TSA Employee Does Not Buy Me A Drink

Coming back from visiting some family for the holiday weekend, I came upon the new option of either going through TSA’s full body scanner or “opting out” and getting the full feel up. Going out of SFO there was nothing like that, but coming back from the San Diego airport they gave us the reach around, I mean run around, I mean full monty, I mean full treatment, I mean . . . no, that is what I mean.

Anyway, I opted out, along with the two female passengers I was traveling with. I’ve read a little bit on the health concerns and remain convinced that there are dozens of things I should be addressing about what we’re exposed to daily before I worry about a few seconds of this level of radiation. I opted out because I don’t think it should be easy to push us into new areas of decreased options without some push back. Not intended to slow down progress, but to put pressure on the deciding bodies to check their intentions. Blah blah. So I got the pat down.

Actually, it seemed quite like the body searches I’ve had plenty of times while being picked out of the line to be touched all over.

Seeing the Giants temporary tattoo on my forearm the TSA Toucher got me comfortable by talking about baseball. Despite being a Red Sox fan, he was a very pleasant fellow. He didn’t give me grief or even ask me why I was choosing to opt out of the scan. I asked him if the opting-out had created bottle necks in the process and he said that he usually worked at a terminal that didn’t have body scans and people would walk up to him exclaiming “I want to opt out!” and he would just sigh and tell them to go on through.

He started off by telling me that he wouldn’t do anything to me that would require him to buy me a drink. First he patted me down and when he got to the bottom of my happy trail area he quickly brushed across to my inner thighs with the back of his hands, making no moves to grab or fondle anything he may have found. A couple leg pats and that was that. Residue tests came back negative and I was on my way. Not so bad, but also not so great. Safety first, for sure, but with complications like privacy issues and racial profiling, this whole business becomes quite tricky.

Then we had some free time and since the TSA guy hadn’t bought me a drink I got the round and we did some airport karaoke.

Airport Karaoke

Any other TSA thoughts?


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53 Comments on “TSA Employee Does Not Buy Me A Drink”

  1. Ben g Says:

    Nice fake story, did you make it up to show your funny karaoke picture? Men get pat down by men, women by women.

  2. Mark Says:

    Don’t put up with this garbage! Boycott Flying COMPLETELY, until sanity returns! Please join us: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Flying/126801010710392

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

      That’s retarded. Unless you are independently wealthy, flying is generally the only way to travel large distances.

    • oh Says:

      omg my privacy! no no don’t pat me down i’m so sensitive! who the fuck cares, it’s a simple pat down. people are such pussies. now if they actually grab your shit then sure that’s different, but a simple pat down (even if your junk is grazed) shouldn’t be an issue. i don’t wanna share a plane with you anyways.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        First of all, it is NOT a simple pat down. It is a level of groping that goes significantly beyond what you get when you’re actually arrested, generally.

        Second of all, *I* care. As do millions upon millions of other people who are unwilling to let our civil liberties be so casually trampled upon without speaking up against it.

      • Murkin Says:

        You’ve got it backwards
        People like you are pussies.
        People like you, who eagerly give up their civil rights and freedom because they are scared of teh terrorists!, or simply because an authority figure directs them to.
        People who stand up to assaults on their freedom as Americans are heroes.

      • oh Says:

        pussies…

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        Murkin: Hear, hear.

  3. ndc Says:

    Sure, “safety first”, but don’t kid yourself that this dude patting you down had anything to do with making you safer…there’s a reason they call it “security theater.” Not proven to stop a terrorist/bomber, never will be.

  4. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

    Good for you for opting out. Hopefully a lot more people will take the same principled stand.


  5. Next time I go to Seattle, it’ll be by train.


  6. Nice story. I was wondering how things had changed. But I personally subscribe to the belief that we should just get rid of all airport security, in general. I mean, wouldn’t you feel safer if, when (as ndc points out) a terrorist gets all “Ima bomb this thing,” you could rely someone on your flight from Minnesota to pull out their own gun and just call it a day? I sure would.

  7. bodah Says:

    Whether you do the body scan or opt out is a red herring. The real issue is that there are people in this world who want to do harm on americans. Unfortunately, planes are a risk now, and we need to ensure people can travel safely. At the end of the day, an encroachment (small imo) on one’s personal privacy for the sake of preventing the threats we are all too familiar with is a fair trade. I would argue that anyone who thinks otherwise is selfish.

