For survivors of sexual assault, new TSA screenings represent a threat. The new pat-downs and body scans can trigger “flash backs” of an assault and traumatize males, females and children recovering from a previous assault/attack. The new TSA policies and procedures do not even give consideration to the millions of victims and survivors who travel. This outrages me beyond words which I am sure you have gathered by now.
There is no evidence that those in charge of these decisions even gave a thought to victimization and the effect that these procedures will have or had. Again, I understand and respect the absolute need for safety but the catch 22 is that there is no guarantee that if an individual agrees to the scan that they will not end up being patted down anyway and groped. Hence, you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t.
For women and men who have already been sexually assaulted, the new screening rules—or just the threat of these rules—present a very real danger. They can be triggering events, setting off a post traumatic-stress reaction. “I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped,” an anonymous rape survivor has reported. Another rape survivor had a panic attack as an agent began touching her leg.
“After a sexual assault, it seems that many survivors have difficulty having their bodies touched by other people,” says Shannon Lambert, founder of the Pandora Project, a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. This fear of contact even extends to partners and, often, medical professionals. “A lot of survivors do not want to be in positions where they’re vulnerable. They put up defenses so that they can be in control of their body. In cases like this, it seems like some of that control is going away.”
If that sense of control is violated, it can lead to more than hurt feelings. There’s a physical reaction associated with a triggering incident, and the response can vary from person to person. “It could lead to a person shutting down and becoming noncommunicative, it could result in a person becoming emotionally upset, it could trigger flashbacks, not just the thoughts and feelings they experienced, but perhaps other sensory experiences,” says Jennifer Marsh, director of the National Sexual Assault Hotline for the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN).
TSA employees are clearly not trained properly as to how to perform a pat-down WITHOUT humiliating a traveler. The experiences that are coming forth are heart-breaking and someone needs to get a grip on the TSA workers – the pat-downs are NO JOKE! We are seeing over and over that TSA employees have no compassion what-so-ever as being demonstrated on a daily basis.
Passengers who decline the scan are subject to a pat-down to achieve that same goal. Again, even if you agree to go through the scan there is no guarantee that you will not be required to have to have a pat-down either. It’s a pat-down that many travelers say may be more thorough, but is also more invasive and humiliating than previous security frisks. “It was a horrifying experience. I was touched in my private parts, in my genital area, without consent and without warning,” says Erin Chase, an Ohio woman who flies several times a month. (TSA says that all airline officials should tell passengers what’s going to happen prior to a pat-down.)
I will leave you with this thought: “It is acceptable and encouraged that a TSA government official can do something to an American citizen that US military personnel cannot do to a member of the Taliban.”
Things that make you raise an eyebrow, eh? Hmmmmmm………
Take care and STAY SAFE!
More and more victims (females, males and children of all ages) of TSA procedures will and are coming forward as they are realizing that they have been victimized. It is encouraged that all victims of the TSA to report and file appropriate charges accordingly. I do have a distinct problem and issue with any media minimizing victimization that any individual may encounter with the TSA procedures now in place.
I completely understand the need to protect the United States from terrorism in our friendly skies but I do have a problem with the invasive, intrusive, ill-mannered reports that we are receiving from those traveling and dealing with TSA employees working in our airports.
We have all read and heard over the weekend how this invasion of privacy has been minimized by our media and even our President. As far as I am concerned neither have concern for our privacy, compassion to others nor remorse because “they are just doing their jobs”. Well, they are doing much more than their “J-O-B”. I don’t give a flying flip about the projected percentage of travelers that “will not” be affected by these procedures or what airports have the scanners or don’t; I care about the individuals WHO ARE SUBJECTED to these procedures. These individuals are the true victims of assault and it’s legal – go figure! Not one government official will endure these procedures.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put down TSA pat-downs on Sunday, calling it an “offensive” security measure she wouldn’t want to experience herself.
“Everybody is trying to do the right thing,” Clinton said on CBS‘ “Face The Nation.” “I understand how difficult it is, and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it.”
Asked if she would be willing to submit to an airport frisk, Clinton laughed and admitted, “Not if I could avoid it. No, I mean who would?”
