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Women Arrested For Refusing TSA Search of Children 1017

CelticWhisper writes "A Tennessee mother was arrested for refusing to allow TSA screening clerks to subject her child to a body scan or patdown. This comes in the wake of a promise by the TSA Administrator to make repeated attempts at non-physical screening of children, after which another video of a child patdown surfaced. This event may signify a tipping point in the public's willingness to tolerate invasive and inappropriate security procedures at airports."
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Women Arrested For Refusing TSA Search of Children

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  • Interesting.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:20PM (#36755946)
    "Think of the children" actually gets people to listen.
    Not the groping, not the invasion of someone putting their hands on you (think about those that hate being touched, or fear of germs, etc), or 3d images of your body for all to see.
    Nope, its fear of pediophilia and children being touched.
    We have come far.
    • Not fear - disgust (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:38PM (#36756150)

      Nope, its fear of pediophilia and children being touched.
      We have come far.

      We have come far.

      But the thing is, people groping children is utterly senseless and, to many people, disgusting. There is no way to defend or condone it.

      That is why people are against it, not of some odd pedophile fear but because it's stupid and gross.

      • While the risk of "terrorists" is vastly overrated, and the TSA clowns would have fuck-all chance of catching one even if they were silly enough to try a uber-retro precise replay of an earlier attempt, there isn't any particular reason why a child is a worse place to stash some contraband than an adult(other than size, of course.)

        The whole enterprise of gaterape as a security measure is flawed; but it isn't more flawed in children than it is in adults.
        • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @08:03PM (#36756500)

          The whole enterprise of gaterape as a security measure is flawed; but it isn't more flawed in children than it is in adults.

          No, but that doesn't matter. It's just that people "know" a child isn't going to have anything on them. It might be irrational but it's a stronger feeling that makes the whole thing more obviously stupid.

          • by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:38PM (#36757472)

            That's not only it. An adult can understand the whole scenario and then make a rational choice to be part of it or not. Children make no such choice, but are often, by measures beyond control of the parent, required to be with their parent when they fly. Sometimes people cannot avoid flying and bringing their kids, thus if opposition to the measure, swallowing a bit of their moral and personal belief foundation to overcome the TSA barrier and get to, for example, their father's funeral in time.

            You can't say parents have a choice not to fly, and you can't expect everyone to agree with the idea of it.

    • Re:Interesting.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by beadfulthings ( 975812 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @08:17PM (#36756680) Journal

      I don't think it's fear of pedophilia. As a parent I observed that from early childhood on my children began to develop their own senses of bodily integrity. It's one of the things that keeps the manufacturers of Band-Aids in business--gotta maintain that bodily integrity in the face of cuts, scrapes, and assorted boo-boos by sealing them up with adhesive bandages. The first trip to the beauty or barber shop is often a terrible trauma, and so are the holiday visits where one is plunked against one's will on the lap of some terrifying bearded stranger in a red suit. If you watch compassionate pediatricians, nurses, or even barbers, you'll see them explain to the child what they're about to do, what it will feel like, and why they are doing it.

      We spend a lot of time cultivating and encouraging this sense of integrity in our children lest they be hurt or taken advantage of by strangers, but we're just reinforcing the sense of self that is already developing. It's natural for children not to want to be touched, mauled, or manhandled by people they don't know. It's natural for adults, too, only we've learned to repress it in certain instances. Children are working very hard on their independence and self-determination, and they're well aware that they can be overpowered by large adults. The wails of the child undergoing the TSA search go straight through any parent because the parent hears the violated child--not sexually violated but deprived of self-esteem and self-image by an adult who is a stranger.

      I don't think TSA agents are pedophiles, though it would certainly be an appealing job for someone who was. I don't perceive the children as being groped. I do see them being swooped down on and overpowered by strangers, no matter how well-meaning. It has to be terrifying.

      There has to be a better way of handling this.

    • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @08:58PM (#36757110) Homepage Journal

      It's not the children. It's not the elderly. It's not the pregnant women.

