Two videos posted to Youtube Tuesday from two airports show that Transportation Security Administration screeners refuse to accept the long-established fact that we are allowed to record security checkpoints at airports.
One video shows a TSA supervisor at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport summoning the local police on a 16-year-old passenger for recording his father’s security screening.
Another video shows a TSA supervisor snatching a camera from a woman at Oakland International Airport, who said that the local sheriff was called and gave her the option to either delete the video or have him report him to the FBI.
Kelli Coffee, who knew she was under no legal obligation to delete the video, told the deputy she will go with option number two, which is why she was able to post the video.
In the New Orleans video, the footage begins with the supervisor halting the screening of the dad to tell a local law-enforcement officer that “I need this guy [the son] gone…I don’t care what he’s seen on the Internet”, even after the father informs the official that the photographer is his son.
The son informs the screener that the TSA’s own website states that photography is legal in the screening areas of airports as long as the process isn’t being interrupted and images on the X-ray monitors isn’t being recorded (neither of which appear to be occurring in the footage).
The TSA officer’s snappy comeback? “I don’t care, I didn’t put that website on [the Internet]“.
It turns out the son is entirely correct in his assertion. The TSA’s website clearly states that “TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down. We do ask you to not film or take pictures of the monitors.”
Looks like Mr. Supervisor needs some brushing up on exactly what the limitations are to his job description, to say the least. And he’s not the only one considering that another citizen posted a video to Youtube showing a TSA screening snat
To his credit, the police officer to which the TSA supervisor complained did not interfere with the son’s recording in any way, instead choosing to stand by and monitor the situation while the father’s screening continues. The TSA official eventually finishes the screening and tells the father in a very sarcastic manner, “OK, grab your stuff and have a nice day, Marine SIR.”
The father retorts that he doesn’t appreciate that kind of disrespect, which really sets off the supervisor, who starts ranting that “Be careful what you say, because I do have the authority to run you right off this checkpoint… You’ll respect this badge right here”. He is apparently referring to the shiny pieces of metal given to TSA agents to improve their self-esteem, as they are worthless in every other respect and grant no law-enforcement powers at all.
A recent audit by the Department of Homeland Security revealed that “investigators with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General were able to get banned items through the screening process in 67 out of 70 tests it conducted across the nation”, an astounding 95% failure rate. The resulting negative publicity resulted in the acting TSA administrator at the time merely being reassigned instead of canned, as no one in the upper reaches of the federal government ever seems to get fired for anything no matter how egregious the screwup.
It would seem that the TSA screeners would do well to concentrate on improving their abysmal performance and do at least a semi-passable job of catching weapons before they get on airplanes instead of worrying about ordinary citizens exercising their right to document screenings to prevent abuse of the system and of themselves.
Given the regularity of such heinous acts as TSA officers groping passengers for fun and stealing valuables and other belongings from travelers, recording those officials in the performance of their duties would only seem to be reasonable and proper conduct. After all, as ordinary Americans are continually being lectured by surveillance-happy government officials, if they’re not doing anything wrong then what do they have to worry about?