Customs Even Worse Than TSA? Hazes Officers on ‘Rape Table’ to the Theme from Jackass

We give up our traveling freedoms in the name of security, even skeptics say ‘well of course we want 100% safety’ but occasionally criticize certain measures that do literally nothing to improve security or are actually counterproductive.

When in fact we don’t want 100% security. We assume risk every time we get in a car. Cars could be 100% safe but they’d be many times more expensive, far slower, and with plenty more hurdles to go through before being allowed to acquire one. We don’t accept those tradeoffs.

Commercial air travel could refuse to transport checked bags, period (ship your stuff separately). All passengers could be required to travel naked, nowhere to hide anything. Handcuffed. Even that wouldn’t be perfect security, but it would minimize the ability of bad actors to pull of a wide variety of threats. We don’t accept that.

There are some moves that are largely ‘worth it’ like reinforced cockpit doors — though even this trades off with the risk of a rogue pilot — and a general shift away from accepting a hijacking assuming that negotiations can get passengers off safe to one where any attempt to take over a plane is met with stiff passenger resistance. That makes it harder to take over an aircraft, even if it makes the onboard situation less stable if someone does successfully take the plane.

The TSA has been a national joke for years, and if we hope to fix it we need to separate out the screening function from the regulatory function. The FAA oversees safety but doesn’t actually fly the planes.

The air marshal program is hopeless, a run amok culture that brings more dangerous weapons inside the airport. More air marshals are arrested than terrorists.

Because the TSA and air marshal programs are so bad, we rarely focus on problems with Customs and Border Protection. But is anyone really surprised that CBP at Newark hazes new employees with a ‘rape table’ instead of remaining focused seriously on their jobs?

Officers with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency at Newark Airport are alleging veteran officers have subjected them to brutal hazing rituals, which include duct-taping newcomers to a “rape table” and grinding their genitals on them.

…”Once the lights go out, they grab you up like a gang, and they forcibly throw you on the table and one officer ended up mounting me and pretty much riding me like a horse,” CBP officer Vito Degironimo told the outlet.

…Though Cifuentes says she was not subjected to the “rape table,” she was assaulted in other ways. “There was a back and forth between another officer and myself,” she said. “He said, ‘You deserve to be put on the rape table.’ And that’s when he started chasing me. … [Eventually] I was held down by another officer and one additional officer taped me with green customs tape to the chair.”

Cifuentes alleges that an officer pulled his gun on her. “I was very afraid for my life,” she said. “I took a deep breath and kept on typing like nothing was happening. I know that if I reacted either he was going to pull the trigger or I was going to draw the weapon myself and shoot him.”

Hazing takes place to the theme of Jackass playing in the background.

We’re about to give CBP control not just of people entering the US but also exiting, allowing them to collect and manage facial recognition and share that data with airlines (for lounge access potentially, even!).

With that power, the ‘few bad apples’ excuse really won’t cut it.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. We have a military industrial complex that is out of control………..as the great General Dwight D Eisenhower opined as he left office………….So if you don’t want to subject yourself to them……..just don’t fly………….

  2. If you have concerns about CBP controlling who enters and exits the U.S., fine. Then state your concerns and the rationale.

    Yet, the behavior of these jackasses has nothing to do with that, and, furthermore, it is unfair to suggest that this type of behavior is representative of the behavior of the agency’s employees overall.

  3. Empathy gap…whitewash it until it happens to you.

    Then, and only then, it will become an unacceptable problem.

  4. The “few bad apples” are encouraged by a culture that allows this to go unchecked. Even if it isn’t everyone, the good people need to actively stop this kind of behavior if things will ever improve.

    Also Gary, just a housekeeping note/correction to your story. The song that was played wasn’t the Jackass theme you have there but rather the Party Boy Theme (heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ElUY2n884k).

    Here’s a link to the original reporting on this story so you can credit the investigative team who uncovered this. http://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/Hazing-Customs-Officers-Newark-Airport-Border-Patrol-Sex-Investigation-Rape-Table-Feds-Allegations-Security-Camera-421748953.html

  5. Why do you think “in the future” i.e. Star Trek or or other sci fi, everybody is wearing skin tight uniforms? And nobody ever carries around any luggage? And the biggest portable electronics device is a handheld tricorder or whatnot. I always speculated that it was terrorism fears that led to those mandates.

  6. @nycman only someone in nyc would think of something like that. Being from nyc myself i started to think your speculation was plausible. Rofl

  7. Nowhere in the 9/11 Commission recommendations did it suggest sharing facial recognition with *any* outside party, much less an airline or lounge with no real interest in your privacy.

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