What is the TSA’s Job, Really? (Applause for John Tyner)

Back in February, I wrote that it was time for a social revolt against the TSA. The idea was that everyone should treat TSA agents like shit. I haven’t met any outside an airport — probably because I don’t frequent places where uneducated ‘tards hang out. Accordingly, I wasn’t able to employ my own strategy.

I’d like to renew the call. We’ve employed an army of low grade fucking retards to pantomime security theater — and if you think it was absurd before, we’ve really turned the corner into idiocracy now.

Here in San Diego, an American citizen by the name of John Tyner arrived at Lindbergh Field (San Diego’s main airport) and was faced with a choice — either go through the “virtual strip search machine” or get an “enhanced pat down.”

I was trying to get into the metal detector line because I just didn’t even want to deal with the backscatter machines at all,” said Tyner, referring to the body scanning machines installed at Lindbergh Field earlier this year.

Tyner said that is too much personal privacy to give away just to get on an airplane.

“I don’t think that needs to be a condition for people to fly,” he said. “I mean, giving up that level of privacy is not something I’m prepared to do.” (source)

Tyner refused to be subjected to the backscatter machine. Therefore, the TSA agent informed him that he would need to be “patted down.”

I’ve seen the “enhanced pat down” procedure. I’ve also, in the past, been made a guest of the State on a couple of occasions. The “enhanced pat down” is more intrusive than the search I had to endure when I was placed in a jail cell.

Think about that.

Mr. Tyner did, and he refused to be subjected to that degree of indignity.

“I turned to him, I looked him in the eye and I said, ‘If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested,'” he said. “[Then] the supervisor came over… [and] explained the whole process again and I told her, ‘You know, I’m not really comfortable with this. It seems to me it amounts to a sexual assault and I don’t think that should be a condition for getting on the plane.'”

Tyner said more TSA agents arrived and encircled him. After some discussion with the agents, Tyner said an agent told him he would be escorted out of the airport.

As he was about to leave, Tyner said another person who was described as a senior TSA supervisor had some unwelcome news.

“Because I had started the screening process and refused to finish, I was in violation of federal law and he needed me to go back into the screening area and finish the screening process,” said Tyner, who refused. “[Then] the guy threatened me with a federal lawsuit and $10,000 fine and I finally told him I would see him in court and I left the airport.” (source)

So let me get this straight. You either have to be subjected to increased doses of radiation, a virtual strip search, or being fondled in order to board a plane? However, if you refuse any of those things, you still have to be subjected to it, whether you board the plane or not?

I have news for you, people. “The Terrorists” won. We lost. Game over.

35 Responses to What is the TSA’s Job, Really? (Applause for John Tyner)

  1. Thilo Agthe says:

    For what it is worth, and not wanting to defend the TSA and their moronic rules in any way, I did have a fairly pleasant experience with them on Saturday in Phoenix. They were friendly and efficient. However, no body scanners in sight, so that issue did not come up. On the whole, though, hats of to Mr. Tyner for standing up for his rights.

  2. Gianni Cono says:

    What’s this guy’s problem!!! The pat down is not that bad, especially if you compare it to a jale search. No one is “making you cough” or striping you down to nothing. Whatever it is, is still much better than blowing up in midair.

    • Thilo says:

      Except that I am not under arrest and have done nothing wrong when all I want to do is take a plane somewhere. Do I abdicate my rights as a citizen of this country just because I want to get on an airplane? Where exactly is that comparable to going to “jale” (sic)…

  3. murph5011 says:

    Okay MORON, apparently you’ve forgotten 9/11 or the countless other highjackings that have taken place since those incidents. You take for granted the safety you enjoy as you sleep through the night without worry or freedom you have to run your mouth about dumb shit. The Northwest bombing suspect,on Christmas Day, allegedly had explosives sewn into his underwear powerful enough to bring down the aircraft. The materials went UNDETECTED by airport security, and it’s only because of a failed detonator that the passengers and crew survived.

    To you they’re uneducated fucks. To me, they’re doing a job of potentially saving my life and the lives of many others. Wait, you’d rather being flying to Hawaii (or Fiji..Hawaii not good enough for you) and have the plane diverted to a place where you’ll probably endure more than a mere pat down.