      It's the people.

      Nobody deserves the kind of privacy invasion that the TSA imposes in the US.

  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toxickitty ( 1758282 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:21PM (#36755958)
    Is everyone enjoying their freedom? You know that choice you have which you really don't...
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:51PM (#36756320)

      the right to travel freely in my country: GONE. if it means air travel, its gone. if it means driving and there's a 'mandatory roadblock' where they steal your blood against your wishes (not kidding, forced DUI checkpoints and they DO draw blood if they want to) then your freedom to travel unimpeded is gone.

      why does the US government hate us for our freedoms?

  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:21PM (#36755964)

    The "think of the children" argument has managed to get all sorts of ridiculous legislation passed, so it's clearly an effective argument. It's about time we started using it to protect some of our rights.

  • by DamnRogue ( 731140 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:24PM (#36755988)

    From TFA:

    “No, it’s not an X-ray,” she told Abbott. “It is 10,000 times safer than your cell phone and uses the same type of radio waves as a sonogram.”

    The TSA scanners aren't comparable in any useful sense to cell phones or sonograms. (Cellphones are non-ionizing radiation and sonograms are pressure waves.) Is it any wonder that these guys don't get the benefit of the doubt?

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:32PM (#36756082)
      Er, a sonogram is ultrasound and doesn't use radio waves at all.
    • The TSA thinks we use RF in sonograms. Yep, that's the sort of ignorance I want groping me.

      Of course they probably really do believe this policy line; the ones who know how dangerous these machines are from extended daily exposure would have quit the TSA already.

  • by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:27PM (#36756014)

    Even the TSA workers aren't too happy about the possibility of getting cancer from the scanners. []

  • Good mother! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jezza ( 39441 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:31PM (#36756060)

    This woman should be applauded, her sticking up for the health of her children (those backscatter machine REALLY safe?) and their dignity (because "pat downs" are degrading). She was willing to get herself arrested to stand up for her children. We need more people like her.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:32PM (#36756084)

    Okay, I get it- they screen children, the infirm, and the elderly not because they expect these people to be terrorists, but because it would be possible to use them as mules to carry the payload for someone who themselves would definitely be screened. Many of us understand this. Thing is, in the case of children, they need to have actual medical staff like RNs and MDs on hand to handle children and teenagers. One RN per security checkpoint, one Doctor to every four or five checkpoints or per terminal or airport, depending on the size of the terminal or airport. But, that would probably be expensive in an era when we're short on doctors and nurses. I suppose that they don't have to be especially good doctors, but since they're inspecting the body, having someone trained in the body probably would be a good idea.

    The trouble is, they really, really need to find a better way to screen, and they need to understand that paying low wage workers to do the screening isn't helping. They need employees who actually care and are fairly intelligent people, and they need enough of them to offset the grueling nature of the job. That probably means a four-fold increase in the payroll, with 1/3 going to wage increases and the rest going to doubling the number of workers. They also need to institute their own Internal Affairs, complete with undercover placing (which could easily be safely hidden by the sheer size of the organization through the use of random gate reassignments for employees as well as transfers between airports and cities) to help stamp out the current problems.

    When I went through security in London Heathrow, about a week after the Christmas Underwear Bomber attempt, and I accidently set off the metal detector because of a foil-lined wet wipe in my pocket, their security was quick and intelligent. They didn't feel the need to extend their patdown into a bag search, and once they found the wet wipe manually in my shirt pocket they wanded me quickly again, passed me, and gave me back the wet wipe. It took something like a minute for the whole process. Granted, they were smart enough to leave enough space in the airport for security, which is probably triple what we have in the US, but their employees seemed to actually care about what they were doing, didn't joke around in a way that made me uncomfortable, and treated it all as important but routine. I didn't get the "guilty until proven innocent" feeling that I get in our own airports.

