The Transportation Security Administration has released video that seems to contradict allegations from a passenger that she was yelled at, handcuffed and had her ticket ripped in half by an enraged TSA official for attempting to opt-out of a body scanner check at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport earlier this week.
But there is a long segment in the second video in which the passenger is obstructed from view, meaning anything could have happened during those ten minutes before we can see her being led out of the passenger-area of airport free of handcuffs.
Regardless of what actually took place that day, it is clear that the controversy over those scanners and their manhandling alternative of getting patted-down will continue to increase, especially now that we’re heading towards the busy holiday season.
The passenger in question is Meg McLain of New Hampshire, a libertarian activist whom I had the pleasure of meeting the previous Friday as she was in Miami visiting the Liberty on Tour crew, who were also in town on the final leg of their national tour.
McLain walks into the frame at 1:13 in the first video and at :03 from the left side in the second video, only to not appear again until more than ten minutes later.
McLain described her experience in this interview with Free Talk Live.
She is currently in Gainesville attempting to catch a flight back home without having to go through a body scanner, which are quickly being implemented in airports throughout the United States.
McClain said she was handcuffed inside a roped-off area that is not visible on camera.
According to her Facebook page.
It happened in that roped off area. it has been a bit blown out of proportion by various accounts (ie i wasn’t cuffed TO a chair or anything, and it was the cops, not the TSA). but that happened in the 2nd chair in the roped off area (the… part cut off in the corner of their video).
I think this whole thing with the TSA’s response is trying to focus on ‘flaws in the story’ (which, one i told what happened to me, i have no control over what others say).
I’m going to just try to stay focused on the whole point of this incident: whatever happened to me as a response, no matter how large or small (which, even with the missing parts of the event that weren’t caught in these camera angles was obviously excessive) is unacceptable.
I should never have been put in a position where I was forced to choose between naked photos or being physically molested. The fact that I questioned that practice and was given ANY kind of grief is outrageous. Nobody should ever have to deal with that.
While many Americans will no doubt write off McLain as anti-government trouble-maker prone to exaggerating her experiences, her story is not much different than what was recounted by a New York Times reporter earlier this month.
HAVING been taught by nuns in grade school and later going through military boot camp, I have always disliked uniformed authorities shouting at me. So I was unhappy last week when some security screeners at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago started yelling.
“Opt out! We got an opt out!” one bellowed about me in a tone that people in my desert neighborhood in Tucson usually reserve for declaring, “Rattlesnake!”
Other screeners took up the “Opt out!” shout. I was marched from the metal detector lane to one of those nearby whole-body imagers, ordered to take everything out of my pockets, remove my belt and hold my possessions up high. Then I was required to stand still while I received a rough pat-down by a man whose résumé, I suspected, included experience at a state prison.
“Hold your pants up!” he ordered me.
Even pilots have raised issue about the scanners, which are suspected of exposing people to unhealthy levels of radiation, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The unions that represent pilots for American Airlines and US Airways have urged their members to avoid the full-body scanners at airport security checkpoints.
The unions, representing a total of 16,500 pilots, say they worry about the health effects of being exposed, sometimes multiple times a day, to the scanner’s radiation.
The unions say they also want a separate and more efficient screening process for pilots, instead of having them pass through the security procedures used for passengers.
“The whole system needs serious revisions,” said Gregg Overman, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Assn., the union representing American Airlines pilots.
It is understandable why the pilots would be frustated. After all, if we trust the pilots not to fly the planes into buildings, then why shouldn’t we trust them to board the plane with nail clippers or a 5-ounce bottle of shampoo?
The tension will continue to mount as the scanners are installed at every airport in the country.
The New York Times states that there are currently 317 body scanners at 65 airports across the country, but there will be 500 by the end of this year and an additional 500 by the end of next year, eventually replacing the 2,000 checkpoints at all airports.
The scanners are produced by a Californian company called Rapiscan, which has received at least $200 million in stimulus money from the U.S. Government.
But they are a waste of money, according to Israeli security officials, who claim a savvy terrorist can board a plane with exposives despite having his genitals leered at by TSA officials.
The McLain incident has sparked a libertarian grass-roots movement urging people to opt-out of these scanners – even if it means getting physically groped – or just not fly at all.
The movement, which was partially launched by our very own George Donnelly, is also calling for a National Opt-Out Day on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving – which incidentally is the busiest traveling day of the year.
TSA, of course, claims that this is nothing but an over-reaction by a few extremists, but we already know they are liars.
After all, at first it insisted that the explicit images recorded by these scanners are disgarded as soon as they are viewed.
But then it was revealed that TSA requires these images to be saved for “testing, training and evalution purposes.”
Or for merciless mocking purposes, as in the case of one less-endowed TSA official who was arrested after attacking his co-workers.
Negrin had been embarrassed and enraged by constant ribbing from his colleagues after a training session with a “Whole Body Imaging” machine, according to the police affidavit.
“The X-ray revealed [Negrin] has a small penis and co-workers made fun of him on a daily basis,” according to the report.
So clearly, TSA has spent millions on useless, intrusive devices, but have spent nothing on training professionalism within their ranks.
And that is the real scary part. To think this lying, blundering agency is responsible for our safety in the air.