TSA: It’s Not Sexual Assault When the Government Does It

In March the TSA announced that pat downs would become more ‘intimate’ and began reaching out to local law enforcement to let them know they’d be getting complaints about sexual assault but to please ignore them.

TSA believed that since they’d basically be sexually assaulting passengers at will, some passengers may fail to understand that it’s not sexual assault when the government does it.

One Southern California woman fails to grasp this.

“By instruction, I had my legs apart, I had my arms up and I think the first place she was first touching me was my ankles,” Riede said.

She said the agent got too close to her groin, and inappropriately touched her.

“I kind of jumped because I’m not expecting that,” she recalled.

Reide told NBC 7 she complained to supervisors and she was told to contact TSA to file a report.

Of course this is perfectly appropriate because it’s procedure

A spokesperson for TSA told NBC 7 they are aware of the incident and have reviewed the surveillance footage. However, the TSA said the agent was following protocol.

The TSA explained that safety is their top priority and as of March 2, TSA changed their standardized pat down procedure. The agency insists the pat down was not inappropriate.

There’s no momentary thought to question whether what the TSA dictates as procedure is ethical or appropriate, except to say ‘safety’ though a TSA that misses nearly ever piece of contraband going through the checkpoint cannot possibly contribute to safety.

In The Road to Serfdom‘s chapter 10, “Why the Worst Get on Top” F.A. Hayek writes of “an increasing tendency among modern men to imagine themselves ethical because they have delegated their vices to larger and larger groups. To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behavior as individuals within the group.”

TSA Agents in Charlotte Watch News of the TSA’s Failure to Detect Weapons and Bombs, Instead of Searching for Weapons and Bombs (HT: Tocqueville)

Random groping by one of the 20,000 TSA employees accused of misconduct isn’t how you get it.

It’s worth reminding that Denver screeners were caught manipulating the nude-o-scopes to ‘alarm’ so that they could fondle attractive passengers.

TSA used to stand for ‘taking scissors away’ now it stands for ‘twisted sexual assualt’:

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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  1. Complain each time to the TSA, to the media, to Members of Congress and/or all of the above. Of course it’s sexual assault, and we need to stop putting up with it in the name of “safety.”

  2. It may not be Sexual Assault, instead it may be regular Assault, and a version of False Arrest.

    The TSA needs to have a probable cause for a search, even though they are at the Federal level and not subject to the constraints of local law enforcement. It is my understanding that Federal court rulings allow civilians to sue law enforcement officers personally for violating their rights, depending on the specific circumstances.
    The TSA may in fact believe they are acting properly, but an agent that loses a civil suit could face a financial disaster. A pattern of behavior could lead to criminal charges.
    In fact, the government may find that they are prohibited from enabling an agent from engaging in such an action.
    Todays technology is far too advanced for me to believe that highly intrusive investigations can occur without probable cause. But I would not dismiss the probability that rogue TSA agents exist.

  3. Complain to Congress? You’re kidding right? The TSA has ignored Congressional subpoenas to appear before Congress. And this is years after they exposed the breasts of a Congressman’s 17 year old niece during a search – by accident, right? – AND NO ONE WAS FIRED or even disciplied.

    They honestly believe that they are above the law.

    As for “need to have probable cause for a search”, I’m sorry but that would be inaccurate. When you enter a TSA checkpoint, you have entered an “administrative search area” where you actively give up your rights. Anything the TSA finds at a checkpoint, whether related to air travel or not is admissible. Just ask the guy carrying $7500 in cash (google “tsa lockbox cash ron paul”) or anyone carrying multiple credit cards not in their name. Hell, they’ve even arrested people for carrying brass knuckles through a New York Airport – IN THEIR CHECKED LUGGAGE.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, just a frequent traveler who reads the news and the blogs.

  4. Nothing will change since out President sexually assault women and thinks it’s ok.

  5. Yeah, Nate…conflate a doctor’s exam of a patient with a TSA pat down. LOL!

  6. Seriously! Let’s just not have any security at all. Wake up people we have had zero terrorist on a plane since 9/11. How many terrorist has TSA caught? EVERYONE! Fault TSA all you want but bottom line we are safe when we travel. If you don’t want to be patted down get pre-check, I never see anyone getting a full pat down there and I’m in airports 2 times a week. Bottom line I travel weekly and I make it back home SAFE to my family each week! You may not like the way they do things but my kids certainly do!