    I’m sure Mr. Tyner is enjoying his 15 mins.

    • David says:

      I have not forgotten 9/11, but apparently you have forgotten the freedoms that we had as citizens of a free country before 9/11.

      Is there a line that you would not allow anyone to cross to allow you on an airplane? Public strip searches? Cavity searches? Is your dignity worth anything? Is there anything you wouldn’t do in the name of security?

      The other problem is that you assume that all the privacy and dignity depleting procedures the TSA undertakes is making us safer. There is still a big question about the efficacy of the full body scanners and whether that would have even picked up on the powder based bomb that the Christmas day bomber was using.

      • Thilo says:

        Bravo David. I completely agree. 9/11 did not change our rights as citizens, as some would like to think. They remain as they were before, but if we don’t stand up for them, we will surely loose them.

    • Darren says:

      At the rate we’re going, some asshole could get on a plane with an M-80 stuck up his ass and the quivering masses would demand the TSA throw a finger or two up everyone to make sure we’re “safe”. I thought that chickens were flightless birds; maybe they should stick to crossing the road if it’s not too terrifying for them.

    • Lodo says:

      The thing that astonishes me about this kind of response is that not only does it display astounding ignorance regarding the effectiveness of the TSA’s theater security, but it also demonstrates a very short memory regarding what happened on 9/11.

      Four planes were hijacked. Three reached their targets. One didn’t. Why not? Well, it wasn’t due to the efforts of whatever theater security agency was around at the time. It failed because of one thing: ordinary Americans, informed of what was happening and able and willing to fight back. They lost their lives in the process, but they died heroes, and there’s no telling how many lives they saved as a consequence. Under slightly different circumstances, they might have gained control of the plane and even brought it in to land under instructions. If the government hadn’t reacted like a bunch of gung-ho loonies, there was a good chance that the terrorists could have been shamed into defeat right then.

      What would have happened if 9/11 had taken place today? The highly-organized terrorists would still have found a way to get a suitable weapon on board (anyone who actually studies security knows how full of holes airport security really is), but the passengers—castrated by the TSA’s theater security—would have been cowering at the back of the plane, having been completely disarmed and told (probably by an Air Martial) to sit down, shut up, keep their hands on their heads, and die like cattle, along with everyone at the terrorists’ intended target.

      Me? I’m not afraid of terrorists. One day a terrorist might, just might, get me, but the likelihood of me, or any particular American, being killed by a terrorist is far less than being killed by lightning, and orders of magnitude less than being killed in a car crash. This is not due to anything the TSA has done; it’s simple statistics. It’s not something a smart person should be afraid of.

      I grew up not in America (where I now live), but in a land that had long been dealing with terrorism. My high school suffered a bomb scare. I was shopping when the store I was walking past was evacuated due to terrorists. I refused to stop flying just because some bunch of fruitcakes was routinely blowing up my country’s planes.

      These things did not scare me. When 9/11 happened, I mourned the dead and cursed the perpetrators, but I did not cower under my bed. I carried on my life as before and flipped the terrorists the bird. Being ignored is the one thing that terrorists can’t stand. It makes their efforts impotent.

      But the TSA scares me. What it’s doing is not an effective way to deal with terrorism. It isn’t even an attempt to deal with terrorism. Think about what the word “terrorism” actually means: They’re not trying to kill us, they’re trying to scare us into destroying ourselves. Which is, in fact, exactly what the TSA is doing.

    • Anybody who begins a response with a shouted insult automatically forfeits the right to be taken seriously and also opens themselves up to ridicule. You’re the moron in this debate. Please itemize your “countless other hijackings” and then kindly explain how the TSA’s current search policies bear any resemblance to a sensible flight safety policy (HINT: El Al focuses on the person, not the futile search for suspicious objects). Until you can come up with some sort of semi-cogent arguments, I suggest that you’re the one that needs to STFU.

  4. Patrick says:

    However, no body scanners in sight, so that issue did not come up.