According to every state in our country — and also under federal law – it is illegal for an individual to grab, grope or touch our bodies without the explicit permission from the person being… touched. There is no choice, either we get scanned (your naked picture being displayed for TSA employees to view OR get a pat-down).
The detrimental effects of re-victimization is not to be discarded, shrugged off or ignored. Unless you have experienced an assault and you were a victim and have transitioned into a Survivor…you have no clue or idea of the helplessness one feels. Anyone that has been victimized will now be re-victimized by our government and TSA workers.
TSA and President Obama continues to refer to “the Christmas underwear bomber”, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route. I would like to remind everyone that he boarded in Amsterdam and flew to Detroit, Michigan. He didn’t board the plane in the United States. The most recent scare of packages found in cargo originated outside of the United States. I pray that our government and TSA are making a sincere attempt to prevent flights coming into the USA as secure as they are making domestic and outgoing international flights from within.
Cathy Bossi, a cancer survivor flight attendant forced to remove her prosthetic breast during a pat-down. Talk about stripping an individual of dignity.
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – A Charlotte-area flight attendant and cancer survivor contacted WBTV after she says she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.
Cathy Bossi lives in south Charlotte and has been a flight attendant for the past 32 years, working the past 28 for U.S. Airways.
In early August Bossie was walking through security when she says she was asked to go through the new full body-scanners at Concourse “D” at Charlotte Douglas International.
She reluctantly agreed. As a 3-year breast cancer survivor she says she didn’t want the added radiation through her body. But, Bossi says she did agree.
“The TSA Agent told me to put my I.D. on my back,” she said. “When I got out of there she said because my I.D. was on my back, I had to go to a personal screening area.”
She says two female Charlotte T.S.A. agents took her to a private room and began what she calls an aggressive pat down. She says they stopped when they got around to feeling her right breast… the one where she’d had surgery.
“She put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’. And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that’.”
Cathy was asked to show her prosthetic breast, removing it from her bra.
“I did not take the name of the person at the time because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”
Since then, Cathy has contacted the Legislative Affairs Team, a group through the flight attendant union. She says she wants to see a crackdown on these personal pat downs.
“There are blowers and there are dogs out there that can sniff out bombs,” she says. “There’s no reason to have somebody’s hands touching your body parts.”
A T.S.A. representative says agents aren’t supposed to remove any prosthetics, but are allowed to ask to see and touch any passenger’s prosthetic.
T.S.A. says it will review this matter.
In the end……
the choice is to fly or not to fly. I’ve taken my shoes off, adapted to rules and regulations about carry-on items (even had items thrown out because they were slightly over the size (begged them to take them home because of the items worth), walked through the metal detectors, had the wands used on me; however, personally I will not subject myself to an invasion of my privacy by going through a body scanner nor allow anyone to touch me WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. You can’t even fight back other than to…….NOT FLY.
One last thought…..is anyone focusing or talking about security on our other means of transportation (Amtrak, buses and tunnels that have traffic backup)?
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Friday, 19 November 2010 19:00 Vicki Polin
VICKI POLIN: I believe everyone needs to refuse pat downs at airports and find other ways of traveling until our government stops allowing our citizens to be sexually assaulted by TSA workers. This week, several men and women contacted my office, describing situations that would be legally defined as sexual assault. The perpetrators of these assaults were agents of the United States government.
The victims of these sex crimes were traveling for work and for pleasure. Some described symptoms of of rape trauma syndrome.
Over the last few years, most of us have been sitting back, watching our civil rights disappear as part of homeland security’s efforts to combat terrorism.
But this week, on the brink of the busy holiday travel season, our government went too far: It is now urging TSA professionals to take pornographic pictures and to commit sexual assaults against our friends and neighbors.
What they don’t realize is that one of every four individuals who travel in airports are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Some were raped as adults. Does our government not care that their actions are traumatizing those people?
According to every state in our country — and also under federal law — it is illegal for an individual to grab, grope or touch our bodies without the explicit permission from the person being touched.
It is also a sexual assault if the individual being touched grants permission under duress.