  7. There must be a better way to insure passenger safety. If only there were a common thread in all of these terror attacks, we might be better able to identify and neutralize the real threats.

  8. Do they do the additional screening pat down in a private area? Do you have the option of just stripping down naked and forgoing the touching. Who cares who sees you in your birthday suit.

  9. @Pete, that’s what constitutes a terror attack in the first place – otherwise it would just be called a n attack. So don’t expect anything in that regard.

  10. Been through Israeli security a few times, never had a n for a nude o scope or what I call legalized body rape. Never had my jewels touched by them either nor do they seem to have the need. Makes me wander because I rate Ben Gurion as probably the most secure airport in the world.
    Oh I forget we hire people with no education, for go back ground checks, pay them low wages, give them inept politically appointed idiots as managers and expect them to know what they are doing

  11. Bruce Kane, the TSA doesn’t believe it’s above the law. It KNOWS it’s above the law.

    Theblindguy, we’d probably be just as safe if we abolished airport security as we are now. The truth is that there aren’t all that many terrorists out there to begin with, and the smart ones just find new weak points when the current weak points are made stronger. Do you honestly think your family would be less upset by your death if you were blown up by a bomb in a suitcase in the security line rather than by a bomb on an airplane?

  12. I got the full pat-down despite having Precheck. The guy in front of me too. We each showed a U.S. Passport instead of a driver’s license on a domestic airline flight. For me it was a short connection to an international flight, and I still had it at hand after showing it at the check-in counter. As we went through, the TSA agent yelled to his partner “Two USP.” And then we got the sexual assault. I don’t know if holding a U.S. Passport for a domestic flight is considered suspicious for some reason, but I won’t do that again. People are just too willing to give up their freedoms in the name of security theater. The fact that Congress hasn’t done anything about it up to now doesn’t mean they couldn’t if they wanted to. They need to hear from people disgusted with TSA behavior.

  13. What are the best ways to complain about these types of procedures? TSA Directly, senators, representatives? I experienced this new pat down last week, and was shocked by the procedure, and by the fact that it was considered necessary in a pre-check lane. It’s still bothering me nearly a week later.

  14. I think the fact that the TSA has so roundly failed the screening for items at the airport is enough to justify that it is not TSA who is keeping us safe. I am all for dismantling the TSA and their groping. I trust my fellow passengers WAY more than TSA to keep me safe. We are sliding down a very slippery slope of giving away our rights to the government and, one day, our children are going to,wake up and wonder why their parents didn’t stop it.

  15. With such an astute analogy, Nate must be one of those high school dropouts who wants to join the ranks of TSA.

  16. Going through pre-check, I was again randomly chosen as always, at the Eppley Field airport, for a pat down (inappropriate touch). It is absolutely inappropriate for an unknown, unwelcome person of any gender to use their hand to my pubic area and my inner upper thighs. The same thing happened to the woman ahead of me, also randomly chosen so the setting on the system seems entirely rigged. I might note that I have never had a person touch me with their hand at any other airport in my life. Someone needs to monitor the security process situation at the Omaha pre-check lines. I feel very violated being touched in my private areas. It needs to be reigned in, especially in light of our current heightened awareness of sexual harassment. It is wrong, period.

  17. My papered service dog was taken from me and I was denied access to my medication after I was selected for a intimate pat down for being suspicious. I was having a hard time getting my things into the bins due to my heart condition acting up. My bag was heavy due to my college books. I had my genitals searched 3 times by 3 different TSA agents two of them were done in a closet over the course of a half-hour. The manager kept telling the officers to keep searching me because something was bound to come out. Nothing came out of me, I was wearing a feminine hygiene item for obvious reasons. The entire time I was denied access to a chair, my service dog, and my medication. I ended up having a panic attack and disassociative episode because of the sexual assults I endured by the TSA. Within 15 minutes of getting my dog back after the incident I was able to calm down and my dog and a phone call to my husband helped me be able to make it to the gate. During the whole process no one asked if I was ok or needed help. And when I was found to be innocent no one even apologised to me or asked if I needed help. My health was put at risk, possibly my life, and I was sexually molested by the TSA 3 times by 3 different officers, two of those times were in a small closet containing their radios and NO cameras to see what they do or did to me in there. What made it worse is that I was raped in the military and this incident with the TSA triggered all kinds of flashbacks. This was two weeks ago and I am still trying to process what happened to me at the airport and still trying to close the wounds from military sexual trauma that the TSA reopened after 7 years of therapy at the VA to get better.

