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The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) — which has been a joke since it was formed in the post-11 frenzy — is at it again, implementing new “pat-down” search techniques that — in effect — allow the rent-a-cops at airport security checkpoints to cop a feel of airline passengers.
Call it another example of government overreaction, an abuse of authority or even a violation of civil rights. It just adds one more reason to avoid flying commercial airlines out of U.S. airports. When added to the full body scanners and other trends it means nothing — and we do mean nothing — escapes the prying eyes of our government.
Bruce Schneier, a Minneapolis security technology expert and longtime critic of the TSA, told The Associated Press that the new procedures “are particularly invasive. It’s strip-searching. It’s body groping. As abhorrent goes, this pegs it.”
The “enhanced” past-down techniques allow the security personal to but their hands up into places where only spouses, girlfriends or mistresses are allowed. It’s also spawned a new generation of euphemisms for describing the sexual regions of men and women.
At the San Diego airport, John Tyner, who taped his encounter with the new search techniques, told the TSA officers that he he “if you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested.”
There are a number of less-than-direct ways to describe the parts of the male anatomy that hang between the legs: package, family jewels, Johnson, manhood, etc.
For women, the problem is two fold: They have two regions on the body where the probing hands of strangers should not venture.
Complaints about the new procedures have flooding the offices of the Federal Aviation Administration, Senators, the White House and media outlets.
Patricia Lederer of Kansas City says a male TSA fondled her breasts and rubbed her vagina in a sexually-suggestive way.
Another female passenger, who asked that her name not be used, said she was “nearly turned on” by a female TSA officer’s manipulation of her pubic area.
“I was trying to get home, not get laid,” she added.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that while she sees the need for extra security, she wouldn’t want to go through the pat downs.
“Not if I could avoid it,” Clinton said on Sunday’s CBS Evening News. “Who would?”
Odds or, Clinton won’t be felt up by an over zealous TSA mauler. The agency says pilots in uniform and with valid ID won’t be subject to the searches. Neither will Congressional leaders or other top public officials like, say, a Secretary of State.
Daniel Landon, a Canadian traveling in the U.S. said a female TSA employee got downright friendly with him.
“Ordinarily, I would not object to a woman rubbing my cock and balls,” Landon said. “But this woman weighed about 300 pounds and smelled. That was a major turnoff.”
Appearing on CNN‘s , “State of the Union” over the weekend, TXA chief said the searches would not be reduced or modified but softed his tone by Sunday afternoon, saying “there is a continual process of refinement and adjustment to ensure that best practices are applied.”
My wife and I stopped flying five years ago because air travel had become more trouble than it was worth and we hated the “cattle car” atmosphere. I walked away from more than a million frequent flier miles with several airlines.
My wife saw what was coming first. On one trip she was singled out for the “extra security,” which included removing shoes and socks and undoing the belt of her jeans so they could examine the waistband.
“Usually, I get dinner first,” my wife cracked as she undid her belt.
The TSA agent didn’t laugh.
Neither are we.