    On a side note, if you have ever flown out of or into Israel, you know that our security measures (and the corresponding invasions into privacy) are lax in comparison.

    • JohnD Says:

      bodah:

      Actually, in Israel they don’t use these full body scanners, you don’t take off your shoes etc. They are much more focused on finding the bad guys and not letting terrorists disrupt their lives. That means if they find a bomb in the bag, they’ve got a bomb box right there at the screening they drop it into, then step behind some blast walls.

      In the US, I am sure a children’s toy that looked funny would result in an airport evacuation.

      They also screen all cars entering the airport with a quick hello and look around. So you do go through more layers, but it is much more efficient. They look to avoid large crowds in one place.

      In the US, we are wildly inefficient and expensive and it’s not clear to me that all the screening stops someone setting a bomb off in the now crowded screening line or using a shoulder surface to air missile against a plane at take-off, or driving a van packed to brim with explosives onto airport property, all of which would worry me more than a grandma getting nail clippers on a plane.

      Every time they pat you down it means they don’t have a clue about who the folks who want to hurt us are.

      • bodah Says:

        Israel racially profiles and burdens your travel itinerary in other ways. A quick internet search will show that traveling to and from Israel is more cumbersome than compared with the U.S. Moreover, people (myself include) find those practices more invasive on the concepts of liberty and privacy.

      • halle Says:

        Israel has one international airport. I’m sure we could have awesome security if we just had one airport.

    • olu Says:

      israel is a small country and their safety measures wouldn’t scale up very well. A better example would be places like Germany and Switzerland- where they essentially have criminal profilers asking you questions.

      Anyway, even a modest amount of safety checks would leave us at the exact same minimal risk of danger – what they are doing is clearly theater because americans are afraid of everything.

  8. Mandaline Says:

    There is no evidence to suggest that the scanners and pat-downs actually improve security. There is, however, ample evidence of the scanned images being misused by TSA employees. If the added measures were effective, maybe I’d be less opposed to them.

    And there’s that whole violation-of-the-Fourth-Amendment thing.

    I always opt out and receive the pat-down (and am always selected because I only wear dresses and skirts). It’s not traumatic for me by any means. But I have big issues with the principle–I am not a criminal nor on parole; I should be able to travel about my own country without invasive searches.

    • bodah Says:

      you are not a lawyer. Your conceptions of what constitutes “violation-of-the-Fourth-Amendment thing” is simply wrong. We have a right to be free from UNREASONABLE searches and seizures. The key word (and what will be litigated) is “unreasonable.” The concept of what is or is not reasonable takes into account other factors such as threat level, the nature of the threat, the the scope of the invasion, etc.

      • Mandaline Says:

        You’re very right, the “unreasonable” part is essential. If I were suspected of a crime, for example, the search would be reasonable.

        The threat level isn’t assuaged by these searches. And yet I must be seen nude or thoroughly patted every time I fly in the U.S. Because of these factors, I find that scope of invasion quite unreasonable.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        Odd the number of Constitutional Law experts who think your interpretation of the 4th Amendment is utter bullshit, Bodah.

      • bodah Says:

        more odd is the fact that none of these people have a law degree nor specialize in constitutional law like me. Look, I don’t go around telling a carpenter what washer to use what that screw….

        if you really want to “talk shop” let me know when and where and we can have a intellectual discussion on 4th amendment interpretation. Otherwise please stick to your own profession and simmer down.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        Well, you’re right about me not being a lawyer. However, I do deal regularly with lawyers who specialize in Constitutional law, and privacy in particular. Specifically people at the EFF and EPIC. So… I took this opportunity to ping one of them about this.

        His response was, essentially, “There is pretty much a consensus amongst even relatively conservative constitutional scholars, that the back-scatter/enhanced pat-down quite possibly constitutes an ‘unreasonable’ search under the circumstances.” He also cited some case that I can’t remember, but it involved that bleeding-heart-ACLU-hippie Samuel Alito in his pre-Supreme days, wherein he opined that part of the “reasonable” vs. “unreasonable”ness of a particular measure is defined by the intrusiveness of that measure.

        And he also said that trying the “I’m a lawyer, you’re not a lawyer, debate over.” trick is, and here I will directly quote, “…a bullshit tactic.”

        Love and cookies,
        – Veg

      • Ariel Dovas Says:

        Bodah, I believe that is what you call in your profession “getting served”.