  18. Let’s put the blame where it really belongs. With the religious fanatics (= Islamists) who forced us into defense. (And don’t bother calling me politically incorrect because that is a badge of honor.)

    The problem with trying to avoid offending anyone is then we might as well just do away with security completely. Because once you set the limit at X, the terrorists will simply stash their weapons at a little past X.

  19. The #metoo and #timesup movements have done wonders for advancing awareness and reducing these horrible situations in other industries, perhaps it’s time to start a similar movement exposing TSA harassment.

  20. @ Tony

    You are correct – Clinton has been accused many times of rape and sexual assault yet the left continues to excuse his behavior. Many other dems have also been accused of sexual improprieties to include (but certainly not limited to): Hilary (enabler and defended rapist against a 12 year old), Keith Elison, Cory Booker, Ted Kennedy, Al Franken, John Conyers, Daniel Inouye, Bob Filner, Raul Bocanegra, Dan Schoen, Tony Mendoza, Ira Silverstein, Steve Lebsock, Anthony D Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, David Wu, Kwame Kilpatrick, John Edwards, David Paterson, Antonio Villaragosa, Marc Dann, Paul J Morrison, Gary Condit, Tim Mahoney, Roosevelt Dobins, Barney Frank, Gary Hart, Gavin Newsom, and many, many more…

    And lets not forget about dems involvement with #Pizzagate

  21. I was assaulted as an airport employee going through a security door. I have been searched several times in this manner this year alone. I’ve been told that touching my vagina is part of security and if I avoid a search I could loose my job. Funny thing is they never search my purse just my body spending quality time pulling out my waistband and underwear or cupping my breasts or butt. I have no idea what could possibly be there that would probably fit more comfortably in a purse.

  22. I recently went on a flight, last Saturday, just got back last night. I was sexually assaulted by a TSA agent who was angry at her coworker and took it out on me. She put me in some tube and I asked what it was, she then accused me of being rude. I told her im not being rude, I’m scared. She told me to lift both arms in the air, I let her know I could only raise my right arm halfway because I broke it. This apparently made her more angry. She then told me to put my feet on the footprints on the floor. I did the best I could. Im disabled and my lower back contains a lot of metal. I had 4 back surgeries and broke my back 3 times. This infuriated her and she grabbed my arm and said she was going to PAT me down. She grabbed my crotch and pushed 2 of her fingers upward making contact with the opening of my vagina. Then she told me to hold my pants up by the belt loops and she shoved her hand between my legs, pushing my underwear into my vagina. Im shaking, scared. I see a man that looks like a supervisor, I tell him and he said, just so u know, before u start, everything is filmed. I said that’s good. He walked away from me. I went on vacation and cried all week. She knew that I was powerless over what she did to me. She wanted to humiliate and degrade me. I was afraid to say or do anything else at the time. I knew she wanted an excuse to get me kicked out. I was taking my 3 young grandsons on a trip and didn’t want to get kicked out and ruin their trip. Im now looking at what avenues are available to me to make sure that this doesn’t happen to me or anyone else. I know I will need some kind of therapy. Im so depressed and can’t stop crying. Im hurting.

  23. I’m sorry, but pushing her fingertips in my vagina along with my underwear is sexual assault. She did it twice. This was not an intimate search to make sure of safety, it was an angered person who wanted to show me that she has power. She did it to humiliate and to degrade me. I’ve read TSA’s procedure for a “pat down” and she did not comply. I’ll let a court decide. In the meantime, I have to take care of my mental health from this ordeal. It’s devastating and I’m trying to cope.

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