These are crimes that often mandate a prison sentence — yet, over the last few days, our government is promoting the sexual assault of its citizens, all in the guise of homeland security, by mandating “enhanced” pat-downs.
If we are not allowed to walk down the streets naked, why is it OK for our government to have strangers frisk us or see through our clothing? What ever happened to our right to privacy?
The next thing you know, they‘ll demand that recording devices (both audio and visual) be placed in our homes, as they did in the former Soviet Union.
How long will we, the citizens of what is supposed to be a “free” country, keep allowing our government to take away our civil rights?
After living in Israel, and seeing firsthand the media hype of terrorism there, the truth is that you are more likely to be hit by a car than by a terrorist.
My body and my personhood are private, and as a citizen of the United States, I should have the right to choose who touches my body and or sees my naked. I’d rather have our government utilize racial profiling prior to flying than allowing TSA personnel to undress and fondle me.
And what about those with children? Do you send your youngster through the radiation of a full body scan just to keep someone’s hands off him or her?
Of those who have been sexually assaulted by the TSA, I wonder: How many are eligible for the Crime Victims Compensation Act, to cover the cost of therapy due the fact they were victims of a sex crime? Funding for the Crime Victims Compensation Act’s comes — you guessed it: the federal government.
A friend in law enforcement recently told me authorities actually discussed an exemption for Muslim women. In fact, many of us who have traveled to the Middle East will joke that when terrorists take vacations with their families, they fly on El Al – the Israeli airline.
That’s because of El Al’s reputation of being able to protect its customers from terrorism. And they don’t need naked body scanners to do it.
The folks at Homeland Security would do well to take some lessons there.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Several passengers are organizing a “National Opt-Out Day” on Nov. 24, one of the busiest travel days of the year. An online petition also is being circulated, to be sent to President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and all members of Congress.)
Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC is the founder and director of The Awareness Center, which is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with over 25 years of experience working in the sexual trauma field.
It’s difficult to catalog all of the myriad controversies besieging the Transportation Security Administration this week, but the biggest seems to be the new policy forcing select passengers to choose between an open-palm, very invasive pat-down or a full-body scan that produces a very detailed image of your most private regions. There’s also the 35,000 full-body-scan images that some officials in Florida kept despite rules requiring the images be immediately deleted, the threatened $11,000 lawsuit against a man who refused to have his groin patted down, the insistence on applying both the basically-nude scans and the invasive pat-downs to children, and the call for boycotting TSA body-scans by the 11,000-strong pilots union. In other words, it’s bad.
- Leaked Images Belie Our Implicit Pact with TSA Gizmodo’s Joel Johnson writes, “At the heart of the controversy over ‘body scanners’ is a promise: The images of our naked bodies will never be public.” But the Florida marshals who saved 35,000 of those images, suggesting that promise may be a lie. “That we can see these images today almost guarantees that others will be seeing similar images in the future. If you’re lucky, it might even be a picture of you or your family.”
Besides health risks, there is the issue of privacy rights. When a government agent looks beneath your clothing with this machine, you are actually being strip searched. A recent article in the San Diego Entertainer on August 31, 2010 stated that “the scans are detailed enough to identify a person’s gender… to identify a passenger’s surgery scars, or to discern whether a woman is on her menstrual cycle or not.”
- TSA Screener Accosting 3 Year Old Child at Security Checkpoint: I’m not saying that children who fly shouldn’t be subject to security screening, but do they really need to be treated like this? Ed Morrissey put it best, I think: “If we’re mugging random three-year-olds to provide security to air travel, I’d say we need to rethink our approach.” This little girl firmly tells the TSA employee “STOP TOUCHING ME!” Children are not exempt from being searched (see video). If the child goes through the metal detector twice and the alarm is set off twice, they will be searched. Prepare you child for this trauma if you absolutely must fly.
- Are These Scanners Really Safe? Liberal blogger John Aravosis finds reason in the leaked body-scan images to wonder about the scanners’ potential health impact. “I did notice something weird. Why does the scanner seem to be scanning people who aren’t even in it? Note how the device is recording the image of people standing in line to get into the scanner in the photos below. They’re not in the scanner, but it’s picking them up. It even picked up the security guy with his wand. … I’m sure there’s no radiation leakage from a device that can pick you up from ten feet away.”
