Report on the TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by TSA News Blog, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. TSA News Blog

    TSA News Blog News Feed

    The Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) held its second public meeting September 18, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. I attended the meeting, as I also did in May. The meeting was composed of subcommittee reports, with highlights being:​
    - A recommendation to engage more dogs, and private dogs, to screen cargo. Apparently this idea has been piloted for several years. The subcommittee for this area is recommending “acceleration of the approval process.” (How many years do they need?)
    - A recommendation to standardize cargo security requirements so that manufacturers don’t need a “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” approach to shipping cargo.
    - A gnashing of teeth that general aviation airports, which were authorized a grant by Congress to do such things as install lighting and closed-circuit TV about three years ago, actually get the money to do something.
    The Passenger Advocacy Subcommittee, which holds the most interest to many of us, had nothing substantial in the way of recommendations. They stated that they should by next year.
    The man responsible for running this meeting told me that he had many requests for public comment; he had to turn people away. The Aviation Security Advisory Committee allows only four people to speak at one of these meetings. I was one of those people. Someone else was apparently waylaid by the floods, tornado warnings, and power outages that plagued the area. Joining me were Douglass Kidd, Executive Director of the National Association of Airline Passengers, and Hilary Waldron, private citizen.
    Kidd recommended the bonding and licensing of TSA screeners and the abolishment of the strip-search machines and “enhanced patdowns.” Waldron recommended that full-size aircraft be allowed to fly under general aviation rules, allowing passengers to effectively choose the level of security they desire.
    And I spoke. Here’s what I said:
    Good afternoon and thank you for allowing me to speak. My name is Wendy Thomson, I live in Michigan, and I am here representing Freedom to Travel USA. We have members in 47 states and Canada.​
    I had prepared remarks, which I will leave with Mr. Walter; however, I decided to change my comments after speaking with a colleague last night. I was urged to tell my story with the advice that you need to hear this.​
    I have an artificial leg. I have joint replacements. I have metal plates. I am cyborg. I used to fly a lot – in my original comments you can tally the 21 airports I have used, many more than once, between 2001 and October 2010. Those dozens upon dozens of flights introduced me to being stripped down to my pantyhose while screeners were asking themselves whether they would require me to get totally naked, all while we were in a makeshift lean-to in Concourse A. I have had hands down my pants. I have had my breasts checked after the MMW screener called out “check her thigh.” I spent 2-1/2 hours in Dallas once insisting that TSA agents could check only what alarmed. Dressed in a similar fashion as I am today, I finally turned and left after the TSA insisted they needed to check my breasts because my right knee-to-ankle set off the metal detector.​
    I have been so groped and molested in so many ways that I am now properly traumatized. I was actually going to take my leg off at this point and set it up here on the dais, but I am hoping that such an extreme level of theatrics will not be required to garner your attention. I actually did that for several years: before I had these metal plates and joints I figured out that if I merely took this leg off and placed it on the conveyor belt I was not harassed. Leg on: breast and butt fondle, hand swabs, the whole nine yards. Leg off: none of the above. So now I’m thinking that I would need to take this leg off and hop on over to the AIT machine, stand there like a total criminal as the machine tried to figure out what to do when there is someone who doesn’t have two feet to spread their legs.​
    Spread their legs? Think about that phrase for a minute. Totally disgusting.​
    I cannot even think of traveling by air without losing sleep before and after. I become so enraged with the humiliation and egregious violation of my personal space and body that I have been known to pace all night. Now, being that I travel by train, ship, and car, I still lie awake crafting my response if I were to encounter the TSA at a train station.​
    I will tell you now that I will not submit. I will not consent. Exactly how I do that is still being formulated. I have walked away from flights before. I will walk away in all cases. And if it comes to me not being able to take any public transportation at all without being physically assaulted, I will see the TSA in court.​
    I have been attacked twice in my life. One resulted in broken furniture and blood splattered on my bedroom walls. I cope with those experiences by controlling who, when, and how anyone touches me. This is my body. I decide who touches me. I decide who sees me naked. I do not grant that privilege to any of you, nor any of your employees. The coercion and duress caused by TSA current policies and procedures have made me avoid them at all costs. And I mean all costs — such as my former $250K-per-year career.​
    I understand that by most measures I am a remarkable person. As a handicapped single working mother I managed to raise my two sons, took in a ward of the court, and got all three of them bachelor’s degrees. I was a navigator on a freighter, sang my way across Italy on a concert tour, raced sailboats, made over $4 million along the way, garnered a couple of patents, joined Mensa, and even rode a bicycle around Mackinac Island twice. I am very determined. I have managed to navigate this world and culture my own way, perforce on my own terms because I have had to create solutions when nobody else could.​
    This leg? I designed it. It is one of a kind, specific to my particular needs, and it was 15 years in the making. That’s because I am so outside the bell curve on so many parameters that I am the only one I have ever found who can effectively solve my problems.​
    Then along comes the TSA. I must admit, you have given me a hard nut to crack. I will take my still-spending travel miles and direct them away from the industry that supports all of you. That’s unfortunate, but you have only the TSA to blame.​
    Why you believe it’s fine that you have turned “Driving While Black” into the no less acceptable “Flying While Handicapped” escapes me. Why you have not come up with a way to capture institutional knowledge about harmless people with medical devices escapes me. Why you have decided to make anyone with a medical device a second-class citizen escapes me. I can assure you of this: demographics tell us that your current model is unsustainable, since more and more people will be taking advantage of these medical miracles. You will simply be swamped.​
    By the way: these birth defects of mine? Caused by my father’s secondary exposure to radiation from being stationed as part of the occupying force in the Hiroshima valley. Two months after the blast. 53 days of exposure. Radiation can cause birth defects. I would strongly suggest that you keep your screeners away from the 4-1/2 feet on either side of the backscatter machines. I read the NIST and Johns Hopkins reports. Those are danger zones.​
    Studies have concluded that there’s a reasonable argument to be made that TSA policies have diverted so many travel miles to freeways that you have been responsible for more deaths in the last 10+ years than 9-11. I don’t think you also want to be responsible for causing birth defects.​
    (Photo: Flickr/Ron Rothbart: ‘Truth’ by Jules Lefèbvre)
    Caradoc likes this.
  2. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Very fine graphics! :)