    This raises the question of why, if the only alternative to refusing the body scanner is to endure the Big Grope, we don’t employ the Big Grope for everyone at all airports that lack the body scanner.

    Other than that the public wouldn’t stand for it.

    • Thilo says:

      Patrick, that is EXACTLY the point and thank you for posting this comment, because you have hit the nail on the head. I went through a metal detector on Saturday, had to take off my shoes and my stuff went through the X-ray machine. I felt perfectly safe and nobody even came close to touching me. And if they had asked me to have a closer look at my backpack I would have been happy to oblige.

      There is simply no need to have invasive and degrading procedures like bodyscanners and enhanced pat-downs except for TSA’s desire to encroach more and more on our privacy and make us all lemmings.

  5. Lets not forget the really disgusting part of all of this. He came to the airport, and they wanted him to go through a demeaning procedure. He said no. They ejected him from the airport, but then now they want to prosecute him for not finishing the procedure.

  6. Dan Someone says:

    While I agree that the “naked scanner” and its groping alternative are obscene — to the point where I am actively dreading a business trip next month — I can’t be too angry at the screeners in the airports. For the most part, the screeners themselves are perfectly nice, normal people doing a low-paying, generally thankless job, and most of the time they do it courteously (sometimes even apologetically). I know there are some who get onto little power trips, but they are a minority in my experience (and usually, from what I’ve seen, their power-tripping is matched with rude or needlessly uncooperative travelers). We all see the reports of the egregious cases, and they are truly horrendous; but how many people travel every day without this kind of harassment and difficulty?

    My anger is directed more at the upper-level TSA bureaucrats, who surely should know better; and even more at the politicians and their lobbyist cronies who have used post-9/11 fear to instigate, promote, and (of course) capitalize on the public’s irrational demand for solutions to worst-case scenarios (instead of workable and efficient solutions to real problems).

    Maybe it’s my bleeding-heart worker-solidarity speaking, but I generally don’t fault the people on the front lines carrying out instructions from their higher-ups. If they get it wrong about what the law requires, that’s not their fault. In this case, change needs to come from the top — and thanks to the successes of the Fear Party in the midterms, it’s not likely to happen.

    • Dan, I strongly disagree. If we don’t blame the people at the bottom, we really create a scenario where nobody is accountable, and nobody is to blame. Either that, or the only person we can blame is the president, because everyone below him is “just doing their job.”

      bullshit.

      In Communist East Germany, should the field agents have been blameless? How about the local collaborators in Poland who were “just doing their jobs” as they manned the cattle cars?

      Yeah, having your thigh groped by an uneducated prole isn’t the same as being marched off to a camp, but the low level person is committing the same sin. If they asked each TSA agent to piss in your face, would they “just be doing their jobs,” or would you expect them to say, in unison, “fuck no, we won’t do that to our fellow citizens?”

      If you would expect them to say no to that, then you agree that at some point, the low level flunkie has to exercise his ability to reject the orders of his superiors. The only place that we have room for debate is asking “when does that become imperative?”

      I believe that we have crossed that line. It is time for the low level flunkies to either stand up for what is right, or for them to suffer the consequences for their actions. And, if social ostracism is the best we can do without breaking the law, then fuck it, social ostracism it is.

      • GPK says:

        Dear Marco – Of course, that which you say is the essence of a just and ordered democracy. But we have moved far from that ideal. With a true unemployment rate at 15%, Tea Baggers wanting to deprive everybody of everything except the spoils they divine to their industrial handlers, and quality education a thing of the past, the “low-level” TSA proles will do anything, yes ANYTHING, to maintain some sort of income. The last time we, as Americans “stood up” to any government was in 1776. If we think we “stood up” in 1917 and 1941, that’s not really true. We maintained our neutrality and, eventually, were dragged kicking and screaming into those wars. Nobody today is going that route because it is economically, physically, and psychologically impossible to do so.