“Backscatter X-ray uses ionizing radiation, a known cumulative health hazard, to produce images of passengers’ bodies. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with defective DNA repair mechanisms are considered to be especially susceptible to the type of DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation. Also at high risk are those who have had, or currently have, skin cancer. Ionizing radiation’s effects are cumulative, meaning that each time you are exposed you are adding to your risk of developing cancer. Since the dosage of radiation from the backscatter X-ray machines is absorbed almost entirely by the skin and tissue directly under the skin, averaging the dose over the whole body gives an inaccurate picture of the actual harm. In their letter of concern, the UCSF faculty members noted that ‘the dose to the skin could be dangerously high.’ The eyes are particularly susceptible to the effects of radiation, and as one study found allowing the eyes to be exposed to radiation can lead to an increased incidence of cataracts.”
- TSA Backlash Reaches Congress, National Groups Wired’s Kim Zetter writes, “a growing movement among pilot associations and traveler rights groups suggests the TSA is under increasing pressure to reconsider [its policies]. Several groups have called for a National Opt-Out day on Nov. 24, traditionally the busiest travel day of the year, to protest the TSA’s attempt to force passengers to undergo invasive scans or face an intrusive pat-down. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is also holding a hearing on Wednesday to discuss TSA oversight. Privacy groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center are seeking a court order to halt the use of invasive scanners, saying the scanners are illegal and violate passenger privacy.”
However, if you opt out of the body scan, you are subjected to an intrusive full-body grope. These pat downs are rigorous and include the TSA using their palms to touch your genitals in a manner that could feel like sexual assault. If you feel that you or your child were inappropriately touched during the enhanced pat down, call for a law enforcement officer.
- This Isn’t TSA’s Fault: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, leading the charge against TSA practices perhaps more than any other journalist, takes the broad view. “Yes, it’s true — it’s not the TSA’s fault, all of this airport security craziness. The TSA is a government bureaucracy within a larger government bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, and both organizations have as their mission the protection of American citizens from terrorism. They are going to do whatever they believe it will take, and is legal, to keep Americans safe. That is their bureaucratic imperative. But it is the mission of the President, and of the Congress, to supervise and monitor these bureaucracies, to hold them back when their mission comes into conflict with other missions, such as the protection of the privacy of American citizens.”
- Is Flying Still Worth It? Outside the Beltway’s Steven Tyler wonders, “The more I hear and read about the options being presented to air travelers: allow a full body scan that shows all the intimate details of one’s anatomy or allowing a stranger in a uniform to grope my nether regions, the angrier it makes me, to be honest. Thankfully I usually only fly maybe once or twice a year. Quite frankly it is all enough to make me rethink whether flying at all is worth it.”
- This Is Not Good Counterterrorism: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg discussed these practices on The Colbert Report, noting, “If you’re fighting terrorism at the airport gate, it’s too late.” In other words, formal counterterrorism agencies from the FBI to the CIA and beyond are going to be much more effective at detecting and stopping a terrorist plot than these TSA procedures.
Contents of posts from Examiner.com and TheAtlanticWire.com
Naked Pictures or Federally Mandated Molestation
A fellow blogger, Tracie Nall and I had mental telepathy yesterday – within seconds I posted a question on Facebook and she posted a blog about the this new travel topic that is blowing the minds of the majority of airline travelers.
Thank you Tracie for bringing such important information to our followers and readers.
Katarina and I will go to Arizona next week.
We might even just stay in Arizona.
That is not because of all the family fun we will be having. It is because of the AIT Full Body Scanners that the Transportation Security Administration is going to be using as primary security for Sky Harbor International Airport when it is time for us to return to Florida.
What is the deal with these scanners?
There are questions about the safety of the scanners, but that is not what I am concerned with today. Today I want to talk about the invasion of privacy.
I’m sure we all remember the TSA worker in Miami who was made fun of by a supervisor about the size of his penis, after going through an AIT scanner.
