Saturday, March 05, 2011

New Hampshire Bill Would Make TSA Patdowns Sexual Assault

I've been reading so much stuff on the TSA 'enhanced Pat-Down" (enhanced is supposed to mean made better, isn't it?) that my head feels clotted with all the information and I'm trying to figure out where and how to write about this coherently.   A series of short specific posts seems the better approach - more focused, more likely to be read.  But an integrated look at the big picture needs to part of this too. 

I'm at the point where I believe it is truly outrageous for people who have a medical prosthetic to be singled out for the new scanner and the 'pat-down' without any other reason to believe they are terrorists.  (The 'without any other reason' is important.) In fact, with strong reasons to believe they are NOT terrorists.  I read today a story in one of the emails to Rep. Cissna's from a woman who'd just had a mastectomy
"I had two very aggressive TSA officers in _____ insist that they were going to rifle through my bandages to look for explosives.  I finally just pulled up my shirt and let them look at the tubes, bandages and blood collectors, and felt completely humiliated.  It had been less than a week since my double mastectomy and removal of my ovaries, (in fact I still had drains in, and my hospital ID bracelet on my wrist) and I was not in the mood for any of it.  I just wanted to get home, as I was in soooo much pain from all of the traveling."
This was two years ago - before the new enhanced 'pat-downs.' That's just one of many similar stories, though a bit more graphic than most.  You can see how common sense is not allowed to interfere with the rules that require . . . well I'm not sure what the rules require.  It seems the rules require that if you have metal in you, you get both a body-scan AND a pat-down. Even if you travel weekly.  Even if you have a card from your doctor.  Even if a cursory check online would show you to be someone in a responsible position and a pillar of the your local American community.  The machine, not reason, decides you must be searched. 

An aside:  I also found a law suit making pretty much the same argument - that scanners that show your nude body and pat-downs should not be the primary screening method to travel by air in the US.  I'll do another post on that. 

I just wanted to give you some context for why I'm sympathetic to the sentiment behind this new legislation.  I'm not sure this is the best way to go - it clearly would set up a show-down between federal and state agents - but it's a sign of how strongly people feel and how powerless they feel.  The March 1 report from WMUR New Hampshire says there's little support for this bill.

CONCORD, N.H. -- Lawmakers and residents engaged in heated debate Tuesday over a bill that would make random airport security pat-downs and body scans criminal in New Hampshire.

The bill (HB628-FN) "makes the touching or viewing with a technological device of a person’s breasts or genitals by a government security agent without probable cause a sexual assault," according to the introductory text of the bill.

"Let's put their name on the sex offender registry, and maybe that will tell them New Hampshire means business," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Andrew Manuse, R-Derry.

"That is a crime in this state, and we should charge them every single time," said bill co-sponsor Rep. George Lambert, R-Litchfield.

There's video at the link as well.


  1. How do state laws vs federal laws hold up in battle? Can federal agents get served for doing their federal jobs?

  2. Well, I would love it if every one of these gropers was listed as a sex offender!

    This is a charade, Security Theater, not real security, and it's just plain stupid. If you want to see real security in action, try flying to Israel on El Al sometime. That's real security, and what we should have, but they would have to hire fewer, but highly competent, folks at higher wages to do that instead of hiring the minimally competent at mediocre pay scales. Unfortunately, that is not how our Feral Gummint is run.


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