      • Dan Someone says:

        I have no problem with blaming individual TSA employees who act egregiously. (The employee here, for instance: http://www.ourlittlechatterboxes.com/2010/11/tsa-sexual-assault.html) Social ostracism is fine and appropriate for them. My problem is with tarring all TSA screeners as “low grade fucking retards” and calling on us to “treat TSA agents like shit.” Most, if not all, of the TSA agents I’ve had contact with have been perfectly reasonable, pleasant people who are indeed just doing a job that — most of the time — doesn’t call on them to grope people. So treating them like shit when they’re not performing heinous sexual assaults strikes me as misplaced punishment — it hits the wrong people and for things they aren’t doing and didn’t do — which seems pointless to me. TSA agents are supposed to be helping identify enemies; instead, they are pushed (largely by policy) into considering every traveler an enemy until satisfied otherwise. Why exacerbate that “automatic enemy” mentality by affirmatively treating them as enemies from the start?

        What we ought to be doing is what the woman in that blog post is doing: speaking out loudly and publicly when TSA agents do overstep and taking action against them and their superiors (which in my opinion includes everybody up the TSA chain through and including Napolitano and Obama) until the policies and methods change.

  7. Mark says:

    I’m going to start requesting the groping and insisiting on a female TSA agent. Then I am going to learn to enjoy it. Maybe loudly.

    Seriously though, if you want to be a jerk to somebody, don’t stoop to abusing the TSA agents, start abusing the lobbyists and politicians who are making all the money off this:

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/_Naked-scanners__-Lobbyists-join-the-war-on-terror-1540901-107548388.html

  8. you are an idiot says:

    Apparently, you left your brains somewhere when you wrote this article. I hope they allow planes to fly with only people who do not want to go through a scanner or a pat down so you can fly on it. Then, I hope a terrorist takes that plane down to help filter you idiots from the human gene pool.

  9. Lindsay says:

    I haven’t yet come across the full body scanners here in San Diego, but my travel out of Lindbergh Field has been limited to the same gate in the same terminal. I’m certainly dreading the day when I do come across them.

    I am very against the full body scanners, not because I have anything to hide, but because I don’t really want my hoo hoo showing up on the internet. And judging by the images I’ve seen online of men’s and women’s hoo hoos from the scanners, it’s a realistic possibility. I shouldn’t have to choose between that or getting sexually assaulted (in Tyner’s words) in order to board a plane. Airport security is certainly important, but it doesn’t have to amount to this.

    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Ben Franklin

    • Thilo says:

      Lindsay, I’m posting your last paragraph (the quote) as my status on Facebook. Ben was one smart dude…

      Regards,

      Thilo

  10. Darius says:

    We don’t even need to think about this, muslims are not subjected to the same securtiy proceures as Americans are. Muslims have expresed their wanting to destroy America then why don’t we screen muslims. Because our muslim president wants the down fall of America, we need to wake up, defend and protest this and all future violations of our freedom. 911 wouldn’t have happened if red blooded Americans stood up and defended all 3 airplanes. Body scanners is just the next move into the complete violation of our rights and everything we beleive in.

    • David says:

      “We don’t even need to think about this, “muslims are not subjected to the same securtiy proceures as Americans are.”

      Being a Muslim is not mutually exclusive to being an American. There are, in fact, quite a few living peacefully in the United States. Muslims are, in fact, subjected to the same type of screening other American’s are. Which is why many Muslim civil liberties organizations are fighting the new enhanced pat downs and naked body scanners like other civil liberties organizations.

      “Muslims have expresed (sic) their wanting to destroy America then why don’t we screen muslims.”

      Let me fix that: “An incredibly small minority of Muslims have expressed wanting to destroy America.” That’s better. Until you remember that we are not dealing with a holy war against all of Islam but against a radical faction, we can’t make progress. While there are some who teach and espouse views of hatred and want to create terror the vast majority do not actively participate in these organizations. Additionally, Muslims and non-Muslims alike are subjected to the screening procedures by the TSA.

      I also think you forget that there are radicals of all religions, philosophies, and ideologies. Many
      have killed in the name of their cause.

      “Because our muslim president wants the down fall of America, we need to wake up, defend and protest this and all future violations of our freedom.”

      You may disagree with the President on policies, I surely do, but I don’t think it is rational to think that President Obama “wants the down fall of America.” That’s just silly. The comment about President Obama is also silly and not worth discussing at the moment because it is very off topic.