Earlier in the year, the UK said that children under the age of 18 must be exempted from going through the scanners because the images created would violate child pornography laws. In March that decision was reversed, because the government decided that “to exclude children risked undermining the security measures”. This decision was made even though the security minister admitted that the scanners are only 50-60% effective and a week prior a security guard at Heathrow Airport was caught staring at images of a female colleague in a body scanner. Their reasons for scanning minors did not address the problem of the illegal images that are being created in the process or the violation that is taking place.
I have spent most of my day looking into this situation, finding out what our rights are where body scanners are concerned. I have been calling airports, airlines, the TSA, and researching online.
I know that TSA employees have to pass a background check before being hired. But as TSA officials said when asked about a TSA employee who was arrested for the statutory rape of a 14 year old girl, “Unfortunately these checks do not predict future behavior”.
I understand that the person actually viewing the pictures is in a separate room and does not know the identity of the person pictured. This does not offer me any comfort. Often when perverts buy images of child pornography, they are not in the same room as the child being pictured and do not know the identity of the child. Does that make child pornography okay? Of course not. It is also not okay for a TSA employee to view images of my child or me where our naked bodies are visible. I will not consent to that.
I was told that we can legally opt out of walking through the scanners, and instead be patted down. When I asked for further information about what a pat down would consist of, people where hesitant to answer. One security employee at Sky Harbor told me that they are not allowed to discuss the pat down procedure over the phone. He said that I would have to “ask for it at the airport and see what happens”.
That did not make me feel very good about the pat down procedure. The big news on the pat downs is that they have recently changed the way they are conducted. Some of the new procedures are covered in this video from ABC15 in Phoenix:
After speaking with four different TSA employees on the phone today, I finally got one to be honest with me about what exactly the pat down would include. She told me, “They will touch you with an open palm. They will touch your breasts and feel completely around them. They will touch your butt. They will run their hands all the way up your inner thigh and touch your crotch area.”
I asked if that would apply to my seven year old daughter as well, and she answered affirmatively.
After explaining the new pat down procedure to me, the TSA employee said, ” you do not want your child to have to go through one of these pat downs. They are extremely invasive and upsetting”. She didn’t really have to tell me that, because I already knew from the description that there was no way I would allow anyone to touch my child in this inappropriate way.
I realized that we will not ever fly out of Sky Harbor International Airport again. This started my search for an airport that did not yet have these scanners in use. When I spoke with a different TSA employee about an hour later to ask questions about the airport in Tuscon, she wanted to know why I was trying to find an airport that did not use the scanners. When I explained to her about the pat down procedures being unacceptable, she told me that the agent I spoke to earlier should not have told me that. That they do not touch anyone’s crotch at any time during a pat down.
Then I found an article from CNN. It details the experience of a CNN employee, Rosemary Fitzpatrick, with the new security pat down procedures. She clearly says in the article that the screener briefly touched her crotch. She also says, “I felt helpless, I felt violated, and I felt humiliated”.
Michael Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, has refused to go through the scanner or be patted down. He probably won’t be able to keep his job, because not going through security means no flying.
I understand the need for security. I do not complain when they make me take off my shoes, or when they do not allow me to bring large containers of liquid on the plane. I do not complain when they rifle though my suitcases. I wait in line and put my belongings through the x-ray machine and walk through the metal detectors. If a TSA employee wants to pull me out of line and hand search my carry-on, I smile and say okay.
I will not smile and say okay to inappropriate pictures of me or my minor child.
I will not smile and say okay to inappropriate touching of me or my minor child.
I will not be bullied by the TSA. No one has the right to touch me or view my naked body.
You might think that I am secretly a conspiracy theorist or that I am overreacting. That is your choice.
It is my choice to not have my freedom stripped away and my body violated by strangers. It is my choice to drive three hours to the airport in Tuscon to be able to take what will probably be my last trip on an airplane to return home. As the scanners get installed in more and more airports, the choices for molestation-free flight will become less and less.
Benjamin Frankin is often quoted to say, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserves neither liberty or safety.” I think that applies here.
What do you think? Would you go through an AIT Full Body Scanner? Would you put your child through one? What about the new Pat Down Procedures? Is that something that you would allow yourself or your child to be subjected to?