    Now to read that extraneous printed stuff ...
  3. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    No so extraneous -- this is a very well-written piece by Wendy Thomson.
  4. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Extremely well-written.
  5. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    This is a very visceral account of a very real problem for many people. I hope it gets a lot of hits.

    Thanks to Wendy for her courage in expressing such personal indignities in such a powerful way.
  6. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Amy Alkon's analysis in Men's News Daily:

    Wendy Thomson On TSA: How Do You Spread Your Legs If You Don't Have Two Feet To Stand On?

    Moving, compelling blog post at the TSA News Blog by Wendy Thomson, who has an artificial leg, and who gave up her lucrative job in order to stop being molested with regularity by the TSA -- which is what their "searches" are. The text (with her personal statement) comes from her speech to the Aviation Security Advisory Committed, which held its second public meeting September 18. She also attended the May meeting. Some highlights...
  7. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Should this be what we allow our country to become? If you are not speaking up, you are complicit.

    This statement brings up my eternal quandary: to fly or not to fly. I stopped flying in Nov. 2010, thinking that the more people who just stop flying, the better. You can only blame so much on the economy. At a certain point you have to face the fact that the TSA are a bunch of power hungry thugs who molest, lie, and steal.

    It's been two years now, and we still have essentially the same procedures as we had two years ago. Maybe a shift in tactics is necessary? Would it be better to fly (knowing that I'd get molested most every time I fly) and engage in some kind of protest at the airport? It would have to be some kind of quiet protest so that I don't get booted from the airport.

    I honestly don't know what the right answer is.
  8. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    It'll take time. The airlines are in denial and holding their heads in the sand. Eventually they'll have to admit that it's not just the economy.

    I'm in it for the long haul. In the last 10 years we've been Warsaw, Singapore, Tasmania and many places in between. I'd be quite content to spend the rest of my life just driving to our cabin in northern MN and never dealing with one of TSA's perverts ever again. They earned my everlasting enmity when they assaulted my wife. I will never forget the look on her face afterwards.
  9. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    I believe it will take more than that. It will take physical chastisement of the worst pedosmurfs.

    When the next child molester in a smurf shirt ends up hanging from a white zone lamp post, there will be a sea change.
  10. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    I think it'd send a louder message to have them sent to prison. Hanging them from a lamppost is mob justice and carried out in defiance of the law, same as their procedures. For them to be forced through the legal system and sentenced like common criminals would send the message that "There is the law and there is your job, and the law says your job is wrong. There is nothing special about you, so welcome to prison with the rest of the dregs. You're no better than the thieves and conmen you're locked up in here with."
  11. RB

    RB Founding Member

    In prisons there is a pecking order among criminals. Child molesters are at the bottom and I suspect any TSA clerk would be in that same group regardless of crime.
  12. Monica47

    Monica47 Original Member

    I'm in the same quandary. Whenever I think maybe I could deal with the security I start to get a panic attack. We've all seen people on videos freaking out at the airport - that probably would be me if I got pulled out for a pat down which is a good possibility since I won't go through the scanner.
  13. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    That's assuming they go to prison at all. They claim qualified immunity with their plastic badge, same as cops. They will also claim that if they get sent to jail, they will die, same as cops. Hanging them from a lamp post in the white zone may be mob justice, but at least it's justice, and more than we will get from the "Justice System."
    Fisher1949 likes this.
  14. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Yeah, me too. It just seems that there should be something that we can do to spur them on to do the right thing.
  15. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Just wanted to post to try out my new sig
    TravelnMedic likes this.
  16. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    The problem there is that the TSA appears to have much in common with many dumb animals in failing to learn from positive reinforcement - leaving only negative reinforcement as a useful tool.

    Cattle prods, for example.
  17. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    Too wimpy. Go for the pain sticks the Klingons use.

Share This Page