      That said, I do agree that people “need to wake up, defend and protest this and all future violations of our freedom,” if by this and future violations of our freedom you are talking about the TSA’s policy of enhanced pat downs and naked body scanners.

      “911 wouldn’t have happened if red blooded Americans stood up and defended all 3 airplanes.”

      I do not pretend to know what was going through the minds of those men and women on the hijacked planes on the morning of 9/11/2001. Nor do I pretend to know the situation that was going on in those airplanes. I do know that they were not perpetrators of an attack on the United States but were victims of that same attack. I do not blame those men and women for causing the tragedy of 9/11, I blame that on the terrorists that boarded the plane with the intent to cause death and destruction.

      “Body scanners is (sic) just the next move into the complete violation of our rights and everything we beleive (sic) in.”

      I agree with you that these scans and pat downs are an invasion of citizen’s rights and is along a path of a greater erosion of rights. Which is why I believe American’s should do something about this measure.

  11. [...] But Tyner could make a case of it.  There is absolutely no question that Michael J. Aguilar, the head of the Transportation Security Agency in San Diego, would not know Tyner’s name, much less be raising the prospect of a $10,000.00 $11,000.00 fine against Tyner if Tyner’s “Don’t Touch My Junk” video hadn’t gone viral.  Tyner is being threatened for exercising his constitutional right to free speech. [...]

  12. melissa says:

    Exercising free speech…invasion of privacy..PALEEZE! Why be pissed at the TSA? They’re in the business of saving lives. You should be pissed at the terrorists who caused us to go to such extremes. I find it extremely difficult to believe Mr. Tyner didn’t have that entire incident staged. I’m certain the security personnel aren’t real thrilled about having to put their hands in private areas to ‘touch people’s junk’. Cry violation of your rights in some other country like China, Afghanistan or Iran. See how far that gets you. The TSA is about saving lives people, not copping a feel or violating someone’s rights. If you don’t like the way the TSA does business? Drive. What will you do when you came upon a check point? Bitch about… Well,I’m sure you people would find something.

  13. Upper1 says:

    So, this event begs the question: Is the body scan constitutional? I know it’s definitely encroaching on our freedom, but isn’t any court likely to rely on the “administrative search” exception in declaring it constitutional? I feel as though a court will never reach the question of this kind of search’s effectiveness because they’ll just claim that once you go through the threshold in the airport, you’ve foregone any privacy interest in your person that you had outside the airport.

  14. Thilo says:

    I’m taking submission for messages to the TSA I could write on my underwear (with some kind of metallic paint or marker so it would – hopefully – show up) in anticipation of going through a body scanner… I wonder what would happen, but it might depend on the message… Any thoughts?

  15. melissa says:

    phy

    The Russians are developing an airport security device eliminating privacy concerns.It’s a booth you step into.It won’t X-ray but will detonate any explosive device u have on u.So if ur in the terminal & hear a muffled explosion followed by an announcement: “Attention standby passengers-we now have a seat available on flt #___”It just might be the Russian airport security device has become operational.

  16. melissa says:

    The Russians are developing an airport security device eliminating privacy concerns. It’s a booth you step into. It won’t X-ray but will detonate any explosive device u have on u.So if ur in the terminal & hear a muffled explosion followed by an announcement: “Attention standby passengers-we now have a seat available on flight#___” It just might be the Russian airport security device has become operational.

  17. Supe says:

    If my military service allowed us to fly in uniform, I could really have a field day testing out how strict they are with requiring the scan or pat down. Just image a military member being arrested for saying, “No” to TSA, and catching shit in front of everyone all in symbolic camos or service dress.

  18. Maybe you just put post-it notes on various parts of your body saying things like “sorry – nothing here – move to next body part”…

  19. Bob Miller says:

    Bob Miller

    There is a point where you go into overkill. It comes to a point where the world goes into mass paranoia. Times are a changing and so is the world. I can discern when an agency has stepped the line, but I have been in some countries where I am not a citizen and this type of thing doesn’t just happen in the airport, it happens right on the street. And a personal search here can be requested in private.

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