green bulb was burning. "Oh," exclaimed the female TSA agent standing in front of me, "a random check." I asked her what the problem was; she repeated that it was a random check and then called over some guy hunched over a desk.

    Now... I have never seen a machine choose a "random" passenger for a security check before. I don't even know if that would be legal or illegal. But I had my doubts as to how random the check was. I looked all around me, and continued to observe for the next 5 minutes - no one else was randomly chosen by any of the 4-5 machines in that security area. I also observed that everyone else in line behind me was either white or black. I am a brown-skinned man of mixed race (half-Indian and half-white American), and I sport a beard and long black hair. I have been mistaken for middle eastern many times before (and I was consistently given special security treatment in the years following 9-11). So I have serious doubts I was chosen "randomly." My hunch is that someone was watching a TV screen and pressed a button that triggered the machine to beep. It may even have been the same man that was hunched over the desk, and was called by the female TSA agent to search me. I couldn't see what was at the desk he was hunched over... but it could have been a computer screen. At the time I thought I might have racially profiled - but now I suspect I may have been chosen for a more sinister reason...

    The male TSA agent now told me that he would pat me down. He started explaining the things he was going to do. He said he would go into my waistband, into sensitive areas, and other things I can't remember. Remember - the clothes I was wearing were very tight-fitting - think of a surfer about to hit the waves. There was no reason for a pat-down. From reading other stories on the web yesterday and today, I realize that this sort of aggressive pat-down seems to be the norm now. The man probably even followed procedure by telling me in detail the things he was going to do. (I realize that some people seem to have complained that the TSA has groped them without properly advising them beforehand. In my case, however, I feel as though it was worse to be told every step of the way where this man was going to put his hands.) He talked, then groped, then talked again to tell me where he was grope next. I should have told him to stop, but I didn't say anything. I think I was in shock. I felt violated, molested, assaulted, none of the words do justice to the feeling. And at least for me, the fact that he explained his every move made it much worse. It was like he was a sexual predator, planning his every move, telling me he was going to do it, and then doing - I felt so powerless by the whole process. I have been aggressively searched when entering nightclubs before - including in the genital area - but the bouncers had always done it so fast and professionally, that I never felt violated. The TSA agent was a different story. I was truly violated for the first time in my life.

    First he groped from behind. One of the things he said was that he would run the back of his hand upwards until the "point of resistance." I thought it would be a quick movement until his hand touched some part of my genitals. But no. It was a slow and deliberate movement. He ran the back of his hand up my leg until he touched my balls, but he didn't stop there. He kept moving upward until his hand was firmly in between my inner thigh and my balls. The back of his hand was on my inner thigh; THE PALM OF HIS HAND WAS ON MY BALL. The he repeated the procedure on my other leg/thigh, on the other side of my balls.

    Then he stood up and told me he was going to do the same thing from the front. Now came the worst part. He ran his hand up my thigh again, the same way. From the front. He touched the same inner thigh again, the same genitals again, he touched me in the EXACT SAME PLACE, for the second time. Why did he have to touch the same part of my genitals twice? Just because he was standing in front of me? Tell me, what difference did that make? That was the moment I felt that this man was a predator. I felt that he did it on purpose. I felt that he meant to molest me all along. He then let me go. I got my things and hurried away. What had happened began to sink in. I got angry. I got feelings of shame. I tried to play it off as a joke to my friends - they had seen the man pat me down, but hadn't seen the details. Its been haunting me, all of yesterday, and today.

    That's my story. I don't know what to do, don't know whether to file a complaint or not.

    (expletive deleted) YOU, TSA.
  2. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Welcome to TUG, Darwin's Bulldog. Sorry that you had to find us.

    I recall a photo of another person, a female, being groped that showed the back of the groper's hand at the very top of the victim's thigh so that the palm of the hand would be able to touch her genital area. And the TSA insists that only in certain, very particular cases does the palm of the hand touch the genitals. From what we have heard from other sources, the back of the hand is supposed to be "swept" across the genital area 4 times: twice from the back and twice from the front.

    BTW, are you aware of the app that allows you to report suspected profiling?

    I would urge you to consider reporting what happened to you.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  3. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Darwin's Bulldog, I'm sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, it's happening to thousands of people, every day, in airports all over the country. The TSA sexually assaults people. And yet millions of Americans continue to defend it. I can't believe we even have to point this out. But we do. Denial is a powerful force.

    I, too, become furious when I read accounts like yours. And anytime I think about what's going on in this country and how many people are being violated.
  4. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    P.S. I would also urge you to file a formal complaint with the TSA. They don't give a (expletive deleted), they won't do anything with it, but it gives you a paper trail. Document, document, document, for your own satisfaction. Then they can't claim that it didn't happen "because we have no record of it." At least take that power out of their hands. They have so much power over us otherwise.

    And whatever you do, don't allow friends/family/colleagues to belittle what happened to you. It was sexual assault. Don't allow anyone to minimize it. It's wrong what happened to you and it will be wrong if anyone tries to defend it.
  5. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Welcome to TUG, DB.