        (wink)

      • bodah Says:

        Love and cookies do not detract from the fact that your post was more atmospherics than substance. Let me explain. Just because you deal with lawyers doesn’t mean you know anything about the law. Learning is not achieved via associations. Moreover, just because some lawyer from EFF or EPIC (not well respected entities in the field btw) decided to chime in, doesn’t me he or she knows anything on the matter.

        Moreover, your legal source took a very weak stance. Specifically, the source stated, “the back-scatter/enhanced pat-down quite possibly constitutes an ‘unreasonable’ search under the circumstances.'” The phrase “quite possibly constitute[s]” is used by those lacking conviction in the conclusion espoused.

        Further, although the degree of intrusiveness of the search is a factor in determining whether it is reasonable or not, that factor is not dispositive nor weighted more than other factors taken into consideration.

        Finally, if you re-read my posts, I don’t take a position on the matter. In fact, I believe Rosen has it correct in his op-ed in the Washington Post (something you should have cited (or at least read) before you ran your mouth off). See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/24/AR2010112404510.html

        Would the current Supreme Court strike down the TSA’s new security measures as unconstitutional? Rosen thinks it should, but notice that he doesn’t argue that it would. That is a distinction with a differnce.

        BTW: the Alito case you are referring to is Hartwell, 436 F.3d 174 (3d Cir. 2006).

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        Hmm. Well, as I pointed out, I am not a lawyer. I did not go searching through case law, rather, I spoke to those who do it for a living. I’m not sure who it is that would keep the EFF and EPIC in poor regard, considering the fact that, unlike most, they are extremely active in privacy law on a daily basis. They are both held in high regard, by, say, the ACLU. And if you are about to say that the ACLU doesn’t know anything about Constitutional issues. Well, sirrah, pardon me if I take this opportunity to laugh in your face.

        You may have been confused by my use of double-quotes, however, in the first instance. The only thing that was a direct quote was the bit about your “bullshit tactic”. I honestly don’t remember for certain whether he said the words “quite possibly constitute[s]” exactly, that was my paraphrasing. However, even if he DID say that, picking on the phraseology rather than the content is a pretty pathetic attempt to weasel out from under a fairly damning refutation of your earlier claim that, and I quote, “…none of these people have a law degree nor specialize in constitutional law like me.” A claim, I should point out, that is demonstrably false.

        However, on the other hand I must apologize if I have misconstrued your position on the subject, as I interpreted your original reply to Mandaline (above) to be very much you staking out a position. (re: “Your conceptions of what constitutes “violation-of-the-Fourth-Amendment thing” is simply wrong.”) If I have misunderstood you there, then, as I say, I must apologize.

      • oh Says:

        next week on Internet Battle… dum dum dumb….

    • bodah Says:

      No one has shown me that they have a law degree and/or practice constitutional law.

      You should learn how to use quotations properly or stop being a revisionist historian.

      When someone says “[a]nd there’s that whole violation-of-the-Fourth-Amendment thing” that is an oversimplification and thus incorrect.

      I’ve read several amicus briefs from EFF and EPIC over the past few years and have been consistently unimpressed. Riding the coattails of the ACLU is no panacea to the deficiency. Moreover, seeing how I worked at ACLU’s Center for Democracy as a Brennen Fellow after my clerkship, I think my opinion is more valid that yours on this matter.

      Good day.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        …Or, on the other hand, you could be more careful in how you read things. As I was certain to point out that I was repeating “essentially” what the Constitutional lawyer said, I made the assumption that you, and any other readers, would understand/be perceptive enough to realize that I was paraphrasing him. My apologies for overestimating you, I’ll try not to let it happen again.

        I would interpret “there’s that whole violation-of-the-Fourth-Amendment thing” as neither incorrect nor (and these are two very different things, contrary to your assertion), an oversimplification. It is, rather, only a brief synopsis of the situation that we have continued to discuss in these ongoing comments.

        Furthermore, suggesting that the EFF and/or EPIC are merely “riding the coattails of the ACLU” is not only ridiculous, but I suspect that you recognize it as such and have chosen that phraseology in a moment of pique.

      • bodah Says:

        a quick google search of your handle “Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable” leads to the definitive conclusion that you are a disagreeable douche bag (who also thinks his opinion should be published everywhere) with way too much time on your hands. Good job on winning at life.

        http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=en&safe=off&q=Herr+Doktor+Professor+Deth+Vegetable&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=Herr+Doktor+Professor+Deth+Vegetable&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=3f2d83e828bdfbc

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        Ahh, name-calling. Always the best way to succeed in debate.

