Friday, January 17, 2014

Another TSA Sexual Assault

As has been noted elsewhere in this blog, the agents of the federal government - - - in this case, the Transportation Security Administration - - - are absolutely unmatched in their zealous invasion of the persons and privacy of the American people (or anyone traveling in America). One of the latest incidents in the scandalous and sordid history of the TSA came recently in Colorado, at the Denver International Airport, where yet another woman was sexually assaulted, under entirely "legal" pretexts, by TSA agents.  What makes this story particularly egregious is the fact that the woman wasn't even attempting to board a plane, but was merely escorting her minor daughter to the departure area, where the daughter would be catching her flight.

Quoting this story from CBS-4 TV in Denver:

Denver police have initiated a sexual assault investigation focused on Transportation Security Administration officers at a checkpoint at Denver International Airport. It comes after a Colorado woman filed a complaint saying the frisking she received amounted to a sexual assault .... The criminal probe stems from a complaint filed by Jamelyn Steenhoek, 39, who was patted down by TSA agents on Dec. 26 as she was escorting her 13-year-old daughter to a flight bound for Philadelphia. Steenhoek was not flying, just getting her daughter to the gate. “I feel like someone who works for a powerful agency that we are afraid of used their power to violate me sexually — to put me in my place,” said Steenhoek, a working mother for a county social services department. Steenhoke is also a full time college student. Although she had proper credentials to accompany her daughter to the airline gate, an alarm at the checkpoint sounded when she went through. Steenhoek believes the machine picked up the jewels that were sewn into the rear pockets of her jeans. She was asked to submit to having her hands swabbed, which she did. “Then they told me I tested positive for explosives,” Steenhoek said during an interview with CBS4.She explained to the agents that the positive hit from her hand swab was probably the result of her pumping gas into her car earlier in the day.  “She said, ‘We’ll have to do a search.’ So I thought, ‘Okay.’ “Steenhoek said she was just focused on completing the search and getting to the gate with her daughter with enough time to get her teenager something to eat. She said she was ushered into a small private room at the TSA checkpoint with her daughter watching from a few feet away. “They told me to spread my arms and spread my feet.” She said the female TSA agent seemed to get agitated when Steenhoek tried to hurry the process along so she could get her daughter to her plane. “At that point she did a pretty invasive search. They are just areas of the body I’m not comfortable being touched in. On the outside of my pants she cupped my crotch. I was uncomfortable with that.” Steenhoek said the agent repeatedly dug her fingers into Steenhoek’s armpits. “The part of the search that bothered most was the breast search. You could tell it shouldn’t take that much groping. To me it was as extensive as an exam from my physician — full touching and grabbing in the front. I felt uncomfortable, I felt violated.” She said when the search turned up nothing, the agent repeated it a second time. “So it didn’t make any sense. The whole search was done over and more touching and grabbing than the first time.” Eventually TSA officers released her without finding anything and she managed to get her daughter to her flight on time. Steenhoek complained to the TSA about her treatment but felt that would not yield any results. Three days later she went to Denver police and filed a police complaint against the unnamed female TSA agent who searched her. In the report Steenhoek complained of an “intrusive search,” characterizing what happened to her as being “sexually assaulted.” “I was looking for consequences, for TSA to be accountable for what they do to people,” Steenhoek told CBS4. “You want one or more of them to be charged with sexual assault?” she was asked. “I do,” she responded. (video available in above link)

Good for Ms. Steenhoek.  I don't like to see anyone go to prison unless they've committed a violent crime, but cases such as these are clear cases of battery, sexual misconduct, and, even worse, federal arrogance.  Until some of the overpaid, undereducated agents of the TSA are called to account in a real way, this nonsense isn't going to stop. These "agents" are not protecting anyone's security; they are no more than hogs at the public trough, and a scandal to a "free" society.

Happily, Mrs. Steenhoek isn't the only one outraged by this continuing federal malfeasance. According to a report in USA Today (Jan. 14), a panel of members of the House of Representatives have threatened to start privatizing more airport screening if the TSA doesn't stop the abuse of travelers and others.  (There are already 14 airports, including San Francisco and Kansas City, where passengers are screened by private contract workers, under the "oversight" of TSA representatives.  To say that the contract personnel are more professional and well-mannered than the TSA agents is damning with faint praise.) Rep. John Mica (R-FL), head of the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee,  says that "one way or another," all airports will be privatized within two years. "If you come to Orlando airport or Sanford airport, what is going on is almost criminal to American citizens, the way they are treated," said Mica. "This is the mess we've created."

Added Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), "When we mistreat them by barking orders at them as if they are cattle, not people, we actually diminish spirit of cooperation. I've had it, and I think a lot of the public has had it. There is no excuse for it."

God bless Reps. Mica and Connolly, and may their efforts bear fruit.  Because the situation has been traumatizing American children and infuriating American adults for years now, and the overlords of the American police state love to have it so.

 © Credits in above links

UPDATE: As of February 6, 2014, the Denver District Attorney's office has declined to file charges against the TSA.  What a surprise.

1 comment:

  1. It takes a certain kind of person to work for the TSA, apparently.

    And that's not meant as a compliment.