    In addition to the useful advice you've received already, I'd suggest writing to your elected officials about this and explaining in no uncertain terms that it's completely unacceptable. If you're a Chicago native like me, I could use the backup in pounding it through Durbin and Kirk's dense heads (Schakowsky's too, if you're in District 9) that something is seriously wrong at our airports. Regardless of where you live, though, you should inform the lazy leeches in Congress who purport to be representing your interests that "your interests" include abolishing this completely unjustifiable agency and sending its merry molesters straight to the unemployment office.

    Also, I'm not a counselor or psychologist, but aren't feelings of shame and violation like the ones DB described common for victims of "traditional" (i.e. leaving aside the FBI's revised definition) rape? If so, when people are experiencing feelings like that simply for wanting to get onboard an airplane, something is not right.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  6. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Darwin's Bulldog, please check your email account. My address is from Hotmail, and Hotmail often ends up in people's spam folders.
  7. Thanks Doober, Lisa, Whisperer.... thanks for your support and advice. Also, thanks for all the work you have put in to organizing around this issue. I realize its importance now. I never liked the TSA before, but now its on a whole new level.

    I agree that there needs to be legislation to change this situation, systemic change, etc. But I remember my first reaction when I was walking towards my gate after the incident. I went on a rant to my friends about the TSA, I tried to joke about it so I said I had got 'Sanduskied,' and because that's what it felt like. Then I was complaining that I had no choice in the matter. I hated that feeling of powerlessness. I thought, if these goons were going to put their hands all over me, then at least I should have the right to choose which one was going to do it.

    I realize this is not a long-term solution. And I realize that for most women victims, this solution would probably not make any difference at all. So I'm not proposing it in seriousness. I just thought I would share it, because I did rant about it right afterwards. What if they let us choose which TSA agent gets to put their hands all over us? Maybe it would make it worse than it is already, I don't know. But if we had the power to choose, then maybe in some cases it wouldn't feel so horrible. For example - I'm straight. If a woman TSA agent that I had chosen were to pat me down and grope me, then maybe I could play it off as some fantasy or something. Having an older man put his hands on me, I think, was 10 times worse. (expletive deleted) it... if they are going to molest me, then at least let me decide which one does it. And no puritan same-sex (expletive deleted)... I would much rather it had been a woman than a man.

    I hope what I wrote doesn't belittle what happened to me in your eyes. Its not a serious proposal, and like I said I think for women victims, having a man pat them down would be 10 times worse. I also realize that we should spend our time and energy fighting the bigger issue of the overall sexual harassment. But -- I thought I would share.
  8. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Yeah, not a good solution. This would just make the victim complicit in his/her own abuse, which the TSA and millions of clueless Americans already try to do in spades. It's also a favorite -- THE favorite -- tactic of sexual predators.

    P.S. Please check your email account.
  9. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    We have a saying around here: "one grope at a time, one grope at a time" That's what's going to change thing. It will be slow, but the more people groped the worse it is for the TSA.
  10. just checked, and responded. thanks
  11. Hmmm good point. {shudder} yeah, that's horrible just to think about.
  12. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    What Mr. Bulldog experienced was standard procedure of the TSA. "All procedures were followed by TSA personnel" Prove it! Youse got nuthin on us!
    These people should be sued under RICCO. There is no way to protect yourself from such predators in the TSA. That is the disgusting part. You protect yourself and you're the one going to jail.

    But, welcome to TUG.
  13. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    At TSA News:

    At O’Hare, another TSA assault
    by LISA SIMEONE on JUNE 26, 2012
    Darwin's Bulldog likes this.
  14. Hi and welcome, Darwin's Bulldog. Your story makes me sick, and I'm so sorry.

    My 5 year old son got a "random" on a metal detector last time we flew (they swabbed his bag and then gave my husband a quick grope, not sure if the two were related). I suspect there are different models of metal detector, but I remember quite well that this one beeped and flashed red right when he was going through it, not seconds later. Bill Forester of Homeland Security Theater has said that some TSA clerks like to kick the metal detector to set it off when there's somebody they want to grope for whatever reason. I have experienced how touchy the machines can be -- once my baby leaned back when we were walking through and lightly bonked her head on one, and it went off. Luckily, they let us go through a second time. I don't know if you were a victim of metal detector shenanigans, just wanted to offer you another possible explanation.
    Darwin's Bulldog likes this.
  15. Thanks for all the support, everyone.
    barbell likes this.
  16. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    TSA News Blog: At Ohare: Another TSA Assault
  17. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Welcome to TUG, Darwin's Bulldog!

    I'm so sorry you went through what you did. I am an actual survivor of sexual abuse, and I have endured the TSA "pat down". What you experienced following your ordeal is the usual response to being violated. It is unfortunate that TSA has ignored repeated pleas to consider this reality.

    Glad you found us. Hopefully we can all work together to affect change of this monstrous, and unnecessary, agency.
  18. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Yes, they did this routinely at Reagan National, kicked the metal detectors when they wanted to grope someone. The TSA agents there had an organized ring of assailants. It was reported in 2004; I quote and repost the report often:
  19. By the way -- I realized I meant Bill Forester of Homeland Security Theater (not Bill Fisher!). Will correct my original post. I went looking for the site and it's offline, but he worked at LAX and described the metal detector kicking there. I also remember him mentioning they did it when some guy was being a jerk and they wanted to get back at him. I'll bet it's a widespread practice.
  20. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Oh, oh, I wonder if somebody finally got to him....
    phoebepontiac likes this.

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