      • bodah Says:

        the debate was over with my post last night. your status as a misanthropic douche bag, however, rages on.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        Heh. How’s that separate reality thing workin’ out for you there?


      • Can I get in on this fight? I’d rather be a misanthropic douchebag than a pompous blowhard douchebag any day of the week. You know what, Mr. Vegetable? I think bodah really IS an attorney of some sort!

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        I have no doubt that he is an attorney, I just think that it is pretty clear, based on his multiple attempts to declare “Mission Accomplished” and retreat to “I’m a lawyer and you’re not!” or “Every lawyer who disagrees with me is incompetent!” whenever he is is bested, that he is not a very GOOD lawyer.

  9. FunTimes Says:

    We now officially live in a country of whiny babies. If you don’t want to get the full body scan or the pat down there is a simple solution…DON’T FLY. Flying is not a right, it’s a privilege. If you don’t like the rules then stay home. I fly 2-3 times a month and honestly don’t mind a few extra security measures (yes, I know they are not as effective as they could be and TSA staff are on par with McDonald’s employees) if they only just slightly decrease the risk of something catastrophic from happening. All the cry babies screaming “don’t touch my junk” will be the first ones screaming “why didn’t we do something” the next time there is a terrorist attach involving an airport.

    Also, I am willing to bet a majority of individual who are so “afraid” of the full body scan have serious self-esteem/body issues. Trust me no TSA employee is scheming about how to post your flabby gut on the internet.

    • Mandaline Says:

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ktla-naked-images-leaked-online,0,4426956.story

      http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/05/06/tsa-worker-arrested-jokes-fight-size-genitalia/

      I certainly don’t assume the TSA employees are perverts or pedophiles, but I still don’t want the scanners to take nude pictures of my children.


    • “All the cry babies screaming ‘don’t touch my junk’ will be the first ones screaming ‘why didn’t we do something’ the next time there is a terrorist attach involving an airport.”

      No, actually. It will be all the safety-obsessive-perverts like you who will be screaming, which is how the USA has been since 9/11/01, which is why we are living in a land that is now willing to give up its basic, written on parchment liberties just so it can maintain the public illusion of safety in transportation. Please note that you can currently walk outdoors without being x-rayed or patted-down for blades or guns, despite the current rise in Mission strong-arm robberies, stabbings and shootings.

      Aint nobody more “afraid” than YOU, jackass.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        Hear, hear.

      • FunTimes Says:

        Pick your god damn battles!

        Have a number of liberties been raped and pillaged since 9/11? Absolutely. Do I believe that the Patriot Act and the domestic spying on American citizens (among a thousand other horrible actions done in the same of national security) has done unmeasurable damage on Americana society? yes.

        But what you are crying about, yes literally crying at your computer while typing your response, is having to walk through a god damn x-ray machine at the airport! WTF?!? Asking people to get patted down before boarding a plan is so far from the level of “attach on our liberties” you are projecting it’s laughable.

        I applaud your passion, but I think it’s just misdirected. And again, if you don’t like it don’t fly. end of story


      • Or we could raise a stink and get the TSA to back off, as they have already done on other issues. It’s worth a thought, since the next level on the slippery slope is probably random body cavity searches.

      • Ariel Dovas Says:

        I think that’s the issue right there, Crank. We don’t know how slippery the slope is and how far down it goes, so we always have to be able to look for a foothold.

        Pushing the metaphor too far?


      • Feet? Really? Ariel, you devil, you!

  10. chalkman Says:

    I’m 10X more worried about checked luggage than I am about some individual on a plane. 5 guys with guns couldn’t take over a plane now, as most planes are full (vs the 10% capacity they were flying in 2001) and everyone is ready to throw down….

  11. Jules Says:

    It’s all security theater. My partner has flown with a full thermos of coffee in his carry-on at least five times since 911. Once the TSA person picked up the thermos and asked him if anything was in it. He replied no and the TSA person put it back in the carry-on. They are giving the illusion of safety, not actually providing any.

  12. why Says:

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/12/01/you-are-no-longer-free-to-move

    It’s an issue because incrementally freedom is eroded.

    Besides which it’s another indication that the terrorists have won. Their main objective is to have people live in fear and to disrupt the ‘normal’ state of affairs. Job done!


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