    I've heard lots of good things about El Al, as everyone on here talks about. I really wish that our policy makers would stop thinking that the technological approach is the way to go and start thinking about the human interaction approach. I'd bet that we could go back to simple metal detectors again if security actually made conversation with passengers instead of treating them like cattle to be mechanically put through the processes.

    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @08:00PM (#36756438)

      ...Thing is, in the case of children, they need to have actual medical staff like RNs and MDs on hand to handle children and teenagers. One RN per security checkpoint, one Doctor to every four or five checkpoints or per terminal or airport, depending on the size of the terminal or airport.

      Er, considering that quite a few parents would agree that any sort of patdown down by a stranger is more of a psychological impact than a physical one, how exactly is your solution going to help at all when the child is still standing in the middle of a damn airport with thousands of people around them, all impatiently waiting for the good "doctor" to get done with their screening?

      Sorry, but in the big picture, even a lollipop ain't gonna help. This bullshit needs to stop. When attacking the obscenities against our Rights, it's best to go for the throat, or root cause in this case, which is questioning why in the hell we even need the continued "support" of the TSA.

      Trying to figure out a more polite way to fondle my child in order to board an airplane is not the answer.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      The question is what is the purpose of the TSA. Is it to increase security, or provide jobs in a way that covers conservatives asses from the voters. It is like the wats in Iraq. Clearly not critical for the security of the country, but it allowed the expansion of the military budget in a time of increasing deficit, which allowed the exact kind of stimulus the economy needed in terms of government spending to keep the economy going. The drawback is using the military and agencies like the TSA creates a
    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:37PM (#36757464)

      The irony is that any terrorist with half a brain is never going to attempt to get a bomb or weapon onto a plane again. The next big terrorist attack in the US will not be on an airplane. It may be at an airport though but it would be in the lobby or curbside maybe. Bombings in Mumbai today, all in outdoor public areas where the bomber never once had to pass any security screening or metal detector or road block, etc.

      Security theater is the correct term for this. Because the TSA is in no way trying to make things safer for US citizens, and nothing they are doing is providing extra safety. Instead they provide merely the appearance of security and they allow lawmakers to go home during the elections and say "look, we're doing something!" If we really wanted to stop terrorism we'd do something to eliminate the causes of terrorism.

    • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @10:36PM (#36757998)

      The problem is that there are only two times when it's acceptable for somebody to touch my junk, if I get sick and need medical assistance or with my consent. Telling children that there are times when somebody can flash a badge and touch their genitals is not something that is acceptable to any reasonable person.

      I personally won't fly because I care about my body and my rights apparently more than you do. These machines are known to be ineffective and all the TSA is doing is moving the vulnerability from a plane with a fixed payload to a security checkpoint with a lot more people.

  • by cffrost ( 885375 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @07:58PM (#36756414) Homepage

    If enough Americans had the balls this woman's got, we might have a functional fourth amendment.

  • Okay so if i dressed my daughter in tights and a sleeveless leotard she still would have to be scanned and or searched??

    Somebody with a handy lawyer needs to try an experiment and then

    SUE THE TSA (and the airport and the airline and anybody else) if they try.

  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @08:23PM (#36756728) Homepage

    ... we can't believe you let yourselves be driven to a point where you have to be strip-searched, molested and interrogated before they let you on a plane - and all that while maintaining an attitude of utter submission to your TSA masters.

    Seriously, guys, you're the only ones doing this shit. You need to stop it, you're beginning to look silly.

  • by Carnivore ( 103106 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @08:23PM (#36756730)

    “No, it’s not an X-ray,” she told Abbott. “It is 10,000 times safer than your cell phone and uses the same type of radio waves as a sonogram.”
    (emphasis mine)

    What. The. Fuck. I was told almost the opposite, but still wrong at BWI--that the mm-wave scanner was sound waves, not EM. How is this getting twisted? Is there some statement that the mm-wave is "as safe as a sonogram" and the agents are mixing and matching at will?

    I don't expect the security screeners to be physicists, but they really need to know what the equipment they operate emits. At this point, I barely trust their magnetometer to not blast me with ionising radiation.

  • by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @08:28PM (#36756786)
    The tone of the TSA agent really set my teeth on edge.

    “(She) told me in a very stern voice with quite a bit of attitude that they were not going through that X-ray,” Sabrina Birge, an airport security officer, told police.

    Yeah how dare a mother exhibit "quite a bit of attitude" in defending her daughter from unreasonable search and touching. The shame! The horror! It is the TSA agent's privilege and power that is shameful in this situation, and to a far greater degree, the TSA itself along with its needlessly invasive security theater.

    Interestingly enough the woman attempted to take a video of the incident:

    At one point, Abbott tried unsuccessfully to take a video with her cellphone.

    It looks like:

    1. Refuse to go along quietly
    2. Describe the problem loudly enough for other to hear ("saying she did not want her daughter to be “touched inappropriately or have her “crotch grabbed,” a police report states.")
    3. Attempt to obtain evidence

    and you get stuck with disorderly conduct and sent directly to jail.

  • Don't Fly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlgUSF ( 238240 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:17PM (#36757244) Homepage

    I personally don't fly unless my employer forces me to. My 2 year old daughter will certainly not fly since the porno scanners have been installed. She has flown twice before the porno scanners were installed. My family has chosen to drive to our destinations the last couple of years. The TSA is a joke. Right after 9-11 when President Bush announced the TSA and Patriot Act, I knew we were in for a knee jerk reaction which won't solve anything. President Obama is just accelerating the stupidity.

  • by lexsird ( 1208192 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:23PM (#36757282)

    People get the government that they deserve. I am proud of this mother and I am glad I wasn't there. I would be doing hand-to-hand combat with them trying to arrest a mother for not wanting her kid groped. They would have a REAL threat on their hands. They have to be trying to provoke us. Are they trying to brew up some home grown "terrorists" with this kind of disrespect of our basic human rights? It's this kind of shit that brings things to a head real fast. I know if this pisses me off to read about, it will seriously piss off others. Keep playing those odds and you will end up with a "winner."

  • by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:26PM (#36757320)
    his is the arresting officer's affidavit:

    On 07/09/2011 at approximately 1340 hrs I was dispatched to the central screening point at the Nashville International Airport for report of a passenger that was refusing screening. Upon my arrival, I made contact with the subject, identified as Andrea Abbott, who was involved in a verbal altercation with TSA screening agents. Abbott was being verbally abusive toward the TSA agents stating her daughter would not be screened. I advised Abbott that she and her daughter would have to be screened or they would be escorted by me out of the secured area of the airport. Abbott then became verbally abusive toward me as well as the TSA agents. Abbott stated she did not want her daughter to be “touched inappropriately,” have her “crotch grabbed,” or be further screened. Eventually Abbott agreed to allow her daughter to be screened by TSA. Abbott retrieved her cell phone and was attempting to film her daughter being screened. I advised Abbott to put her cell phone away. Again, Abbott was verbally abusive [Emphasis Added] . After her daughter was screened TSA advised Abbott would have to be screened as well to continue down the concourse. Abbott stated this was “bullsh!t” and became verbally abusive toward TSA and myself again. I advised Abbott numerous times she was disrupting the screening process and flow of passengers through the area. Abbott refused to calm down. At this time I placed Abbott under arrest for Disorderly Conduct (TCA 39-17-305). Ms. Abbot was loud in her speech and very belligerant therefore she was arrested for disorderly conduct.

    The citizen was engaged in perfectly legal behavior, which the cop ordered her to stop. When she declined, he arrested her. This is why "disorderly conduct" is frequently referred to as "contempt of cop" by district attorneys.

  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @11:55PM (#36758572)
    naked scans of your child or groping of your child. Bin laden could not have dreamed of how successful he would have become.
  • by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @10:28AM (#36762550) Journal
    So why do you think El Al have such a good record of not being attacked by nutjobs?

    Hint: it's not because of the lighthearteed casualness of their security staff.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.